A police officer in Minneapolis has been charged with nine counts in an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
Patrol officer Michael Griffin, 40, has been the subject of 22 complaints, only one of which has been sustained by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Griffin is charged in the indictment with depriving the men of their civil rights, falsifying reports and committing perjury in testimony in two lawsuits filed against him.
The suits resulted in $410,000 in payouts by the city to the litigants and their attorneys.
Griffin happens to be black, a fact which informed this reaction:
“I do hope that we are not looking at a double standard by federal authorities because there have been a number of cases involving white officers over the last five years where federal authorities appeared to show no interest,” said civil rights activist Ron Edwards, a former president of the Minneapolis Urban League, who sits on a police oversight committee appointed by Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
Edwards stops just short of suggesting that Griffin should get a pass on account of his race.
“It is so hard and difficult to get a person of color, African-Americans, into law enforcement in this state,” [Edwards] said. “This was a young man who came into the department with high expectations. Something went wrong. He lost his vision of what he wanted to do.”
Perhaps Edwards intent was to suggest that white officers similarly accused ought to face similar indictments. That’s the best-case scenario. Either way, we can see that grand jury decisions regarding police misconduct can be spun as racist no matter how they come out.
It’s been clear for weeks now that Minnesota’s Democrat governor Mark Dayton wants a government shutdown. He’s been openly pining for it, not bothering to mask his naked partisan desire to blame Republicans going into next year’s election season.
The regular legislative session concluded late Monday night. As the deadline for the session approached, Governor Dayton repeatedly moved the goal posts on education funding, demanding ever more spending and full funding of universal preschool for four-year-olds.
The preschool piece has been a “priority” for Dayton despite widespread bipartisan opposition to the idea. Officials in the school district in which I live, which already deals with challenging fiscal issues, have told me they wouldn’t know where to put the new students if preschool were mandated by the state. But practical issues like that don’t concern Dayton, who sees universal preschool as a chance to both define a personal legacy in his second term and stick a thumb in the eye of House Republicans.
Tuesday, Dayton indicated he would make good on a threat to veto an education bill passed by the legislature because it does not include universal preschool. His veto will necessitate a special session during a time when capitol renovations leave the legislature with nowhere to meet. But Dayton says the inevitable special session was triggered by Republicans for not including his “priority.”
There’s only one problem with that narrative. Dayton’s fellow Democrats control the State Senate, and passed the same bill he’s about to veto. The Senate’s passage has been spun by some as a reaction to pressure to end the regular session on time. However, the reality is that many Democrats stand as skeptical of universal preschool as most Republicans.
The drama indicates that Dayton thinks voters will ignore the facts and buy his manufactured narrative of partisan intransigence. Even liberal allies in local media remain skeptical of that strategy’s chances.
Nebraska might be the last place you would expect to overturn the death penalty. A highly conservative state where Republicans dominate, Nebraska may nonetheless join a growing list of states which have abandoned capital punishment.
The trend has emerged from a shift in the application of philosophical principles. An increasing number of conservatives have come to regard capital punishment as antithetical to their vision for government. From the New York Times:
Sen. Colby Coash, a conservative who is a sponsor of the bill [to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment], said he had come to believe that opposing capital punishment aligned with his values as a Republican and a Christian conservative.
“I’m a conservative guy — I’ve been a Republican my whole life,” he said. “… Some people see this as a pro-life issue. Other people see it as a good-government issue. But the support that this bill is getting from conservative members is evidence that you can get justice through eliminating the death penalty, and you can get efficient government through eliminating the death penalty.”
The point about efficiency seems to get much traction these days. The cost of running a death row convict through an appeals process is cited as wasteful. Procuring the drugs necessary for lethal injection is considered difficult.
This new way of thinking about the death penalty reflects a larger flaw in modern conservative/libertarian thinking, which emphasizes the size and cost of government without regard to its purpose. But we can’t talk about government waste outside the context of government’s purpose. First, we must determine what government is for. Only then can we evaluate whether its cost and scope proves excessive.
We have government to protect individual rights and administer justice. That is its end. Whatever cost that purpose requires, we should pay it. Whatever size government needs to maintain liberty, we should happily sustain it.
Opposition to the death penalty is not pro-life. One does not support life by tolerating its degradation and destruction. Rather, it’s the death penalty that’s pro-life. The death penalty affirms the value of life by eliminating those who show no regard for it. Opposing the death penalty conveys a lower regard for the value of life, a tolerance of unmitigated evil. There’s nothing conservative about that.
It’s one thing to take an abstract stance against the death penalty in a hypothetical laboratory. However, as the recent death sentence doled out to the Boston Marathon bomber in liberal Massachusetts indicates, the appropriateness of executing heinous murderers becomes clear when you see one.
