Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 25, 2011

There oughtta be a law!

Those of us on the libertarian-ish end if things support, at the very least, a return of government size and scope to its constitutionally defined bounds. As part of that, the last thing we generally want is more Federal laws about most things. We’re supposed to support a more federal system, and decry most Federal pre-emption of state laws. But I’ve been thinking lately there there are a few Federal laws I’d like to see that do pre-empt local and state laws.

In several states, photographers and videographers have been arrested and charged under various wiretapping statutes for filming police officers and other public officials in public. Just yesterday, I wrote about a young woman who was prosecuted for surreptitiously making an audio recording of police officers who were urging her to drop an official complaint against another officer. Whether you are an elected official or a DMV clerk, your duties should be completely open to public audit—except for some rather obvious and narrow military or national security exemptions—and you should have no expectation of privacy in the performance of your duties. Anybody should be able to film  or record you at any time you are performing those duties.

There should be some system whereby any private citizen who has performed federal military or law enforcement service can obtain a federal concealed weapons permit that is valid in every place in the United States, irrespective of any state or local laws to the contrary. Those eligible should have completed at least one term of service with an honorable discharge or its equivalent, have no criminal record, and no history of mental illness.

There have been a troubling number of incidents where police officials have served warrants in the wrong locations, often late at night, resulting in armed confrontations with homeowners. Sometimes, the homeowner is shot and killed. Sometimes, as in the Corey Maye case, a police officer is shot and killed, and the homeowner faces a terrible legal ordeal. That’s just wrong. If the police serve a warrant at the wrong location, for any reason, they forfeit the right to charge the homeowner for any unfortunate gunplay that results. As the police are solely responsible for creating the situation, they should be solely responsible for the outcome, as well as any damages that might accrue from their mistake. This should include prosecution for animal cruelty for a police officer who commits puppycide during these raids. I hate it when they do that, and they seem to do it a lot.

You might notice that all my laws place burdens on the government, not the citizens. Maybe you could suggest some other liberty-friendly laws.

~
Dale Franks
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Another “unexpected” jump in unemployment numbers

Jobless claims again surprised the “experts” with an “unexpected” jump.

The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose unexpectedly, official data showed on Thursday.
In a report, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending August 19 rose by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000, confounding expectations for a decline to 405,000.

The previous week’s figure was revised up to 412,000 from 408,000.

Continuing jobless claims in the week ended August 13 fell to 3.641 million from a revised 3.721 million in the preceding week. Analysts had expected continuing jobless claims to decline to 3.700 million.

Tyler Durden provides the Bureau of Labor Statistics justification for the unexpected rise:

Naturally, the BLS is there to provide a justification for the spike, with 8500 jobs apparently "lost" due to the Verizon strike: "Special Factor: As a result of a labor dispute between Communications Workers of America and Verizon Communications, at least 12,500 initial claims were filed in the week ending 8/13/2011 and at least 8,500 initial claims were filed in the week ending 8/20/2011."

Durden also points out why the unemployment total percentage isn’t worse:

In other news, continuing claims came below expectations of 3700K at 3641K, a number that will be revised higher as was last week’s from 3702K to 3721K. The collapse in extended benefits, as the 99 week cliff claims more and more, means that 20K people fewer collected post Continuing Claims benefits, with those on EUC and extended benefits down from 5.8 million a year ago to 3.6 million: this is 1.2 million Americans that no longer can collect anything from Uncle Sam.

It also means they’re no longer counted among the unemployed in the official numbers.

Yeah, it’s worse than you thought – and getting worse still.   Can’t wait to see Obama’s jobs plan — after he has his vacation, of course.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Keystone XL pipeline: Energy security held hostage

One of the arguments you consistently hear from the left is we can’t become “energy independent”, or said another way, we can’t become independent from “foreign oil”.

Well, there’s foreign oil and then there’s “foreign oil”.  While it is true, at least at the moment, that we’re unable to fully develop and use our own national fossil fuel assets to make us independent, there is certainly a way we can pick and choose from whom we buy our oil to lessen the possibility that we’ll become hostage to unfriendly foreign powers.   Friendly neighbors who are close are the solution to our energy security.  But only if we recognize that fact and understand how strategically that lessens our energy vulnerability markedly.

Obviously two close neighbors, Mexico and Canada, fit that profile.  So it seems a no-brainer to exploit those relationships and do all that is possible to make sure it is the US that secures the bulk of what they’re willing to produce and offer on the world market, no?

No, apparently.

It seems there’s an expectation on the part of the left that President Obama and his administration will block the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil taken from Canada’s oil sands to the US.  A means of tying up secure oil from a safe, secure and friendly neighbor are in the air because of absurd environmental concerns.   And those protesting the pipeline fully expect Obama to back their demands.

Of course, unsaid, until now at least, is Keystone XL isn’t the only pipeline Canada will build, and it certainly isn’t going to wait on the US to make up its mind:

Considering geography, exporting oil from Canada to a non-American market doesn’t sound easy; Canada’s tar sands are close to the U.S. border, but not much else. So we asked John Baird — Canada’s new foreign minister, who was in Washington recently to speak with Ms. Clinton — which nations would buy oil that America decided not to take. His answer was quick and unequivocal: the Chinese. New pipeline infrastructure will transport oil between the tar sands and Canada’s west coast, from which tankers can ship it across the Pacific Ocean. And, even now, Chinese firms are buying stakes in Canadian tar sands.

Ron Liepert, energy minister of Alberta is crystal clear about which nation is most interested:

He noted China is poised for action, investing $15 billion in the province over the past 18 months. "There is a long-term plan to get oil to the East," he said.

That investment isn’t being made for grins.  It is being made by China to secure their energy future at the cost of ours.

As usual, when it comes to this administration, we dither about our energy future and security, while others act aggressively. Another reason to have them join the growing ranks of the unemployed in 2012.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Gallup: Perry surges to lead the GOP pack

A new Gallup poll has Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas, comfortably in the lead over other GOP candidates for president.

Shortly after announcing his official candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as rank-and-file Republicans’ current favorite for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17%.

29% to 17% is a significant lead.  Ron Paul comes in 3rd at 13% and Michelle Bachman at 10%.  The rest of the field is in single digits, all under 5%.  “No preference” is at 17% but that’s dropped a point from July’s poll and 8 points since last May’s poll.  So Republican voters are beginning to make up their minds, even at this early date.

Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight offers the following analysis of Perry’s new numbers:

First, with these shiny new numbers will come higher expectations for Mr. Perry, particularly during the three Republican debates that will be held in September.

Second, Mr. Romney should have a fair amount of breathing room since the Republican field is heavily tilted toward very conservative candidates like Mr. Perry. Were Rudolph W. Giuliani or Chris Christie to enter the race, Mr. Romney might face a bit more pressure, as he would if Jon M. Huntsman Jr. were somehow to surge. Still, the conservative part of the Republican field is far more crowded, and will be even more so if Sarah Palin runs.

Third, Republican elites have not given Mr. Perry a warm welcome. Of course, the same can be said for Mr. Romney; that Republicans have been casting about for a candidate like Paul Ryan or Mr. Christie reflects poorly on him as well as Mr. Perry. But as Barack Obama looks more and more vulnerable, Republicans may begin to prioritize electability over ideological purity.

Finally, although national polls at this stage have a fair amount of predictive power, they are hardly foolproof. At this point in 2007, Rudy Giuliani had about 29 percent of the Republican vote, about where Mr. Perry is now.

So, as Silver points out, Perry’s entrance means “higher expectations” from the voters – he’s got to start articulating a platform and begin to put forward a vision.  It’s not going to be enough to be the “anti-Obama”.  Everyone in the field is that.   While Perry’s numbers are strong, as Silver notes, so were Rudy Giuliani in 2007 and he faded like a knackered race horse.

While feelings are certainly high against Mr. Obama on the right, voters are looking for some positive idea of how the economic crisis that has befallen the country will be handled and remedied.  This is truly an “it’s the economy, stupid” election.   Any side issues that can be used as a wedge should be avoided as the voters that must be won aren’t at all concerned about them at this time.  But they may see such a focus as a negative.

Americans want to get the economic ball rolling again.  Rick Perry has a success story to tell.   He should concentrate on telling it and not allow himself to get sidetracked.  Meanwhile, you can expect the left to concentrate on everything but the economy.  

Focus and a positive message are the keys to a win in this election.  Any wandering off on tangents will make winning less likely.   The election, as far as I see it from this 15 month distance is the GOP’s to lose.  Unfortunately, they’re quite capable of doing exactly that.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO