Rand Paul polls at 1% among Republican voters. His campaign has failed to live up to expectations set just a year ago. This was to be the libertarian moment, when a broad groundswell of support rendezvoused at the intersection of libertarian ideas and pragmatic campaigning. Alas, it seems no such intersection exists.
Jerry Taylor wrote for Fox News earlier this month of “the collapse of Rand Paul and the libertarian moment that never was.” Jason Farrell recently followed-up at Western Journalism, writing:
The lack of a broad-based movement, despite a number of high profile campaigns and events, is a bitter pill for libertarians who believe in electoral politics. Having libertarians in office may help raise the profile of issues like overcriminalization, tech freedom, and the insanity of the drug war. But those who await a libertarian takeover of the GOP misunderstand the fundamentally radical nature of libertarian ideas and how deeply that radicalism conflicts with the perceptions most Americans have about the role of government.
That’s a hard lesson for liberty activists, but an unavoidable reality manifesting in a variety of ways. Taylor cut to the heart of the matter in his earlier piece:
It’s true that if we avoid asking people about concrete issues and instead ask general questions, we can (if we squint hard enough) see a great deal of latent libertarian sentiment out there.
It has been noted, for instance, that 59 percent of the American public is, broadly speaking, libertarian in that they answer “yes” to the question “Would you define yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Political scientists and campaign strategists, however, almost universally dismiss self-identification and general sentiment surveys as functionally meaningless. Both academic investigation and hard-earned political experience tell us that attitudes about specific governmental programs are far more telling than asking people what labels or characterizations describe them best.
By that standard, when you ask people for their sentiments toward Social Security or pre-existing conditions, it becomes clear that libertarianism remains a fringe ideological niche rather than an consequential political movement. Farrell expects that will not change any time soon, and suggests single-issue activism as a more effective use of libertarians’ time than fielding presidential candidates.
For all their bluster about injustice and inequality, the only thing the Black Lives Matter movement has consistently demonstrated is that black protesters can act unjustly and get away with it. In the Twin Cities, the local Black Lives Matter cell has shut down interstate freeways, blocked families’ access to the state fair, obstructed commuter rail delivering fans to the Vikings home opener, and threatened to shut down the charitable Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, all with minimal legal consequence.
Even so, despite the irrational leniency of local authorities, some of the most egregious offenders still managed to get arrested. One such offender was Adja Gildersleve, described as “a community organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.”
Gildersleve has since run into trouble finding housing on account of pending criminal charges related to an unlawful protest at the Mall of America. City Pages reports:
[Gildersleve] faces seven misdemeanor charges stemming from the holiday demonstration, including unlawful assembly, aiding and abetting trespass, and disorderly conduct.
Due to pending criminal charges, Gildersleve was denied the apartment, though she was invited to reapply after her trial, she says.
Facing such circumstances, some of us might be inclined to take stock of our actions and conclude that criminal trespass might not be the best way to express ourselves. We might take the loss of housing as a sign that rights-violating activity bears bad fruit. Alas, Gildersleve has a different takeaway.
“This is ridiculous. It’s like another form of redlining,” she says. “I technically am innocent now because I haven’t been proven guilty yet, but I’m still denied housing.”
Gildersleve isn’t throwing herself a pity party. She knew protesting might come with a price. Rather, the situation is emblematic of “a messed up system” that erects barriers preventing certain people from finding housing, a basic human need, she says.
“It’s a risk and so I’m dealing with the consequences now,” Gildersleve acknowledges. “I’m not angry at the decisions I’ve made. … What I’m feeling heavy about is the system and how unjust they are and the consequences for folks having a voice. There’s consequences for having a voice and speaking out against oppressive systems.”
As remains typical of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gildersleve here conflates distinct concepts for rhetorical effect. Redlining, refusing to sell or rent housing to individuals based on their race, is wholly different from refusing to rent an apartment to someone with pending criminal charges. “Having a voice,” whatever that means, does not require or justify criminal trespass against others.
Despite her claims that being black makes finding housing more difficult, Gildersleve would have been living in her new apartment today but for her choice to engage in criminal activity. Put another way, don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.
Senator Al Franken has been a chief advocate for net neutrality, a euphemistic term for regressive wealth redistribution and increased regulation of the internet. As has been the case with so many initiatives favored by the Obama administration, when Congress could not be convinced to pass net neutrality through law, the administration enacted the radical policy change through bureaucratic rule-making.