It’s become a perennial drama. Divided government, at either the state or federal level, reaches an impasse in legislative negotiations which triggers a shutdown of government operations. Nobody claims to want it. Yet everyone seems to shape their strategy around it, with each party hoping the other will take the brunt of the blame from frustrated constituents.
Minnesota’s regular legislative session will end tonight at midnight. The chances of Democrat governor Mark Dayton reaching agreement with House Republicans stands next to nil. From all accounts, Dayton wants it that way. As the session deadline has loomed closer, the billionaire department store heir has moved the goal posts on education funding again and again. Most recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Dayton will veto an education bill “if it only includes $400 million in new money for schools.”
Dayton’s banking on a hunch that Republicans will take the blame for a contentious special session and potential government shutdown. He’s “vowing that House Republicans would pay the biggest political cost” in that scenario. That’s what passes for leadership in Minnesota at the moment, triggering shutdowns on the belief political opponents will be blamed.
Why is this even a thing? You might think, with the amount of frustration that these standoffs cause for all parties concerned, there would be some proposal to reform how the budget process works so that negotiations never take place under the specter of a shutdown. If or how that would work legally, I leave to the experts. But such a proposal would quickly sort the disingenuous partisan operatives from the statesmen.
The script needs to flip on the green crowd. The mainstream media typically frames our ongoing debate on the subject of climate change as noble climate scientists on one side against flat-earth-preaching “deniers” on the other.
In a segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered” from earlier this month, host Melissa Block played denier’s advocate in an interview with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief greenhouse gas scientist Pieter Tans. Following up on Tans’ claim that we’ve reached a “global carbon dioxide level milestone” and that the recently measured amount of carbon dioxide hasn’t been seen in millions of years, Block presented a counterpoint:
BLOCK: Now, wouldn’t some people say though that if this same level was reached three or four million years ago, that that indicates climate change isn’t man-made, this happened before?
TANS: Well, yes, climate has changed before dramatically. In most cases though, the pace of that was very, very slow. What is really special about modern times is that human activity on the geologic time scale is like an explosion.
Typically, this is where the debate on climate change pivots, on the question of whether human activity presents a catastrophic threat to the environment. However, a later comment from Tans suggests that we ought to shift the focus from whether there’s a problem to the whether we can afford the proposed solution. Check this out (emphasis added):
BLOCK: And what would it take to reverse the carbon dioxide concentration levels that you’re seeing now?
TANS: See, that is really at the core of why we have made so little progress. The problem with CO2 in particular is that climate – forcing of climate change by CO2 depends not so much on the rate at which we are emitting it. It depends primarily on the total amount of CO2 that we’ve emitted since pre-industrial times.
The implication is that if we want to stop this, we have to bring the emissions back down to zero. That is a very tall order. I mean, I can understand why there is reluctance to take this on seriously. Of course, it’s still in our power to make it much worse. So if we can’t stop emitting at a very aggressive pace, the risks for future generations are much larger.
Zero. In other words, we need to put a halt to human civilization.
Excellent. That’s the debate I want to have. Let’s go out and ask the American people whether they’re so concerned about anthropogenic climate change that they’re willing to freeze to death next winter, assuming they don’t starve before that. Every single aspect of civilized human life produces carbon emissions directly or indirectly. So what Tans is saying, in essence, is that humans have to go.
That’s where the climate change debate needs to shift, away from whether human activity causes it to the more relevant question: so what if it does? What does climate change matter if the prescribed solution is ending human civilization?
As racial tensions have ratcheted up in recent months, triggered by incidents of actual or perceived mistreatment of black men by law enforcement, fresh consideration has been afforded to what it means to be black in America. As a black Republican activist and office-holder, I retain a unique perspective. My existence, and the existence of others like me, makes one side of the debate uncomfortable. After all, it’s hard to maintain a stark whites-versus-blacks dichotomy in a world with black and biracial Republicans.
In my encounters with radical black activists, my skin color has commanded no respect. Blackness, it would seem, means how you think, not how you look. A new study seems to confirm this. The Washington Examiner reports:
The study… searched through the demographic details of 3,300 African-American voters in the 2010 election, when the GOP had nearly three dozen black House candidates running, part of the Republican Party’s push to attract minority voters.
But the authors, political scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago, found it didn’t help. “Republican efforts in recruiting black candidates were ultimately unsuccessful at mobilizing black voters,” the study said.
Since 1981, the GOP has focused on expanding the black vote beyond single digits — and mostly failed.
The study did find that having a black Republican in the race pushed more African-Americans to the polls, but mostly for Democrats. The highest turnout, 75 percent, occurred when both party candidates were black, followed by when only the Democrat was black, at 73 percent, and 62 percent when only the Republican was black.
That last bit seems particularly telling. The highest turnout among blacks occurs when both parties’ candidates are black, but benefits the Democrat, suggesting that black voters feel compelled to rebuke black Republicans running against black Democrats. The study concluded that “nothing the Republican Party does, even nominating African-American GOP candidates, works to win them over.”
