Free Markets, Free People

Freedom and Liberty

Equality: the wrong perspective

I’m always intrigued when I find this sort of nonsense about “equality” being trotted out as anything but stupidity on a stick.  But here we go:

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

Instrumental position?  I’m not sure what that means, but in the larger sense, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a philosopher got it wrong because everything was based on a false premise.  That somehow the “family” is at the root of inequality of opportunity. In reality, as you’ll see, he’s not at all interested in equality of opportunity.  He’s more interested in equality of outcome.  To make that happen, you have to control the variables.

But there’s more to this examination by philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse.  The premise is nonsense as history has proven.  To their credit, Swift and Brighouse sort of get it, but they have a goal in mind, so they really don’t.  They just hide the goal in a bunch of blathering about families and “equality” and attempt to convince you they’re pushing “equality of opportunity”.

‘Nearly everyone who has thought about this would conclude that it is a really bad idea to be raised by state institutions, unless something has gone wrong,’ he says.

Intuitively it doesn’t feel right, but for a philosopher, solutions require more than an initial reaction. So Swift and his college Brighouse set to work on a respectable analytical defence of the family, asking themselves the deceptively simple question: ‘Why are families a good thing exactly?’

Not surprisingly, it begins with kids and ends with parents.

‘It’s the children’s interest in family life that is the most important,’ says Swift. ‘From all we now know, it is in the child’s interest to be parented, and to be parented well. Meanwhile, from the adult point of view it looks as if there is something very valuable in being a parent.’

He concedes parenting might not be for everyone and for some it can go badly wrong, but in general it is an irreplaceable relationship.

‘Parenting a child makes for what we call a distinctive and special contribution to the flourishing and wellbeing of adults.’

It seems that from both the child’s and adult’s point of view there is something to be said about living in a family way. This doesn’t exactly parry the criticism that families exacerbate social inequality.

Here comes the “but” however.  And it leads to the very same place it always does:

Swift and Brighouse needed to sort out those activities that contribute to unnecessary inequality from those that don’t.

‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.

The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.

Got that?  In case you missed it they said “what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children.”  Control in the name of “equality” as defined by … who?

My next question was “who is ‘we'” and by what right do ‘we’ pretend to have the power to allow or disallow activities that parents determine might help their children and are within their power to give them?  Certainly not me?  You?  Who?

I think we all know.

Now we arrive at “equality” crap.  Equality has somehow become the standard by which you must live your life.  In the US, equality has always meant equality of opportunity, equality before the law, etc.  The leftist view has always been “equality of outcome” and has spawned such monstrosities as socialism and communism in its name.  Where these two are headed is toward the latter.  And how do that do that? By the fact that they’re interested in restricting parents in what they can do for their children so the outcome is more likely to be “equal”.

For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.

‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’

We’ve now pretty arbitrarily defined “familial relationship good” and we’ve decided that certain things don’t really contribute that to which we’ve now restricted parents – producing familial relationship goods.  And while research points to bedtime stories as being much more of an advantage to those who get them than private schooling, the intimacy of such a “product” and the trouble enforcing their ban (and its unpopularity) see them wave it off … for now.

‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’

But, as they finally admit,  it isn’t really just about fostering and producing familial relationship goods so much as “leveling the playing field”.  So out of necessity, the family goods list must be short and universal, or they’re a “no-go”. They just can’t seem to find a way to make the family unit regressive enough to go after it, so they’re reduced to going after things that may provide an advantage to some children over others – like private schools.

Now these two have taken a ration of grief based on click bait headlines which have claimed they’re for the abolition of the family.  Well, they’re not, really.  But they are for “leveling the playing field” – i.e. that is the goal of this exercise.  So they’re not at all above finding ways to restrict families who might be able to provide activities and events that they feel (see the arbitrariness creeping in) provide advantages to their children that others don’t enjoy.

It’s certainly not a stretch to believe they’d be fine with doing away with family vacations – after all, not all children can afford to go on vacations and the advantages they would provide to those who can would lead to “inequality”.  And besides, they’re not necessary to produce “these desired familial relationship goods”, are they?  Special summer camps?  Yeah, no, sorry.  A voice coach?  Really? You have to ask?

You get the point.  Everyone hates the word “elite” so load your discussion with those type trigger words.  Imply that you don’t want to hurt the family, but you do want the “children” to have equal opportunity.  And ease them into these restrictions you propose with one that is viscerally easy for the vast majority who don’t have children who attend “elite” private schools.  A little class warfare always helps.

Folks, this isn’t “philosophy”, this is socialist snake oil in a new package.  Once you’ve seen it, you never forget what it is regardless of how they dress it up or pitch it.



News bites

Our bias media is amazing at times.  AP in reference to the Garland event:

Pamela Geller at AP headquarters, where she said she had no regrets over TX cartoon contest that left 2 dead.

Why should she?  It is the actions of the two dead that led to their deaths.  Why would Geller regret doing what she did because two terrorists decided to attack it?  Seems like blaming the victim to me.

Here’s the dirty little secret about “why” we see such a push-back/defense of the terrorists from the left:

Unable or unwilling to formulate a strategy to comprehensively defeat jihad or even to adequately defend our nation, our elites adopt a strategy of cultural appeasement that only strengthens our enemy. Millions in the Muslim world are drawn to the “strong horse” (to use Osama bin Laden’s phrase), and when jihadists intimidate the West into silence and conformity, the jihadists show themselves strong.

And that’s why they are having little problem recruiting more jihadists.  The ill informed zealots actually think they are winning or can win.  Because the West as it now appears, is spineless.  So people like Geller are to be condemned and vilified.  Appeasement.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, a little book banning:

The Great Depression is part of our nation’s history. So why would an Idaho committee seek to ban one of the greatest books written about that time period?

John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” is under fire from a Coeur d’Alene committee which says the book is too dark and depressing for teens to read.

They’re also complaining about the book’s inappropriate language.

You know, I read “Of Mice and Men” when I was about 15, along with “Cannery Row”, “Grapes of Wrath” and just about everything else Steinbeck wrote.  I was living in Monterey, CA at the time and he was a bit of a local legend.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would ban that book.  It is terrific.  But, well, we have helicopter parents now who are concerned with a few bad words in a book, but who are otherwise willing to turn their kids over to the tender mercies of public school administrations who teach 2nd graders about sex, etc.

I don’t understand it — never will.

By the way, that would be the same public schools busily engaged in teaching “white privilege” in our schools.  For example:

According to PEG, white culture is based on “white individualism” or “white traits” like “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” “plan(ning) for the future,” and the idea that “hard work is the key to success.”

Minority students shouldn’t be expected to subscribe to those values because they are foreign to their culture, according to PEG.

Juan Williams has written about it and strongly disagrees.

“The tradition of black Americans throughout history is one that values the opportunity for education,” Williams said. “That includes being on time and working hard in school. You won’t find a black mother or father who says that’s not our tradition.

“We’re all in the same American culture. In any job you have to be on time. That’s just the way the world works. These people are engaged in cultural and political arguments that are based on negative stereotypes of black capacity to achieve in any situation. They are not helping these kids.”

Ya think!?  But that’s what your tax dollars are going toward.

Have you ever wondered where “liberation theology” came from?  Would you believe the godless commies?

Ion Mihai Pacepa has been called “the Cold War’s most important defector,” and after his defection, the Romanian government under Nicolae Ceausescu placed two death sentences and a $2 million bounty on his head. During the more than ten years that Pacepa worked with the CIA, he made what the agency described as “an important and unique contribution to the United States.”

He is reported in fact to have given the CIA “the best intelligence ever obtained on communist intelligence networks and internal security services.”

“Liberation theology has been generally understood to be a marriage of Marxism and Christianity. What has not been understood is that it was not the product of Christians who pursued Communism, but of Communists who pursued Christians,” Pacepa said in a recent article. In his role as doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called liberation theology a “singular heresy” and a “fundamental threat” to the Church.

Pacepa says that he learned details of the KGB involvement with Liberation Theology from Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, Communist Romania’s chief foreign intelligence adviser, who later became head of the Soviet espionage service, the PGU.

In 1959, Sakharovsky went to Romania together with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, for what would become known as “Khrushchev’s six-day vacation.” According to Pacepa, Khrushchev “wanted to go down in history as the Soviet leader who had exported communism to Central and South America.” He chose Romania as his point of export, since it was the only Latin country in the Soviet bloc and provided a logical liaison to Latin America because of the similarity of language and culture.

Pacepa claims that the Theology of Liberation was not merely infiltrated by the KGB, it was actually the brainchild of Soviet intelligence services.

“The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: Liberation Theology,” Pacepa said.

