As a recently elected city council member, I find many aspects of municipal government unseemly. One such area is zoning, the practice of restricting what can be built on certain parcels of land in order to fulfill a political vision of what-oughta-be. While I understand concerns about depreciation or health hazards if one suddenly finds themselves living next to a chemical factory, zoning too often seeks less to protect rights and more to impose an arbitrary communal vision.
Take Seattle for instance. For over a century, the Washingtonian metropolis has maintained a “strong neighborhood feel” by restricting residential development in many areas to only single-family homes. Want to build a separate living to house your elderly mother? Sorry, not allowed. Want to invest in some multi-family rental property. Sorry, can’t do that.
Now, an advisory committee has been working on a proposal to change the decades-old restriction. A draft of their policy ideas was leaked to the press. Among the committee’s motivations for revisiting single-family zoning is concern over “racial and class exclusion.” From the Seattle Times:
“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.
The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”
At first blush, the notion of racist zoning may seem silly. But it’s actually not that far off the mark. The unspoken corollaries to medium and high density housing are lower income residents, which happen to tend more diverse. Zoning restrictions have the effect, intended or not, of excluding these individuals from living in a particular area.
Of course, economic exclusion isn’t a moral issue. If a community wants to live in an exclusive manner, God bless them. Let them do it through property ownership and development. Build a gated community. Buy up the land around it and develop it in such a way as to insulate the nirvana. But to use the force of law to restrict what neighbors can do with their property, that crosses a line.
As Seattle considers changing their zoning practices, their motives may be a little off. But the potential effect, recognizing property owners right to do as they see fit in pursuit of happiness, would be welcome.
The Trump phenomenon has been viewed through a particular lens in Minnesota. Voters in the North Star State still remember the unusual third-party gubernatorial victory of Jesse Ventura.
Like Trump, Ventura captured the public’s imagination by flouting convention and dispensing with political niceties. During his 1998 campaign, he called critics names and made grandiose claims. Ventura offered policy proposals that professional consultants would surely advise against, like legalizing prostitution and (ahead of its time) marijuana.
In the end, when the votes were tallied, Ventura came out ahead. His victory remains a beacon held aloft by third-party proponents and rogue activists as evidence of alternative paths to power.
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos about a potential Trump nod on ABC’s This Week, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (D) echoed a point voiced by many in his state. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“You know, George, we had Jesse Ventura in Minnesota win the governorship,” the representative from Minneapolis said. “Nobody thought he was going to win. I’m telling you, stranger things have happened.”
Most of the time, when pundits reference Ventura in support of an unconventional candidacy, the comparison proves incomplete. Ventura’s victory was a perfect storm. He struck during a drought of interest, running against candidates from the major parties who failed to excite. He leveraged his celebrity, a not insignificant advantage in a realm where name-ID is currency. Perhaps his biggest advantage was a natural capacity to put on a show. He was a performer after all.
These characteristics don’t frequently coalesce in other unconventional candidates. The argument could be made, however, that they coalesce in Trump. Ellison could be right.
But before Trump supporters get excited, it’s worth noting how Ventura’s victory panned out, both for him and the state of Minnesota, as we’ll explore on the next page.
Al Franken, junior senator from Minnesota and former Saturday Night Live performer, has authored a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez calling for an investigation into Apple’s business practices. Reuters reports:
The complaints focus on the fact that Apple plays two roles in music streaming. First, it provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others, while taking a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods. Secondly, it has its own streaming service.
Franken noted a complaint often made by streaming companies: that they are barred from putting in their app advertisement that customers can pay less if they download the app from a website instead of the Apple platform. They are also barred from advertising discounts.
“These types of restrictions seem to offer no competitive benefit and may actually undermine the competitive process, to the detriment of consumers, who may end up paying substantially more than the current market price point,” Franken wrote in his letter.
Anti-trust law has always been wielded arbitrarily and politically. In this case, Apple’s competitors have solicited the aid of the state in forcing Apple to allow access to their App Store platform under terms Apple would not voluntarily agree to. It’s naked thuggery and corporate cronyism dressed as consumer advocacy.
A veteran attending the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was manhandled by his fellows when he stood up during a speech by President Barack Obama and lifted a sign in protest. The sign read, “The emperor has no clothes” and referenced the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya.
An NBC News social media post on the incident referred to the elder as a “protestor” and did not credit him as a veteran.
A man tried to protest President Obama during a veterans event, but the crowd wouldn’t stand for it.
No doubt, the act of protest violated protocol. Apparently, when weighed against the gravity of the Benghazi incident and Obama’s role, this veteran felt it was worth it.
The above embedded video produced by the Institute for Justice tells the story of the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey. In an effort to raise funds to maintain their burial grounds, the archdioceses began selling headstones to parishioners. The practice raised the ire of headstone dealers, who sued to stop it. When the court ruled in favor of the archdioceses, the headstone dealers took their case to the legislature and got a law passed which prohibited the archdioceses from selling headstones.
The Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm, has taken up the archdioceses’ cause. Taking the case to federal court, they hope to strike down the law on constitutional grounds. They argue that the law exists for the exclusive benefit of a particular constituency.
Of course, that’s a pretty fair description of many laws on the books in every state in the union. Special interest cronyism has long been a pillar of the American system of government. The Institute for Justice hopes that success in this case will set a precedent for going after other laws which prohibit commerce only to benefit a particular constituency.
In his previous life as a comedian, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) made comments regarding John McCain which were very similar to those currently plaguing Donald Trump. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
[A 2000 Salon article] quotes Franken as saying “I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don’t buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I’m concerned he sat out the war.”
The remark proves nearly identical to Trump’s made in front of an Iowa crowd on Saturday. There Trump said McCain is “not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
In light of the fresh attention which Trump’s remarks have brought to Franken’s past statements, the Minnesota senator had to do some damage control during a Monday news conference.
Franken said he admired McCain because he declined a chance to be released, choosing instead to remain a prisoner of war so as to not give his captors a propaganda victory.
“Here’s someone who spent five-and-a-half years being tortured in these camps,” Franken said Monday “… but what a lot of people don’t understand is that he had the opportunity to leave early because his father was the admiral who commanded the whole Pacific fleet.”
He added: “McCain, who as I said was being tortured there, declined. That’s an amazing feat of courage.”
He also condemned Trump’s remarks from Saturday, saying “I don’t know what’s going on in Donald Trump’s head or through his hair, but I condemn him for a lot of things he’s said.”
For his part, Trump continues to stand behind his criticism of McCain.
A new petition posted to WhiteHouse.gov demands reparations for slavery and, as of the time of this writing, is nearing 10% of the support required for an official White House response.
The idea of reparations isn’t a new one. However, the way in which this petition phrases the request proves provocative. Here’s the text:
General William T. Sherman issued Field Order No.15 in 1865, authorizing the redistribution of 160,000,000 acres of land to newly freed black families in forty-acre plots. This action approved by President Lincoln, was to redress the crimes of slavery. However, the order was rescinded after the assassination of Lincoln & the land returned to the original slave owners.
We, the descendants of the Freedmen, in accordance with both national & international law demand The Obama Administration fulfill the United States obligation to make reparation in an adequate form.
We demand President Obama move swiftly by Executive Orders & Actions to provide:
Restitution of our land.
Various forms of rehabilitation.
Apology & Guarantees of non-repetition.
Compensation for economic disenfranchisement.
The request proves absurd on a number of fronts. In a world where Bill Cosby won’t answer for rape due to statutes of limitation, we’re supposed to punish modern property owners for crimes committed hundreds of years ago? How does a black person in 2015 need rehabilitation from something experienced by an ancestor in 1815?
The petition author gets basic historical facts wrong. As documented in the video embedded above, Special Field Order #15 was never intended as reparations for the crimes of slavery. It was intended as a practical solution to a logistical problem: what to do with newly freed refugees. The black men who met with Stanton and Sherman in Savannah at the end of the Civil War sought to have their rights protected and to otherwise be left alone.
The biggest joke within this demand is the call for a guarantee of non-repetition. Cycles of history notwithstanding, the chances of chattel slavery manifesting in the modern United States hardly seem high enough to warrant serious concern. More ironically, the very same ideological bloc promoting this petition supports the essence of slavery.
Slavery is the opposite of liberty. It is the ownership of one human being, the seizure of the fruit of labor, by another human being. In calls for things like reparations, redistribution of wealth, stronger government regulation and the like, today’s slave drivers dominate the political Left. They wear labels like “progressive.” One of them currently occupies the White House.
Anyone truly upset about slavery should be upset about its modern manifestations, not seeking handouts on account of historical injustices they never experienced.
Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico and more recent Libertarian candidate for president of the United States, jumped on the bash-Trump bandwagon during a recent interview with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie.
[Trump] is appealing to a segment that I’ll just label racist. And it exists. And it’s out there. And you know what, I don’t want anything to do with it…. It embarrasses me and, like I say, I think that the electorate will paint the entire Republican Party with a broad brush as a result of Trump. And it won’t be a positive.
Trump continues to defy expectations by consistently ranking at or near the top of polls measuring support among likely primary voters.
Plenty of folks harbor concern over genetically modified organisms. In some cases, that concern has motivated efforts to mandate labeling of GMO food products.
The House Agriculture Committee has recently moved to halt those efforts. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The bill [headed to the House floor] represents a major victory for the food and chemical industries, which fought and failed in court to stop mandatory GMO labeling. Individually and through trade associations, big Minnesota food companies such as Land O’Lakes, Cargill, Hormel and General Mills supported the bill that the agriculture committee approved.
If passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president, the bill will do what the courts have refused to do: Stop Vermont from implementing a mandatory GMO labeling law next year. Maine and Connecticut also have passed GMO labeling laws that would be thwarted.