The political ramifications of the study prove disturbing, but not as much as the cultural ramifications. Politically, the study suggests that Republicans might as well write off blacks as a potential constituency. Culturally, the study indicates that “being black” in the eyes of most African-Americans means holding a certain set of beliefs. Black is a worldview, not a skin color.
If that’s actually how most blacks view blackness, it tells us something significant about the ongoing race debate. If race is a worldview rather than a skin color, then racism is objecting to that worldview rather than objecting to skin color. This explains why anyone who rejects the Marxist undercurrent of the Black Lives Matter movement can expect to be labelled racist, even if they happen to be black.
Whenever you hear government apologists claim that budgets can’t be cut lest the poor wither and die in the street, remind them that the federal government and the state of Hawaii effectively just set $235 million ablaze. The state’s Obamacare insurance exchange will be shuddered this month after failing to attract enough enrollees to become financially viable. From Americans for Tax Reform:
While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached.
Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals – meaning it spent almost $23,899 on its website for each individual enrolled. Currently over 37,000 individuals are enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange – well below the estimated 70,000 enrollees that is required to make the website financially viable. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to hand out an additional $30 million so that Hawaii can migrate to the federal system.
That’s fundamentally no different from lighting a huge stack of money on fire. At least The Dark Knight’s Joker had the decency to only burn his half.
Think of it, $235 million that came out of household budgets and business accounts, $235 million that won’t go into investments or be spent supporting businesses and funding jobs. It’s a scandal for which no one anywhere will apparently pay a price, just the taxpayers who already have.
When President Obama told American business owners that they didn’t build their own success, he shifted the credit to government for providing things like infrastructure and public schools. Now, he’s attributing success to another factor – dumb luck. From the New York Times:
Speaking to a gathering of faith leaders at Georgetown University, Obama said …his unsuccessful effort to raise taxes on hedge fund managers is an example of the refusal by conservatives to compromise for the benefit of the poor…
“If we can’t ask from society lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show,” Obama said. He added later, “If we can’t bridge that gap, I suspect we are not going to make as much progress as we need to.”
That single comment defines the president’s economic worldview. Success doesn’t come to those who act rationally in pursuit of their values. It doesn’t come from hard work performed intelligently. No, it comes from the roll of a die.
There’s a lot more code language in the clip from the Georgetown “poverty summit” embedded above. Obama lamented successful Americans “divesting” from “the commons” by sending their children to private school or working out in private clubs. He claims these acts of free association and pursuit of happiness foster an “an anti-government ideology” which endangers “those things which draw us together.”
It all adds up to a vision of America as a place where success is unearned and exploitative. The president thus prescribes punishing the successful and discouraging individual achievement.
It’s an argument both perennial and perpetual. On one side, Republican partisans argue that activists should temper their expectations in recognition of “political reality.” On the other side, hardcore activists demand absolute fealty to principle, threatening to challenge straying incumbents in endorsement and primary contests.
It’s a national debate, as well as a local one. As the regular legislative session in Minnesota builds toward its abrupt close on May 18th, one of the state’s most active Republican operatives reminds activists that elections have consequences. On his Residual Forces blog, Andy Apilkowski recalls that the mixed nature of state government prevents Republicans in the lower body from accomplishing much:
Here’s the thing I want my fellow conservative and center right friends and allies to remember. Republicans are going to lose the budget debate in terms of our principles, and we can’t disown [our party’s incumbents] because we think they caved.
No seriously. Some people are expecting, nay, DEMANDING across the board cuts in spending, reduction in the size of government, and ground breaking reforms OR ELSE. (shakes fist)
… Republicans lost the Governor’s race [in 2014]. That means, any desire to repeal MNSure [the state’s Obamacare-compliant health insurance exchange], cut tax rates, and freeze Government spending (yes, I know, even a freeze is not good enough for some) would be impossible as [Democrat governor] Mark Dayton was reelected…
We actually lost the ability to win the budget negotiations on election day last year…
… So friends on the right. Please measure your expectations this week and don’t lash out at our friends on the right for not passing laws in line with our principles because it was never possible.
As a Republican who began as a Tea Party activist and has transitioned into a nascent politician, I can appreciate Aplikowski’s point. Any strategy, political or otherwise, must account for reality. Certainly, a Republican majority in one body of a state legislature can not unilaterally set public policy.
That said, I would submit that very few disgruntled conservative activists genuinely expect the passage of limited government bills without limited government majorities in control. Frustration with the Republican status quo does not proceed from an expectation of magical outcomes.
In truth, activist frustration rises from a perception that electing Republicans will not necessarily result in limited government. Evidence to that effect continues to build, suggesting that disowning bad Republicans may be a necessary prerequisite to securing desired outcomes in the long run.
It’s true that limited government legislation cannot be achieved without a supportive legislative majority and a willing executive. That’s a political reality.