We first learn this week that “hate-speech” limitations came from these guys and now “liberation theology”.  Next you’ll tell us they infiltrated anti-war groups during the VietNam war … oh, wait.

On the good news front, the FBI has finally purged the Southern Poverty Law Center from its list of sources:

Christian groups are celebrating with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to have scrubbed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) from its hate crimes webpage, where the controversial group was listed as a resource and referred to as a partner in public outreach.

A letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, drafted by Lieutenant General (Ret.) William G. Boykin, Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council (FRC), calls such an association “completely unacceptable.”

Cheers! Have a good weekend.

How times have changed when it comes to free speech – just ask the NY Times

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to talk about how the left continues to attack free speech by trying to argue that somehow what they consider “hate speech” isn’t a part of it.  We watched CNN’s Chris Cuomo embarrass himself (well he probably wasn’t embarrassed, but he should have been) when he admonished the right to read the Constitution because it clearly didn’t support such speech.  And I pointed out yesterday the totalitarian origins of “hate-speech” exemptions from free speech rights.

That said, I’m fascinated by the attacks on this event in Texas and its sponsor, Pamela Geller.  Agree or disagree with her agenda, in terms of free speech she had every single right in the world to put that on and not expect to be attacked.   The presumption that she would be attacked is just that, a presumption.  It isn’t valid in any terms but apparently the left feels that their presumption that an attack would happen is all that is necessary to condemn Geller’s event as a hate-fest and hate-speech.  You have to wonder what they’d have said if no violence had erupted?

The usual suspects, however, attacked her.  In the particular case I’ll cite, it was the NY Times.  Watch how they set up their editorial “But!”:

There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.

End of editorial.  That’s the crux of the free speech argument.  There are no “buts” after that.  However, there is for the NYT:

But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.

Pure editorial opinion masquerading as some sort of “fact”.  What is the NYT doing here?  Arbitrarily deciding what is or isn’t hate.  And how dangerous is that?  See the USSR and all previous and existing totalitarian regimes.  They do that every day.

Anyway, in 1999, the NYT wasn’t in such a rush to equate an extraordinarily similar event as “an exercise in bigotry and hatred”.  You may remember it:

The Times in 1999 endorsed the showing at a public museum in New York of a supposed art work consisting of a crucifix in a vial of urine, arguing, “A museum is obliged to challenge the public as well as to placate it, or else the museum becomes a chamber of attractive ghosts, an institution completely disconnected from art in our time.” 

And what happened at that time?

Well, apparently the “image ridiculing” this religion was tolerated to the point that no violence occurred, meaning one can assume that leaders of that religion must have made it clear that it didn’t “justify murder” and none occurred.  That’s as it should have been.

So why, then, if the Times believed in free speech in 1999 when an obviously a large segment of the population viewed the crucifix in urine as offensive, provocative and sacrilegious, does it not believe the same thing in 2015 when the same conditions exist?

Because of the “but”, of course.  A “but” that didn’t exist when it was a religion being ridiculed that was not in favor with the left.

Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.

The Times has yet to answer how “inflicting anguish” on millions of Christians who have done nothing to the artist is somehow “striking a blow for freedom of expression” or how that display wasn’t motivated by “hate” (hint: because their definition of “hate” is arbitrary).  It sure had no problem putting it’s editorial heft in support of that “hate” then.  And there’s no argument by anyone who can reason –  it was as “hateful” as anything at the Garland event.  And pretending otherwise is, to borrow the NYT term, “hogwash”.


There is no “line” between free speech and hate speech – nor should there be

But the LA Times thinks there is as it states in its piece about the Garland, TX attack by Islamists:

The Garland attack refocused public attention on the fine line between free speech and hate speech in the ideological struggle between radical Islam and the West.

Hate to break it to them but what they categorize as “hate speech” is a subset of “free speech”.

Of course the term is now in popular use all across the world, but it has very interesting and nasty origin as the Hoover Institution discusses here.

The origin of the term comes from the Soviet Union and its satellites in arguments about the 1948 UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (udhr).  The arguments during its drafting and particularly the area concerning freedom of speech showed the world the totalitarian concept of “free speech” as articulated by the USSR and its satellites.

The drafting history of the protection of the freedom of expression in the udhr does not leave any doubt that the dominant force behind the attempt to adopt an obligation to restrict this right under human rights law was the Soviet Union. On the other hand, led by the U.S. and uk, the vast majority of Western democracies, albeit with differences in emphasis, sought to guarantee a wide protection of freedom of expression and in particular to avoid any explicit obligation upon states to restrict this right.