The bill lays at a nexus of conflicting issues. Should the federal government dictate which laws states can pass? Are the states who mandate labelling intruding upon the rights of food companies? Is the failure to disclose GMO status indicative of fraud? An answer to any one of these questions affects the context in which we might answer the others.
If the algorithm controlling your social media feed is anything like mine, your device exploded with righteous indignation Tuesday as news broke of an undercover video (embedded above) indicating that Planned Parenthood sells body parts from partial-birth abortions. The Blaze summarizes the highlights:
[The video] from the Center for Medical Progress, a group concerned with medical ethics, features comments from Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services, allegedly showing her describing how some doctors carefully conduct abortions that leave fetal body parts in tact.
Nucatola reportedly made these comments on July 25, 2014, to actors whom she believed were actual representatives and buyers from a human biologics company. The comments appear to recount a process through which some abortion doctors purportedly carefully conduct procedures in an effort to keep specific fetal body parts in tact.
While Nucatola’s comments prove disgusting in any context, one might wonder why they warrant special outrage. Over 2,800 unborn children will be murdered today in the United States. That fact does not distinguish this day from any other. We kill babies systematically, proudly, and legally. So what’s the big deal if we make good use of their constituent parts?
Indeed, that was the essence of Planned Parenthood’s response to the hubbub. In an official statement, they reassured the public that recycling dead babies is business as usual:
In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.
Nothing to see here. They have a point. If we accept the daily murder of 2,800 unborn children as a medical procedure on par with an appendectomy, why should we be concerned with “tissue donations” after the fact?
The real horror here is the daily mass murder of the most innocent human beings among us, not how their bodies are disposed of after death. Nucatola’s comments demonstrate the callousness with which those murders occur.
Unfortunately, the callousness is not hers alone. Collectively, ours has become a culture tolerant of these 2,800 daily murders. If we can’t get traction in opposition to that, we’re not going to get traction in opposition to trafficking baby parts.
And be sure to read this:
Draon Armstrong, a 21-year-old black man from Minneapolis, was caught in a fare zone at a light rail station without a paid ticket. During the confrontation with Minneapolis police, Armstrong was thrown to the ground after making “a slight movement” during a handcuffing procedure. The incident was captured on video by Armstrong’s sister.
The local chapter of the NAACP has since called for changes to law enforcement policies. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
NAACP officials called the officer’s actions “excessive force,” which they said raises wider concerns about the treatment of black people by law enforcement in Minneapolis.
“The video footage of Draon Armstrong being slammed to the ground by the Metro Transit officer further supports our claims that Minneapolis is one incident away from becoming Ferguson,” Jason Sole, chairman of the NAACP’s criminal justice form committee, said in a statement.
Sole referred to rioting that took place after a fatal police shooting last summer of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo.
The article does not specify what particular reforms the NAACP would like to see. Sole merely calls for “‘more humane ways’ to address those who don’t pay fares.”
The problem is, according to police, the non-payment was not the trigger for escalated force:
“The arrest in question was made after the suspect indicated they had no intention of addressing their alleged fare evasion and repeated refusals to follow the arresting officer’s lawful orders,” [Metro Transit spokesmen] Drew Kerr said in a statement. “When a suspect resists arrest, officers are trained to maintain safety by bringing a suspect to the ground.”
The NAACP makes it sound like Armstrong was thrown to the ground for being black. They don’t acknowledge his behavior at all.
Had Armstrong been tackled for not having a ticket, the NAACP might have a point. But, according to police, that’s not what happened. He failed to comply with lawful orders. If police can’t escalate levels of force when that happens, then their orders (and the law) mean nothing.
Governor Scott Walker, whose national celebrity has risen during highly publicized confrontations with Wisconsin’s public employee unions, announced his candidacy for president on Monday. It’s expected that, by summer’s end, we’ll have at least 17 announced GOP candidates for president.
It could be that all of those 17 believe they have a legitimate shot at securing the nomination and getting elected to succeed Barack Obama. However, a report from the Associated Press highlights other motivations for running which have nothing to do with actually becoming president:
“You have the opportunity to become a personality in a relatively short period of time,” says [Tony] Fratto[, a Washington consultant who worked for President George W. Bush]. “You get on the national stage, your name ID is elevated and that can translate into writing books, giving speeches and getting an opportunity to go on TV.” Not to mention a potential job as vice president or in the Cabinet.
It worked for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s running again after parlaying his losing candidacy in the 2008 primaries into political celebrity, including TV and radio shows and book deals.
Perhaps we shouldn’t fault candidates for running to promote themselves. If it grants them a platform from which to promote a vision for America, then it stands as a kind of political activism.
That said, donors and volunteers might be interested to know whether their candidate of choice intends to stage a serious campaign. “Is this about selling books?” seems a fair question for any candidate.
The Republican Party has long been cognizant of shifting demographics which translate to a doomed political future if the party cannot begin appealing to minority groups. White people will soon be the minority. Unless the GOP can start making inroads with non-whites, the party’s day may be done.
In that context, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus wants presidential candidate Donald Trump to “tone down his rhetoric” on immigration. Priebus reached out to the real estate mogul and reality television star recently. From the Associated Press:
“Priebus said, ‘I’d appreciate it if you could tone down your rhetoric about illegal immigrants coming across border and killing Americans,’” recounted [Trump campaign manager Corey] Lewandowski, who spoke directly to Trump about the conversation. “Mr. Trump said, this is an issue the American people care about, and I’m going to continue to talk about it.’”
Trump seemed to relish the latest dispute, posting a supporter’s Twitter message on his account Thursday that read, “Keep throwing those giant hand grenades into the amnesty debate. You’re pissing off all the right people in the GOP.”
Trump proceeds with a unique ability to ignore virtually everyone. With the capacity to self-finance and little to lose, he has no reason to stop saying whatever he wants.
The Obama White House wants to provide low-income people with access to solar power. The Washington Post reports:
[The effort] includes a new initiative to ramp up so-called “community solar” projects across the country — programs in which one solar installation supplies energy to multiple different homes or individuals — with a focus on serving low- and middle- income Americans. It also includes a pledge to install a total of 300 megawatts of solar and other renewables in federally subsidized housing developments by the year 2020 (each megawatt represents roughly enough solar to power 164 homes).
Among the reasons why low-income people have low incomes is government’s misallocation of resources to unproductive endeavors. Surely, while looking for a job that can’t exist in this economy, getting some power from an inefficient, unreliable, and unnecessarily expensive source will provide low-income folks with small comfort.
Forget removing the Confederate battle flag from public display, or pulling “Dukes of Hazzard” from TV Land. The city council of Memphis, Tennessee voted Tuesday to remove the remains of Confederate lieutenant general Nathan Bedford Forrest from his current resting place under a statue in the city.
The grave site has long been controversial given Forrest’s background as a slave trader and member of the Klu Klux Klan. As confirmed by Councilman Myron Lowery in the above local news clip, the resolution was motivated by escalating concern surrounding Confederate imagery following the shooting deaths of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church.
The resolution does not trigger the actual removal. The question must still be reviewed by other authorities.
God alone may be truly omniscient. Yet man aspires to match Him.
Developed as a tool in the War on Terror, designed to track IED planters to their points of origin, a new form of battlefield surveillance has begun to make its way onto U.S. soil. News.com.au reports:
Thirty kilometres above a chosen city, a plane hangs out of sight of the thousands of people scurrying below — continuously circling the metropolis underneath. Every second, the plane takes a photo of the entire city and all the happenings within a 64sq km radius. The images are beamed down to a control centre where they create what is akin to a real-time Google map of everything taking place.
When a crime occurs, teams of analysts simply scroll back in time to the scene of the incident and identify those involved. From that point, they can follow the target by clicking forward through the images to the present moment and pinpoint their location.
Trials conducted in U.S. cities have excited law enforcement officials. In some cases, crimes have been solved “in a matter of minutes.”
However, the technology clearly obliterates any hope of privacy, placing everyone within its glaze under unyielding surveillance. Imagine a thirty day record of your every movement, accessible on a whim.
This is the future unfolding before us. In it, you won’t be able to go outside without being tracked.
The law continues to catch up with rapid developments in technology. One which presents a particular challenge is social media, where individuals often conflate their personal and professional lives. When relationships turn sour and property disputes arrive, who owns social media content becomes an important question.
A key court case has set a precedent which will no doubt affect future disputes. From the Associated Press:
A Texas man used social media to promote his gun store, posting politically charged messages that criticized the president and promoted Second Amendment rights.
But after losing ownership of his suburban Houston store in bankruptcy, Jeremy Alcede spent nearly seven weeks in jail for refusing a federal judge’s order to share with the new owner the passwords of the business’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, which the judge had declared property…
Alcede’s ultimately failed stand charts new territory in awarding property in bankruptcy proceedings and points to the growing importance of social media accounts as business assets. Legal experts say it also provides a lesson for all business owners who are active on social media.
“If your business is something you feel very passionately about, it can be hard to separate those things,” said Benjamin Stewart, a Dallas-based bankruptcy lawyer. “The moral for people is you have to keep your personal life separate from your business life.”
The whole point of setting up a corporate entity is to distinguish it from the individuals running it, often to establish limited liability and protect personal assets. Business owners are well advised to ensure a clear distinction between business and personal assets. It follows that such distinctions would likewise matter online.
Last week was certainly historic. In what sense depends upon your worldview. For those of us who believe in federalism, dual-sovereignty, and the rule of law, last week was a disaster that irreparably damaged our republic.
Forget about the issues. These rulings weren’t about Obamacare or gay marriage so much as whether a majority of nine people on a national ruling council can write law for 320 million Americans. Apparently, they can.
What recourse remains? Some have advocated taking our republic back to the drawing board:
A constitutional recourse to judicial tyranny is gaining momentum around the country. A Convention of States, called under Article V of the Constitution, can impose constitutional limits on the federal government’s power — limits that will ensure an end to the overreach we witnessed last week.
