Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

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Who said the Soviet Union is dead

And I’m not talking about Putin’s attempt to resurrect it – I’m instead talking about this horrific overreaction by state of Maryland to … a book set in the future:

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future. . . .

Imagine that—a novelist who didn’t store bombs and guns at the school at which he taught. How improbable! Especially considering that he uses an “alias,” which is apparently the law-enforcement term for “nom de plume.” (Here is the Amazon page for The Insurrectionist, by the way. Please note that the book was published in 2011, before McLaw was hired.)

According to an equally credulous and breathless report in the Star-Democrat, which is published in Easton, Md., the combined efforts of multiple law-enforcement agencies have made area children safe from fiction. Sheriff Phillips told the newspaper that, in addition to a K-9 sweep of the school (!), investigators also raided McLaw’s home. “The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

As I find and read more stories like this on a much more frequent basis, I have to wonder what happened to America.  Where did it go?  And when?

The fact that anyone would find this supportable is phenomenal in and of itself, yet here we have the report … McLaw was obviously taken as a credible threat because he wrote … fiction to sell books.

Jeffery Goldberg goes on:

 It is somewhat amazing that local news reports on this case don’t make clear whether McLaw is under arrest, and if so, on what charge. It is equally astonishing that the reporters on this story don’t seem to have used the words “First Amendment” in their questioning of law-enforcement officials, and also astonishing they don’t question the Soviet-sounding practice of ordering an apparently sane person who has been deemed unacceptable by state authorities to undergo a psychological evaluation.

It would be useful to know if McLaw is under investigation for behavior other than writing two novels—and perhaps he will be shown to be a miscreant of some sort—but so far, there is no indication that he is guilty of anything other than having an imagination, although on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as news reports make clear, his imagination is considered an active threat.

Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner told WBO that police will be present at the middle school “for as long as we deem it necessary,” and the sheriff said that law-enforcement officials across the Delmarva peninsula have been given McLaw’s photo in case he shows up in their jurisdictions—though again, it is not clear if he is, in fact, in police custody at the moment.

This is what happens when people quit thinking and only do “their duty”.  When rules like “zero tolerance” replace common sense.

What happened to McLaw is an outrage.  It is unacceptable.  It should be condemned in the very strongest of terms.

Yet, at least by the media there, it seems all perfectly sane and normal.  And, apparently, the police force as well.  School.  Etc.

Maryland (and Cambridge in particular) should be utterly ashamed.

~McQ

FYI: Reality may be about to slap the Democrats and Obama in the face

The problem, of course, is because of their refusal to secure the southern border and enforce immigration law, it will be innocent Americans who will pay the price if such an attack unfolds.   From Judicial Watch via NRO’s “The Corner”:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued.  Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source.  “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information.

The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While these terrorists reportedly plan their attack just outside the U.S., President Obama admits that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” the commander-in-chief said this week during a White House press briefing. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”

Mr. Obama, you can’t put the cart before the horse, because you have neither.  Neither.  You’ve completely failed to secure our borders and you’ve invited this sort of thing to happen for years.  You have no strategy for national security, one of your primary jobs.

Any blood from an attack now is completely on your hands.  And should an attack come, given all the warnings about the consequences of not securing that border, I think the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” would certainly apply.

~McQ

Hypocrisy endemic in leftist enviro position on solar and wind power

How many times have we been treated to hissy fits by the environmental left when it comes to species other than humans and their endangerment?  What group has constantly pushed for laws that protect animals from humans?  And where have the enviros been mostly silent as a particular group of animals is wantonly slaughtered daily in the name of green, renewable energy?

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant can produce enough electricity for 140,000 households — but the environmental cost is nothing less than an avian slaughter.

The plant’s 350,000 mirrors bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

“Workers at the state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — ‘streamers,’ for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair,” the Associated Press reports this week.

That’s a common occurrence, the AP continues; federal investigators saw a bird burn roughly every two minutes. Ivanpah owner BrightSource estimates that “about a thousand” die each year, and one environmental group says the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

Of course, if you do the math (and account for 12 hours of darkness each day) it comes out to about 130,000 a year – assuming the observation that one bird “burns” every two minutes.  And the outcry?  Yeah, not so much.

And some of the birds it is killing are, among others, endangered:

As the plant prepared to begin operations, workers found the winged corpses of “a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks, and a variety of warblers and sparrows,” the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.

You want a “silent spring”?  Keep building these sorts of installations.

What about wind turbines?  Well, Ivanpah comes up a piker in comparison:

Ivanpah isn’t the only green darling with a lot of bird blood on its hands, either. The American Bird Conservancy estimates wind turbines slay 440,000 birds each year, and the an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 — in addition to 888,000 bats.

And, as usual, our federal government makes exceptions to the law for favored industries:

Federal wildlife officials on Friday for the first time agreed not to prosecute a developer if an endangered California condor is struck and killed by turbine blades at its proposed wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

You accidentally do it and watch how much of an exception they make for you.

In the meantime, with all this data showing massive bird kills among solar and wind turbine installations?

Crickets – unless they find some other sort of “green energy” source that happens to wipe them out too.

~McQ

Climate change treaty: “Constitution? Obama don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution!”

Well, if reports are true it appears our self-crowned king has decided he’s found a way to obligate us to a treaty without following the Constitution’s proviso for doing so.

In seeking to go around Congress to push his international climate change agenda, Mr. Obama is echoing his domestic climate strategy. In June, he bypassed Congress and used his executive authority to order a far-reaching regulation forcing American coal-fired power plants to curb their carbon emissions….

American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts.

“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.

“Political magic”?  Is that the state of our nation now – we resort to “political magic” when we can’t get our way as the Constitution requires?  Well, yes.

Here’s how:

President Obama seems to be following a script laid out in May, 2014 by former Undersecretary for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth, who was the Clinton Administration’s lead negotiator for the Kyoto Protocol, and former South Dakota Senator Thomas Daschle who astutely asserted that “the international community should stop chasing the chimera of a binding treaty to limit CO2 emissions.” They further noted that more than two decades of U.N. climate negotiations have failed because “nations could not agree on who is to blame, on how to allocate emissions, or on projections for the future.”

Wirth and Daschle are advocating that the climate negotiators adopt a system of “pledge and review” at the 2015 Paris conference of the parties to the UNFCCC. In such a scheme nations would make specific pledges to cut their carbon emissions, to adopt clean energy technologies, and to wring more GDP out of each ton of carbon emitted. The parties would review their progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions every three years and make further pledges as necessary to achieve the goal of keeping the increase in average global temperature under 2°C. Since there would be no legally binding targets, there would be no treaty that would require politically difficult ratification. If insufficient progress is being made by 2020 they argue that countries should consider adopting globally coordinated price on carbon.

Now this isn’t to say that this is going to work or even have an effect, but it is a blatant attempt to have one’s way (via “political magic”) while avoiding the unpleasantness of a failure to get a ratification by tw0-thirds of the Senate (its all about getting the leverage to pass a carbon tax).

And, as usual, Mr. Obama doesn’t care one whit about much more than getting his way – just ask Senate Democrats:

President Obama’s election-year plan to win a new international climate change accord is making vulnerable Democrats nervous.

The administration is in talks at the United Nations about a deal that would seek to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by “naming and shaming” governments that fail to take significant action.

The State Department on Wednesday denied a report in The New York Times that the plan is to come up with a treaty that would not require Senate confirmation, but that appeared to provide cold comfort to Democrats worried the issue will revive GOP cries about an imperial Obama presidency.

One Democratic strategist said the proposal would put swing-state candidates who are critical to the party keeping its Senate majority “in front of the firing squad.”

“You’re … making it more difficult for them to win and certainty putting them in a position to lose,” the strategist said.

Silver linings … always look for the silver lining to those storm clouds.

And then there’s immigration …

~McQ

In support of Burger King

I’ve never really been much of a Burger King fan, but guess what I’m having for lunch today?

Why?  Because Burger King has given us an opportunity to point out one reason why our economy is lagging. And, as usual, it has to do with government policy.  Politicians would like to play the blame game and point at corporations like Burger King moving to Canada (after a merger with Canadian based Tim Hortons) as the reason.  Instead, it is the federal government’s oppressive and unprecedented corporate tax rate that is helping to keep our economy floundering by providing incentive for corporations to leave.

Megan McArdle writes a great column today.  To begin with she cites a paragraph from Matt Levine that makes the point that most in the media and almost all politicians opposing the merger fail to make:

The purpose of an inversion has never been, and never could be, and never will be, “ooh, Canada has a 15 percent tax rate, and the U.S. has a 35 percent tax rate, so we can save 20 points of taxes on all our income by moving.” Instead the main purpose is always: “If we’re incorporated in the U.S., we’ll pay 35 percent taxes on our income in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico and Ireland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, but if we’re incorporated in Canada, we’ll pay 35 percent on our income in the U.S. but 15 percent in Canada and 30 percent in Mexico and 12.5 percent in Ireland and zero percent in Bermuda and zero percent in the Cayman Islands.”

Got it?  The US government does something no other first world government does.  McArdle explains:

The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters. And because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.

This is a great deal for the U.S. government, which gets to collect income tax even though it’s not providing the companies sewers or roads or courts or no-knock raids on their abodes. On the other hand, it’s not a very good deal for said citizens and corporations, especially because our government has made increasingly obnoxious demands on foreign institutions to help them collect that tax. Both private citizens and corporations who have a lot of income abroad are deciding that they’d rather renounce their ties to the U.S. than deal with the expense and hassle of letting it tap into income that they have earned using some other country’s roads and sewers and police protection.

Practically speaking, global taxation is hard to enforce and loaded with bad incentives, which is why our fellow members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have moved away from global taxation of corporate income, and abandoned global taxation of personal income. If anything, the U.S. has gone in the other direction — by insisting, for instance, that foreign companies report various financial transactions with U.S. citizens to the Internal Revenue Service, and taxing foreign cost of living allowances, which makes it more expensive for companies to employ expats. On the corporate side, the Barack Obama administration has repeatedly suggested tightening up on tax deferral of foreign income and other credits, which would make it even more expensive to be a corporation based in the U.S.

So why base in the US with this being the case?  Why wouldn’t any sane US based corporation be trying to find a remedy to this pernicious and oppressive tax code?  In reality, this describes it rather well:

[I]t boils down to “the police kept people from sacking your first headquarters, so therefore you owe us 35 percent of everything you make, forever.” Loan sharks and protection rackets offer more reasonable terms than this.

Yes, they likely do.   You know you have a problem when more and more of government begins to resemble criminal gangs.  And that’s where we are headed.  Instead of looking at a solution that will benefit a corporation and give them an incentive to remain and pay taxes, our government and the politicians seem bound and determined to make the corporation the bad guy with absurdly Orwellian insults like “economic patriotism” and “corporate deserters”.  This, instead, should be the bottom line:

If we’re worried about inversion, then the U.S. government should follow the lead of other developed countries, and move to territorial taxation. Otherwise, we should stop complaining when people and corporations decide that they’d rather be a citizen of some more sane system somewhere else.

Indeed.

~McQ

The “cash for clunkers” era of government failure

While perusing a Frank Bruni op-ed in the NYT, I ran across this:

Conventional wisdom says that better unemployment and job-creation numbers could save Democrats. But many Americans aren’t feeling those improvements. When asked in the Journal/NBC poll if the country was in a recession — which it’s not — 49 percent of respondents said yes, while 46 percent said no.

Got that, despite what 49% believe, the country is “not” in recession?  Why?  Because some obscure organization (NBER) that determines that has said so.

But here’s a little clue, if 49% believe that, no matter what is declared, how does one suppose they’ll act when it comes to their own little piece of the economic pie?  Yup, that’s right, like we’re in a recession.  In other words, it really doesn’t matter whether or not the recession is “official” or not, like Bruni says, but then seemingly ignores, “many Americans aren’t feeling those improvements”.  That’s because vastly more than the “official” unemployment number remain unemployed.  Then there are the underemployed.   They don’t give a rip what NBER says.  They know how they’re living, how their lives have changed and what they’re facing.  Which is why you see:

There’s a feeling of helplessness that makes the political horizon, including the coming midterm elections, especially unpredictable. Conventional wisdom has seldom been so useless, because pessimism in this country isn’t usually this durable or profound.

A feeling of helplessness has never been something, at least in my life time, that this country has ever had.  I’m sure during the Depression, there was certainly some of that, but then, I wasn’t living then.

The interesting point there though is the Depression is where the citizens of this country began to look more toward government as an institution of hope.  However misplaced that was, it is indeed what happened.  FDR.  The New Deal.  Yatta, yatta, yatta – for years it was credited with pulling us out of the economic pit we found ourselves in.  Popular myth had it that without government we’d still be mired in a substandard economy (nevermind the growing body of evidence which puts the onus of the Depression on government failure).  Of course, in reality it was WWII that pulled us out.  But that myth was popular and a certain segment of the political sphere nurtured and grew it.

Well, as I’ve always said, reality has a way of bitch slapping fantasy at some point in time and that’s pretty much what has finally happened in the last 6 years.  Reality has set in.  The myth of big government being able to handle such a crisis has been blown to hell.  Result?

In the most recent of Sosnik’s periodic assessments of the electorate, published in Politico last month, he wrote: “It is difficult to overstate the depth of the anger and alienation that a majority of all Americans feel toward the federal government.” He cited a Gallup poll in late June that showed that Americans’ faith in each of the three branches had dropped to what he called “near record lows,” with only 30 percent expressing confidence in the Supreme Court, 29 percent in the presidency and 7 percent in Congress.

There should be no surprise for anyone in those numbers.  None.  Big government has failed.  After all the promises, all the money, all the “policies”, all the assurances and all the faith put in its ability to handle any crisis, especially the economic crisis, the myth has exploded. The gullible, who have believed the myth all these years,  now feel angry with the institution into which they put so much faith.  It was literally a secular religion for some.

Well if there’s a silver lining in all of this mess is the fact that in the future, when this myth again tries to reemerge, we have an era to point to which demonstrates its bankruptcy.  We’ll call it “the cash for clunkers” era of government – when government came up a clunker.

~McQ

Politicians feel businesses work for government and their only function is a source of tax revenue

I’m not sure how else you interpret this “inversion” nonsense.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. is in talks to buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc., a deal that would be structured as a so-called tax inversion and move the hamburger seller’s base to Canada.

The two sides are working on a deal that would create a new company, they said in a statement, confirming a report on the talks by The Wall Street Journal. The takeover would create the third-largest quick-service restaurant provider in the world, they said.

The point of this sort of a merger, beside the business aspect, is to move the headquarters of Burger King to a lower tax nation:

Inversion deals have been on the rise lately, and are facing stiff opposition in Washington given that they threaten to deplete U.S. government coffers. A move by Burger King to seal one is sure to intensify criticism of them, since it is such a well-known and distinctly American brand.
[...]

By moving to a lower-tax jurisdiction, inversion deals enable companies to save money on foreign earnings and cash stowed abroad, and in some cases lower their overall corporate rate. Even though many of the headline-grabbing inversion deals of late have involved European companies, Canada has also been the focal point for a number of them, given its proximity and similarity to the U.S. Canada’s federal corporate tax rate was lowered to 15% in 2012.

And surprise – Canada’s economy is picking up steam and corporations are eyeing it as a place to locate.  Imagine that.

Canada’s corporate tax rate in Ontario of 26.5% (the federal rate of 15% plus Ontario’s provincial corporate tax rate of 11.5%) is considerably favorable to the American corporate tax rate of 35% thanks in large part to the conservative Canadian government led by Stephen Harper. The Harper government lowered the federal tax rate to 15% in 2012 down originally from 28% since it took office in 2006.

In fact, a recent KPMG Report, Focus on Tax, ranked Canada as the #1 country with the most business-friendly tax structure among developed countries when adding up a wide range of tax costs to businesses from statutory labor costs to harmonized sales tax. When comparing developed countries to what companies pay in the U.S.; Canada came in at 53.6%, the U.K. came in at 66.6%, and the Netherlands at 74.5% of the U.S. corporate tax burden.

Meanwhile, our politicians are trying to find a way to prevent that, because, well because they apparently think corporations work for them and exist to pay whatever tax rate they deem necessary.  Of course, in a free country, this wouldn’t even be an issue.  Corporations, like people, have the right to move wherever they wish.  It is their call, not the government’s.

But, here that’s not the case:

Burger King’s possible merger to obtain the favorable Canadian corporate tax rate is a true reflection of the American corporate tax rate being the highest in the OECD. However, rather than taking the same stance on outright cutting the corporate tax rate as the Harper government did to keep the U.S. a competitive place to do business, President Obama calls tax inverting companies like Burger King “corporate deserters who renounce their citizenship to shield profits”. At the urging of President Obama, Congress is considering a bill to make it harder for companies to change addresses abroad. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew called for a “new sense of economic patriotism,” asking Congress to pass curbs to inversions. The Treasury Department currently is also preparing options to deter or prevent corporate tax inversions potentially on its own.

“Corporate deserters”.  “Economic patriotism”.  It’s Orwellian Newspeak at its finest.  Imagine anyone trying to “shield profits” from a grasping and out-of-control government. It is also another, in a long line of indicators, that this is no longer a free country in the sense we used to believe it was.  It is now a country where every other entity is subservient to the needs or wants of intrusive, controlling government.

~McQ

How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue how the real world works or what a logical “non-sequitur” is?

I think we all know which side that is.

Here’s the premise put forth by an article in The New Republic:

“Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control”

Here’s a sketch of the argument:

There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it’s confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities’ heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they’re up against. At that point, many liberals will revert to arguing for sensible gun control regulations like broader background checks to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally ill (the measure that police organizations successfully argued should be the gun control movement’s legislative priority following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings) or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips. And liberals will be reminded that the libertarians who agree with them in opposing police militarization are very much also opposed to the gun regulations that might help make the environment faced by police slightly less threatening.

But it doesn’t “crumble” at all.  You have to buy into the premise that it is a more lethally dangerous out there for police than it appears to be.  But it isn’t:

The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West, according to a report released Monday.

The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959.

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.

Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.

The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887.

And the drop is credited to bullet proof vests, not SWAT Teams and MRAPS. Pretending that the threat is any higher now than it always has been seems obviously wrong, given the facts.  Certainly there are toxic cultures within our society who believe that violence is the answer to whatever they encounter as a problem. And yes, police have to face that potential threat all the time.  Do I think police should be armed adequately?  Yes, but that doesn’t at all begin to cover what we see among today’s police forces in terms of both equipment and tactics.  In fact, I believe it is all of these “wars” on everything from drugs to terrorists which have had a hand in helping to militarize the police.

That said, agree or disagree with that point, gun control is essentially not only been shown to be ineffective but is a non-sequitur in this “argument”.  See Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC for proof the ineffectiveness of the ban.  But you have to ask, who in this day and age but a clueless journalist would even begin to believe that “broader background checks” are going to keep guns out of the hands of “violent felons?”  Have they in the past (their answer is they just haven’t be stringent enough)?  Honestly, do they really believe a felon is going to waltz into a gun store to buy what he wants knowing full well he’ll have a background check run?  Really?

Have these rubes never heard of a black market (they can buy guns from Mexican cartels, thoughtfully provided by the DoJ)?  Do they not realize that any “violent felon” who wants a gun isn’t going to even try to get one legally?  So, knowing that, why in the world would any libertarian grant the absurd premise knowing full well that doing so only limits the freedom of the law abiding citizenry?  It’s absurd on its face.  And, logically, it is a non-sequitur to any libertarian (again, libertarianism isn’t about shrinking rights and freedoms for heaven sake).  How does making it more inconvenient for citizens who aren’t “violent felons” to buy a gun for self-protection going to stop a felon from obtaining his gun illegally?  It isn’t.

Because, of course, that’s not what they really want (i.e. incremental change via “broader background checks”).  They want a total ban on guns, for government and felons to be the only people with guns and to essentially outlaw then outright.  Obviously they are oblivious to the danger of only government having guns and they certainly don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the fact that felons aren’t going to pay any attention to the law.  Nor will the black market in illegal guns.  So why, again, should anyone grant this argument credence?

I swear, you just wonder at times what goes on between their ears all day, because it certainly has nothing to do with the real world or reason.

~McQ

Cupcake policing

I think George Will is on to something:

In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything , from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.

Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism’s ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches’ contents, which validates regulation of what it calls “competitive foods,” such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.

What has this to do with police, from Ferguson, Mo., to your home town, toting marksman rifles, fighting knives, grenade launchers and other combat gear? Swollen government has a shriveled brain: By printing and borrowing money, government avoids thinking about its proper scope and actual competence. So it smears mine-resistant armored vehicles and other military marvels across 435 congressional districts because it can.

Examples?  Will provides plenty of them.

Here’s the point though:

A cupcake-policing government will find unending excuses for flexing its muscles as it minutely monitors our behavior in order to improve it …

“Improve” should be in scare quotes, because the deeper the medling, the more it “minutely monitors our behavior”, the less it improves it and the more it interferes with it.

But … that’s the state of being now in the US.

Nick Gillespie at Hit and Run agrees with Will but issues this warning:

He’s right that confidence in government is plummeting mostly because of the simultaneously stupid and overreaching actions of politicians, administrators, and bureaucrats at all levels. Recognizing such a reality may be the beginning of (libertarian) wisdom, but as I’ve written before, it also carries a very serious potential risk. Counterintuitively, distrust in government may lead to calls for more government.

And that’s one of the reasons we suffer Leviathan today.  Many of our “problems” in the past have had their roots in government interference or over-reach.  The real problem is we petition government for relief and government’s answer is always more government.

Here’s a clue: when you ask government to fix any problem it will always answer with more government, regulations, laws, whatever – nature of the beast.  Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to look to government for relief from all our problems. The end-state of that is always more government control and less citizen control.  And here we are.

But:

A major ray of hope—indeed, the beam of sunshine that’s warming up this libertarian moment—is really the ways in which people are creating workarounds that simply bypass government whenever possible. Taxi regulations screw consumers? Create Uber. Public-school educators are unresponsive? Create your own curriculum or even your own school. Can’t sell unpasteurized milk products? Create a buyers club. Major parties won’t listen? Create the Tea Party. And on and on.

As Matt Welch and I discussed at length in The Declaration of Independents, workarounds are a great thing and easier to pull off than ever, but they have serious limitations (witness foreign policy, Ferguson, the drug war, and so much more). It’s well past time that we start insisting on a limited, trustworthy government that is actually competent and restrained at the few things that it should be doing. That will not only reduce the desire for more government, it will free up even more time and resources for the free-range experiments in living that will actually make the world better, more interesting, and more prosperous.

Btw, I disagree this is necessarily a “libertarian moment” (although like the “Tea Party”, I see the liberals loading up the rhetorical guns to shoot down anything that might take flight suggesting it).  However, what Gillespie talks about above is where this sentiment that has grown tremendously over the past 6 years (surprise, huh?) needs to be herded.  Whether that’s possible or not will tell us all how “libertarian” the moment has been.

Until then, enjoy your cupcakes.

~McQ

Reaping the consequences of incompetence

Like her or not, I think MoDo pretty much nails it here:

A front-page article in The Times by Carl Hulse, Jeremy Peters and Michael Shear chronicled how the president’s disdain for politics has alienated many of his most stalwart Democratic supporters on Capitol Hill.

His bored-bird-in-a-gilded-cage attitude, the article said, “has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.”

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an early Obama backer, noted that “for him, eating his spinach is schmoozing with elected officials.”

First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction.

His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass.

The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.

The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.

That fact was apparent to anyone who took the time to review what little we knew of Obama’s sparse political record.  He only stopped at each elected office long enough to get himself elected to the next higher office.  He had no record of accomplishing anything of substance at any of those stops and spent most of his time campaigning for the next job he wanted.

Yet that was ignored.  What was gobbled up were his words.  Words that were backed by nothing but hot air.  He had no record as a “uniter”.  He had no record as a legislator.  He had no work record nor had he ever actually run anything that could be described to have given him “executive experience”.

So, what some of us saw, everyone got.  An empty suit.  A clueless political face that managed to pull off one of the most incredible, and it appears, devastating victories of modern times.

And yet his own party is now “surprised” he’s so useless and clueless.  They’re surprised he’s been so pathetically incompetent. As they watch the world crumble, they still want to complain that it is someone else’s fault (meaning those old reliable standbys – the GOP and Bush).

But as each horrific day of this presidency moves into the next, it is clear that most of the country hold the president responsible for most of the problems – both domestic and international – we are suffering.

And Democrats, as well as the liberal media, have finally figured out that defending this failure is “politically dangerous”.

So we see the Claire McCaskills and Maureen Dowds of the world beginning to really distance themselves from “The One” – the one they backed to the hilt.

Rats.  Sinking ship.

Sometimes though, it’s not particularly helpful to be right about something or someone, as those of us who pointed out all these problems before Obama was elected were.  Because when you’re right about something like that, it means you’re also right about the consequences.

Cast your eyes upon them – they are exactly what logic dictated would happen when you give a job as important as the presidency to a grossly unqualified man or woman.

~McQ

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