I must confess. A couple of days ago, I had no idea who Jorge Ramos was. I imagine many others were likewise unfamiliar with the Univision newscaster before Donald Trump made him famous by kicking him out of a press conference.
Among several media appearances since the confrontation with Trump on Tuesday, Ramos was on The Kelly File Wednesday night. Fusion reports what he had to say:
“The only thing that I wanted to do was to ask a question,” Ramos told host Megyn Kelly. “He tried to silence me and in this country you cannot do that. I’m a citizen, I’m an immigrant, I’m a reporter. And I have the right in this country to ask any question I want, to whomever I want.”
First of all, can we bask ever so briefly in the irony of being “silenced” on national television, then getting to rant about it ad nauseam on all the major networks? This guy has been anything but silenced. He should send Trump a thank you note for the exposure.
That aside, what’s with this notion that freedom of speech or freedom of the press somehow grants license to say whatever you want, wherever you want, with the expectation of a compliant audience? There’s nothing about citizenship, immigration status, or press credentials that entitles you to be acknowledged or listened to.
A year and a half after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, society continues to function. That’s the observation presented by Reason TV in the above report. Christian Sederberg, an attorney who actively promoted the change in policy, reflects on the fallout — or lack thereof. “[Critics] set a very specific expectation in a lot of people’s minds that this was going to be this terrible thing, and it just hasn’t played out at all,” he told Reason’s Alexis Garcia.
Regarding complaints of a flourishing black market under the new legal arrangement, Sederberg argues that change occurs over time. “Here’s the deal. $700 million of sales last year did not go through the black market. They went through regulated stores, taxed and regulated. This year, we’re talking about close to a billion [in anticipated legal sales]. So anyone that’s saying the black market is flourishing… [it's] ‘flourishing’ having lost a billion dollars.”
It seems odd to point to a lingering black market as an argument for effectively expanding that same market. Black markets are creatures of the state. If you don’t want a black market, legalize commerce. Otherwise, so long as there are people willing to buy and others willing to sell, they will connect with each other one way or the other.
To my black libertarian mind, the greatest tragedy of the Black Lives Matter movement has been a missed opportunity to foster constructive change in public policy. The year since the shooting death of Michael Brown has seen plenty of rabble-rousing about alleged problems and little to no meaningful discussion of proposed solutions. For many observers, it seems that Black Lives Matter exists more to agitate than to affect real progress.
That may be changing, however. An organization called We the Protesters has put out an actual policy agenda, calling for changes in law enforcement practices and policies. The overall goal of “reducing all police violence in the U.S. to zero” may prove absurd (a police force that doesn’t use force isn’t a police force). However, many of the specific ideas should appeal to limited-government conservatives and libertarians.
For instance, the group calls for a reduction in laws which create minor offenses providing law enforcement with the pretext to initiate stops. Recall that Eric Garner was essentially killed for evading sales tax.
Another point calls for nerfing police union contracts to make discipline easier. Imagine that, a radical leftist group calling for reining in public employee unions.
Bottom line: there’s plenty here upon which to build bipartisan coalition and affect real change. The question becomes whether the overall Black Lives Matter movement will mature enough to abandon divisive rhetoric and start cultivating relationships which can lead to actual achievement.
Still basking in the glow of a favorable debate performance, which arguably benefited her more than any other candidate, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina has been making the talk show rounds. On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” she called upon Congress to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. The bill would immunize companies like Google from lawsuits resulting from consumer information shared with government. The effect would be a massive institutional rollback of personal privacy. From the Washington Examiner:
“There is a level of collaboration that’s required between the private sector and the public sector to detect and repel attacks,” Fiorina said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “That requires an act of Congress. There is a bill that’s been languishing, frankly, in Congress for several years now. We need to get that bill passed so that level of collaboration is possible.”
Outside of passing the cyberbill, Fiorina said, “It’s important to recognize that these cyberattacks that have been going on against the federal government systems, none of those are a surprise … We’ve known for over a decade the Chinese were coming after our most important systems.
It’s unclear how denying Americans the right to privacy will thwart Chinese cyber attacks. But that’s Carly’s story, and she’s sticking to it.
Black Lives Matter takes pride in shutting things down. Last year, as the nation debated events in Ferguson, Missouri, the Twin Cities branch of the racial-agitation group illegally obstructed traffic on Interstate 35W. Instead of arresting the offenders, law enforcement officials provided them with an impromptu escort.
Later in the year, the group staged an unauthorized protest at the Mall of America with the express purpose of disrupting the busiest shopping day of the Christmas season. Arrests were sparse. The city of Bloomington, where the mall operates, eventually pursued charges against the protest’s organizers. However, the city attorney endured heavy criticism for upholding the law and protecting the rights of consumers and business owners.