Here’s another political reality. Rarely does legislation pass on a strict party vote. There’s usually a mix of Republicans and Democrats voting for or against any given bill.
Another political reality is that politicians are self-interested creatures drawn inexorably toward the center, to a place of atrophy and maintenance of the status quo. That is unless acted upon by an outside force that threatens their comfort and status.
These latter realities suggest that merely voting Republican (or Democrat, if you’re a partisan on their side) will not achieve your legislative goals in the long run. On the contrary, if you can be relied upon to support Republicans no matter how they behave, your desires will be ignored as candidates instead appeal to voters whose support proves more conditional.
That’s political reality.
There is no choice between practicality on the one hand, and principle on the other. If you care about principle, you must hold your party’s incumbents accountable in order to be practical. Otherwise, if you cannot ensure that elected Republicans will support Republican principles, there’s no practical reality-based reason for voting Republican.
Appearing on the “All Star Political Panel” segment of Twin Cities Public Television’s Almanac on Friday, I fielded a question from host Eric Eskola regarding a newly proposed Freedom of Conscience bill presented by a Minnesota state representative earlier in the week. Referencing that morning’s episode of the Fightin Words podcast, Eskola asked why I thought this attempt at securing religious liberty for Christian business owners was doomed to failure.
In short, I noted that the argument for Freedom of Conscience rests upon shaky rhetorical ground. It seeks to preserve the freedom to deny service in a very limited context, conceding that such freedom shouldn’t exist in any other context. If people have the right to apply their judgment to their relationships, that right applies to all relationships, whether personal or commercial, and whether motivated by religion or not.
Former state senator Ellen Anderson, who sat with me on the panel, took exception to my interpretation. She noted that similar rationale has been used in the past to argue for a right to discriminate against customers on the basis of race.
Unfortunately, the segment had to end there. Given the opportunity to further the discussion, I would have argued that true tolerance requires us to allow that which we disapprove of. Indeed, private racial discrimination should be legal. Hate cannot be overcome with rights violations. It can only be neutered by removing coercion from human relationships. In a world where no one may legally take from or harm another, hatred simply doesn’t matter.
As it stands, my defense of freedom provoked the ire of gay rights activist Steven Lewandowski, who took to Twitter offering rebuke:
— Steven Lewandowski (@612Lewandowski) May 9, 2015
It remains unclear what news item or aspect of business changes the fundamental right to freedom of association, which gay rights activists rode to victory in their successful campaign for gay marriage in Minnesota. “Don’t limit the freedom to marry” read lawn signs peppering the Twin Cities in the fall of 2012 when voters considered an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Apparently for some, that freedom to choose with whom one associates only matters in the context of gay marriage.
— Walter Hudson (@WalterHudson) May 9, 2015
It used to be that conspiracy theories regarding imminent declaration of martial law were confined to the furthest fringes of alternative media, places like Alex Jones’ Infowars. Now, fear of federal takeover has become so widespread that the Pentagon feels compelled to respond. From McClatchy DC:
The Pentagon has a message for Texas: chill.
Defense officials Monday dismissed as “wild speculation” an Internet-fueled claim that a massive summertime exercise called Jade Helm 15 for special operations commandos is a covert operation by President Barack Obama to take over Texas.
What should we make of the fact that federal authorities feel they must clarify their intentions? Does it speak to the paranoia of conspiracists? Or have fears been fueled by legitimate concern?
After four years of drought combined with population growth and increasing demand for water, the state of California has imposed mandatory water conservation on its residents. From MSN:
Rivers are so low that young salmon have to be trucked to the sea, and many farmers can use only a fraction of the water normally available for irrigation. Dry forests burn like tinder.
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Board approved a new process for regulating desalination plants to make ocean water drinkable. On Tuesday the board issued the new conservation rules, aimed at enforcing an order by [Governor Jerry] Brown for the state’s urban areas to cut their water use by 25 percent.
None of this would be necessary if water were provided by the market instead of a government-regulated utility. Critics of privatizing utilities bulk at imagined high prices and the audacity of profit-making from a substance essential to life. But as California’s fresh rationing demonstrates, drinkable water proves scarce no matter how it’s delivered.
The difference in a market scenario would be the communication and incentive inherent in price signals. Drought would result in higher prices, which would signal to consumers that they ought to conserve, and to producers that they ought to produce more even if at higher cost. For those who say water’s too important to be left to the market, the same could be said of any commodity. The Soviet’s said it of bread, and we know how those lines worked out.
This confrontation between Fox News host Martha MacCallum and freedom advocate Pamela Geller effectively summarizes everything wrong with the West’s approach to Islamic terror. Geller properly compares the “Draw the Prophet” contest which two terrorists attacked in Garland, Texas to Rosa Parks’ protest against Jim Crow. MacCallum balks at the comparison, failing to recognize the battle between coercion and freedom as the through line.