However, others warn that a Convention of States could just as easily be used to expand government power. Phyllis Schlafly writes:
Any new constitutional convention, called as allowed by Article V, would surely attract and include political activists with motives and goals diametrically different from those of [the political Right].
[Justice John Paul] Stevens’ most dangerous suggestion is to gut the Second Amendment. Stevens wants to reverse the Supreme Court decision that upheld our right to keep a gun at home for self-protection…
If Congress acquiesces in the states’ petitions to call an Article V convention, you can bet that rewriting the Second Amendment to allow gun control and to forbid private ownership of guns will be a top priority of many delegates. Would they succeed?
The problem with rewriting the Constitution today is that any new document or amendment would be the product of the same culture which has birthed modern tyrannies. A Convention of States called today would not boast attendance from men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It would instead host delegates committed to securing “rights” to stuff, further enslaving us one to another.
Besides, in a world where our Supreme Court can literally re-write laws, what makes us think new law will help? Our problem is cultural, not statutory.
Before the dead were buried from the cowardly murders of nine black people by a white supremacist in South Carolina, President Barack Obama politicized the tragedy to advocate for gun control. The president claimed in remarks to the press that Americans “will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
Economist and researcher Dr. John Lott took issue with that claim in a recent New York Daily News article. He wrote:
Obama overlooks Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others. Still others were killed by bombs that Breivik detonated. Three of the six worst K-12 school shootings ever have occurred in Europe. Germany saw two of these — one in 2002 at Erfurt and another in 2009 at Winnenden. The combined death toll was 34. France and Belgium have both faced multiple terrorist attacks over the past year.
After adjusting for America’s much larger population, we see that many European countries actually have higher rates of death in mass public shootings.
Lott provides more statistics to prove his point. He disputes the notion that stronger gun controls would somehow reduce mass public shootings.
Obama advocates expanded background checks. But background checks clearly would not have stopped either the Newtown or Charleston killings. In one case, the killer got his weapon from a relative; in the other, he appears to have passed a background check . Besides, such mass shootings are also almost always planned long in advance, giving the attacker plenty of time to figure out how to obtain a gun.
Lott thus acknowledges the role humans play in their actions. If someone wants to kill, they will find the means. Legal restrictions on weapons only disarm those who obey the law.
How difficult is it to keep weapons out of the hands of would-be attackers? The terrorists who attacked in France this January were armed with handguns, Kalashnikov rifles, an M42 rocket launcher, 10 Molotov cocktails, 10 smoke grenades, a hand grenade and 15 sticks of dynamite. So much for the laws prohibiting all of these items.
The drive to ban guns only emboldens and enables those who would harm the innocent.
There is a common thread: Many of these attacks occur in places where general citizens can’t carry guns. According to one of his friends, the Charleston killer initially considered targeting the College of Charleston but decided against it because it had security personnel.
This logical behavior on the part of attackers is common. It is abundantly clear from diary entries and Facebook posts that the shooters last year in Santa Barbara, Calif., and New Brunswick, Canada, passed on potential targets where people with guns could stop them.
Obama’s stance on gun control, shared by many including the presumed Democrat frontrunner to replace him Hillary Clinton, places law-abiding citizen in jeopardy. The real answer to mass public shootings is stated simply in the title of John Lott’s book – More Guns, Less Crime.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has led an effort to remove the Confederate flag from display on capitol grounds following the racially motivated murders of nine black people in Charleston. During an interview on the Fox Business Network, conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested that Haley’s background disqualifies her from taking a stance on the issue. From Mediaite:
At one point, she said, “I’m appalled by––though, I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America’s history.”
[Host] Kennedy asked, “Immigrants can’t understand history?” Coulter responded, “Well, she doesn’t!”
As it turns out, Haley is not an immigrant. She is a South Carolina native.
Coulter’s comment would be ridiculous in either case. Since when must one be from a place to understand its history?
Coulter hails from Connecticut, yet speaks as an authority on the history of the South Carolina. By her own expressed logic, that’s impossible.
President Obama made headlines Monday after appearing on Marc Maron’s podcast to discuss race relations in the wake of nine murders committed by an apparent white supremacist in South Carolina. Using the n-word to make his point, Obama said that racism has not yet been “cured” in American society. Detailed by the Associated Press:
“Racism, we are not cured of it,” Obama said. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”
When someone in a position of governmental authority talks about curing a social problem, it raises a number of questions. Chief among them is: what is meant by cure? Are we talking about somehow neutralizing racist thought? If so, how do we go about doing that? How does government prevent people from thinking certain thoughts?
If by “cure,”we instead mean neutralizing the unjust effects of racist actions, then we might be on to something. Indeed, the governmental response to the crimes committed in Charleston has been appropriate. The perpetrator was identified, pursued, arrested, and will be tried and held accountable if found guilty.
In the past, such justice has been allusive for victims of racially motivated crimes. There’s little government can or should do to prevent people from thinking bad thoughts. But when those thoughts metastasize into rights-violating action, the cure is a color-blind justice system.