Previous indulgence has invited fresh trespass. Black Lives Matter has most recently announced their intention to disrupt the Minnesota State Fair. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The St. Paul-based group is planning a rally and march to protest St. Paul police shootings and alleged racial disparities at the fair. As of Friday evening, 285 people had accepted the group’s Facebook invitation to meet at Hamline Park at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug., 29, for a march down busy Snelling Avenue toward the fairgrounds, disrupting traffic along the way.
“The Minnesota State Fair profits millions of dollars every year, and every year continues to deny black and other minority business owners the opportunity of being a vendor at the fair,” the group said in a released statement Thursday.
Protest organizer and St. Paul resident Rashad Turner said Friday the goal of the disruption is to bring attention to the issues that continue to plague black communities, both in St. Paul and beyond.
It’s unclear how minority business owners have been “denied” opportunities at the fair. The complaint seems less an accusation of true discrimination and more an expectation of affirmative action. Also unclear is how keeping families from enjoying their time at the fair, standing between a kid and his corn dog, will engender sympathy or the kind of “awareness” Black Lives Matter seeks.
What is clear is the militant language employed by a protest organizer. In the above news clip, Rashad Turner expresses premeditated aggressive intent. “We’re gonna disrupt [the fair]. There’s nothing they’re gonna be able to do about it…. If we’re met with any resistance or threatened with any resistance, we’ll meet them with that same resistance.”
That’s what we used to call a threat, back when we had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to bullies regardless of their color.
Turner’s threat persists despite an offer from the fair’s general manager to consider an application for a Black Lives Matter booth. “I mean, if that’s in addition to shutting down the fair, no problem. We’ll be there.” How magnanimous of them.
Carly Fiorina seems to have benefited most from the first GOP presidential debate, catapulting from the also-ran tier to a serious contender. However, her recent boost in the polls may not be enough to warrant inclusion in the CNN debate scheduled for September. From The Hill:
The CNN debate methodology, released earlier this year, weighs polls from July 16 to Sept. 10.
The use of the earlier surveys will hurt the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who barely registered in the polls before the Aug. 6 Fox News debate. But since then, she has seen a significant bounce.
“It acts as sort of an anchor on those people who had done poorly early and a bit of a parachute for those people who have done well early,” said Cliff Zukin, a Rutgers University political scientist and former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.
The criteria could also protect Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) from sliding out of the top 10 despite his recent dip in polls.
It seems unlikely that the debate criteria will change, or that Fiorina will perform well enough in future polls to make the cut.
Reason author Shikha Dalmia is wringing her hands over “the death of pro-choice Republicans.” There used to be a time when the party had room for nuance on abortion, she writes. Not anymore, not after the release of several videos highlighting illicit practices by Planned Parenthood.
David Daleiden, the man who produced the Planned Parenthood videos, told National Review that the purpose of his exercise was—as the headline noted—to “end the tyranny of euphemisms” and show “buyer and end users haggling over the price of living children and negotiating the ways they will be killed in order to do experiments that they want.”
“Living children”? “Killing”? Seriously? Such terms used to be reserved for late-term abortions, even in the pro-life camp. But the majority of fetuses in Daleiden’s footage were 12 weeks or under, with some in the first month of the second trimester. Deploying such lacerating terminology is meant to create an equivalence between early-term fetuses and live children. This implies that every abortion at any time regardless of circumstances is murder.
She’s right. That’s exactly what such terminology implies. The question becomes: is not such terminology accurate? Is a fetus 12 weeks or under something other than a living child? If so, what? That’s what the Planned Parenthood footage compels us to answer.
Has the footage changed your opinion on abortion? If all abortion is murder, should there be exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother? Dalmia worries that the answer might be no.
… if all abortions are murder, then isn’t the rape exception tantamount to “killing babies” for the sins of men? Yet if “babies” are allowed to be “killed” for their fathers’ transgressions, then by what moral standard can we force mothers who slip up to give birth except as a punishment for their turpitude?
What all of this shows is that in its obsession for moral clarity, the GOP is trying to shoehorn an enormously complex issue into a black-and-white framework…
Is the issue really that complex?
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker rallied support in Minnesota on Tuesday after announcing a state campaign team including current and former legislative leaders. He took the opportunity to also unveil a proposed alternative to the Affordable Care Act. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
Walker’s alternative to the law commonly known as Obamacare would include tax credits to help uninsured people get coverage, determined not by income as with the current law, but by age. It would provide tax incentives for health care savings, and would give states more power to administer Medicaid programs. Walker, whose full proposal can be found here, called for retaining one popular feature of the law, the requirement that individuals not be restricted from purchasing insurance coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
“I want to be the nominee that lays out a clear contrast,” Walker said in morning remarks to an invite-only group at Cass Screw Machine Products, his first stop in a day of Twin Cities fundraising and politicking. “Not just that we’re against Obamacare, but here’s what we’re for, and here’s how we make it happen.”
The plan lands some distance from a free market, conceding that voters have bought into the pre-existing condition narrative. Strictly speaking, one cannot insure against something that has already happened. But we now live in a world where words have little meaning.