MacCallum cites Pope Francis praying in a mosque as a superior approach to “doing something” about Islamic totalitarianism. More than naive, MacCallum’s perspective proves suicidal.
Look, this is simple. Two men thought it justified to react to offensive drawings with attempted murder. Blaming their victims for “provoking” such insanity absolves the perpetrators of their responsibility to respect the rights of fellow human beings. That’s as bad as standing along side them and pulling the trigger.
Students at the University of Washington in Tacoma are getting an object lesson in the value of a dollar. As economic dominoes fall in the wake of a municipal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour in Seattle, university students find themselves digging deeper into their pockets to cover higher prices resulting from the mandate.
Elsewhere, small-business employees initially thrilled by the “raise” granted them by the city have since learned that they’ll be losing their jobs later this year. Red Alert Politics reports:
[Z Pizza] owner Ritu Shah Burnham said she just can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.
“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told Q13. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”
It turns out higher wages don’t grow on trees.
Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has rode a wave of favor among conservative activists since lambasting the welfare state mere feet from President Barack Obama at a 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, will announce his candidacy for president Monday night from Detroit. Carson’s brand has emerged from his rags-to-riches story of personal success, a tale enhanced by his racial background in the context of the first African-American presidency and increasing racial unrest throughout the nation.
However, on paper, Carson’s expressed ideology and policy positions could be interchanged with any establishment Republican. From the Associated Press:
Carson is a staunch social conservative, opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage, views he attributes to his personal faith as a practicing Christian.
He has more complex views on health care and foreign policy, including statements that could put him at odds with the most conservative branches of his party.
Would this candidacy exist but for Carson’s race? Would a white candidate with Carson’s resume and experience be considered a viable presidential candidate? Are you excited about a Carson run? Comment below.
CNN has a piece focused on Rand Paul’s reaction to events in Baltimore, attempting to portray the Republican presidential candidate as “unorthodox.” However, buried in their analysis are noteworthy comments from President Barack Obama regarding the root causes of tension between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“If you send police officers into those situations where the drug trade is the primary economy and you say to them basically your job is to contain that and arrest kids and put them in jail when those police officers know (it’s not going to fix things), then it’s not surprising you end up with a situation of enormous tension between those communities and those police officers,” [Obama] said.
While Senator Paul merely campaigns for the White House, Obama currently resides there. So one might wonder why, if the president recognizes the drug war as a significant root cause of injustice, he has not made the issue a larger and more unifying focus of his administration. Clearly, Obama has no problem using his phone and pen to issue executive orders which in some cases defy constitutional limitations. Why, then, doesn’t he use his legitimate administrative authority to scale back the excesses of the drug war, or pursue legislative changes which could provide more permanent solutions?
Salon has gone out of its way to incite further violence in Baltimore, cross-posting a blog post from self-titled “Radical Faggot” Benji Hart arguing that “smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.” Hart regurgitates the Marxist worldview, which rejects private property and conflates free association with violence.
In a bizarre turn, Hart offers “strategies” for directing violence toward “state and private property” without “harming people, communities, and natural resources.” Apparently, if a corporately owned business gets burned down, it doesn’t harm anyone. Never mind the individuals who own it or depend upon it for work or commerce.
This manner of speech should not be protected. Violence is not a legitimate political strategy, and incitement to violence is not legitimate political speech. Both Hart and the publishers of Salon should face legal repercussions for their assault upon people’s lives.
Like that famous scene from Casablanca, a comical denial was issued Monday from the Democrat governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton:
I was shocked and appalled to learn last Friday that the staff at the Metropolitan Council [an appointed regional authority] had increased its estimate of the cost of the Southwest Line Rail Transit line by $341 million to $1.994 billion…
The continuing escalation of the costs to design and build this line raise[s] serious questions about its viability and affordability…
Apparently, the previous estimate of $1.653 million was totally acceptable. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that $59 million has already been spent on the project which the governor and other officials now say may never manifest. All of that money, essentially squandered, came from hard-working taxpayers.
Adding insult to injury, Dayton’s statement coincides with news that the Democrat-controlled state senate just passed a 16 cent per gallon gas tax hike to fund roads and bridges. This in the midst of a $2 billion budget surplus which Democrats in the state refuse to apply to essential infrastructure.
You may bristle at the notion that black people need spaces without white people in order to feel “safe.” Certainly, that claim has generated a fair amount of debate after an organization called the Racialized Students’ Collective turned away two white journalism students earlier this month from an event at Ryerson University in Toronto. However, the incident provides conservatives with a unique opportunity to demonstrate consistency on the freedom of association.
Many of the ongoing debates in the political discourse, from issues of religious freedom to claims of white privilege, hinge on the freedom of association. Onlookers may disagree with the rationale behind excluding whites from an event. Yet, in the final analysis, the rationale proves irrelevant. People properly may choose with whom to associate and on what terms, regardless of their rationale.