In particular the USSR sought language that addressed “hate”:

The first draft was limited to the prohibition of “any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hostility that constitutes an incitement to violence.” However, a number of countries led by the Soviet Union were adamant that incitement to violence was insufficient, and sought a broader prohibition against “incitement to hatred.” Poland expressed dissatisfaction with a provision only prohibiting incitement to violence, since it did not tackle “the root of the evil,” and worried that freedom of expression could be abused and “contribute decisively to the elimination of all freedoms and rights.” The Yugoslav representative thought it important to “suppress manifestations of hatred which, even without leading to violence, constituted a degradation of human dignity and a violation of human rights.”

Of course we all know how loosely such a term as “hate” can be interpreted and how arbitrarily it can be applied, especially by a state bent on oppression of the opposition.  And, of course, that was the point.  The totalitarian regimes were looking for the blessing of the UDHR to sanction their planned oppression.

Eleanor Roosevelt found the language “extremely dangerous” and warned against provisions “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purpose of rendering the other articles null and void.” She also feared that the provision “would encourage governments to punish all criticism under the guise of protecting against religious or national hostility.” Roosevelt’s concern was shared by, among others, the five Nordic countries. Sweden argued that “the effective prophylaxis lay in free discussion, information, and education,” and that “fanatical persecution” should be countered with “free discussion, information and debate”. Australia warned that “people could not be legislated into morality.” Furthermore, it noted that “the remedy might be worse than the evil it sought to remove.” The uk representative stated that “the power of democracy to combat propaganda lay . . . in the ability of its citizens to arrive at reasoned decisions in the face of conflicting appeals.” When challenged by the Soviet Union, the uk representative pointed out that during World War II, Hitler’s Mein Kampf had not been banned and was readily available in the uk, and that its government “would maintain and fight for its conception of liberty as resolutely as it had fought against Hitler.”

Of course, at the time this was being discussed, the West was adamantly against the restrictions that the Soviets were seeking, i.e. including “hate speech” as a legitimate reason to limit speech. They clearly understood the implications of such restrictions and how they could and most likely would be used.

Fast forward to today:

All western european countries have hate-speech laws. In 2008, the eu adopted a framework decision on “Combating Racism and Xenophobia” that obliged all member states to criminalize certain forms of hate speech. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Supreme Court of the United States has gradually increased and consolidated the protection of hate speech under the First Amendment. The European concept of freedom of expression thus prohibits certain content and viewpoints, whereas, with certain exceptions, the American concept is generally concerned solely with direct incitement likely to result in overt acts of lawlessness.

So, in essence, Europe has capitulated to Soviet demands a few decades after the communist nation ceased to exist.  It apparently buys into the notion that that state has the right to limit speech if hateful and reserves to itself the right to define what is or isn’t hate.  Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, was right – such laws are “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purposes of rendering” free speech “null and void”.  That’s precisely what totalitarian regimes always do, with or without the blessing of a UDHR.  They are going to control speech and they’re going to suppress as “hateful” anything they don’t agree with.

Interestingly it was a representative from Columbia who said it best:

Punishing ideas, whatever they may be, is to aid and abet tyranny, and leads to the abuse of power . . . As far as we are concerned and as far as democracy is concerned, ideas should be fought with ideas and reasons; theories must be refuted by arguments and not by the scaffold, prison, exile, confiscation, or fines.

Kirsten Powers points out that we’re slowly drifting toward tyranny when she talks about how it once was on the college campus and how it is now.  Contrary ideas are now characterized as “violence” and intolerance to those ideas is rampant for some.  Interestingly, for the most part, those who would ban speech they disagree with mostly find themselves on the left side of the political spectrum, which, at least, is historically consistent.  They’re heirs to the Soviet Union’s attempts to oppress free speech.

They must be very proud.


The hypocrisy immune left and free speech

It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right.  Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:

Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH

In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved.  If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.

Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech.  Burn the flag – free speech.  Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech.  The list goes on.

However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes.  Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech.  Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech.  And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”.  On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah.  I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.

But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.


All around the cobbler’s bench …

The monkey and weasel are disgusted.


Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is denying it, but a senior law enforcement source has told Fox Newsthat she gave an order for police to stand down as riots broke out Monday night.

“The source, who is involved in the enforcement efforts, confirmed to Fox News there was a direct order from the mayor to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.