Nazi comparisons remain a dime per dozen in the political discourse, wielded liberally and often outside historical context. Godwin’s law suggests that any online debate which lasts long enough will result in someone evoking the Nazis.
That moment has arrived in our consideration of Donald Trump. Newsweek commentator Jeffrey A. Tucker asks, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?” However, the question stands as more than provocation or insult. Tucker is serious, and offers evidence to bolster the suggestion:
What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is not leftist in its cultural and political outlook (see how he is praised for rejecting “political correctness”), and yet it is still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.
Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.
Typically, when fascism is evoked, people think of concentration camps and the Holocaust. Such images fuel the notion that Nazi comparisons are inherently exaggerated. However, it’s important to realize that concentration camps were a product of fascism, not its defining characteristic. Fascism subjugates the individual to the state in the name of some collective, whether “the nation” or “the race.”
Reason editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie describes the effect an implementation of Trump’s immigration plan would have upon the state’s relationship to individuals. Trump’s government would become a “vast and always beefed-up bureaucracy that will have control over whether you can work and when you need to show proof of U.S. citizenship.”
This has got to stop. The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has transcended ridiculous, reaching a level of absurdity typically reserved for third party runs.
Sunday, Trump unveiled his immigration plan. To sum it up, he’s going to single-handedly rewrite the Constitution (or just ignore it) to deny citizenship to immigrant-born children. Rick Moran has a great analysis of that idea.
Trump was hazy on the details of his deportation plan. Presumably it would be legal, which means amending the Constitution to make it possible to deport so-called “anchor babies” — children born in the U.S. of illegal parents…
Then, there is the due process that illegal aliens have a right to, according to the law. They can’t be deported without it, and with 11 million court cases coming, he might want to think of increasing the number of immigration judges by a factor of about a thousand. Or perhaps we could change the law and deny illegals due process.
Nevermind the enforcement logistics required to get each of those 11 million people into court, to say nothing of back across the border.
What Trump is doing here is not unlike what President Obama accomplished during his 2008 campaign. Recall that hapless voter who thought Obama’s victory would result in an end to her mortgage payments? This “plan” from Trump plays to that same kind of stupid. He’s making promises he can’t keep, and teasing outcomes beyond the realm of possibility.
Some are saying “at least he has a plan.” No, he doesn’t. A plan that can’t be implemented is not a plan. It’s a pipe dream.
The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has gone from comic sideshow to the dominant story in the race for the Republican nomination. While many, particularly his opponents, wait for his fifteen minutes to expire, one analyst writing for the Tribune News Service sees a “viable path to victory” for Trump:
Voters have been in a surly mood for years, and Trump has electrified them like few others in recent years.
The 17-person Republican field is fractured, so Trump’s 25 percent support, should he maintain it, could win a lot of primaries and caucuses.
He says what a lot of Americans are thinking. So far, his insults to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Mexicans and women haven’t hurt standing. Sixty-two percent of GOP voters viewed him favorably after the debate.
Has Trump’s support crested? If it remains at or below 25 percent, might the departure of some candidates between now and next year’s caucuses and primaries result in support coalescing around another candidate?
Taking advantage of the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown along with fresh violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and something called the Black Liberation Project staged a sympathy protest in the Twin Cities.
From the local NBC affiliate KARE 11:
At one point during the “Shut it Down” demonstration, the group blocked the Metro Transit Green Line on University Avenue. Demonstrators also held a “die in” during a moment of silence to remember Brown.
Organizers of Black Lives Matter protests continue to portray their actions as “peaceful” and “non-violent” despite acting illegally and in violation of others’ rights. The “non-violent” label remains dutifully echoed by most media outlets, as if obstructing traffic harms no one and is a legitimate form of political expression.
No doubt seeking to distinguish himself among the many GOP presidential contenders who are not Donald Trump, Senator Rand Paul has this week taken an aggressive stance against the frontrunner’s campaign. From Time, reporting on a conference call Paul had with journalists:
Paul explained his decision to go aggressively negative on Trump, the reality television star and real estate magnate. “If no one stands up to a bully, a bully will keep doing what they’re doing,” Paul said. “And unless someone points out that the emperor has no clothes, they’ll continue to strut about and what we’ll end up with is a reality TV star as the nominee if we’re not careful.”
Looking beyond next year’s caucuses and primaries, Paul pointed to an anticipated brick wall which Trump’s campaign would collide with in the general:
Paul noted that recent polling shows Trump trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups, while he and Clinton are neck-and-neck.
“You know while some people are excited by fat jokes and stupid jokes, I think there are a lot of people in the general election, independents as well as probably many women voters aren’t really that entertained by this and I think it shows in the polls,” he said.
Paul isn’t the only candidate taking shots at Trump, but he appears to be the only one making contrast with the Donald a centerpiece of his campaign.
