Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

The shooting that happened in Arizona last weekend was appalling. Anyone who would wantonly spray a crowd of people with bullets is not worth much consideration as a human. Jared Loughner’s actions are indefensible. He could have perhaps staked a very weak claim to the morality of using force against agents of the state that imposes force against us all every day. It would have been a weak and tenuous claim, a claim that I have rejected from others whenever they have advocated it in my presence. Instead, what he did was turn his gun on a crowd of innocent people. He was just a murderer. I feel deeply sorry for the families of the dead and I hope just as much for the recovery of the injured. For Loughner, I hope he is locked away forever. Executing him would just drag society down to his level.

I was in Canada when the shooting happened, so I was able to avoid the sketchy early reporting. I did get back just in time to catch a lot of leftists (H/T: Andrew) making an  unseemly spectacle out of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party’s supposed culpability in Loughner’s crime. It made me sad to see a respectable blogger like Andrew Sullivan, one of my all-time favorites, jump so quickly to this conclusion. The reality of the matter is that Loughner is an incoherent fool. He is mad as a march hare. What he did was horrible and I hope he is punished severely, but he did not do this as some sort of foot soldier of the Tea Party or because Sarah Palin put a target on a map. He did this because in his crazy mind, government is assaulting language or something like that.

And I can understand why so many leftists leapt to this conclusion. Sarah Palin is a HORRIBLE human being. She has aroused new levels of contempt in me, something that is remarkable given my inborn antipathy for statists. I dislike all of the presidents, but I am confident that were Palin elected, she would quickly find herself battling with FDR and Woodrow Wilson for the title of worst of all-time.

So yes, let us defeat Palin the lying, ignorant, Bible-thumping barbarian. But not in this way. Not in a way that manipulates the deaths of innocent people to reach a political end. If you really think some map graphic on a Sarah Palin website made this nutter kill those people, you have a serious correlation vs. causation problem you need worked out.

As for the overreactions from the agents of Leviathan, join me in vomiting on them all. First there was Rep. Bob Brady D-PA (H/T: Andrew), presumably some sort of vulgar mouth-breather who would just feel more important if he had a taxpayer-funded security detail behind him. Guess what, Bob? No one made you become one of the chief agents of the criminal gang running this country. You had a choice. You chose to become a slave overseer. If you don’t like the risks inherent in the job, then get the hell out. Just now, I saw some dumb shmuck calling for bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address. Good God. The only thing I would like about that sort of useless maneuver is that it might cause some more people to realize that this country is really a one-party (War Party) state. And then there are the worst of the worst, the people calling for limits on speech, the people calling for the Fred Phelps church to be banned from funerals, the people calling for the Fairness Doctrine to return, etc. Just shut up, all of you. I think about half of those people are really just sand-headed kneejerkers of the lowest sort, whilst the other half are hardcore statists who wanted those policies all along and are just using the current tragedy as an excuse.

Best pundit reaction? I’d have to say Radley Balko. He was one of the few people to not let the government off the hook here and remind people that the state initiates force against each of us every day. That was a hard thing for a national pundit to say after this sort of event, so good for him. From my perspective, it’s important to say that Loughner is crazy as a loon and guilty as hell. But don’t let the deranged actions of one murderer become for America what the Port Arthur massacre was/is for Australia–a blank check for kneejerkers and statists to achieve long-held goals in an emotional moment.