By acknowledging how the freedom of association applies in the Ryerson University case, conservatives gain leverage in arguments over other applications of that right, such as the recent debate over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. People may be offended by a Christian business turning away gay customers. People may be offended by black radicals turning away white journalism students. In either case, being offended creates no claim against those wielding their rights.
Above, Bill O’Reilly does an able job playing his default role, offering a boilerplate conservative argument in response to Hillary Clinton’s boilerplate complaints on income inequality. She says “the deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.” Bill warns that taxing the rich will endanger the economy.
What if Hillary’s opponents tried a different approach? Instead of denying her observation that the deck is stacked in favor of elites, roll with it.
Indeed, the deck has been stacked in favor of those with political pull. The Democrat Party, and Hillary Clinton in particular, stand shamelessly guilty of arranging a regulatory environment that favors their corporate friends.
It’s time to take the corporate-envy narrative away from Hillary. Snatch it from her. Then attack her with her own weapon. Then present a vision to unstack the deck by reducing the influence of those in power.
Six Somali-Americans were arrested Sunday and have since been charged with planning to fight for ISIS overseas. Notably, these were not downtrodden struggling kids who were handed a raw deal and grew bitter. On the contrary, each had a promising future at their fingertips and chose to abandon it to declare war on freedom. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
It’s not clear how the six men, who range in age from 18 to 24, met or how well they knew each other, but it appears that their paths crossed again and again as they grew up in Minneapolis. After graduating from South High, Farah, Musse and Omar enrolled at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). Farah and Musse majored in liberal arts; Omar was a pre-nursing student. Abdurahman, also a graduate of the Minneapolis Public Schools, enrolled at MCTC and studied computer support…
One of the men, in a conversation recorded by an FBI source, describes his disgust with living in the United States. “The American identity is dead. Even if I get caught, whatever, I’m through with America. Burn my ID,” he said, according to a transcript filed with the case.
They were raised in a condition of relative affluence, certainly compared to the rest of the world, and particularly compared to the lives they would have led if raised in Somalia. After experiencing such freedom firsthand, they made the conscientious decision to reject and destroy it.
This flies in the face of the seductive narrative that terrorism is fostered by poverty or exploitation. Terrorism is fostered by an evil ideology.
It’s 2015. We still can’t ride hover-boards or pilot flying cars. Worse yet, Minnesota consumers can’t buy liquor on Sundays. An archaic blue law remains on the books which bans such commerce on the Christian sabbath. An effort to repeal the ban has become perennial, failing session after session despite broad public support across party lines.
After committee chairs in the Minnesota state Senate refused to hear a bill to repeal the ban, an amendment to the same effect was offered to an omnibus liquor bill last week. The amendment failed, with Republicans and Democrats split both for and against the measure.
Facing heat for his vote against Sunday liquor sales, Republican state Senator Dave Brown took to his Facebook account expressing frustration:
Brown’s post was likely in direct response to yours truly. In testimony before the House Commerce Committee, speaking on behalf of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, I had described the Sunday sales issue as a litmus test for determining whether elected representatives believe in individual rights and free markets. I also called out Brown by name in a social media post following the vote. I went on to describe the issue as “a line in the sand,” a phrase repeated by Brown in conversation with constituents.
Let’s consider this perspective offered by Brown. By his logic, constituents may not fairly condemn votes on issues of liberty so long as greater violations take place anywhere in the world. Since few issues claim the gravity of Islamic beheadings, this effectively means that constituents may not rightly complain about anything.
The best response to Brown’s claim comes from Craig Westover, retired journalist and former communications director of the Republican Party of Minnesota.
Brown and others of similar mindset think this is about buying booze. It’s not. It’s about the principles which Republicans campaign on, and whether activists and voters can trust that those principles will be applied to issues both grand and trivial. Indeed, if we can’t trust legislators to uphold principle on matters of lower priority, on what would we base expectations for issues of higher priority?
The excuses didn’t end there.
In the final analysis, according to Brown, Minnesotans don’t just need to wait until beheadings end in the Middle East before they can buy a beer on the sabbath. They also need to wait until business licensure and municipal liquor stores are abolished.
Missing from this order of legislative operation is an actual justification. Why do we have to wait? What is it about voting to end an archaic blue law that somehow prevents action on any other issue? Was Brown too busy fighting Middle Eastern beheadings to vote appropriately here?
Another brand of deflection was exhibited by Democrat state senator Jim Carlson:
— Jim Carlson (@SenatorCarlson) April 17, 2015
Don’t blame me! It was the committee chairs.
Right. Look, we all get how the game is played. The committee chairs answer to the leadership. The leadership answers to their caucus members. The whole process is set up to deflect responsibility and set up plausible narratives to excuse inaction or wrong action. It’s a tired old schtick that doesn’t impress anyone anymore. Voters expect better.