Make faster computers! That’s the charge of a new National Strategic Computing Initiative formed by executive order from President Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal reports:
[The goal is] building a supercomputer that can deliver 100 times the performance of current 10 petaflop systems and improving technologies used for data analytics. The order also calls for bettering the high-performance computing ecosystem and ensuring that “the benefits of the research and development advances are … shared between the United States Government and industrial and academic sectors.”
Maybe, before we sink untold billions into more government research, we should take a breath and figure out how to deal with the technology of today. Cyber crimes continue to escalate, and laws lag behind shifting technological realities. Perhaps performance should take a back seat to security.
Cynics often say that no real difference exists between the two major political parties. While that perception may arise from time to time, one clear difference has manifest between Republicans in Democrats in the 2016 presidential contest.
Republicans have so many candidates vying for the job that Fox News had to split the first debate into two tiers, and the eventual nomination remains anyone’s to win. By contrast, the Democrats are hosting a snoozefest with presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. The sense of inevitability regarding her nomination has led Clinton to play it safe and float above the fray.
That dynamic may be shifting however. From the Washington Post:
Clinton’s stepped-up tempo has included almost daily attacks on the better-known contenders among the wide Republican field, particularly billionaire front-runner Donald Trump and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
“Republicans are systematically . . . trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” Clinton wrote in a Twitter message Thursday typical of her recent postings. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?”
Clinton hopes to signal to die-hard leftists, who have been taking a look at rival Bernie Sanders, that she’s a fighter. Otherwise, her perceived weakness may invite the entry of even more competitors.
“Gay teens have higher pregnancy rates than their straight peers.” That’s the headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reporting on findings by a non-profit focused on teenage sexual health. How does that work, you ask?
In this context, “gay” is a catchall term encompassing the entire LGBTQ community. Oh yeah. We just keep tacking new letters on there. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and now the marvelously nebulous category of “questioning” all share the same treatment in these findings. So a girl who identifies as bixsexual, and gets pregnant by a boy, affects the numbers we’re looking at.
Naturally, gay activists have jumped on the findings to further build their rhetorical victim status. From the Tribune:
Struggles with mental health, homelessness, substance abuse and sexual violence were described by pregnant youths interviewed by researchers for Rainbow Health Initiative.
The environment in schools or at home also can play a significant role, said John Azbill-Salisbury, director of programs at Minneapolis-based Rainbow Health Initiative.
“You know, if you’re being told all day long that how you think about yourself is wrong, or that it doesn’t fit into the environment that you’re in, that has a negative effect on all of those things, including risk behaviors that would lead to pregnancy,” he said.
Here’s a much simpler explanation. If you’re a teenager with a professed sexual orientation, it’s probably because you’re having sex. Indeed, the Tribune acknowledges this point on the next page, even while overlooking its significance.
Man bites dog, or in this case, the GOP and NRA back stricter federal background checks. From the Associated Press:
A leading Republican senator [John Cornyn of Texas] proposed a National Rifle Association-backed bill Wednesday that he said would make the federal background check system for gun buyers more effective and bolster programs for treating people with mental illness.
The measure drew criticism from groups advocating stricter controls over firearms, who said it doesn’t go far enough and singled out provisions they said would make it easier for some unstable people to obtain deadly weapons.
The bill would further obscure the checks and balances of federalism by leveraging federal funding to compel state cooperation with federal processes.
Under Cornyn’s bill, states sending at least 90 percent of their records on people with serious mental problems to the federal background check database would get law enforcement grant increases of up to 5 percent. States providing less than that could see grants cut by similar amounts.
Such means may prove more egregious than the ends. Why can’t states be left to establish their own background check systems, if they so desire? We can have the argument over whether states have the constitutional power to restrict gun ownership and sales. But wouldn’t that be a preferable argument to blanket federal legislation?
The field of candidates has been set for Thursday night’s debate. While established office-holders like former Texas governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum will be excluded, reality television star Donald Trump has made the cut.
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz believes that Trump will dominate the stage. From Newsmax:
“Donald Trump is going to win any confrontation,” Dershowitz said Tuesday on “CNN Tonight.”
“He’s a populist,” Dershowitz said of Trump. “He doesn’t have to worry about what he says.”
Republican voters love the billionaire real estate developer because he doesn’t have speechwriters, and anyone who takes him on is going to lose, Dershowitz said.
Pop the corn. This is going to be like letting a bull loose at a commencement ceremony.
Is there any way for another candidate to upstage the Donald?
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce, has become a media darling throughout her public and “courageous” transition from man to woman. However, her story hasn’t fit neatly into the liberal LGBT agenda.
In the above video, Caitlyn speaks out against the welfare state among a group of lefty compatriots. She says, “A lot of times, they can make more [money by] not working [and relying on] social programs than they actually can with an entry-level job.”
The others look visibly uncomfortable as Caitlyn speaks her mind. One responds out of Caitlyn’s earshot, “Caitlyn has every right to be just as conservative as she chooses. But many transgender men and women need social programs to survive.”