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  • Radley Balko at Reason: covering the dismissal of felony charges against Anthony Graber, the Maryland motorcyclist who recorded a cop on his helmet cam. It’s tremendous news for people who love freedom. Balko poses a great question, though: “Instead, we have public officials who violated the law, who should have known they were violating the law, and who caused significant harm to someone else in the process. So what will be their punishment?”
  • Via Radley Balko at Reason, The Spokesman-Review: Washington State Patrol shoots an unarmed, pregnant woman in a drug raid. At least she is alive. I hope we can find out the shooter’s name and get the bully fired. I don’t care if you think you are following orders. Orders didn’t make you pull the trigger as you aimed a gun at an unarmed, nonviolent, pregnant fellow human being who at worst was engaged in the drug trade.
  • Via Damon Root at Reason, WSJ: previewing two big free speech cases about to come before the Supreme Court. The one that interests me is the case of a dead soldier’s dad who is seeking “emotional distress” damages from the Fred Phelps-Westboro Baptist Church scumbags for picketing his son’s funeral. Fred Phelps is a horrible human, but this response is entirely the wrong one. So long as he and his gang of dunces were not violating your private property rights, they were right to exercise their rights. Stop trying to ruin this country because your feelings got hurt.
  • NYT: the Venezuelan opposition has a pretty decent showing in parliamentary elections. Much as I love to see the Chavista thugs embarrassed even a little bit, I think the opposition miscalculated here. Chavez will never let himself be unseated through the ballot box. Better to avoid his system altogether, see things get worse in the short term and hope for enough people to get angry enough to put the vile fat man against a wall.
  • NYT: Chinese authorities look into a company that collaborates with local governments in putting petitioners in black jails. Color me skeptical on this one. My sense is that the black jail issue got too hot, so the Chinese are now scapegoating this company. Oh, but for the day when Wen Jiabao and his butchers learn what the inside of a cage looks like.
  • NYT: South African authorities shut down businesses for not following minimum wage laws…as the workers inside resist them. What a sad story. A crude devotion to ideology trumps the need of poor people to put food on the table. Leave the people alone, you paternalistic thugs.
  • NYT: Islamic thugs are restricting women’s rights in Chechnya, with what appears to be the full blessing of the republic’s president. I wish Russia would just cut ties with these people. It’s not worth the terrorist attacks and the budget drain to see women forced to wear the headscarf in a Russian Federation of supposedly equal rights before the law.
  • Atlantic Free Press: an inside look at mortar use in Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military. Money quote: “A gunman fired a few cents worth of AK-47 rounds at the U.S. Marines and in response the Marines probably fired $10,000.00 in mortar rounds that all missed their target, yet killed an innocent. This incident could sum up the entire Afghan war and helps explain why American efforts have largely failed.” Our soldiers shouldn’t be put in this position. Bring them home.
  • NYT: remember how India tried to bully Research in Motion into giving them access to encrypted BlackBerry messages? Now they are talking about mobilizing against Skype and Google. Western companies are getting cold feet about doing business in India. Maybe the Big Brother squad will learn a valuable lesson, but I doubt it–it’s not like their jobs are at stake.

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  • Via the Volokh Conspiracy, WaPo: remember that slippery slope about state secrets we recently started down with the dismissal of torture lawsuits against the U.S.? Well, we’re gaining speed down the hill now. The White House is invoking the same state secrets idea in an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit about their planned murder targeted killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: we covered scumball Connecticut AG/Senate hopeful Dick Blumenthal and his vile demagoguery against Craigslist before, but now he’s targeting other online adult services ads destinations. Sullum runs down the case of Backpage.com, which is so far resisting Blumenthal’s ludicrous rhetoric about “saving the children” and keeping its ads intact. It’s high time for Blumenthal’s opportunistic electioneering to get acquainted with the lower segment of his large intestine.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: any Balko post on cops is a must-read. In this one, he runs through a litany of recent cases of police misconduct. Spoiler: they’re egregious!
  • NYT: a campaign is launched to give the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. He is the president of their chapter of PEN and currently rots in jail for his role in drafting Charter 08, a human rights petition. The Peace Prize should be reserved for heroes like this guy, not spineless, war-perpetuating cowards like Obama.
  • Via Michael C. Moynihan at Reason, The American Muslim: a whole heap of cool Muslims sign a letter calling for tolerance and repudiating violence from the Muslim community. Sample: “We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims.  We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.” This is exactly the sort of response I’d been hoping for from the Muslim community this past year. Good work, signatories!
  • Andrew Sullivan: reacting to an uber-lame LA Times op-ed against Prop 19, the pot legalization measure on California’s ballot. LAT thinks it might set up nasty conflicts with the federal government. Not controversy, no! Andrew: “If we had waited for the feds, we would have no gay marriage rights at all.”
  • Der Spiegel: you haven’t seen political fat city until you’ve seen the compensation scheme for top Eurocrats. All for doing jack-all except adding another layer of bureaucracy across Europe, writing more regulations and taking away more rights. Rework the old Churchhill quote a bit: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few for so little.”
  • The Globe & Mail: waaah, Quebecers seem to have gotten their feelings hurt by MacLeans ranking it the most corrupt province in Canada. Weenie MPs are predictably making stupid claims of the sort that the article fans “anti-Quebec prejudices.” Don’t want to get your feelings hurt and have the rest of the country resent you? Then stop getting a special settlement from everyone else and whizzing it away on corruption.
  • The Economist: if you want to get really depressed, this post comparing media in early Yanukovych Ukraine to media in early Putin Russia should do the trick. You can put me down in the useful idiot camp of people who thought a Yanukovych win would be a healthy thing for Russian-Ukrainian relations.
  • Der Spiegel: take a look behind the curtain at one of the West’s greatest stimulus programs of all, the NGO industry in Afghanistan. In some ways, it sounds even worse than the decadence of the Green Zone at the height of things in Iraq. Our troop are fighting, dying and killing for this.
  • Andrew Sullivan: reacting (negatively) to the GOP’s Pledge to America. They were supposed to have learned something this time. Instead, they’re pledging to keep entitlements holy and leave the bloated, disgusting defense budget alone. Rag on Obama for his deficits all you want, I don’t see this pledge making things a jot better.
  • Photography is Not a Crime: Carlos Miller covers the resolution to the case of George Donnelly, the Pennsylvania photography activist who faced eight years in prison for allegedly hitting a cop. Donnelly plead out for a fine. You might be thinking he sounds like a wing-nut, but cops deleted all of his video evidence of the event…they thought. There’s a video on the other side of the link where you can see that it was actually Donnelly being assaulted.
  • South China Morning Post: a nice profile of a Chinese dissident murdered during the Cultural Revolution who does not deserve to be forgotten. His mother later petitioned for and won his rehabilitation, something I’ll never understand. Why legitimize a gang of murderers?

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  • Via Tyler Cowen, CNBC: British tax authorities would now like to have employers send paychecks to the government, let Caesar take his tribute and then transfer the remaining sum to employees’ bank accounts. It’s just like direct deposit, except with massive concerns about privacy and Big Brother! Yay! And I thought U.S. withholding taxes were a gross violation of my rights…
  • The Globe & Mail: fascinating rundown of an American soldier-refugee who has invoked the right of sanctuary and taken up residence in a Canadian church rather than get deported home to a military prison. I know ours is now a volunteer military and the case isn’t as clear-cut as it was in the Vietnam era, but many of the ex-soldiers who have absconded to Canada did it for reasons of conscience or ridiculous policies like stop-loss. It’s sad to see Canada cooperating with the bullies in Washington. If you want to help these refugees out, check out the War Resisters Support Campaign.
  • Free Keene: hilarious video that shows exactly how to exercise your rights as a free, law-abiding, camera-bearing citizen in the presence of the police. I haven’t laughed this hard in weeks. It’s amazing to watch just how maddening it is for these cops that people will only answer the questions they are required to answer and want nothing more than to observe them.
  • Andrew Sullivan: responding a (not-worth-linking-to) piece from a dead soldier’s sister about how network news coverage of graphic war scenes is insulting and wrong. Andrew hits exactly the right note here–if you really care about our soldiers and their safety, you should hope for graphic war coverage of the sort that will not allow Americans to forget the deaths going on in our name.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Wired: calling for the U.S. to rub out the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo. Wh-what? You want more wars in our name? There’s not enough death and destruction and bills we can’t afford already? Go hug a cactus, you dithering little “humanitarian interventionist,” you.
  • LewRockwell.com: covering the inexplicable case of an 84-year-old man slammed headfirst on the ground by a 26-year-old cop. He was drunk and he did raise a hand against the cop, but talk about disproportionate force! Witnesses confirm that he was not a physical threat and now, because of what was originally a towing call, the man clings to life with broken vertebrae.
  • National Review: bemoaning the Atlantic Yards development project in New York…not primarily because of their gross use of eminent domain, but because it will be financed largely through investments from foreigners interested in acquiring residency permits under the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5 program lets you get a green card if you agree to invest $500k in the U.S., so it’s basically a cute little way for the government to tell foreigners “Well, we don’t really like you or respect your rights as a free individual, but if you pay us enough money, we’ll look the other way.” And somehow these people coming to the U.S. is a bad thing? People who will pay outrageous sums to help prop up our failing economy? Sweet Jesus, National Review.
  • Damon Root at Reason: reporting on WaPo and Institute for Justice coverage of one of the nation’s dumbest licensure laws, the D.C. license for sightseeing tour guides. The usual nonsense line trotted out by happy cartel members is that licenses are needed to protect public safety–“Why, of course we need a barber’s license. There’s scissors involved!” But with tour guides, there’s not even that flimsy argument. Living in Seattle has exposed me to another colossally stupid licensing scheme–the Washington food handlers’ permit. Yes, many restaurants looking for unskilled labor in the kitchen actually want you to have a state permit to do it.
  • National Post: fresh off their successful signature drive and the provincial government’s disappointing announcement of a referendum in only a year’s time, the anti-harmonized sales tax (HST) folks in B.C. prepare to initiate recalls against 18 provincial legislators. They’re even making a Survivor-style contest out of who they go after first.  Good for them. They just have to be careful not to forget that all politicians are sick people who love power and force, not just the HST liars.
  • Der Spiegel: at least 100,000 Germans have asked Google to blur out their homes on Google StreetView. It’s interesting because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a building blurred out in an American street search. And they say Americans value privacy!
  • The Globe & Mail: the Conservatives spent a record-breaking $130 million on advertising last year. Ugh. You’ve seen the same stuff in the U.S., too–all of those “Paid for with stimulus funds” signs hovering around any highway project. Must they constantly remind us of how much they are doing to for us?
  • Via National Review, the (ugh) Weekly Standard: Koch Industries’ legal team wants to know if the White House might have gotten a little bit too excited about killing the Kochtopus and leaked too much tax information to the press. I don’t really like the Kochs’ brand of libertarianism, but this reminds me to mention that Jane Meyer’s anti-Koch hit piece in The New Yorker was a revolting exercise in conflation and deception, and the normally-stellar Terri Gross’s interview of Meyer on Fresh Air was beyond the Fox News-does-Sarah-Palin level of softballing.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: holding the state to the same standards to which they hold us. Oh, Bradley Manning is a murderer for leaking documents that include information about informants in Afghanistan? Does that mean that all the war-supporting politicians in Washington are murderers for supporting two endless, bloody wars? Cat got your tongue?
  • National Post: people in Nunavut learn how to cope with their territory’s ban on alcohol imports from Europe. The ban was initiated because the EU is boycotting Canadian seal products, upon which the Nunavut economy is heavily dependent. Isn’t it cute how people in the EU and Canada can both lose out on products they want and maybe even need because their governments can’t get along? How delightful!
  • NYT: not for the faint of heart–trying to reform India’s rape laws. For a flavor of what you’ll get, Human Rights Watch “called for an end to the [finger] test, which as the name suggests, involves inserting fingers into the woman to measure ‘vaginal laxity’ and thereby ascertain whether she was ‘habituated to sex’ before the alleged assault.” Sweet Jesus. Let’s use a test that has a spurious physiological basis to suggest that sexually active women deserve to be raped. Come on, India.
  • The Economist: putting the Afghanistan murder-squad case in the context of a genre of surprisingly similar tales going back to WWII, My Lai, etc. It’s an interesting analysis. And the final commentary is one with which I agree: most Americans would just rather not know this stuff.
  • The Globe & Mail: a former Conservative campaign manager calls for both sides in Canada to get consistent on personal freedoms. Liberals, stop trying to restrict gun rights whilst respecting drug rights. Conservatives, stop trying to restrict drug rights whilst respecting gun rights. Amen!

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Craigslist is an amazing resource for transactions between consenting adults. I’ve met my last three roommates through Craigslist. I’ve bought and sold a variety of items. The people I’ve conducted my Craigslist business with have all been decent and fair individuals. Perhaps best of all, I haven’t had to pay a dime to the site for these opportunities.

Yet somehow, this noble, individual-empowering resource for mutually beneficial exchange has become the whipping boy of opportunistic politicians–most notably Dick Blumenthal, the lying sack of scum Attorney General of Connecticut who is running for the retiring Chris Dodd’s Senate seat. Between lying about service in Vietnam and going after the good people at Craigslist, Blumenthal has already proved himself to be on the same base level as Dodd as far as amoral schmuckitude is concerned.

So why did Blumenthal in Connecticut and a squad of Congressional sickies in Washington target Craigslist? For their adult services ads, of course! Because sex between consenting adults is so wrong. Because you don’t have an inviolable right to control your own body, even to the point of selling it. Because allowing sex workers to cut pimps out of their lives and contract directly with customers was a bad thing. Because Craigslist had voluntarily cooperated with law enforcement in the past to charge money for their adult services ads and screen the content made them enemies of public morality.

Now Craigslist can’t host those ads anymore. There goes a revenue stream for one of the most fascinating websites we have and there goes a whole heap of adult services ads to other, less famous sites (H/T: Andrew Sullivan). There goes another bad American example exported north across the border. But hey, at least it might help some sniveling politicians get elected/reelected for being TOUGH ON CRIME and SERIOUS ABOUT MORALITY.

These guys need to be shown that what they did was wrong. They used governmental force to violate the rights of a law-abiding private company. I am sure they are patting themselves on the back even now as they crank out a new campaign ad touting what they did to Craigslist. And yet the only difference between what they did and what criminal thugs do in the back alleys of America’s cities is that they wear suits and get paid $200k/year to do it. Don’t let them forget it.

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The immense backlog of articles to read has been read. The requisite amount of head-shaking has occurred. And now, at long last, my sense of inertia has been overcome. We’re back online, folks. The Country Estate is now officially operating from a secret location tucked away on a Seattle hillside. Let’s get started with a record-breaking batch of links…and remember, some of them might be old since they’ve been accumulating for a while, but they’re all worth reading!

  • The Independent: Robert Fisk does a two-part series on “honor” killings. Worth reading every word. By the end, I didn’t know what was more horrifying–the crimes themselves (“One of the most terrible murders in 1999 was that of a mentally retarded 16-year-old, Lal Jamilla Mandokhel, who was reportedly raped by a junior civil servant in Parachinar in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Her uncle filed a complaint with the police but handed Lal over to her tribe, whose elders decided she should be killed to preserve tribal “honour”. She was shot dead in front of them.”) or the “justice” systems in the countries that witness most of these murders and routinely let the perpetrators off the hook.
  • Via David Schmader at Slog, Seattle Weekly: the cartoonist who drew the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon after the South Park controversy last year has gone into hiding. Because she drew a cartoon. Someone in the Slog comments thread was saying that we need to have an “I am Spartacus” moment and I couldn’t agree more. These medievalist thugs cannot be allowed to win.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: did you know border patrol skull-crackers can ask for your papers and lock you up even if you’re just near the border? Cops in Rochester are such happy little thugs that their department is endowed with increasing amounts of funding for their card-checking.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: the Las Vegas coroner clears a cop who killed a man in his home on a drug raid. Not only was the cop serving a warrant on the wrong guy, but also his explanation of what led him to shoot the man doesn’t match up at all with forensic evidence. So why did he get cleared? It’s their country, we just live in it, silly!
  • Via Reason, Paul Lukacs: an American citizen exercises his right to remain silent in an intrusive interrogation by U.S. border patrol thugs. Sample: “I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.
  • National Post: it’s old news out of my own Seattle, but the prosecutor who indicted non-violent freedom activist Marc Emery for selling marijuana seeds now says that the war on drugs is a waste of time and resources. Of course you would say that now, you schmuck…now that it comes at no personal cost to you, now that you’ve helped ruin another man’s life for a nonviolent “crime.” Whilst I’m at it, don’t forget to do your part in freeing Marc Emery, a true hero.
  • MacLeans: an absolutely bone-chilling account of a Canadian journalist who narrowly dodged an “honor” killing in her native Pakistan. Her own brother deceived her and would have killed her for marrying the wrong boy if she hadn’t been too smart to fall for it.
  • Via Lew Rockwell, Fox: the FBI bans a British teen from American shores for life…for sending an email with an obscenity to the president. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will get me banned from a country for life?
  • Der Spiegel: a profile on the recently-charged five-man U.S. murder squad busted in Afghanistan. These guys were horrible…planting weapons and evidence on innocent people after killing them for sport, collecting body parts as trophies, etc. But the thing we have to be most careful of is allowing the Pentagon and the media to convince us that this was a one-off deal. These guys just happened to get caught. What they did was egregious and sickening, but it’s only a shade morally darker than drone strikes that kill one bad guy and a family full of innocents. Innocent blood like this will continue to accumulate on our hands so long as we stay in Afghanistan.
  • NYT: the Department of Defense wants to use your money to buy and burn all 10k copies of a new Afghan war memoir because it contains classified information. What does classified even mean anymore, in the world of Dick Cheney’s “Treated as Top Secret?” This case is a perfect example of why we need WikiLeaks. They can burn books, but good luck burning hyperlinks.
  • Via Tyler Cowen, NYT: longshot Nevada gubernatorial candidate wants to let people submit to yearly vehicle inspections and then pay a daily fee to speed up to 90 mph. This might sound freedom-y, until you realize that it means you have to accept the notion that the state can tell you how to use your property and that you should pay them money to partially exercise a right that should be yours from inception.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: Mississippi wants to execute a man based on “expert” evidence from a disgraced forensic dentist. Clearly trials in government courts are not stacked against the defendant! Clearly no innocent man could ever be executed in our country!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: “State power is not a creative force, but a destructive one.” This goes out to all those smarties out there who want politicians to “create” jobs. Check out the Broken Window Fallacy or GTFO, dudes.
  • NYT: take a trip to Newark, the city so plagued by police abuse and corruption that they’re asking the feds to intervene. So you’re going to make a justice system stacked in favor of the state less stacked in favor of the state by bringing in….more state power? That’s a hell of a thought process.
  • Via the NYT, AP: it’s short enough to just give you the relevant details–“VIENNA (AP) — A jailed right-wing Austrian author has been found guilty of violating a prohibition on glorifying Nazi ideology and sentenced to an additional two years in prison. Gerd Honsik is already serving a four-year term, which began last year after he was found guilty of ”Wiederbetaetigung” — ”re-engaging” in Nazi-era beliefs. The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.” Good Lord! Nazis, Holocaust deniers, fascists, racists, etc–they’re all repugnant people. But jailing someone for 20 years for having the “wrong” idea? America looks a lot freer all of a sudden.
  • NYT: a restaurateur in San Diego faces “up to 30 years in prison, almost $4 million in fines and the government seizure of his small French restaurant” for hiring illegal immigrants to work in his kitchen. Because it’s not the right of free and peaceful people to cross  borders.
  • NYT: profiling smokers in NYC. “There was a time, not so long ago, that no one lingered, cigarette in hand, between the MetLife buildings on East 24th Street. They smoked at their desks, or, later, in a smoking lounge. Then in 1995, City Hall started rolling out its restrictions and the herding began: big room to small room, inside to outside, public to private, acceptable to anathema. Today, the stigma runs deeper than ever. “They look at you like you just clubbed a baby seal,” Mr. Davila said.” Whoo, demonize minorities! It’s not discrimination when it’s for public health!
  • Center for a Stateless Society: cops react so harshly to people following the law and recording them in public places because the state doesn’t like competing narratives. Keep the cameras rolling, people. If I ever get enough money, I’d love nothing more than to pay an army of cameramen to follow every cop everywhere in some big city.
  • Center for a Stateless Society: great article on a trend I’ve noticed with disapproval, too–statist jerks appropriating the word “serious” to describe just about anything that supports or expands the state power status quo.
  • NYT: Did you ever notice how the oldest person in the world almost always seems to be Japanese? Well, it turns out that Japan’s count of people older than 100 was actually off by a bit….to the tune of 234,000 persons. Some of it was down to bad bookkeeping, but a substantial part resulted from people lying in order to keep deriving pension benefits in the name of the dead. Not that entitlements breed dependency or anything.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: Headline says it all–“Watching California’s Newspapers Line Up Against Legalizing the Pot That 90% of Their Employees Have Smoked.” It’s not really too surprising given that we’re in a country in which the last three presidents have admitted using pot and the last two have copped to cocaine. Cognitive dissonance is a favored past-time of the “serious” people in the country.
  • Via Rational Review, the Show-Me Institute: the limitless expansion of licensing cartels, from doctors to lawyers to nurses to hairdressers. This is what happens when established interests hate competition, lawmakers love more power and revenue and average Americans continue to love to be scared.
  • The Globe & Mail: a woman sues her employer for being told to dress a certain way. Ugh. I get your point. I probably wouldn’t want to work somewhere that asked me to dress in what I viewed to be a degrading way. But no one put a gun to your head and made you work there! You freely entered into a contract with them, under which these terms were specified! Passive-aggressive power-up bonus: she didn’t even complain to her employer before taking it to the authorities.
  • NYT: NYPD, which has long denied the existence of ticket and collar quotas, gets caught talking about quotas on tape. It’s not like we didn’t already know there were quotas, but boy, it is ever satisfying to see these liars caught red-handed.

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A report to Congress from several federal agencies — expected to include strict nutritional definitions for the sorts of foods that could be advertised to children — is overdue, and officials say it could be months before it is ready. Some advocates fear the delay could result in the measure being stripped of its toughest provisions.


Among the requirements under consideration and included in a preliminary proposal by the agencies: Cereals could have only eight grams of sugar per serving, far less than many cereals that are heavily advertised to children (Lucky Charms and Cocoa Pebbles have 11 grams and Froot Loops has 12). The level for saturated fats would be set so low it would exclude peanut butter. And to qualify for advertising, all foods would have to contain significant amounts of wholesome ingredients like whole grains, low-fat milk, fruits or vegetables.

I hate bad food. I have worked very hard to cut the processed junk out of my diet; check out the raw vegan Engine 2 diet if you want to know how I eats. It makes me sad to see the prevalence of obesity in this country–especially among the lower class and among the lower class, especially the children. There are tons of kids starting off life a step behind because their parents don’t know any better, don’t have enough money or don’t care enough to feed them anything but ramen noodles, chicken nuggets and frozen dinners.

But this sort of assault on free speech and free enterprise is NOT the way to solve the problem. (more…)

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Busy night tonight, highlighted by a screening of the fantastic Winter’s Bone. It’s a supremely intense film, fascinating also in some sort of anthropological sense. I’m going to do a review tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m going to give you more links than normal since I have less time to write.

  • WaPo: part II of Top Secret America. Private contractors are the issue of the day.
  • Andrew Sullivan and Reason‘s Matt Welch react to the newest batch of revelations from the annals of the lefty-media listserv JournoList. The first batch famously took down WaPo reporter Dave Weigel. This time around, a number of journalists come across as low party hacks as they discuss how to shield Obama from the Jeremiah Wright scandal by launching random “racist!” trial balloons against rightists. Being a partisan hack who assists the chic party isn’t any better than being any other sort of partisan hack.
  • NYTa successful business executive is shot and killed by an undercover cop in a public park gay sex entrapment case gone bad. Closeted homosexuality is a real problem, one that the late married father in this case wasn’t exactly helping to solve. But the idea that a man is now dead because he propositioned an undercover cop who was there explicitly in the hopes of soliciting propositions and then got physical when threatened by arrest is insane. Consenting adults!
  • The National PostCanada’s attorney general leans on GoDaddy.com to convince it to take down anti-Semitic hate speech sites made by a Canadian. Calling for terrorist attacks and genocide makes you the scum of the earth. But it shouldn’t negate your right to free speech.
  • NYT–headline says it all “A City Outsources Everything. Sky Doesn’t Fall.”
  • Reason‘ s Steve Chapman suggests scrapping the offensive no-fly list. On a related note, NYT reports that U.S. government officials, in their infinite wisdom and goodness, have issued a one-flight exception for a Somali-American who had been stranded in Egypt for being on the no-fly list….where he remains still now. Denying people the right to travel should be a matter handled by the parties concerned, not some wretched bureaucrats in Washington.
  • The Globe & Maila look at Pitts Meadow, BC, the statistically happy town that loves arbitrarily banning things. Latest target: medical marijuana. I’m a radical libertarian in favor of legalizing nearly everything, so bans don’t make me tremendously happy. But I’m perfectly happy to pick a community that supports my outlook on things and leave the anti-freedom people to form their own communities, so long as they leave my chosen one alone.

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I saw two internet-related stories of interest this weekend.

  1. The Communist Party USA’s People’s World covered a new program called GodBlock. Ironically, the people to have expressed the most vociferous opposition to the program so far are its target audience: atheists. Money quote:

    The program, according to its designers, “will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely.”

    “I don’t like it,” David Silverman, national spokesperson and vice president of American Atheists, told the People’s World. “I don’t believe in sheltering kids from information.”


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