The vile killing of nine black people at a church in Charleston has ignited fresh debate over the display of the Confederate battle flag on South Carolina’s capitol grounds. The question was presented over the weekend to several candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president.
“Everyone’s being baited with this question as if somehow that has anything to do whatsoever with running for president,” Huckabee said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”My position is it most certainly does not.”
While other candidates offered generic deference to “the people of South Carolina,” Huckabee took a bolder stance, framing the issue in the context of the office he seeks. It shouldn’t matter what the president thinks a state ought to do in a matter that falls outside federal jurisdiction. As a candidate for president, expressing an opinion one way or the other implies federal intervention. It’s one thing to say the Confederate flag issue should be decided by the people of South Carolina. It’s another to specify why. By doing so, Huckabee stood out.
She’s no longer a member of Congress, or a candidate, but House Tea Party Caucus founder Michele Bachmann continues to raise money as if she’s campaigning. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
…the former Minnesota congresswoman is still raising cash and spending lavishly, dropping $300 on limousines in New York right around Thanksgiving and staying last fall at the luxurious L’Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills, where most rooms go for $400 a night or higher.
Records show Bachmann for Congress spent roughly $25,000 in the last three months of 2014 on airline tickets, a private club membership and pricey dinners in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and New York. Her campaign even paid $470 to renew the plates on a vehicle in St. Paul last December — weeks before she stepped down from office.
The piece paints a picture of fiscal hypocrisy:
A fierce advocate for balancing the federal budget, Bachmann has consistently carried campaign debt.
Records show that she has chipped away at her debts to campaign vendors, mostly accountants and telemarketing companies, gradually paying down the $30,328 she owed in March, 2014 to about $1,900 at the end of last year. But she accrued more debt early this year and owed about $4,000 to vendors, according to April filings.
Bachmann has $1.6 million cash on hand.
Whether Bachmann’s fundraising and money management proves atypical for a recently retired member of Congress remains an open question. One thing is for sure, even after leaving office, Michele Bachmann still attracts criticism from her many detractors.
The dead have not yet been buried, and already President Barack Obama, along with Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and others, have begun leveraging the criminal shooting of church-goers in South Carolina against law-abiding gun owners nationwide. From the Associated Press:
Obama, who knew the pastor killed in the Charleston attack, said he has been called upon too often to mourn the deaths of innocents killed by those “who had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
“Now is the time for mourning and for healing,” the president said. “But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”
The president went on to bemoan “the politics of this town,” referencing the inviability of strict federal gun control laws. Gun restrictions have trouble getting passed even when Democrats hold majorities in Washington. Obama, who stands closely protected each and every day by armed Secret Service agents, would nevertheless like to deprive law-abiding citizens of the right to protect themselves.
Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul wrote Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that he seeks to “blow up the tax code.” By that, he means that he wants to abolish the current federal revenue infrastructure and replace it with a 14.5% flat tax. WSJ reports:
The plan would eliminate payroll taxes on workers, as well as gift and estate taxes and all duties and tariffs. His flat tax would apply to all personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, capital gains, rents and interest. It would exempt the first $50,000 of income for a family of four.
There are additional exemptions and credits Paul would include, amounting to a flat tax that’s not so flat after all. No doubt, if the plan were implemented, it would only be a matter of time before additional exemptions and credits started to creep in. Eventually, we’d end up with a system not unlike what we have now.
That said, there may be something to be said for pushing the reset button on the tax code. At least there would be some relief in the short to mid term.
“The Left’s bad ideas about science are more harmful than the rights.” That’s the claim by John Stossel in commentary written for Reason:
The conflict conservatives have with science is mostly caused by religion. Some religious conservatives reject evolution, and some oppose stem cell research.
But neither belief has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. Species continue to evolve regardless of what conservatives believe, and if conservatives ban government funding of stem cell research, private investors will continue the work.
By contrast, the left’s bad ideas about science do more harm.
Stossel points to policies informed by technophobia, from concerns about climate change to fretting over genetically modified crops. Such policies do affect our day-to-day lives, increasing our cost of living, thwarting the advancement of civilization, and causing countless deaths in the third world.
That said, the focus should be less on which side of the political spectrum has worse ideas about science, and more on whether a politician’s ideas about science should affect us at all. A candidate’s view on evolution or climate change shouldn’t matter, because the job he’s applying for shouldn’t include dictating scientific beliefs.
Just once, I would love to hear a candidate respond to a question about their view on evolution with a declaration that their opinion doesn’t matter. The job of government is to protect individual rights. Among those rights are the freedoms of association and speech, which leave us free to accept or reject scientific claims and live accordingly.
The Senate overwhelming passed an amendment offered by Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain that reinforces existing policy banning the use of torture by the CIA. From the Associated Press:
Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the measure would permanently ban the CIA from using any tactics that the military cannot use and will prohibit the CIA from hiding detainees from the Red Cross.
“If enacted, the amendment will be a historic step towards helping ensure that the federal government never again uses torture and abuse,” Anders said.
Well, at least publicly.
