Focus on the People, Not the Numbers

 

Conservatives and libertarians face a common problem: our principles. Once you catch the passion for liberty and understand how the freedom of billions of humans can coalesce to make a world undreamable by any individual person, it is increasingly difficult to take seriously complicated schemes of regulation and legislation that purport to know better than the market. But why is this really a problem?

I have long been searching for a way to reframe libertarian issues as human interest stories for two reasons:  1) that’s what they are; 2) that’s what people really care about and connect with. To that end, I have been thinking about Jim Pethoukoukis’s “Generation Katniss” post, which walks through exactly the problem i’ve been trying to sort out.  I think a lot of the comments on that post missed the point. It is not that libertarian-conservatives need to change what they talk about, it is that we need to change how we talk about it.

The Libertarian Podcast: “Hollywood, Washington, and Transparency”

 

Are some companies so powerful that the public should have a right to know about their internal deliberations? That’s the argument WikiLeaks offered up when they decided to publish the entire archive of the Sony emails that were hacked last year. In this episode of The Libertarian podcast, Professor Epstein looks at the legal recourses that are available when information that was intended to stay private goes public; the limits of First Amendment protections for people who’ve stolen privileged information; and what it means to live in a world where your every e-mail could someday be newspaper fodder. Listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian via iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

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It was ugly to begin with of course since it involves Rosie O’Donnell.  The woman famous for the looks and personality of a bulldog’s backside is in the middle of a nasty custody dispute over the two year old toy, also known as a baby girl, she and her wife obtained at the local buy […]

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Decline of the American Protest

 

Bloody_Sunday-officers_await_demonstrators Reason reports on a “peaceful” protest against police abuse in Washington DC, telling us that “No fires were set or property damaged as far as I could tell. They succeeded in shutting down intersections as they went along, tailed by a cavalcade of police cars, lights flashing, there to keep the traffic in check.”

Color me deeply unimpressed.

Fifty years ago, the headline-grabbers called attention to themselves by dressing to the nines in order to get the snot beat out of them by racist cops who would not allow them to cross a bridge (over its pedestrian lane no less!). They did so in order to call attention to their dignity as citizens and the moral decrepitude of the officials, police officers, and posse members who assaulted and beat them.

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There’s been a lot of talk about Baltimore, specifically the root causes and how or whether one should try to understand the anger and frustration. This is a very complicated issue, but since I believe that attempts at understanding are never wasted, here’s how I see the frustration. I’m leaving a lot out for now […]

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The Chief Iranian negotiator Javad Zarif spoke at New York University on Wednesday. This is what he said he thinks the “deal” will be like that is about to happen with the U.S.A. If Iran strikes a deal with the West, all sanctions will be lifted very quickly and there’s nothing the U.S. Congress can […]

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Is the Flat-tax Going to Become a Key Issue for Social Conservatives?

 

tax exempt statusOn NRO, David French reports that one of the attorneys arguing in favor of gay marriage in the Supreme Court admitted that tax exempt status for institutions that oppose gay marriage “is going to be an issue.” The institution under discussion was colleges — Bob Jones University in particular — but surely this would also become an issue for hospitals and other institutions and charities run by religious orders and eventually even churches, temples and mosques (well, maybe never mosques).

My question is whether we who harbor the definition as marriage as being only between a man and woman (like those who, you know, take Jesus as His word) will soon be considered Constitutional heretics. And if that happens, would we be better off doing away with all of the lawsuits in our future about whether a charity is worthy of tax exempt status by doing away with all such exemptions now? Should we focus on a flat tax which would allow more people to keep more money and be able to than give even more generously to the religious institutions they value?

And as a bonus, no more tax exemption for The Clinton Foundation.

A Word of Caution for Those Who Throw Bricks at Firefighters

 

Baltimore_City_Fire_Department_With today being the 23rd anniversary of the start of the Rodney King Riot in Los Angeles, I was watching footage out of Baltimore and recalling that long-ago night when the world’s attention turned to the intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues in South Los Angeles. As was the case in Los Angeles then, the city leaders in Baltimore this past week failed to see the signs of impending trouble that were clear to cops on the street. In both cities, the higher up the chain of command you looked, the more obtuseness you seemed to find. And in both cities, the mayors were complete failures when the crisis came. (Five years ago, I wrote on PJ Media about the failure of some LAPD managers – I refuse to call them “leaders” – to take charge and do what was necessary in those first early hours of the riot. You can find that piece here.)

There are many analogies to be drawn between the L.A. Riot and the one in Baltimore, but one that stands out in particular is the way firefighters in the two cities were treated by the mob. “If you wanted to be loved,” I was told as a young cop, “you should have joined the Fire Department.” As a general matter that saying is true, but not when the rioting starts, apparently.

Images from Baltimore of fire hoses being cut, and of fire engines being pelted with rocks, bricks, and bottles as they sped to a fire reminded me of what I saw in Los Angeles on the second or third night of the ‘92 riot. At the intersection of 108th and Main Streets in South Los Angeles, a fire station stands on one side of 108th and a police station stands on the other. As the rioting grew more intense — and as resources from beyond Los Angeles County were brought in to assist — 108th Street between Main and Broadway was blocked off to serve as a staging area for police cars and fire apparatus. (If you’re wondering, Broadway in South Los Angeles is nothing at all like Broadway in New York.)

William Saletan Thinks About The Definition of Marriage…

 

shutterstock_124665844…for about five seconds. But you know, that’s something.

Over at Slate, Saletan kindly explains to us why Justice Alito and Charles Krauthammer (in an old column still making the rounds) are wrong to suppose that the arguments made in favor of same-sex marriage might also be used to justify polygamous marriage. What it boils down to is that there are basic, natural facts about human beings that make monogamy stable and salutary in a way that polygamy just isn’t. Basically, the problem is jealousy. When we give our lives to another person, we want that person to be equally devoted to us. If we invite threes and fours to the altar (or county clerk’s office, or whatever), that’s just not going to work out as happily for anyone.

Let me pause for a moment to bang my head against the wall a few times. Letting the ear-ringing die down now. OK, I’m back.

It All Depends on the Meaning of “Full Responsibility”

 

maersktigrisTwo days ago, in the Strait of Hormuz–an internationally recognized shipping lane–the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fired shots across the bow of the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Maersk Tigris, then seized the vessel. They are holding the ship and the 24 crew members.

According to the Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News, Pentagon lawyers have determined the United States “has no obligation to come to the defense of a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel at sea.”

Here’s the text of the Compact of Free Association, as amended and signed in 2003, between the the United States and the Marshall Islands.

Hillary’s Right (Something I Thought I’d Never Say)

 

Hillary Clinton’s complaint about the country’s “mass incarceration,” voiced in her speech today on Baltimore, contains more than a little truth.  Our federal and state governments have over-criminalized society.  People are being imprisoned for non-violent crimes, often for running afoul of arcane regulations put in place, not by Congress, but by the (far too) many federal regulatory agencies.

As Wendy McElroy pointed out in The Freeman, “From 2000 to 2007 Congress added 452 new federal crimes to the 4,450 already in effect and the roughly 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally.”  And that was before Obama took office.  She cites one case in which a man served six years in a U.S. prison for allegedly violating Honduran lobster harvest regulations!  Even though Honduran officials stated that no law had been broken, he was found guilty of such “violations” as putting the lobsters in plastic bags rather than in cardboard boxes.  “Now released, the convicted felon is without a job to support his ill wife and faces possible eviction from his home.”

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Every once in a while, I get to do something I find personally worthwhile, where I feel I made a tiny , microscopic difference against the rising of the all powerful state. My work is focused on small business and entrepreneurs as a sometime coach, advisor and occasional salvage barge. I know a lot of […]

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They Said If I Voted Republican in 2012, Cultural Issues Would Dominate Politics and They Were Right!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the years following the election of President Obama, Instapundit made a habit of pointing out how dire predictions made by the Left often came true. The horrors were visited upon us not by John McCain or Mitt Romney, but by Obama himself. Here’s a sampling of what I’m talking about.

One of the things we’ve heard repeatedly is that the GOP wants to fight the culture wars and people just don’t want to talk about those things. Plenty of free advice has dispensed over the years saying that if Republicans want to ever win a Presidential election again, they better stop talking about social issues – American’s doesn’t want to hear it. Well, perhaps the Democrats should take that heed that advice themselves as we approach the 2016 elections.

A string of recent stories have highlighted the Left’s engagement in the culture wars and their desire to push social issues to the forefront of people’s minds.

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The fight against Obamacare needs new energy but we should not compare it to the post office or drivers’ license offices. Rather, we should compare it to government schools: -both involved government taking over something not enumerated in the Constitution and that was being done quite well in the private sector before government interference-both saw […]

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In the wake of the recent riots, I have seen more than a few references to riots of earlier decades, such as Rodney King and so forth. I am also mindful, being of a certain age, of the same kind of inner city mayhem having occurred in earlier decades. I thought of the Watts riots, […]

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