Asked directly if the mayor was the one who gave that order, the source said: “You are G*d damn right it was.””

This claim follows Rawlings-Blake’s comments on Sunday, when she said they were giving space to those who “wished to destroy.” On Monday, she tried (unsuccessfully) to walk that comment back.

Happy, happy … just let ’em do a little looting and trashing and all will be well.  Oh, and let’s redefine a few things shall we?

The mayor, in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Tuesday, denied any order was issued to hold back on Monday.

“You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,” she said, saying there was no stand-down directive.

Responding appropriately?  I wonder how “appropriately” she’d have responded had it been, say, her house or business they were looting and trashing.  Absolutely no respect for private property.  None.  And nonsense excuse making to boot.

The big question:

Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party.

The preeminent question is whether or not those in Baltimore and other places will recognize who is truly responsible for their plight. Or will they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.

Most of us can answer that question – “they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.”  Oh, and the Republicans.  Just watch 2016.  The “plantation” has a huge hold.

Next question.

Apparently Ben Affleck is mortified by his ancestors:

This brings the total number of Affleck’s known slaveholding ancestors to 14, and the number of slaves either owned or “held” as a trustee or on behalf of an estate by these ancestors to 242.

It seems that this was discovered while doing a PBS program and Affleck asked they be, uh, unmentioned.  You see, he is ashamed of them.

Okay, I can understand that … however, why hide it?  Why not say, hey they were wrong, what they did was wrong and I certainly don’t support what they did.  Seems to me that would be much more powerful than trying to hide the past.  And, to quote Hillary Clinton – “what difference does it make”?!

Oh, liberal credentials of course.  And white guilt.  Dude has to hand in the credentials and burn with white guilt.  Pity.

Anyone wonder what Ben would have done if he’d been born during that era to one of his slaveholding ancestors?  Yeah, I think Ben wonders that as well.  Heh.

If you need another example of “crony capitalism” (and I put that in quotes because this is no more capitalism than lead is gold), it is playing out with the FDA and a couple of Senators … oh, and their corporate cronies:

People who are trying to do good for their families and the planet by living a simple life based on traditional skills are facing yet another assault. Artisanal soap makers say new regulations, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will put them out of business. Many soap makers are rural “kitchen table” operations that rely on the income to fund their simple living lifestyle.  Some use milk from goats they raise and ingredients they harvest from the land.

The form includes a statement on behalf of handmade body care product makers that says, in part: “My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).  My best customers are in my community. I cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Further, my business has no capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.” Those who sell online will also be affected.*

The view of Sen. Feinstein and her corporate backers (listed below) is that the Personal Care Products Safety Act (Senate Bill S.1014) will make the world a safer place by scrutinizing “everything from shampoo and hair dye to deodorant and lotion.” She introduced the amendment to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, because of troubling negative health effects from chemicals used in personal care products.  She says the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act should be more progressive like laws in Europe rather than antiquated US regulations in effect since the 1930s.

Yes, friends, having solved all the important problems of the world, our Senatorial nannies are going to back their corporate sponsors and attempt to regulate out of business this incredible threat to the American public.  And who are their Corporate sponsors?

Companies and brands that support the bill:
Johnson & Johnson, brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products.
Procter & Gamble, including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ivory, CoverGirl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon.
Revlon, brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum
Esteee Lauder, brands include Esteee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors.
Unilever, brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree.
L’Oreeal, brands include L’Oreeal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken.
It almost makes you laugh, it is so transparantly obvious what is going on here.  But here’s the official justification:
Feinstein says her proposal is a “streamlined national system of oversight” and it won’t cost the taxpayer anything because it’s funded by industry user fees (until they pass the extra cost to the consumer, that is). Big multinational soap makers may be able to manage the increased fees and paperwork called for by Senate Bill S.1014 but the the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance says they will cripple their cottage industries. They tried to explain this to Feinstein without success.
Same old crap, different day.  Run the little guy out of business and, with additional fees, raise the price to the consumer.  Also note that while there is a period of “public input” the die seems to be cast.  No one is listening … it’s all pro-forma.
‘Merica … where it is important we be more like Europe, because they’ve done such a bang up job over there.

Approaching the cliff or already over it?

Reading over at PJ Media I ran across this by Robert Wargas:

As Baltimore burned, the rest of us tweeted.