Torture may not be the best way to fight terrorism. Unfortunately, unless we’re willing to replace torture with a World War II style total war against Islamic totalitarianism, innocent Americans will remain at risk.
Corinthian College was a for-profit educational institution that went under after years of inquiries into allegations of fraudulent recruitment practices. Staff at Corinthian allegedly “falsified job placement rates and used unscrupulous marketing practices,” as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Now the Department of Education has announced that they will discharge certain student loan debts incurred to attend Corinthian on a case-by-case basis. Republican Representative John Kline, who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, joined Democrats in a statement supportive of the ruling. Others, including Kline’s Minnesota congressional delegation colleague Keith Ellison, think the ruling didn’t go far enough. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who announced the decision, called upon congress to further regulate for-profit educational institutions to avoid similar scenarios in the future. From the Tribune:
“To members of Congress: Students and taxpayers need action to strengthen accountability,” Duncan said. “This has to be a wake up call to Congress …They shouldn’t want to stand behind guys where there is so much deception … and waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Lost amid reaction from government bureaucrats and politicians is any acknowledgement of their role in inviting the Corinthian fraud. True regulation is a function of the market. If your only means of parting a customer with their hard-earned money is providing a value in exchange, then fraud becomes a bad long-term business strategy. If, however, you can part a third-party (like a taxpayer) with their money without consent, fraud becomes much more attractive. That’s what the federal government has done with its education subsidies, including federal student loans.
Under the guise of helping students, fueled by the notion that every kid is somehow owed a post-secondary education, the federal government rains taxpayer dollars upon institutions who enroll qualifying students. Since the students in question are usually fresh from the nest and wholly disconnected from the experience of paying back a loan, they tend to see only the goal and disregard the long-term consequences of embracing loans as their means.
In a free market where government loans did not exist, the behavior of both for-profit institutions and students would be regulated by their respective self-interest. Students may not be competent to judge how much debt they should take on. But loan officers working for private banks would be. They would take a look and things like the economic value of a chosen major, then consider whether loaning a student money to pursue that path would prove profitable in the long-run. In turn, colleges and universities would stand incentivized to provide a better product, because that’s the only way they could attract financing for their students.
Put simply, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Representatives John Kline and Keith Ellison ought to be looking in the mirror. They are the problem. They are the reason the education market is not properly regulated, not for lack of bureaucratic rule-making, but due to how their subsidies distort market signals. The effect upon students is devastating, with graduates debt-laden and unemployable in the name of “getting a degree.”
Forgiving student loan debt will not solve that. Eliminating government subsidies will.
It’s fair to say that part of the American Dream entails the occasional hard-earned vacation to a popular tourist spot. Perhaps you want to take the kids to Disney World, or visit family on the other side of the country. Perhaps, in order to position yourself to take such trips, you first need to engage in business travel. Either way, your pursuit of happiness just got more difficult thanks to President Barack Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency. From the New York Times:
The Obama administration on Wednesday said it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, a move that could significantly strengthen President Obama’s environmental legacy, but also present major new challenges for the airline industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency found that emissions from airplanes endanger human health because of their contribution to global warming. That finding does not yet impose specific new requirements on airlines, but instead requires the agency to develop the new rules…
…the airline industry contends that it has already worked aggressively to reduce fuel use and increase efficiency, and that demands to do even more could raise costs. Airlines are looking into new technologies and alternatives like carbon-neutral — but expensive — biofuels.
A natural market incentive exists to use less fuel and run a more efficient operation. That’s real regulation, market regulation. The bureaucratic variety is neither necessary nor welcome.
This news stands as yet another example of how the green movement threatens far more than it claims to protect. Earlier this year, the chief greenhouse gas scientist at NOAA told a public radio audience that combating anthropogenic climate change would require reducing carbon emissions to zero. In practical terms, that means ending human civilization.
Why is it so difficult to argue against this nonsense? Would you treat cancer with a bullet to your head? When will American society wake up to the fact that the solutions presented by green fascists eclipse alleged problems in destructive consequences?
It’s a great headline over at Politico: One voter shows up at Santorum event in Iowa. It’s not entirely accurate, as the article goes on to clarify that four voters were present by event’s end. But either way, it doesn’t look great for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.
How embarrassed should the former senator and his campaign be? Some context helps. The campaign stop in question took place in a town with a population of 300. Perhaps it would help to know how similar events in the same town have been attended. Perhaps the Santorum campaign should be picking better spots for their events. Then again, they say it’s all part of the plan.
“It’s not glamorous, and you’re not out there raising money, but you’re doing what the money is ultimately supposed to do — getting votes,” Santorum told the [Des Moines] Register. “This is a lot more fun than being on the phone raising money…”
He drew a slightly larger crowd in nearby Panora, Iowa, when 10 people showed up to ask him questions about his positions at a telecommunications company…
“People don’t understand. One guy in there said, ‘I’ll speak for you at the caucus,’” Santorum said. “That’s maybe eight votes that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Eight votes can make a big difference, as I know.”
