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After a brief hiatus, The Ricochet Podcast returns with nothing short of revolution on its mind. Our guest this week: the Unknowngreat Charles Murray, to discuss his latest book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, an argument for civil disobedience. Will it catch on? Also, who are the top ten GOP candidates, should our candidates appear on George Stephanopoulos’s show (h/t Ricochet member Brian Watt), and will Elian Gonzalez become a propaganda symbol if he visits the U.S. (another h/t to Ricochet member Richard Anderson). Finally, how should have Jeb Bush answered that question on the Iraq War? Our panel weighs in.

Music from this week’s episode:

Talkin’ Bout A Revolution by Tracy Chapman

The opening sequence for the Ricochet Podcast was composed and produced by James Lileks.

Just perfect, EJHill (click on the photo for the full size version).

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  1. user_7742 Inactive
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Rob, James and Peter – Thanks for the multiple shout-outs and discussion about my Stephanopoulos posting. Much appreciated.

    As noted in the ensuing comments of the post, Republican candidates when pressed to answer idiotic questions, to Rob’s point in the podcast, may use the following rejoinders with my permission:

    “Are you asking that question as a presumed journalist or as a Clinton campaign operative?”

    “Gee, is that you asking the question or Hillary Clinton?”

    All the best!

    • #1
  2. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    The 10,000th member should win 10,000 free hours on Ricochet.  (Or a little over a 1 year subscription.)

    • #2
  3. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    No War of the Worlds panic? What? My dad was a panic of one, in that case. Telling the story of the night he heard that broadcast was one of his best stories.

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Thatcher
    Ricochet
    @goldwaterwoman

    So, you made me feel guilty enough today that I finally decided to join as a Thatcher member. Thanks for many hours of listening pleasure and education.

    • #4
  5. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    This is  real pickle.  I was disappointed that there was no podcast last week.  Now there is a podcast, but I’ve started listening to Michael Cain’s autobiography and I don’t want to stop.  Whatever shall I do?

    • #5
  6. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    goldwaterwoman:So, you made me feel guilty enough today that I finally decided to join as a Thatcher member. Thanks for many hours of listening pleasure and education.

    About dang time.

    • #6
  7. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Spin:

    goldwaterwoman:So, you made me feel guilty enough today that I finally decided to join as a Thatcher member. Thanks for many hours of listening pleasure and education.

    About dang time.

    We Thatcherites gotta stick together.  We can’t let the Reaganites brow beat us, but we’ve gotta keep the Coolidgees in their place.  Ours is the difficult road.

    • #7
  8. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Murray’s idea was the organizing principle behind the Home School Legal Defense Association. Maybe you can get Michael Farris on sometime to talk about that, and about the Article V convention he and a few other folks are attempting to organize.

    • #8
  9. user_18586 Thatcher
    user_18586
    @DanHanson

    I really like Charles Murray,  and I love the idea  of a regulatory defence fund that insulates people from pointless regulations and makes life hard for the regulators – if it would work.

    However… I think he greatly underestimates the government’s ability to counteract this to protect their turf.

    For example,  if James Lileks  appealed to the fund because he was being forced to re-build a berm that was off by 1/2″,  I suspect the very next thing that would happen  is that a horde of inspectors would descend on his business and start  issuing citations over every little slight deviation from the regulations.  Sorry,  your bathroom sink is 1/8″ too high for the Americans with Disabilities Act.    Your wheelchair ramp is 1/8″ too narrow – rebuild it.   We have evidence that your emissions are over the limit,  and we demand extensive,  extremely costly tests.

    In the meantime,  they’ll bury the fund lawyers in expensive discovery processes and tie them up in court forever.

    If that doesn’t work,  the fund itself will come under attack for subverting  regulations and thwarting the will of the voters,  and legislation will be proposed to stop it.

    If that doesn’t work,  the business owner will be found in contempt or something and the threat will escalate from fines to jail time.

    Then there’s the outright thuggish tactics – asset forfeiture,   IRS audits,  audits of your customers until people stop doing business with you,   “operation choke point” type tactics to prevent you from getting loans or other financial services.   Heck,  the business owner may discover that ‘anonymous tips’  lead to SWAT-style raids against his home.  If he has kids,  child protection services will start sniffing around.

    When you threaten the core power of the state,  don’t be surprised if the state brings a cannon to a gunfight.

    I have some experience here.  An old friend of mine opened a perfectly legal business which happened to threaten the casino profits of the state.   They raided him and shut him down.  They had no case,  but they buried his lawyers in thousands of pages of ‘discovery’  and cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs and kept his business closed for months.

    The judge eventually dismissed the case and actually reprimanded the crown for its thuggish behaviour.   So,  my friend went out and re-opened his business after hiring another lawyer to pour through his operation looking for anything the government could use against him.  The lawyer said,  “You’re not doing anything illegal.”  He opened again – and was raided again almost immediately.   This time the judge was a little quicker to throw out the case,  but it still cost him thousands of dollars,  damaged his reputation, and scared away customers.

    After that,  he learned his ‘lesson’  and gave up.   The lesson being that if the state really wants to get you,  the law doesn’t really matter.  They’ll find a way.

    • #9
  10. Mr Tall Inactive
    Mr Tall
    @MrTall

    Thanks for the excellent podcast.

    I want to add a plug for the recently-released Dadly Virtues book.

    I picked it up on my Kindle last night, scrolled through the table of contents, and saw that Rob Long had contributed an essay on marriage! Knowing he’s a single guy, I thought I’d have a quick look just to see what angle he took.

    Well, I was drawn in immediately, and read straight through what turned out to be an exceptional essay — pointed, yet compassionate (and I mean that in the best, traditional sense of the word, not the degraded, Oprahfied 21st-century version).

    I’ll be reading James’s next.

    • #10
  11. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    Dan Hanson:The judge eventually dismissed the case and actually reprimanded the crown for its thuggish behaviour.

    This was Canada, I take it?

    • #11
  12. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Yes, I’ve yet to hear a plausible answer to the question of the “Intolerable Acts” response.  If the government is really so lawless, is it really going to be stopped by this?  We have a good first step.  There will, however, eventually be a response by the government.  I have heard nothing of what happens them.

    • #12
  13. user_18586 Thatcher
    user_18586
    @DanHanson

    Yes, this was in Canada. But if anything, when it comes to administrative matters and regulatory enforcement we tend to be more informal and reasonable than in America, from what I have observed.

    • #13
  14. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    That’s a masterpiece, EJ Hill!

    • #14
  15. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Dan, I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve heard this same spiel now from him in several venues and, as much as I think he’s an insightful thinker and analyst, every time I hear this pitch all I can think is “gee, that ivory tower must be comfy.”  His vision makes for a cathartic daydream, but for a list of reasons longer than my arm, it will never work in the real world.

    • #15
  16. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Cato Rand:Dan, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard this same spiel now from him in several venues and, as much as I think he’s an insightful thinker and analyst, every time I hear this pitch all I can think is “gee, that ivory tower must be comfy.” His vision makes for a cathartic daydream, but for a list of reasons longer than my arm, it will never work in the real world.

    Should it not be tried, anyway?

    • #16
  17. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Titus Techera:

    Cato Rand:Dan, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard this same spiel now from him in several venues and, as much as I think he’s an insightful thinker and analyst, every time I hear this pitch all I can think is “gee, that ivory tower must be comfy.” His vision makes for a cathartic daydream, but for a list of reasons longer than my arm, it will never work in the real world.

    Should it not be tried, anyway?

    I wish him well.  Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong.  I just think he’s clearly trying to build a house of cards to the moon.  Even if you assume, as he says (and as I think Dan Hanson rightly questions above), that the government is the Wizard of Oz, among the obvious coordination problems which nearly guarantee failure are:

    – disagreements over what cases to pursue

    – inducing business owners/operators to take the risk to their businesses

    – inducing lawyers to take the risk of sanctions and risks to their licenses and reputations

    – finding the (massive) funding required

    – all on a massive scale, because a few test cases are going to bounce off leviathan like tennis balls off an elephant, successful or not

    Charles Murray seems to be assuming that the world is full of Charles Murrays.

    • #17
  18. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    It seems his point was to target bureaus with limited resources, at least at first, so an impact could be made. I would think his book would pinpoint which offices he thinks are best to take a stand against.

    • #18
  19. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Dan Hanson:I really like Charles Murray, and I love the idea of a regulatory defence fund that insulates people from pointless regulations and makes life hard for the regulators – if it would work.

    However… I think he greatly underestimates the government’s ability to counteract this to protect their turf.

    …The lesson being that if the state really wants to get you, the law doesn’t really matter. They’ll find a way.

    My reaction is an extension of this: Does the book address the inevitable RICO suit that the DOJ would bring to shut down the Madison Foundation? I think the Federal government would move very quickly to shut down a group dedicated to facilitating systematic lawbreaking.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    So for this to be workable, you are saying you need three things. Lots of money–not impossible to get; an agreement on cases to be pursued; & protection from the gov’t. I’m not asking how they could get money: Kickstart it, for all I care. That’s a problem, but it’s not insurmountable. But I do not see any real problem with what cases to take–there will be decisions & an institutional structure for decision-making, hopefully one man at the top. The real problem is defense from the gov’t: How do you stay in business, keep the institution in business, & keep your clients in business?

    But do not you think there are answers to these questions? Surely, the combined expertise of the Ricochetti, to say nothing of libertarian groups, might be put to use here!

    The RICO case idea seems to me to get to the root of the problem: Mr. Murray seems to want to make it impossible for the gov’t to concentrate its powers. He wants a way to force the gov’t to do so many different things at once that it cannot harm any specific person. A RICO case would make that impossible. So would any other attack on the institution directly.

    If the Institution manages to keep its money in some way protected from the gov’t; & if it can inspire some people to take very real risks; then this might work to decrease risks greatly for everyone else.

    • #20
  21. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Titus:

    Have you ever dealt with the government?  I just don’t think you appreciate the scale or the intractability of the problem.  All those petty bureaucrats have turf to protect because they have mortgages to pay.  Waking them from their slumber for something as trivial as a tsunami wiping out Los Angeles might be difficult.  Waking from their slumber by challenging their turf and their raison d’etre will not be.

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Cato Rand:Titus:

    Have you ever dealt with the government? I just don’t think you appreciate the scale or the intractability of the problem. All those petty bureaucrats have turf to protect because they have mortgages to pay. Waking them from their slumber for something as trivial as a tsunami wiping out Los Angeles might be difficult. Waking from their slumber by challenging their turf and their raison d’etre will not be.

    I’m as ignorant as can be about this matter, but I can believe you. I am surprised that you do not see any way to challenge the enormous being-

    • #22
  23. user_18586 Thatcher
    user_18586
    @DanHanson

    The state  isn’t going to give up regulatory power just because someone came up with a clever way to game the system,  no matter how clever it is.   People have tried before,  and lost.    Even if it’s legally airtight,  I guarantee you the government will just change the rules, or a challenge will go to the Supreme Court and they’ll twist themselves into contortions to protect the government’s regulatory power because otherwise their might be radical change and the court would be blamed.  Isn’t that pretty much what the Roberts court did in the first Obamacare challenge?

    Or, the government will simply draft a new law that specifically disallows such 3rd party legal defence funds,  or they’ll create a new regulatory process for ‘obvious’ violations which will disallow legal challenges,  or they’ll change the way the regs are applied to inflict maximum pain to the business owner while the case is at trial.

    And what would stop them from simply going into a mode where they start enforcing every little infraction they can find,  simply to overwhelm the fund and deplete its resources?

    Whatever tactic they land on,  I guarantee you they’ll find one.   But what’s absolutely certain is that no one in the government is going to go, “Oh,  those people are just too clever for us!  Okay, let’s shut it all down and give up our progressive dreams and our comfy feather-bedded jobs.”

    The analogy I’d offer is the old saying that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.  Murray’s strategy sounds good – if you assume that it won’t result in a counter-move by the government.

    • #23
  24. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Exactly Dan.  What it boils down to is that that smiling face that Charles seems to think is a front for Chauncey Gardner like simplicity in fact hides a set of razor sharp fangs.  If you doubt it, test it.

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I was surprised when I heard about James’ experience with the berm.  The real reason you put up a berm is in case tanks or drums leak their contents.  However, an event such as a tornado would do a hell of a lot more damage than simply make drums and tanks leak.

    It would destroy the containers, suck the contents into the atmosphere, then subsequently disperse it over several square miles.

    Thank goodness James doesn’t own a nuclear waste dump . . .

    • #25
  26. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    Spin:

    Spin:

    goldwaterwoman:So, you made me feel guilty enough today that I finally decided to join as a Thatcher member. Thanks for many hours of listening pleasure and education.

    About dang time.

    We Thatcherites gotta stick together. We can’t let the Reaganites brow beat us, but we’ve gotta keep the Coolidgees in their place. Ours is the difficult road.

    “Help! [Charles Murray,] I’m being oppressed!”

    • #26
  27. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Charles Murray says that the thesis of his book is that  [This is not an exact quote, I’ve changed the first part slightly]  “Instead of allowing people to live their lives as they see fit, we now live under a presumption of constraint”.

    That is the most concise definition of the problem with America I have ever heard, and much more polite than my usual definition, which that we’re living in a fascist dictatorship and don’t even realize it.

    Republicans, this is your campaign theme for 2016.  Especially the part in italics.  Run with it, I’m begging you.

    • #27
  28. user_494971 Contributor
    user_494971
    @HankRhody

    Dan Hanson:The state isn’t going to give up regulatory power just because someone came up with a clever way to game the system, no matter how clever it is. People have tried before, and lost. Even if it’s legally airtight, I guarantee you the government will just change the rules, or a challenge will go to the Supreme Court and they’ll twist themselves into contortions to protect the government’s regulatory power because otherwise their might be radical change and the court would be blamed. Isn’t that pretty much what the Roberts court did in the first Obamacare challenge?

    If the government won’t play by the rules, why should the people?

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Hank Rhody:

    Dan Hanson:The state isn’t going to give up regulatory power just because someone came up with a clever way to game the system, no matter how clever it is. People have tried before, and lost. Even if it’s legally airtight, I guarantee you the government will just change the rules, or a challenge will go to the Supreme Court and they’ll twist themselves into contortions to protect the government’s regulatory power because otherwise their might be radical change and the court would be blamed. Isn’t that pretty much what the Roberts court did in the first Obamacare challenge?

    If the government won’t play by the rules, why should the people?

    If I understand what the fine gentlemen are suggesting by their elaborate, learned objections–gut-wrenching fear…

    • #29
  30. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Hank Rhody:

    Dan Hanson:The state isn’t going to give up regulatory power just because someone came up with a clever way to game the system, no matter how clever it is. People have tried before, and lost. Even if it’s legally airtight, I guarantee you the government will just change the rules, or a challenge will go to the Supreme Court and they’ll twist themselves into contortions to protect the government’s regulatory power because otherwise their might be radical change and the court would be blamed. Isn’t that pretty much what the Roberts court did in the first Obamacare challenge?

    If the government won’t play by the rules, why should the people?

    Because they have most of the guns.

    • #30