Some have called Ayn Rand a prophet. But her powers were not mystical. They were rational. She observed human nature with a discernment matched by no philosopher before or since.
In her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, Rand presented a fictional town called Starnesville, a Midwestern ruin where an important and profitable motor factory once stood. The 21st Century Motor Company was the best in the business, run with efficiency and purpose by the Starnes family patriarch. Unfortunately, when he died, the company passed to heirs who held to a different philosophy.
The Starnes heirs thought the company should be run like a family, that everyone should work according to their ability and be paid according to their need. It was a move celebrated by some and protested by others.
The results were disastrous. Production fell, as did quality of workmanship. Demand for “needs” increased, while claims on “ability” dwindled. In short order, the factory failed.
Rand wrote of her fictional Starnesville in 1957. Today, a Seattle company has followed her script with predictable results. From Business Insider:
When Dan Price, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based credit-card-payment processing firm Gravity Payments, announced he was raising the company’s minimum salary to $70,000 a year, he was met with overwhelming enthusiasm.
“Everyone start[ed] screaming and cheering and just going crazy,” Price told Business Insider shortly after he broke the news in April.
But in the weeks since then, it’s become clear that not everyone is equally pleased. Among the critics? Some of Price’s own employees.
From Fox News:
Dan Price, 31, tells the New York Times that things have gotten so bad he’s been forced to rent out his house.
“I’m working as hard as I ever worked to make it work,” he told the Times in a video that shows him sitting on a plastic bucket in the garage of his house. “I’m renting out my house right now to try and make ends meet myself.”
The Times article said Price’s decision ended up costing him a few customers and two of his “most valued” employees, who quit after newer employees ended up with bigger salary hikes than older ones.
Grant Moran, 29, also quit, saying the new pay-scale was disconcerting
“Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me,” he told the paper. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”
The Times said customers who left were dismayed at what Price did, viewing it as a political statement. Others left fearful Gravity would soon hike fees to pay for salary increases.
Brian Canlis, co-owner of a family restaurant, already worried about how to deal with Seattle’s new minimum wage, told Price the pay raise at Gravity “makes it harder for the rest of us.”
Rand would say she told you so. The solution to any perceived need is not merely to get more. It’s to produce more. Even charity relies on someone being productive. And people aren’t going to be productive if 1) they’ll get paid regardless or, 2) they won’t get paid better for producing more.
That didn’t take long. An effort by North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows to oust House Speaker John Boehner went nowhere fast. The move was unexpected, befuddling even some of Boehner’s staunchest critics. From The Hill:
Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.), who was booted off the House Rules Committee for voting against Boehner for Speaker in January, said the resolution was a “distraction” from issues such as the Iran deal.
“If you’re voting to try to take down a Speaker, then you need to have a game plan for an alternative,” added Brooks, pointing out the lack of a viable candidate to replace Boehner.
If such reasoning sounds familiar, it’s likely because it was offered in defense of votes for Boehner in January. Then, as now, there were no viable candidates to challenge Boehner for his position as speaker.
The spectacular production which has been Donald Trump’s campaign for president has prompted no shortage of commentary. Supporters tout his unconventional rhetoric and willingness to address third-rail political issues like immigration as a refreshing change from politics-as-usual.
Add Mark Cuban to that list. The billionaire, who has in other contexts been a rival of Trump’s, recently took to social media singing the Donald’s praises. From The Blaze:
“I don’t care what his actual positions are,” Cuban wrote. “I don’t care if he says the wrong thing. He says what’s on his mind. He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more important than anything any candidate has done in years.”
Cuban suggested that politics as usual does not appeal to the average voter.
“Up until Trump announced his candidacy the conventional wisdom was that you had to be a professional politician in order to run,” Cuban wrote. “You had to have a background that was politically scrubbed. In other words smart people who didn’t live perfect lives could never run. Smart people who didn’t want their [family] put under the media spotlight wouldn’t run.”
Does this speak for the majority of Trump supporters? Does it speak for you? Does it matter what Trump’s actual positions are? Does it matter whether what Trump has expressed most recently jives with things said before? Or does his willingness to “tell it like it is” transcend such considerations?
Democrat Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who serves the St. Paul area in Minnesota, responded promptly to news that a local dentist shot a popular lion in Zimbabwe. From MPR News:
“To bait and kill a threatened animal, like this African lion, for sport cannot be called hunting, but rather a disgraceful display of callous cruelty,” McCollum wrote in a statement. “For those of us committed to ending poaching of iconic African species I strongly believe the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should investigate whether U.S. laws were violated related to conspiracy, bribery of foreign officials, and the illegal hunting of a protected species or animal.”
The man believed to have killed the lion has claimed that his hunt was “legal and properly handled and conducted.” Critics, including McCollum, dispute that characterization.