Internet service providers have defended themselves through the only means available, legal challenge. Franken would deny them their day in court, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Sen. Al Franken on Wednesday said he will reach out to his vast network of net neutrality supporters to apply pressure on Republicans after they added a provision in this next year’s budget that guts new net neutrality rules.
The Republican measure, inserted into the budget over the summer, would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing net neutrality rules until Internet service providers deplete all legal challenges with the commission…
… Franken has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, which essentially promises that all Internet traffic and speeds are treated equally.
If the notion at work in net neutrality were applied to the physical realm, deliveries would be priced the same no matter how much was delivered, how far, or how quickly. Doing so would mean charging more for smaller packages traveling shorter distances in less time, in order to cover the expense of larger packages traveling further in haste. The effect would be a de facto wealth redistribution from those using less to those using more.
In the case of net neutrality, the beneficiaries are large corporations like Google and Netflix, gaining at the expense of internet customers with lower bandwidth needs. It’s essentially a regressive tax to subsidize big business, something a guy like Franken is supposed to be against.
As American hegemony in the Middle East wanes, Russia rises to fill the power gap. Tuesday saw a series of Russian attacks against ISIS targets in Syria. Russia Today reports:
The Russian jets destroyed an Islamic State army munitions plant outside Damascus as well as two command centers in Deir ez-Zor, according to the ministry’s statement. In the Idlib Governorate, a training camp for IS militants was eliminated, while several IS strongholds came under attack where ammunition depots were blown up.
Russia’s Su-34 fighters attacked an Islamic State stronghold near the Gmam settlement in Latakia, where “militants’ fortifications were completely destroyed,” according to Konashenkov, who also reported “numerous blazes caused by the detonation of ammunition and fuel supplies.”
The attacks are said to have caused “panic” among ISIS operatives. They may also be causing panic among some in the United States who wonder what the new dynamic may portend.
The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has reinvigorated debate over federal immigration policy at a time when the current administration has unilaterally implemented a de facto amnesty for millions illegally residing in the United States. A new report from the Associated Press highlights how that stealth amnesty has been implemented:
The Obama administration deported fewer immigrants over the past 12 months than at any time since 2006, according to internal figures obtained by The Associated Press as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called Obama’s deportation policies too harsh.
Deportations of criminal immigrants have fallen to the lowest levels since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, despite his pledge to focus on finding and deporting criminals living in the country illegally. The share of criminal immigrants deported in relation to overall immigrants deported rose slightly, from 56 percent to 59 percent.
The overall total of 231,000 deportations generally does not include Mexicans who were caught at the border and quickly returned home by the U.S. Border Patrol. The figure does include roughly 136,700 convicted criminals deported in the last 12 months.
Total deportations dropped 42 percent since 2012.
The article euphemistically references “administrative changes” made by Obama after failing to get immigration reform passed through Congress. That’s how things are done nowadays, the rule of law be damned.
The recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has reignited the perpetual debate over gun control. The above meme has been percolating, suggesting that guns be regulated in the same manner as motor vehicles. Surprisingly, the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education agrees. In summary, such restrictions would result in:
No need to register or get a license to have a gun at home, and a simple, routine test through which any law-abiding citizen can get a state license to carry a gun in public.
The suggestion emerges from the unspoken premise that motor vehicle regulations set a standard for regulating all manner of behavior. But that’s not an apples to apples comparison. Your life does not depend upon your ability to drive a motor vehicle. It may depend upon your ability to bear arms.
Self-defense is a fundamental human right, which is why the Founders chose to bolster it with the Second Amendment. That amendment doesn’t say the right to bear arms shall be slightly infringed. It says it “shall not be infringed,” in the clearest possible declarative language.
There are plenty of appropriate ways to respond to the irrational rantings of gun-grabbers. But this probably isn’t one of them, as reported by the New York Times:
[Donald Trump] sounded uncharacteristically resigned on Sunday when it came to last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, saying such shootings will continue in the United States “no matter what.”