So is this grassroots retail politics, or a major embarrassment for a presidential candidate?
Lindsey Graham may have trouble securing support among fellow Republicans for his 2016 presidential aspirations. But that isn’t stopping him from looking beyond traditional constituencies to grow the party’s base. From the Associated Press:
The South Carolina senator calls himself a “traditional marriage kind of guy.” But he says he “can only imagine the torment that Bruce Jenner went through” before becoming a transgendered woman. He hopes that, now, she’s “found peace…”
Graham says if Jenner wants to be a Republican, she’s welcome. And he says if she wants a safe country and a strong economy, she should vote for him.
Jenner notably declared herself a Republican in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer earlier this year. So there’s apparently no need to convert her. That said, if Graham and other Republicans want to expand non-traditional constituencies, they should start by highlighting how conservative-libertarian principles apply to each person’s life regardless of demographic distinctions.
Transgendered individuals have as much to gain from the preservation of liberty as anyone else. The right to pursue happiness as defined by the individual should be protected, as should the freedom of association that enables people of like mind to engage in consensual relationships.
Alabama almost became the first state in the union to do away with marriage licenses. A bill passed the state senate, but failed in the house, which would have eliminated licenses in favor of contracts between those “legally authorized to be married.”
It’s an idea which many have been floating since the debate over gay marriage began, particularly in libertarian circles. Why do we need a license to get married? Should relationships require government approval? Or should government recognize any relationship formed by consenting adults, and protect the rights of the individuals within as it would in any contract?
Unfortunately, the Alabama effort fails to advance that conversation. The move to abolish marriage licenses isn’t informed by the principle of free association so much as a desire to sidestep an anticipated Supreme Court decision. Had the bill become law, it could have effectively maintained a ban on gay marriage in Alabama. From The Daily Caller:
In January a federal judge overturned Alabama’s legal and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, but Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore almost immediately told probate judges they don’t have to adhere to the ruling, because the only federal court Alabama must adhere to is the U.S. Supreme Court. (RELATED: Alabama Chief Justice Defies Federal Court On Gay Marriage)
In March the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, but in May the federal court again ordered the judges to issue the same-sex licenses. That ruling is on hold, however, until the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage expected this month.
Sen. Albritton’s bill would avoid the issue altogether by scrapping marriage licenses for everyone in the state. If the Supreme Court rules that states must issue same-sex marriage licenses, Alabama could avert the ruling by saying it doesn’t issue any licenses.
Bill sponsor Republican Senator Greg Albritton told the Decatur Daily that he wanted “to remove the state out of the lives of people.” In order to accomplish that, his bill would have to recognize any contractual relationship, not just those “legally authorized.”
In the market for a new home? Looking for something with a little bit of character, something that will go over well at your next cocktail party? Have three quarters of a million to spend? If so, there’s a perfect place for you in the great state of Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
The Maple Grove home once owned by former Gov. Jesse Ventura and occupied by his family is up for sale.
The 5,100-square-foot residence backs up to a pond and sits on 1-plus “manicured acres” at 9978 Walnut Grove Lane, southeast of Brockton Lane and 101st Avenue. It’s priced at $719,900.
Ventura has not lived in the home for several years. He spends much of his time these days south of the border in Mexico.
Not long ago, six men from a Muslim Somali community in Minneapolis were arrested for attempting to leave the country and join ISIS as terror fighters. The backgrounds of these men were notable, as each held the potential to excel at productive endeavors and create a life of abundance and happiness. These were men who chose, conscientiously, to reject freedom and prosperity in favor of death and destruction.
A filmmaker named Ami Horowitz visited the Ceder-Riverside community which these men called home to ask Muslims on the street whether they preferred to live under American law or Sharia law. He also asked for their views on the freedom of speech and insults against Mohammed.
The answers he received, documented in the video above, demonstrate that the six men arrested for conspiring to join ISIS were not anomalies. Rather, they were predictable products of their culture, a culture which America has welcomed into its gates.
Old comments recently brought to light have Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in the headlines. Speaking to the trend in our society toward integrating transgendered individuals into opposite-sex facilities, Huckabee stated the obvious. From Politico:
“For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man,” Huckabee, in an apparent reference to transgender rights, said in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville earlier this year. The remarks were first reported on Tuesday by BuzzFeed News, which found them in a video that was uploaded last week to World Net Daily’s YouTube channel.
“I wish that somebody would have told me in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in P.E. I’m pretty sure I would have found my feminine side, and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today,” Huckabee said to laughter and applause.
These comments are somehow newsworthy. We now live in a society where suggesting that boys ought not shower with girls has become controversial.
Note how Politico evokes “transgender rights” as the issue, presupposing that Huckabee stands opposed to said rights. Of course, the real rights dynamic in play favors Huckabee’s position.
Transgendered individuals hold the same rights as any other individuals, including the right to free association, a two-way street that requires mutual consent. To the extent “transgender rights” as defined by radical activists prescribe forcing association upon unwilling parties, they violate rights rather than uphold them.