Minnesota state Representative Nick Zerwas, a Republican, took to social media to question why McCollum was so responsive to the killing of a lion while completely ignoring troubling revelations about Planned Parenthood. He wrote:
So…. Let me get this straight. After weeks of information and after the release of three videos showing Planned Parenthood ppl bargaining the sale of baby organs.
Pretty much SILENCE from the left…
Now the SAME DAY of news of a lion hunt, and she is calling for an investigation into the LION HUNT… IN AFRICA…
WHERE HAS SHE BEEN? And why not investigate the sale of human organs!!!!
Others in the state have leveled similar criticism at McCollum. How morally confused most one be to prioritize the hunting of a lion over the systematic slaughter of unborn children for profit?
As a recently elected city council member, I find many aspects of municipal government unseemly. One such area is zoning, the practice of restricting what can be built on certain parcels of land in order to fulfill a political vision of what-oughta-be. While I understand concerns about depreciation or health hazards if one suddenly finds himself living next to a chemical factory, zoning too often seeks less to protect rights and more to impose an arbitrary communal vision.
Take Seattle, for instance. For over a century, the Washingtonian metropolis has maintained a “strong neighborhood feel” by restricting residential development in many areas to only single-family homes. Want to build a separate living wing to house your elderly mother? Sorry, not allowed. Want to invest in some multi-family rental property? Sorry, can’t do that.
Now, an advisory committee has been working on a proposal to change the decades-old restriction. A draft of their policy ideas was leaked to the press. Among the committee’s motivations for revisiting single-family zoning is concern over “racial and class exclusion.” From the Seattle Times:
“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.
The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”
At first blush, the notion of racist zoning may seem silly. But it’s actually not that far off the mark, as I’ll explain on the next page.
The Trump phenomenon has been viewed through a particular lens in Minnesota. Voters in the North Star State still remember the unusual third-party gubernatorial victory of Jesse Ventura.
Like Trump, Ventura captured the public’s imagination by flouting convention and dispensing with political niceties. During his 1998 campaign, he called critics names and made grandiose claims. Ventura offered policy proposals that professional consultants would surely advise against, like legalizing prostitution and (ahead of its time) marijuana.
In the end, when the votes were tallied, Ventura came out ahead. His victory remains a beacon held aloft by third-party proponents and rogue activists as evidence of alternative paths to power.
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos about a potential Trump nod on ABC’s This Week, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (D) echoed a point voiced by many in his state. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“You know, George, we had Jesse Ventura in Minnesota win the governorship,” the representative from Minneapolis said. “Nobody thought he was going to win. I’m telling you, stranger things have happened.”
Most of the time, when pundits reference Ventura in support of an unconventional candidacy, the comparison proves incomplete. Ventura’s victory was a perfect storm. He struck during a drought of interest, running against candidates from the major parties who failed to excite. He leveraged his celebrity, a not insignificant advantage in a realm where name-ID is currency. Perhaps his biggest advantage was a natural capacity to put on a show. He was a performer after all.
These characteristics don’t frequently coalesce in other unconventional candidates. The argument could be made, however, that they coalesce in Trump. Ellison could be right.
But before Trump supporters get excited, it’s worth noting how Ventura’s victory panned out, both for him and the state of Minnesota, as we’ll explore on the next page.
Al Franken, junior senator from Minnesota and former Saturday Night Live performer, has authored a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez calling for an investigation into Apple’s business practices. Reuters reports:
The complaints focus on the fact that Apple plays two roles in music streaming. First, it provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others, while taking a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods. Secondly, it has its own streaming service.
Franken noted a complaint often made by streaming companies: that they are barred from putting in their app advertisement that customers can pay less if they download the app from a website instead of the Apple platform. They are also barred from advertising discounts.
“These types of restrictions seem to offer no competitive benefit and may actually undermine the competitive process, to the detriment of consumers, who may end up paying substantially more than the current market price point,” Franken wrote in his letter.
Anti-trust law has always been wielded arbitrarily and politically. In this case, Apple’s competitors have solicited the aid of the state in forcing Apple to allow access to their App Store platform under terms Apple would not voluntarily agree to. It’s naked thuggery and corporate cronyism dressed as consumer advocacy.
A veteran attending the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was manhandled by his fellows when he stood up during a speech by President Barack Obama and lifted a sign in protest. The sign read, “The emperor has no clothes” and referenced the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya.
An NBC News social media post on the incident referred to the elder as a “protestor” and did not credit him as a veteran.
A man tried to protest President Obama during a veterans event, but the crowd wouldn’t stand for it.
No doubt, the act of protest violated protocol. Apparently, when weighed against the gravity of the Benghazi incident and Obama’s role, this veteran felt it was worth it.
The above embedded video produced by the Institute for Justice tells the story of the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. In an effort to raise funds to maintain their burial grounds, the archdioceses began selling headstones to parishioners. The practice raised the ire of headstone dealers, who sued to stop it. When the court ruled in favor of the archdioceses, the headstone dealers took their case to the legislature and got a law passed which prohibited the archdioceses from selling headstones.
The Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm, has taken up the archdioceses’ cause. Taking the case to federal court, they hope to strike down the law on constitutional grounds. They argue that the law exists for the exclusive benefit of a particular constituency.
Of course, that’s a pretty fair description of many laws on the books in every state in the union. Special interest cronyism has long been a pillar of the American system of government. The Institute for Justice hopes that success in this case will set a precedent for going after other laws which prohibit commerce only to benefit a particular constituency.
In his previous life as a comedian, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) made comments regarding John McCain which were very similar to those currently plaguing Donald Trump. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
[A 2000 Salon article] quotes Franken as saying “I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don’t buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I’m concerned he sat out the war.”
The remark proves nearly identical to Trump’s made in front of an Iowa crowd on Saturday. There Trump said McCain is “not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
In light of the fresh attention which Trump’s remarks have brought to Franken’s past statements, the Minnesota senator had to do some damage control during a Monday news conference.
Franken said he admired McCain because he declined a chance to be released, choosing instead to remain a prisoner of war so as to not give his captors a propaganda victory.
“Here’s someone who spent five-and-a-half years being tortured in these camps,” Franken said Monday “… but what a lot of people don’t understand is that he had the opportunity to leave early because his father was the admiral who commanded the whole Pacific fleet.”
He added: “McCain, who as I said was being tortured there, declined. That’s an amazing feat of courage.”
He also condemned Trump’s remarks from Saturday, saying “I don’t know what’s going on in Donald Trump’s head or through his hair, but I condemn him for a lot of things he’s said.”
For his part, Trump continues to stand behind his criticism of McCain.
A new petition posted to WhiteHouse.gov demands reparations for slavery and, as of the time of this writing, is nearing 10% of the support required for an official White House response.
The idea of reparations isn’t a new one. However, the way in which this petition phrases the request proves provocative. Here’s the text:
General William T. Sherman issued Field Order No.15 in 1865, authorizing the redistribution of 160,000,000 acres of land to newly freed black families in forty-acre plots. This action approved by President Lincoln, was to redress the crimes of slavery. However, the order was rescinded after the assassination of Lincoln & the land returned to the original slave owners.
We, the descendants of the Freedmen, in accordance with both national & international law demand The Obama Administration fulfill the United States obligation to make reparation in an adequate form.
We demand President Obama move swiftly by Executive Orders & Actions to provide:
Restitution of our land.
Various forms of rehabilitation.
Apology & Guarantees of non-repetition.
Compensation for economic disenfranchisement.
The request proves absurd on a number of fronts. In a world where Bill Cosby won’t answer for rape due to statutes of limitation, we’re supposed to punish modern property owners for crimes committed hundreds of years ago? How does a black person in 2015 need rehabilitation from something experienced by an ancestor in 1815?
The petition author gets basic historical facts wrong. As documented in the video embedded above, Special Field Order #15 was never intended as reparations for the crimes of slavery. It was intended as a practical solution to a logistical problem: what to do with newly freed refugees. The black men who met with Stanton and Sherman in Savannah at the end of the Civil War sought to have their rights protected and to otherwise be left alone.
The biggest joke within this demand is the call for a guarantee of non-repetition. Cycles of history notwithstanding, the chances of chattel slavery manifesting in the modern United States hardly seem high enough to warrant serious concern. More ironically, the very same ideological bloc promoting this petition supports the essence of slavery.
Slavery is the opposite of liberty. It is the ownership of one human being, the seizure of the fruit of labor, by another human being. In calls for things like reparations, redistribution of wealth, stronger government regulation and the like, today’s slave drivers dominate the political Left. They wear labels like “progressive.” One of them currently occupies the White House.
Anyone truly upset about slavery should be upset about its modern manifestations, not seeking handouts on account of historical injustices they never experienced.
Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico and more recent Libertarian candidate for president of the United States, jumped on the bash-Trump bandwagon during a recent interview with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie.
[Trump] is appealing to a segment that I’ll just label racist. And it exists. And it’s out there. And you know what, I don’t want anything to do with it…. It embarrasses me and, like I say, I think that the electorate will paint the entire Republican Party with a broad brush as a result of Trump. And it won’t be a positive.
Trump continues to defy expectations by consistently ranking at or near the top of polls measuring support among likely primary voters.
Plenty of folks harbor concern over genetically modified organisms. In some cases, that concern has motivated efforts to mandate labeling of GMO food products.
The House Agriculture Committee has recently moved to halt those efforts. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The bill [headed to the House floor] represents a major victory for the food and chemical industries, which fought and failed in court to stop mandatory GMO labeling. Individually and through trade associations, big Minnesota food companies such as Land O’Lakes, Cargill, Hormel and General Mills supported the bill that the agriculture committee approved.
If passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president, the bill will do what the courts have refused to do: Stop Vermont from implementing a mandatory GMO labeling law next year. Maine and Connecticut also have passed GMO labeling laws that would be thwarted.
The bill lays at a nexus of conflicting issues. Should the federal government dictate which laws states can pass? Are the states who mandate labelling intruding upon the rights of food companies? Is the failure to disclose GMO status indicative of fraud? An answer to any one of these questions affects the context in which we might answer the others.
If the algorithm controlling your social media feed is anything like mine, your device exploded with righteous indignation Tuesday as news broke of an undercover video (embedded above) indicating that Planned Parenthood sells body parts from partial-birth abortions. The Blaze summarizes the highlights:
[The video] from the Center for Medical Progress, a group concerned with medical ethics, features comments from Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services, allegedly showing her describing how some doctors carefully conduct abortions that leave fetal body parts in tact.
Nucatola reportedly made these comments on July 25, 2014, to actors whom she believed were actual representatives and buyers from a human biologics company. The comments appear to recount a process through which some abortion doctors purportedly carefully conduct procedures in an effort to keep specific fetal body parts in tact.
While Nucatola’s comments prove disgusting in any context, one might wonder why they warrant special outrage. Over 2,800 unborn children will be murdered today in the United States. That fact does not distinguish this day from any other. We kill babies systematically, proudly, and legally. So what’s the big deal if we make good use of their constituent parts?
Indeed, that was the essence of Planned Parenthood’s response to the hubbub. In an official statement, they reassured the public that recycling dead babies is business as usual:
In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.
Nothing to see here. They have a point. If we accept the daily murder of 2,800 unborn children as a medical procedure on par with an appendectomy, why should we be concerned with “tissue donations” after the fact?
The real horror here is the daily mass murder of the most innocent human beings among us, not how their bodies are disposed of after death. Nucatola’s comments demonstrate the callousness with which those murders occur.
Unfortunately, the callousness is not hers alone. Collectively, ours has become a culture tolerant of these 2,800 daily murders. If we can’t get traction in opposition to that, we’re not going to get traction in opposition to trafficking baby parts.
And be sure to read this:
Draon Armstrong, a 21-year-old black man from Minneapolis, was caught in a fare zone at a light rail station without a paid ticket. During the confrontation with Minneapolis police, Armstrong was thrown to the ground after making “a slight movement” during a handcuffing procedure. The incident was captured on video by Armstrong’s sister.
The local chapter of the NAACP has since called for changes to law enforcement policies. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
NAACP officials called the officer’s actions “excessive force,” which they said raises wider concerns about the treatment of black people by law enforcement in Minneapolis.
“The video footage of Draon Armstrong being slammed to the ground by the Metro Transit officer further supports our claims that Minneapolis is one incident away from becoming Ferguson,” Jason Sole, chairman of the NAACP’s criminal justice form committee, said in a statement.
Sole referred to rioting that took place after a fatal police shooting last summer of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo.
The article does not specify what particular reforms the NAACP would like to see. Sole merely calls for “‘more humane ways’ to address those who don’t pay fares.”
The problem is, according to police, the non-payment was not the trigger for escalated force:
“The arrest in question was made after the suspect indicated they had no intention of addressing their alleged fare evasion and repeated refusals to follow the arresting officer’s lawful orders,” [Metro Transit spokesmen] Drew Kerr said in a statement. “When a suspect resists arrest, officers are trained to maintain safety by bringing a suspect to the ground.”
The NAACP makes it sound like Armstrong was thrown to the ground for being black. They don’t acknowledge his behavior at all.
Had Armstrong been tackled for not having a ticket, the NAACP might have a point. But, according to police, that’s not what happened. He failed to comply with lawful orders. If police can’t escalate levels of force when that happens, then their orders (and the law) mean nothing.
Governor Scott Walker, whose national celebrity has risen during highly publicized confrontations with Wisconsin’s public employee unions, announced his candidacy for president on Monday. It’s expected that, by summer’s end, we’ll have at least 17 announced GOP candidates for president.
It could be that all of those 17 believe they have a legitimate shot at securing the nomination and getting elected to succeed Barack Obama. However, a report from the Associated Press highlights other motivations for running which have nothing to do with actually becoming president:
“You have the opportunity to become a personality in a relatively short period of time,” says [Tony] Fratto[, a Washington consultant who worked for President George W. Bush]. “You get on the national stage, your name ID is elevated and that can translate into writing books, giving speeches and getting an opportunity to go on TV.” Not to mention a potential job as vice president or in the Cabinet.
It worked for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s running again after parlaying his losing candidacy in the 2008 primaries into political celebrity, including TV and radio shows and book deals.
Perhaps we shouldn’t fault candidates for running to promote themselves. If it grants them a platform from which to promote a vision for America, then it stands as a kind of political activism.
That said, donors and volunteers might be interested to know whether their candidate of choice intends to stage a serious campaign. “Is this about selling books?” seems a fair question for any candidate.