Lone Minnesota activist Dan McCall has taken to expressing his frustration with the political system by crafting parodies of government agencies and political candidates. Last year, he dodged attacks from the National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, each of which objected to his use of their agency logos in parody material.
Now McCall faces the wrath of those little-guy loving populists over at the Ready for Hillary PAC. Despite premising her campaign as an effort to empower the middle class, Hillary Clinton’s supporters have sicced their lawyers on McCall for expressing his First Amendment right.
The law stands on McCall’s side, as demonstrated in the previous NSA/DHS settlement. In light of that, the actions from Ready for Hillary PAC demonstrate disingenuous contempt for a lone citizen’s lawful political expression.
It has become fashionable among critics of law enforcement to prescribe the use of body cameras, ostensibly to hold officers accountable for their interactions with the public. The above clip regarding the right to record police concludes with a call for body cameras.
However, good libertarian arguments against body cameras exist. Interacting with activists on social media, Minnesota state lawmaker Branden Petersen notes three competing interests which cannot be reconciled in an implementation of police worn body cameras (edited for format):
1) The only way body cameras can be free from corruption and editing by [law enforcement] is if all of the video is available via [Freedom of Information Act] request. This would not allow agencies to curate the film in ways that would continue to perpetuate the unfair favorable bias they currently get during internal investigations.
However, if this is the case it presents a significant privacy concern leading to issue #2) In the event police body cams were on 100% of the time (because it is the only way to ensure transparency) you would inevitably violate the privacy rights of homeowners and victims without their consent. Property owners should not have to consent to recordings in their premises without a warrant and individuals should not be required to be recorded anytime they interact with an officer.
Lastly, #3) Police body cams would represent the greatest expansion of the surveillance state we have ever seen. As we know, this data will be retained and mined to continue to increase the general monitoring capability of the state… [There] is no way to balance these issues without fatally compromising at least one…
The better solution is bolstering the right of the public to record the police by explicitly prohibiting police interference with such recording. Privately owned recordings don’t come with the same legal implications that Petersen notes regarding publicly owned ones.
Walter Scott’s shooting highlights illegal harassment of camera-carrying bystanders. http://t.co/hSrfDxJ9sQ
— reason (@reason) April 15, 2015
In light of recent comments offered on the Hugh Hewitt Show regarding federal drug laws, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should be rejected as a candidate for president. Hear his plan for “cracking down” on marijuana above.
Forget marijuana. The plant is not the issue here. Federal drug laws represent an unconstitutional excess as much as Obamacare, Common Core, or the EPA.
Conservatives who support federal drug prohibitions because they generally oppose drugs have thus conceded the argument for federal intervention in every other area of life. A hypothetical Christie administration cracking down on citizens in Colorado and Washington for abiding by state law will prove no different than the Obama administration cracking down on states for defying his unconstitutional edicts.
It’s called the association fallacy, better known as guilt by association, and stands as a pillar of thoughtless partisanship. It goes something like this: if you agree with an avowed communist on a particular issue, you must be a communist.
Such has been the accusation leveled against yours truly for supporting a bipartisan effort in my state to restore voting rights to felons on probation or parole. Never mind the facts. Never mind the arguments. We’re going to simplify our analysis to whether we like the people on a particular side of an issue.
— Walter Hudson (@WalterHudson) April 15, 2015
Rand Paul has endured many association fallacies in the week since his presidential campaign announcement. He’s the candidate “closest to Obama,” didn’t you know? Such attacks prove shameful from the side of the political spectrum which claims to revere intellect over emotion.
Viewers may find the above video message encouraging. A young black South Carolinian describes a routine encounter with a white police officer during a traffic stop. No one was shot. No one was beat up. No one was treated unfairly. The incident is offered up as evidence that “not all officers are crooked.”
For nearly a month, community members in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center have been looking for a missing 10-year-old boy by the name of Barway Collins. Suspicion has surrounded the boy’s father, Pierre Collins, as authorities have cited his lack of cooperation in the case.
Sadly, young Barway’s body was found in the Mississippi River over the weekend. The case has since been designated a homicide, and Pierre has been named the primary suspect.
— MinneapolisMinnesota (@MinneapolisM) April 13, 2015
The Minneapolis school board will vote Tuesday on whether to renew a contract with the Minneapolis Urban League, an organization at the center of scandal regarding double-dipping between state and local governments. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The questions started after the Minneapolis School District awarded the Minneapolis Urban League as much as $800,000 a year for a program that never lived up to its promise of graduating the city’s most troubled high school students.
Then Minnesota legislators agreed to give the Urban League $300,000 a year for nearly identical work, paying some of the same staff to work with many of the same students the school district already was paying to help.
Now top state officials and Minneapolis school leaders are investigating whether the Urban League is getting paid twice for similar work.
“It’s alarming,” said Michael Goar, the Minneapolis School District’s interim superintendent. “When there is an issue that they are getting paid both [from the district and the state], then we have to look into it.”
That’s not stopping two Democrat state legislators from throwing even more taxpayer dollars at the group.
… Sens. Jeff Hayden and Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, are seeking to triple funding for the program to $1.8 million over the next two years.
The senators defend the Urban League’s work as essential to closing the city’s achievement gap between white and minority students, which is among the worst in the country.
The only problem with that rationalization is its defiance of objective reality. The Urban League program, known as the 13th Grade, has failed to make significant progress toward closing the district’s troubling achievement gap.
A disturbing discrepancy has been noted in accounts of a fatal encounter between South Carolina police and a black man shot multiple times in the back while fleeing.
— U.S. Dept. of Fear (@FearDept) April 8, 2015
The excerpt comes from the New York Times report on the shooting of Walter Scott. The video referenced can be seen below.
The rights-violating nature of many Black Lives Matter protests have obscured legitimate issues plaguing law enforcement. The apparent misrepresentation of relevant facts in the official report of this shooting raises questions. How often does such misrepresentation happen? How would we know? And what can be done about it?
Courtney Hoffman, a gay woman, has taken a remarkable stand for the freedom of association. After a pizzeria whose Christian owners said they would not cater a gay wedding was compelled to close after receiving threats, Hoffman supported their right to operate according to conscience with a personal donation. The Blaze reports:
Kris Cruz, a radio host and producer of “The Jeff Adams Show,” was the first person to flag Hoffman’s donation. He then contacted her through Facebook and she agreed to join them on the air Monday.
Cruz started with the “big question” — Why did she do it?
“My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said. “Like, if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”
The response on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive, with some rare exceptions. Here are some:
— Red Millennial (@RedMillennial) April 7, 2015
I support the actions of #CourtneyHoffman. If we (LGBT Community) truly want acceptance, we must practice it!!!
— Brett Alan Sterling (@brettster81) April 7, 2015
#CourtneyHoffman My partner & I are so proud of you, Courtney! Angry progressive fascism is not the answer. People have the right to faith
— Danielle (@Danielle_Wedge) April 7, 2015
And the standout:
— Jacob Shaver (@Jacob_B_Shaver) April 7, 2015
This latest entry from Prager University, featuring author and economics professor Walter Williams, does a fantastic job demonstrating the practical benefit of the profit motive. Profit, so often vilified in the modern political discourse, makes civilization as we know it possible. Without the profit motive, the relative affluence of the twenty-first century would not exist.
What Williams doesn’t directly note, however, is the moral basis of profit. We shouldn’t abide profit-making just because it enables civilization. We should abide profit-making because those who work hold exclusive claim to the fruit of their labor.
Former U.S. senator and occasional presidential candidate Rick Santorum had some provocative comments for Face the Nation over the weekend. The Blaze reports:
In his interview Santorum distinguished between discriminating against a person and declining to take part or contribute directly to an activity that one’s faith indicates is wrong.
“No business should discriminate … because of who you are,” Santorum said. “But it should have the ability to say, ‘We’re not going to participate in certain activities that we disagree with on a religious point of view.’”
Why do defenders of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act keep trying to split this hair? Look, if you’re going to concede that government properly ought to prevent private discrimination, then you’ve lost this battle. There’s nothing magical about “a religious point of view” that transmutes discrimination into non-discrimination.
Instead, the point to be made regarding the RFRA is that each individual retains ownership over their life and any product of it. We are not slaves. We do not act at our neighbor’s command. We get to say “no” when asked if we will engage in relationship of any kind, including commerce. Period. End of story. No further explanation required.
Michele Bachmann may have retired from Congress last year. But that hasn’t kept her from making headlines. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
… Bachmann is comparing President Obama to the mentally unstable co-pilot who authorities believe intentionally crashed his German airliner last week in the French Alps and killed everyone onboard.
In a posting Tuesday on her Facebook page she wrote, “With his Iran deal, Barack Obama is for the 300 million souls of the United States what Andreas Lubitz was for the 150 souls on the German Wings (sic) flight — a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks. After the fact, among the smoldering remains of American cities, the shocked survivors will ask, why did he do it?”
The paper goes on to note Bachmann’s reputation for “edgy public comments.” They make no attempt to address her underlying point: ignoring a hostile state’s defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons is like ignoring a rapidly sinking altimeter.
“Vote no. Don’t limit the freedom to marry.” So read lawn signs posted in opposition to a 2012 ballot measure which would have codified the traditional definition of marriage in the Minnesota state constitution.
The freedom to marry. That’s really just a particular application of the freedom of association, isn’t it? So what happened between then and now? Why are gay marriage supporters, who rested their case (and won) on the freedom of association, now so publicly opposing that very freedom when wielded by others?
Today’s Fightin Words podcast: