Freedom and Liberty
Glenn Reynolds makes the following observation while talking about Merkel’s refugee debacle (one with which I agree):
Fascism, like communism, is an opportunistic infection of the body politic, one that occurs when the institutions — and officeholders — of liberal democracy are too corrupt, or too weak, or both, to sustain business as usual. If you don’t like this outcome, don’t be weak and corrupt.
We’re headed over the same waterfall. Over the years, we’ve seen our republic sink into political cess pit of the worst sort. Corruption, cronyism, selling of political favors, governmental bullying, factionalism . Add to that uncontrolled and unpunished bureaucratic over reach, government infringements on rights to a previously unheard of level, the law used as an oppressive tool instead of a protective one and uncontrolled spending resulting in massive debt.
The government, as first designed, has ceased to function that way. The lines of separation between the 3 branches of our government have become so muddled and indistinct that that the government is almost unable to do its most basic job. What we’ve seen is the willful ignoring of the Constitution by all three branches that has brought us to the point that those in power are now thought of more as enemies of the people than representatives.
Paul Rahe points out one of the reasons we’re where we are today:
The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.
That basic contempt for the law, the demonstrated weakness when it comes to doing their job, their capitulation to special interests and greed and their ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people, on both sides of the political isle, are fed up with them and what they’ve built is where the electorate’s rage is grounded.
Tell me, does this remind you of any period or periods in history? Certainly faint echoes at least. Many of the dynamics at work then don’t exist now, but the fact that government wasn’t working for the majority in those two instances can also be said about what is happening here now. Why else would a billionaire reality TV show star and a clueless socialist be as popular as they are?
It is another cry for drastic change in the way our representatives do their job and the way our government is run. Obama was the same thing. Now the choice is even worse.
Lump that all in with a historically and economically illiterate citizenry and it is a dangerous mix.
This is all headed for a showdown somewhere down the road, either soon or in the near future. The question is, what will survive the event when it happens? And is it possible that we can somehow see a leader emerge who can articulate the building rage (Sanders and Trump can do that) and actually LEAD us to reforming government to the point that it is again on the track it was originally supposed to be on?
For the first question, I have no idea. As for the second, I have no confidence that such a person exists at this point and if he or she does, that this is at all recoverable.
This is just something that shouldn’t be “discussed” at all, much less “discussed” by law enforcement:
During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.
“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.
“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”
Seriously? As flawed as the data is and as broken as the models have been shown to be, there is certainly nothing “settled” about anything to do with “global warming” or carbon. Nothing.
But that’s not the point is it? This is about shutting up dissent. And why would anyone want to shut up dissent? Well, frankly, for the usual reasons – power and control. You have a group of true believers (or at least those who claim to be) who have positions of power and want to use it to control how you live your life. They’ve been looking for a way for quite some time and have finally, thanks to Al Gore and the boys, found what they believe is a fail-safe way to kite more money from taxpayers and “evil corporations” and they can’t stand to have a group out there shooting their “science” in the keister with facts. The “electricity rates are going to jump under my plan” ideologues aren’t going to pass up this chance to cripple the fossil fuel industry and they have just the pseudo-science with which to do it if they can shut these dissenters up.
Thus a US Congressman questioning the nation’s chief law enforcement officer about whether or not that officer is discussing means and methods of doing just that. If every anyone deserved to be impeached and thrown out of Congress, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the candidate of choice in my estimation. And to be Number 1, you have to be pretty damn bad (we could instead settle for a little tar and feathers and running him out of town, I suppose). As I see it, any call to quash dissent by a government official acting in his official capacity is grounds for removal – unless you’re in Communist China, perhaps.
Power and control. That’s what this is all and it is why there is anger and frustration on both sides of the political spectrum. People have had it with both sides.
And enjoying it (frankly, I’ve never been a fan of Twitter).
First and foremost I want to make it clear that Twitter’s decision to shadow ban and outright ban certain users has absolutely nothing to do with the right to free speech. It’s a private company and they can ban and shadow ban anyone they want too. Of course, being a private company and depending on “customers” they can screw the pooch anytime they want to as well, and that’s what they are in the middle of doing.
I say, “more power too them”. They have to compete in a market with alternatives, unlike government, and they have to suffer the consequences of their decisions … also, for the most part, unlike government.
So, yeah, they’re not allowing certain conservative users to post on Twitter anymore.
Cool. It’s not like Twitter didn’t have enough problems before this decision to monitor and ban users for arbitrary and biased reasons. They were already under pressure to find a way to stop the declining numbers of users.
And their reaction? Well, let’s put a “Trust and Safety Council” together to monitor what users say. Oh, and let’s put a harpy from the extreme left wing of the political spectrum in charge and let her decide who can and can’t say “controversial things”.
How Orwellian can one get? Well, the degree is still up for debate, but the hypocrisy isn’t. Here’s Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder in 2011:
[F]reedom of expression is essential. Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users. We don’t always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content.
Except for now, when Twitter has decided that its “view” (or at least that of the “Truth and Safety Council”) is more important than the content.
Well done, Twitter. You deserve everything you are now suffering. It was all brought about by your policies and the decision that your customers weren’t the most important thing to your company.
That’s the beauty of markets. They will speak. And Twitter is presently being spoken too … harshly.
The FBI, in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, has gone to court and gotten a judge to order Apple to write software to decrypt the iPhones the two terrorists used. The FBI has been unable to decrypt them on their own.
Apple has refused to comply.
After reading much of the back and forth between government and Apple, I’m with Apple. As the Electronic Freedom Frontier said:
The government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone,” it said Tuesday evening. “And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.”
It’s about violating your privacy by being ordered to hand the government the key with implied permission to use it. Think Pandora’s Box. Forget security, you may as well not encrypt a phone if a master key is available out there. We’d love to believe the government when it says it will only use that software once, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence (and experience with governments) knows how likely that is. And, well, we also know how well our government does cyber security, don’t we Ms. Clinton?
Er, anyway – the government is using a 18th century law, the All Writs Act, to claim that it can demand such software from Apple.
The law lets judges “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”
A little word salad that has the government claiming it has every right to make this demand do just about anything it chooses (if it can get a judge to say so).
Marc J. Zwillinger, a lawyer for Apple, wrote in a letter for a related case in October that the All Writs Act could not be interpreted to “force a company to take possession of a device outside of its possession or control and perform services on that device, particularly where the company does not perform such services as part of its business and there may be alternative means of obtaining the requested information available to the government.”
The government says it does not have those alternative means.
Mr. Cook’s statement called the government’s demands “chilling.”
“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”
This is another indicator of how corrosive the “War on Terror” has been to our liberties. It’s like slow drip acid, with every drop another assault on what we once took for granted as protections against an invasive government. And our government has been more and more invasive as concerns our privacy since this “war” began.
Sometimes, looking at what the government attempts to do in the name of security, you’d think the terrorists had won, wouldn’t you?
It would have been nice if the Democrats could have at least let the body get cool before making political demands and unleashing the usual hate, but then that is the state of politics in this country.
Frankly, I mourn Antonin Scalia as one of the few important bastions against the “living Constitution”, defined constantly on the fly as whatever the left wants it to be. Lately it’s been all about granting liberties willy nilly (which, the smart person would realize, would mean they can “ungrant” them as well as those that you thought were inalienable, such as your 2nd Amendment right). That was one of Scalia’s greatest fears and why he stood athwart the path that led to that.
And, of course the hate – the woman who tweeted that she hoped, as he’s always want to do, that Clarence Thomas followed Scalia’s example this time.
And the politics – the conveniently amnesiac Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer demanding that the GOP accept and approve the Obama nominee immediately – whoever that might be. And don’t pay any attention to what they’ve said or done in the past, it is the duty of the GOP to play their game.
Of course, if the GOP has any desire to remain a mainstream party, they better grow a brain, spine and develop some guts and follow Nancy Regan’s advice – “just say no”. Obama’s had 8 years to work his tragic magic on this country, we don’t need to be giving him a lifetime appointment to continue the work.
Finally, the possible silver lining – do Trump supporters really want him naming a SCOTUS justice? Or Hillary, if Trump in the GOP nominee?
Sometimes you see a quote that just infuriates you, because it is so wrong. It is wrong in substance, because this is not what our Founders believed at all. And it is wrong in context, an implication that what you pay in taxes is due because you are renting something the government or others own. Anyway, Kevin Williamson does a bang up job of making the point based off of this one liner from Hillary:
Terry Shumaker, former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad (I wonder what that gig cost him) and current abject minion in the service of Mrs. Clinton, quotes Herself telling an audience in New Hampshire: “Service is the rent we pay for living in this great country.”
You do not owe service to this country … at all. This is the “Elizabeth Warren” school of lefty politics. Living in this country and working our rear ends off to produce wealth is what makes this great. The country is a creation of those who have done and are doing that now. Government is the parasitic institution that likes to claim credit for what it has “done” when it doesn’t have nor has ever had the assets to do what it claims. Government too is a creation of those living in the country and not the other way around.
Williamson likens what Clinton said to a very old age which I thought we’d gotten past:
There is a very old English word for people who are required to perform service as a rent for their existence, and that word is serf. Serfdom is a form of bondage.
Americans are not serfs. We are not sharecroppers on Herself’s farm or in vassalage to that smear of thieving nincompoopery in Washington that purports to rule us.
We don’t owe you any damned rent.
Nope. And, in fact, the government and politicians “serve” at our sufferance. But that sort of thinking, the thinking Clinton espoused in her quote, is why so many people refer to the “Democrat plantation”. Because frankly, that’s precisely how the elite of that party view the citizens of this country … share croppers and plantation workers. And we all know what the bulk of plantation workers were.
And make no mistake, the Clintons and even the Sanders of this world see themselves as members of the elite. The plantation owners. The Queen in her medieval castle who, unfortunately, must sally out every few years and be around the serfs long enough to garner the minimum support necessary to keep herself (themselves) in power.
The Nanny State is simply another name for the plantation or that feudal plot. The serfs get the minimum shared equally while they “serve” to “earn” it. Meanwhile the Queen and her court get whatever they want, to include umpteen million in speaking fees, ignoring laws that would put anyone else under the jail and pretending that the law is important to them, when, in fact, they see it as nothing to concern themselves with.
When they obviously break the law, meh. When a serf does, the Red Queen yells, “off with his head”.
Back to the quote though. That quote says so much about why we’re in the shape we’re in now. And it reflects an attitude that bodes even more travail. Someone who actually believes that should be kept as far away from the Oval Office as is possible.
I suggest a max security jail somewhere in Colorado. Or reopen Alcatraz. Let the Queen rule there.
Don’t expect this sort of treatment should Queen Hillary ever get the nomination. Expect every one of the GOP candidates to be treated like this if they’re even somewhat viable. The Washington Post takes Bernie to the whipping post:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.
He would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.
And that’s just a sample. They pretty much trash the low information, economically illiterate’s dream candidate. Bernie’s the “free stuff” guy, yet even he has to admit that someone has to pay for his “free stuff”. Of course those who support him stop listening right after “free”.
But that’s really not the point. Hillary is sinking in the polls. The presumptive favorite is in a tight race in the first two primary states. Bernie, despite the fact that he’s clueless, is almost even with the chosen one of the big time Washington media establishment. You know, the one’s with Democrats with bylines? Way to close for comfort. And Clinton isn’t helping. In fact, it seems she’s beginning to crack a little bit. Additionally, she’s wearing thin with the voters who are just as tired of the circus she was a ringmaster in as they are of the Bush dynasty. And all these reminders of her past residence in the big house is beginning to make inroads and erode her support. Then there’s that email thingie.
So up steps the editorial board of the WaPo to take a few well aimed pot shots at her closest competitor. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily disagree with anything they say about Bernie. I just question the timing and intent.
That said, I loved this chaser they included near the end:
Mr. Sanders tops off his narrative with a deus ex machina: He assures Democrats concerned about the political obstacles in the way of his agenda that he will lead a “political revolution” that will help him clear the capital of corruption and influence-peddling. This self-regarding analysis implies a national consensus favoring his agenda when there is none and ignores the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away.
You can’t make this stuff up and it again points out something that I’ve wondered about for some time …. do these publications actually have editors?
Again, it’s the Atlantic. The writer is David Graham. His problem? Well, you see, various corporations are providing the citizens of Flint, MI … you know, the town where the government managed to make the drinking water undrinkable … free water.
That these firms are stepping up to deliver water is good news for Flint’s schools and citizens in the immediate term. But a one-time infusion of gallons of fresh water doesn’t do much to address the systemic failures of government that led to the water crisis in the first place. By making four for-profit corporations into a de facto public utility, the gift might actually risk making things worse in the long run.
Ye gods. I must be missing something Mr. Graham. Why is this bad again?
Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Pepsi aren’t just charitable organizations that might have their own ideologies. They’re for-profit companies. And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.
So, wait, they fill in where government has utterly failed and you’re worried that the citizens may say, “wow, these guys are better than government” or something? Well, if they’re providing water to schools for the remainder of the year they already are, aren’t they? So, again, what’s the problem sir?
Oh, I bet I know … privatization. Don’t want any privatization now, do we? Lord help us if the citizens of Flint should find out that nasty “for profit corporations” might be able to deliver a basic commodity like water better than government, huh? And especially if they can do it cheaper as well!
Let’s remind Mr. Graham of something he wrote prefacing the whole “OMG, for profit corporations might be seen in a positive light” nonsense:
The Flint water crisis is above all a human tragedy: The effects of lead exposure on development can be lifelong and irreversible. But it is also a fundamental failure of government. At all levels, government failed to protect citizens.
Not only did it fail to protect its citizens, it failed spectacularly in the delivery of a very basic “every-city-does-it” sort of duty – potable water. Government has always claimed that only it can reliably deliver such a commodity safely.
Yeah, well Flint disagrees. And it should be clear to Mr. Graham that despite “public regulation” and “local accountability”, that government failure occurred.
Now what, sir?! Any bets on who will be held accountable? In government, I mean.
Yeah, me neither.
Mostly because of its liberty stifling oppression:
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in trying to prosecute ExxonMobil for supposedly lying to its shareholders and the public about climate change, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times reported that Harris is investigating what ExxonMobil “knew about global warming and what the company told investors.”
Neither Harris nor Schneiderman recognizes the outrageousness of what they are doing—which amounts censoring or restricting speech and debate on what is a contentious scientific theory. In fact, they want not just to stop anyone who questions the global warming theory from being able to speak; they want to punish them with possible civil sanctions or even criminal penalties. As I said before about Schneiderman, Harris needs a remedial lesson in the First Amendment.
Perhaps we should investigate what Harris “knows” about global warming or climate change, which Harris (and Schneiderman) treats as if it is a proven, unassailable, incontrovertible fact. However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris has pointed out, “flaws discovered in the scientific assessment of climate change have shown that the scientific consensus is not as settled as the public had been led to believe.”
In fact, what Harris and Schneiderman are doing is treating the “contentious scientific theory” as a proven fact. It isn’t even close to being proven and instead a very believable assembly of facts to the contrary has made the ‘theory’ seem more like a religion than a reality. John Cleese … John Cleese for heaven sake … said it best:
So why is government so insistent that the world is heating up? Why does it show this bias … and bias it is. Roy Spencer notes:
I’m not claiming our satellite dataset is necessarily the best global temperature dataset in terms of trends, even though I currently suspect it is closer to being accurate than the surface record — that will be for history to decide. The divergence in surface and satellite trends remains a mystery, and cannot (in my opinion) continue indefinitely if both happen to be largely correct.
But since the satellites generally agree with (1) radiosondes and (2) most global reanalysis datasets (which use all observations radiosondes, surface temperatures, commercial aircraft, satellites, etc. everything except the kitchen sink), I think the fact that NOAA-NASA essentially ignores it reveals an institutional bias that the public who pays the bills is becoming increasingly aware of.
Because there are large … very large … wads of taxpayers money at stake. There is the UN’s chance to redistribute the wealth, a dream the Third-World Debating Club has harbored for decades. So alarmism remains the way in which governments and the UN try to peddle their product.
And, as Dr. Spencer says, the public, who pays the bills, “is becoming increasingly aware of” the bias and the fact that the alarmists have yet to prove their point, to wit:
Thermometers Still Disagree with Models …that even if 2015 is the warmest on record, and NOAA has exactly the right answer, it is still well below the average forecast of the IPCC’s climate models, and something very close to that average forms the basis for global warming policy. In other words, even if every successive year is a new record, it matters quite a lot just how much warming we are talking about.
Oh, and about that 2015 being the warmest year on record, again, the data doesn’t support the claim:
We now have the official NOAA-NASA report that 2015 was the warmest year by far in the surface thermometer record. John and I predicted this would be the case fully 7 months ago, when we called 2015 as the winner.
Oh my … and El Nino was kickin’ this past year, wasn’t it? In fact, per Spencer “El Nino …that a goodly portion of the record warmth in 2015 was naturally induced, just as it was in previous record warm years.” Or said another way, the warmth was due to a weather event, not global warming.
But of course, the incurious press ran with the headline of the “warmest year evah!” and now governments of California and New York are on record of considering certain speech which doesn’t support the government line to be punishable under the law.
So what do we have going on in the two states? Something we thought was dead and buried:
These investigations are reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where Joseph Stalin persecuted those who he thought had the “wrong” scientific views on everything from linguistics to physics. Besides sending them a copy of the Constitution so they can review the First Amendment, residents of both New York and California might also want to include a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, “In the First Circle,” in which he outlined the Soviet government’s suppression of dissenting scientists and engineers.
And that’s precisely the problem here. This, to us old timers, is precisely how the Soviet Union (and China) operated. Of course it made no difference in the reality of science. What is, is. But it certainly made a difference in the lives of those who were persecuted by the state because they disagreed with the State’s version of science.
The bottom line is that the state attorneys general of New York and California are not acting like level-headed, objective prosecutors interested in the fair and dispassionate administration of justice. They are instead acting like Grand Inquisitors who must stamp out any heresy that doubts the legitimacy of the climate change religion. They are treating an unproven scientific theory as if it is a creed than cannot be questioned, probed, examined, or doubted.
Indeed. Welcome to the USSA.
We’ve covered the SJWs and their protests on various of the universities and colleges in this country to some extent. But while wandering through some links I came upon an Atlantic article that was very sympathetic to the SJW cause, especially that of racism – institutional racism – as it were. And I found this quote below to be a fascinating look into the mind of an SJW without a clue:
During a protest at Princeton last semester, students confronted university President Christopher Eisgruber, explaining the emotional reasons behind their demand that the school remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from university buildings. A female protester was shown in a video saying:
I don’t think [racism] is just one or two evils. I don’t think it’s just a flaw, and I don’t think that you as a white person understand what it’s like to walk past a building or to be studying in a school or to have it on your diploma from a school that was built on the backs of and by your people. I don’t want to see that. I do not want to sit in Wilcox hall and enjoy my meal and look at Woodrow Wilson, who would not have wanted me here.
Here you see a very immature individual who has chosen to have an emotional response predicated on a negative feeling to a silly premise. The premise? Woodrow Wilson was a racist and wouldn’t want her there, therefore she’s uncomfortable and it is the worlds duty to assuage that uncomfortable feeling.
Really? See, if I were her, I’d approach that in a completely different way. I’d be grinning at the image of Wilson saying to myself, “see, you racist old goat, I’m here! I was invited to be here! You wouldn’t have wanted me here but I am here! Your kind no longer holds sway! See how far we’ve come since your backward and retarded beliefs were predominant! I’m going to sit here everyday and enjoy eating lunch in front of your image!”
But if she had approached it that way, she couldn’t have thrown the little pity party for herself, gotten herself labeled a “victim (with special status)” or found some lefty journalist with a platform to sympathetically, if not unthinkingly, perpetuate this nonsense.
And, as we’ve pointed out endlessly, giving credence and support to this sort of pre-teen emotionalism, especially in college, does nothing to prepare these tender young flowers for the harsh realities outside of University.
There’s also a problem of historical memory at work here. None of those attending college today lived with or suffered the real institutional racism their grandparents suffered and overcame. None of them realize that to that generation, both black and white, who fought for civil rights, the end of Jim Crow and equality for all people, their whining about a dead man’s beliefs – beliefs which don’t affect them in the least – seem exactly as I’ve characterized them … childish and immature.
Just as interestingly is their “solution”. Voluntary segregation. What their grandparents fought to dismantle, they want to reassemble. They also want to restrict speech to that of which they approve, which is again something that their grandparents fought against.
One more bit of irony here is the fact that Woodrow Wilson was the progressive’s progressive. He was a part of the party of Hillary Clinton … and Bull Conner. But our friendly Journo nor the spoiled special snowflake seem to be aware of that (or are studiously ignoring it).
Funny, sad stuff, this …