In interviews on the Sunday morning talk shows, Trump rejected calls from President Obama to pass tougher gun laws, saying they would do nothing to stop an attack like the one that killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
“No matter what you do — guns, no guns, it doesn’t matter — you have people that are mentally ill, and they’re going to come through the cracks, and they’re going to do things that people will not even believe are possible,” Trump said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
His air of resignation sounded not unlike the reaction of Jeb Bush, a presidential rival Trump has often criticized, who said after the Oregon shooting that “stuff happens” in suggesting that government is not always the solution to such problems.
The substance of Trump’s point has merit. Laws don’t prevent criminal acts, clearly. However, the callousness with which the point was delivered provides an opening for gun-grabbers to claim that theirs is the sensitive and proactive position.
While it may be true that criminal attacks will occur “no matter what,” there are specific and proactive policies which could mitigate the risk. Instead of merely opposing restrictive gun legislation, gun-rights advocates should argue for enabling of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others.
Generally, gun-rights activists do advocate such. However, when highly visible figures perceived to be representative of the movement offer only indifferent resignation, the proactive message gets lost.
Monday will test the resilience of Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. He’s unveiling a tax plan that sounds remarkably similar to those offered by Democrats. From the Wall Street Journal:
[Trump's plan] calls for major reductions in levies on middle-income and poor payers, while increasing taxes on the wealthy and reining in companies that pay less in taxes by moving their headquarters overseas.
The plan will offer a “major tax reduction for almost all citizens” and help stimulate business in the U.S. again, the Republican candidate’s campaign said Sunday.
The GOP presidential front-runner is also expected to call for the poorest filers to pay no federal taxes at all while also recommending that corporate levies be reduced.
How is this substantively different than the inclinations of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? Will die-hard supporters continue to stand by Trump in the face of such a proposal?
From the totally predictable category, a story out of Washington State once again demonstrates the folly of gun-free zones. The Washington State Fair bans the carrying of guns or weapons of any kind on their premises. Ammoland observes:
The effect of creating a weapons free zone was not lost on a group of criminals. They used the fact that fair workers were known to be disarmed to their advantage. Three different armed robberies of State Fair workers were committed in less than 20 minutes, on the 15th of September, Sunday night, shortly after the Fair closed.
More details are available at the link. Suffice it to say, once again, the only beneficiaries of gun restrictions are criminals.
You’d have to be nuts to open a business in Minneapolis. That’s the sentiment from Sue Jeffers, local radio talk show host and former owner of a bar in the city. She commented in response to a new proposal by the mayor and city council to regulate employee scheduling through ordinance. MPR News reports:
Under the draft proposal, employers would [be required to create employee work schedules four weeks in advance and] have to compensate workers for any unexpected schedule changes. Mayor Betsy Hodges and key members of the City Council want to make Minneapolis the second city in the country with a so-called “fair scheduling” rule.
Employees whose schedules were changed with less than four weeks notice would need to be paid for an additional hour of work. Schedule changes with less than 24 hours notice would result in an extra four hours’ worth of pay. Employees would also have to pay time-and-a-half for shifts scheduled within 16 hours of a previous shift, or for each hour worked beyond eight in a single shift.
Businesses in Minneapolis have responded with incredulity and outrage:
Allina Health put out a statement saying, quote, “flu epidemics, disease and accidents do not necessarily adhere to predictable daily patterns,” and that “rigid scheduling regulations” are inconsistent with responding to those medical needs.
Nick Rancone employs 55 people at two Nicollet Avenue restaurants — Revival and Corner Table. He says predicting right now how many servers he’ll need in late October is impossible.
“So we’re saying that if I have a patio that I’m trying to staff, it’s like it might snow at the end of this month, right? So if we get snow at the end of October, obviously I’m not going to have anybody who’s going to want to dine on the patio,” Rancone said.
The predictable result of such regulation will be fewer jobs in Minneapolis. Like the minimum wage, such regulation will artificially increase the cost of doing business, push some establishments out of business and suppress the development of new businesses.
The real losers under such an ordinance will be the aspiring worker. Gone will be opportunities to work extra hours toward a particular goal. Instead of dealing with one schedule at a single employer, aspiring workers in need of extra cash will have to pick up multiple jobs and deal with scheduling conflicts.
Taxi drivers in Minneapolis are upset with competition from limo services, and they’re demanding that the city do something about it. To drive the point home, they blocked traffic on a major thoroughfare in downtown while meeting with city officials. From CBS Minnesota:
The cabs parked along Fourth Street, outside city hall, blocking traffic for more than an hour as a few representatives met with the mayor’s senior staff.
Why shouldn’t they? They’ve watched as criminal agitators from Black Lives Matter shut down Interstate 35W, trespassed and blockaded commerce at the Mall of America, shut down access to the Minnesota State Fair and blocked transit trains from delivering fans to the Vikings home opener. They’ve watched as none of these criminal acts have resulted in significant prosecution. So why not use the same illegal tactics?
After whacking a proverbial hornet’s nest with remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press regarding a hypothetical Muslim candidate, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson backpedaled slightly on Monday. From Mediaite:
On Hannity tonight, Carson said that “we do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution,” which he insisted applies to every faith, not just Islam.
But he still singled out Islam in particular, saying any Muslim candidate should reject the more controversial tenets of their faith and accept the American way of life, which he assumed would make them “heretics” to the faith.
Earlier on Monday, I wrote that Carson should have qualified his original statement by saying that all theocracy is antithetical to the Constitution, not just the Islamic variety. Someone on his campaign, or perhaps Carson himself, obviously came to the same conclusion. But the distinction probably won’t help him now.
Suddenly the Republican presidential contest is all about a hypothetical Muslim who isn’t running. This after a dumb comment from a non-candidate at a Trump rally somehow became a news story, prompting members of the media to ask other candidates what they think of Muslims. NBC’s Meet the Press got the bite they were fishing for from Ben Carson. The Associated Press reports:
Responding to a question during an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he described the Islamic faith as inconsistent with the Constitution.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson’s comments have provoked all manner of indignation, including from our own Rick Moran, who wrote:
I suppose someone will come forward and show us chapter and verse in the Koran why Islam is “inconsistent with the Constitution.” They tried something similar in 1924 when Catholic Al Smith ran for president. Protestant preachers published twisted interpretations of Catholic doctrine (or outright lies) to “prove” that Smith would be the pope’s servant. It was wrong back then and Carson is wrong today. One’s religion is separate from one’s fealty to the Constitution. Kennedy proved that, and I’m sure the first Muslim president will prove it too.
Readers took issue with Moran’s stance. However, he hits upon the key distinction which Carson should have made. Theocracy of any kind is inconsistent with the Constitution, whether Islamic or otherwise.
The problem in a modern context is that Islam seeks theocracy far more than Catholicism does. So it’s an apples and oranges comparison.
If you didn’t catch Wednesday night’s debate between the Republican presidential candidates, you owe it to yourself to check out this highlight from Carly Fiorina. She addressed the snowballing controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood’s apparent butchery of unborn children and subsequent sale of body parts. She said:
I dare Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch these [Planned Parenthood] tapes! Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking, while somebody says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain!” This is about the character of our nation. And if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us!
Fiorina didn’t contain her criticism to Democrats. She also called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not forcing President Obama to veto a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. “Forcing a veto brings the issue to light,” she said. “It does not shut down the government.”
As a national debate has persisted regarding law enforcement practices, fueled by controversies from Ferguson to New York, one quick fix has often been proposed. Place body cameras on police officers, the argument goes, and we’ll know the real story behind alleged abuse. Law enforcement critics support body cameras because they imagine the devices will increase officer accountability. Some law enforcement professionals support body cameras because they believe objective documentation will ward off frivolous complaints.
Neither camp has thought the implementation of police body cameras through, and now we’re beginning to see some of the unintended consequences. Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have come together to petition the legislature to restrict access to footage recorded on body cameras. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Calls for restricting the release of footage is the newest tension as the tiny cameras become more prevalent around the state, creating new questions about storing the data and when the footage should be made public.
“Body-worn cameras raise privacy concerns that have not to date been addressed” by the Legislature, read the petition, prepared by Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell.
The petition said the technology can sometimes record intimate moments with the public that do not advance law enforcement. “The privacy interests under these circumstances should prevail over the public’s hunger for sensationalism or gossip,” the petitioners said.
In a report released earlier this year, a group cited Minneapolis police, who released footage depicting a woman’s dead body after a public records request, provoking a public debate on privacy.
Such a restriction would open Pandora’s box. Consider the conflict of interest. If the goal of police body cameras is accountability, you can’t have government deciding arbitrarily when the video should be public or not. To avoid shenanigans, all the video would need to be public. On the other hand, as these Minnesota agencies and many in the public are beginning to understand, you can’t make all the video public without violating the privacy of anyone with whom law enforcement comes into contact.
Next: Body cameras represent the biggest expansion of the surveillance state in history…
Adding to many comments which the political consultancy class would no doubt advise against, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump recently cited a similarity between himself and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. From The Washington Times:
“I was watching [Sanders] and he talked about trade and he was talking about how we’re getting ripped off left and right on trade, and I [said], you know, I think I can take that paragraph and just use it in my speeches,” Mr. Trump said Monday via phone on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s what I’m saying — it’s one of my big things.”
Both Mr. Trump, who has been leading recent polls on the 2016 GOP presidential field, and Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who is contending for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, have come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries including Japan, Australia and Canada.
“We’re getting killed by China, we’re getting killed — now here’s the difference between Bernie Sanders and myself: I negotiate. I will make great deals with China; he can’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “In other words, he’s incapable of doing that. But he knows the problem, at least. He’s not going to be able to anything about it, but he does know the problem, and if you look at his words on trade and my words on trade, man — I was just looking at it yesterday, actually. I said, that’s pretty close, you know, so in terms of that, we’re very close.”
Notably, the distinction Trump draws between himself and Sanders isn’t one of policy, but capacity. In essence, Trump is saying he can do a better job of restricting trade than Bernie Sanders. So, he’s got that going for him.
In a crowded presidential field where the lion’s share of attention remains focused on the bombastic Donald Trump, candidates need to swing for the fences if they hope to earn much needed attention. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made such a move Monday, announcing his intention to eliminate unions for federal employees and abolish the National Labor Relations Board. From the Associated Press:
Union leaders are livid. Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union that represents 150,000 federal workers, said Walker is “declaring a war on middle-class workers.” And Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton accused him of bullying union members.
What about those of us in the middle class who don’t hold comfy federal jobs? You know, the ones who have to pay the taxes which make those jobs possible? Do our voices count?
Who’s bullying who in the ongoing labor debate? Whether the issue is card check or the NLRB extorting Boeing and other companies who attempt to flee to right-to-work states, the union-industrial complex can be found doing the bullying more often than not.
Unfortunately, Republican candidates aren’t presenting a united front on this issue. The report continues:
One of Walker’s Republican rivals challenged the plan, too, saying it is the wrong message for the GOP to send to unionized workers. “Instead of treating all union members like they are the enemy,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, “it’s time we invite them to give some of us in our party a try.”
Yeah, because that’s going to happen. Those union workers inclined to support Republicans, few though they may be, will do so regardless of Walker’s plan. They already get it. Those who don’t, won’t. At least Walker is taking a stand.
Stephen Colbert used his new pulpit on The Late Show to lob criticism at Hillary Clinton on Friday, mocking her campaign’s effort to portray her as “authentic.” He began by pointing to the possible entry of Vice President Joe Biden into the race:
I think one of the reasons that everybody likes the vice president is that, when you see that man, it really feels like your seeing a genuine authentic person whose giving an honest version of themselves.
Which is why a lot of people are worried about former future president Hillary Clinton. At the beginning of the summer, everyone thought she was inevitable. But right now, in New Hampshire, she’s 11 points behind Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, proving that even people in New Hampshire can’t tell the difference between their state and Vermont.
Colbert offered his advice to the campaign:
I personally just think she needs to show more humor and heart and rely less on what her aides are saying, which is why I was so excited to see this headline: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” So that’s good. That’s good.
Hillary’s handlers now promise, “… new efforts to bring spontaneity to [her] candidacy…” And they are off to a great start with the spontaneous run in they had with a Times reporter to spontaneously explain their plans for spontaneity.
Humor, heart, and spontaneity may not be in Clinton’s wheelhouse. Efforts to portray her has heartfelt and warm crash against the rocks of her rigid persona. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Clinton has been genuine and authentic. What we see is what she’s like.
Without government, who would spend $1.2 million without knowing what they were spending it on? That’s what the Minneapolis school district did when they placed an order with Reading Horizons. When the books arrived, they touched a nerve in the community. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The books [for a new reading curriculum for kindergarten through third grade] were a tool teachers could use to reinforce reading lessons, but top administrators say they never thoroughly reviewed the content. When teachers got the books, they found an illustration of an American Indian girl titled “Nieko the Hunting Girl,” and another with a black girl called “Lazy Lucy.” The books also referenced Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, a historical milestone no longer taught in many schools.
The book controversy erupted at a time when many in the community say the district isn’t doing enough to help students of color. Minneapolis schools also face criticism for a yawning achievement gap between white students and students of color.
It’s unclear how the refund the district seeks from Reading Horizons will help students or fix the achievement gap. Perhaps officials could improve reading scores if they led by example, reading the books they order before spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Reading this piece by Daniel Greenfield over at FrontPage Magazine, I’m reminded of how the Soviets would deploy their troops on the Eastern Front in World War II. As a Soviet grunt, you had two choices: advance, and likely be shot by Germans; or retreat, and surely be shot by your fellow countrymen. In similar fashion, Islamic forces in the Middle East are doing their best to push their troops — under the guise of refugees — into the West. Greenfield writes:
Saudi Arabia, which doesn’t permit the construction of churches but finances a mosque construction spree in the land of the infidel, will not be taking in Syrian refugees. Even though they are fellow Muslims. It will however offer to build 200 mosques in Germany for their use.
It’s a kind offer. The only proper way for Europe to reciprocate would be to send a million soccer hooligans to Saudi Arabia and then offer to build facilities to teach them of the importance of trashing the country and abusing any native they come across.
Of course the Saudis aren’t stupid enough to fall for that one. Not even if the soccer hooligans bring along the occasional woman and child to use as emotional human shields while battering their way into a country they hate in every possible way aside from its social services.
Only Westerners are stupid enough to fall for that one.
The intent of the Saudis should be apparent. They don’t care about the well-being of their fellow Arabs any more than Soviet officers cared for the well-being of the troops under their command. The mission is invasion, and the means is any deemed necessary.
Historical censorship continues in the wake of June’s mass shooting in a black church in South Carolina. Legislators in California have just voted overwhelmingly to ban the naming of public buildings after Confederate figures. The Los Angeles Times reports:
[The] bill would affect two schools named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, one in Long Beach and the other in San Diego.
Senate passed the bill, SB 539, by a 31-2 vote, with two Republicans voting against the measure.
“If anything, this is revisionist history” said Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber, one of the senators who voted against the legislation.
The Assembly approved the bill in late August. It now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.
The best way to avoid repeating history is to forget it. That’s the saying, right?
Alongside Labor Day, another sign of summer’s end appears when Congress reconvenes from its August recess. That happens today.
The Associated Press has a list of pending issues the body will tackle, many of which must be resolved in short order:
—The 12 annual spending bills that fund the government remain in limbo over disparate disputes, from the Confederate flag to defense budgets. Congress is likely to approve a measure that would keep the government operating temporarily, which leaders hope they can do by Pope Francis’ address to lawmakers Sept. 24. Conservatives insist they will not back legislation financing Planned Parenthood; the group is under fire after its officials were secretly recorded discussing how they obtain fetal tissue for research.
—The government’s ability to pay its bills expires around Oct. 30, so Congress will have to extend the government’s borrowing authority by then or face a first-ever federal default. That probably means there will be demands and drama attached to that showdown.
That sense of déjà vu in the pit of your gut is justified. We’re about to have the same old arguments all over again, kind of like a national version of Thanksgiving dinner.
Generally speaking, government and the politics surrounding it lag behind both culture and technology. The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has presented the political and media establishments with an innovation few were prepared for, but one which may have been inevitable. The conventional wisdom, as articulated by Associated Press writer Jill Colvin, has been that “Trump defies political gravity.” Colvin writes:
By the standard that voters typically use to judge presidential candidates, Trump probably should not have survived his first day in the 2016 race.
Yet as the summer draws to a close and the initial votes in the nominating calendar appear on the horizon, Trump has established himself as the Republican front-runner.
What if, instead of defying political gravity, Trump has inadvertently shifted it? Colvin goes on to note, regarding Trump’s supporters:
Some haven’t voted in years, or ever, and may not next year. But at this moment, they are entranced by Trump’s combination of utter self-assurance, record of business success and a promise that his bank account is big enough to remain insulated from the forces they believe have poisoned Washington.
The standard that voters typically use to judge presidential candidates doesn’t apply because Trump’s supporters aren’t typical voters. His constituency is patched together from the disaffected, the apathetic, the cynical — folks who don’t typically show up on the political radar because they are not typically politically active.
Other candidates and their advisers marvel at Trump’s success because everything they know about politics suggests he should fail. But everything they know about politics is informed by voters who have regularly participated in the electoral process. It doesn’t account for voters who have withdrawn their consent. Trump has defied conventional wisdom by, in part, diluting the electorate.
At some point, political professionals are going to study what Trump has done and begin to figure out how to use what they learn for future campaigns. When that happens, I think we will begin to see a shift in how political campaigns operate. Candidates will begin to look a lot more like reality television stars, and their campaigns will begin to look a lot more like tabloid marketing. That is to say more than they already do.
John Stossel has a provocative piece over at Reason entitled “There’s nothing mysterious about the market.” He offers several examples demonstrating how the market provides services which many assume can only be offered by government.
One example which stands out, particularly for folks living in California these days, is water utilities. Stossel echoes what we’ve said here before. We have water shortages because of government, not in spite of it.
“Water shortages are manmade,” says [economist Zachary] Donohew. “We don’t send the right signal to indicate how valuable it is, and we don’t make it easy to move water from one use to the other.”
In most of America, taxpayers pay for reservoirs and aqueducts, but water sent to consumers, farmers, etc., is practically “free.” So people waste it. But if the price were allowed to rise to reflect its scarcity, everyone would economize. You might decide you need to cook but not wash your car. Important activities like agriculture would continue, but farmers might grow grapes instead of oranges, because oranges need so much water.
Decisions like that happen naturally when markets set prices. A price is more than money—it’s information. It tells people what is valuable. Then people adjust.
Critics of the market focus on one side of the transaction. They see a consumer in a bad situation having to pay higher prices for an essential product. They call that “gouging.” On the other side of the transaction is someone providing that essential product who might not otherwise do so.
The choice thus presents itself between higher prices for a needed product and shortages of that product. Would you rather pay a lot for something you need, or not have it at all? The anti-gougers impose the latter, and that’s why Californians now live under water restrictions.
Ad hominem may stand as the most commonly used logical fallacy. Instead of judging an idea on its merits, ad hominem focuses on the person expressing it. We see it all the time in politics.
Take a policy proposal like National Popular Vote. There are certainly valid arguments against the proposed state compact to award the presidency to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. However, the fact that George Soros supports the compact is not among them. It’s either a good idea or a bad idea, regardless of where it came from.
Yet, for whatever reason, likely because it proves simpler than thinking critically, many people tend to base their judgments on association rather than substance. The trend bears out in a recent poll from The Huffington Post (you’ll excuse the source, hopefully):
How much can namedropping a politician matter? Conveniently, Republican front-runner Donald Trump shares a couple of policy positions with Obama and other leading Democrats. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, we randomly assigned one half of the 1,000 Americans surveyed to say whether they agreed with positions Trump held. The rest were asked whether they agreed with positions held by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry or current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The trick: the positions were actually the same.
Yet respondents’ reactions were decidedly different. Hearing that Trump supported a certain policy was enough to cause Democrats to reconsider ideas they’d otherwise support, and for Republicans to endorse positions they’d usually avoid.
Perhaps we’d be better off if we considered policy positions independent of who held them. Of course, that would require thoughtful evaluation.
Former PJ Media contributor Sunny Lohmann has emerged from her new mommy cloister to produce satire again. The latest takes aim at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Sunny presents a female version of the candidate named Tramp.
“Make American mine,” Tramp exhorts, “or you’re going to get Jeb Bush.”
For more compelling arguments, watch above.
Critics of the Obama administration’s deal with Iran claim that it endangers Israel. Many question the motives of those supporting it. President Obama takes offense to such criticism, spinning it on its head in a recent interview with the Jewish newspaper The Forward, summarized at the New York Times:
President Barack Obama said people who attack Jews who support the Iran nuclear deal are like African-Americans who differ with him on policy and then conclude he’s “not black enough.”
“…when I hear members of my administration who themselves are Jewish being attacked. You saw this historically sometimes in the African-American community, where there’s a difference on policy and somebody starts talking about, ‘Well, you’re not black enough,’ or ‘You’re selling out.’ And that, I think, is always a dangerous place to go.”
Obama should try being a black conservative, or a Jewish one for that matter. It’s odd to hear a “progressive” president complain about the unfairness of identity politics.
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.