The riots followed a weekend in which GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page for a Christian-owned bakery that was hit with a huge fine for refusing to serve a gay wedding. GoFundMe has said its policy precludes raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The key word here is “hateful”: if you can expand or contract that word at will—which many people in this country can and do—you can accomplish anything.

Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery.

Admit it: You’ve asked yourself where America is going, and how long it can survive the trip. Admit it.

I admit it.  In fact, we’ve been talking about it for years here.  The fact that it is accelerating comes as no real surprise here.  Nor does it come as a surprise that we have the “leadership”, or lack thereof, in Washington DC from which we currently suffer.

In fact, Wargas points out something that Ace at Ace of Spades was wondering the other day:

[T]he New Normal has prompted Ace of Spades to ask: “Is it time to formally separate America into two or more sovereign nations?”

“No one actually seems happy in this national marriage,” writes Ace. That is sadly true.

Indeed it is.  And it seems, at least to the side that loves liberty, that the anti-liberty faction in winning.

Of course, our own Dale Franks has been suggesting this may happen for years.  It sort of puts you in the same shoes as generations of Christians who’ve looked at what was happening all around them and asked “are we in the “end times” as foretold in the Bible?”

Are we at the edge of seeing this 200 plus year experiment go careening off a cliff?

Who knows?  In my experience, something like this has to get a lot worse than it is for that to happen.  And we have to remember that we’re bombarded daily with, well, what bleeds leads.

Certainly though, bombardment or not, it is clear that we’re not “doing better” as a country in just about any category you can point too.

The question is, as in our last civil war, are there irreconcilable differences?  There certainly were then and it appears there are now.  How does one paper over such differences when neither side seems willing to give?

I’m not so sure “getting better” is possible anymore, or at least not possible before some major rupture once again makes it possible. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I look back at this post in 2020 and laugh at myself. But who honestly thinks they’ll be laughing in 2020?

I’m not so sure either.  However, here’s a little bit of a test to see if there’s even a chance.  From Elizabeth Price Foley over at Insty’s:

LORETTA LYNCH’S FIRST TEST:   She’s sending two DOJ officials to Baltimore to meet with community leaders.  That’s good.  But the real question is:  What will they do and say, once they arrive?  Will they mimic Erick Holder’s DOJ, and prioritize lectures about white privilege and racism?  Or will they provide a voice of calm and reason, and unequivocally condemn the random violence?

Lynch has a chance to break with the embarrassingly biased Holder past and start rebuilding trust in DOJ as a department interested in actual justice (for all).  Will she take it?

Bets anyone?


More stray voltage

Has anyone been following this “raisin taking” case before SCOTUS? It has to do with the government literally taking a portion of a producers crop because they want to keep prices artificially high:

The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires farmers to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict production so as to inflate prices.

And, of course, you know who loses – consumers. And producers. But note the program’s birthdate – yup, a New Deal bit of nonsense that should have long been trashed. Given how the oral arguments went yesterday before the SCOTUS, it may soon see the dumpster. The government first tried to argue that it really wasn’t a “taking”. That didn’t go well. So:

[Deputy Solicitor General Edwin] Kneedler put most of his emphasis on the argument that there is no taking because the Hornes and other raisin farmers actually benefit from the program that confiscates their raisins. In the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, the government’s argument here is that the Hornes are actually “ingrates” who should be grateful for the government’s largesse. As several justices emphasized, even if the Hornes really do benefit from the confiscation of their property, that does not change the reality that a taking has occurred. The fact that property owners benefit in some way from the taking of their property may affect the level of compensation they are owed. But it does not change the reality that a taking has occurred in the first place. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the government’s logic leads to the conclusion that there is no taking in any situation where the government seizes personal property for purposes that might potentially benefit the owners in some way.

The most important argument, and the one usually overlooked or ignored, is as follows:

If private firms tried to establish a similar program on their own, the government would bust them for a blatant violation of antitrust law.

So why is our government doing it?

The Advice Goddess (Amy Alkon) takes on “trigger warnings” and does a very credible job explaining why they and those who would impose them should be ignored:

I’ve thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.

In fact, she entitles her piece “Trigger Warnings: A Form of Covert Narcissism.”  She also quotes a Kent State professor who “gets it”:

Kent University’s professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of “narcissism,” with a student’s desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.

In other words, it’s a form of avoidance they can lay on the person who “triggers” them.

This brings me to my favorite line in the Alkon trigger warning piece:

And as I’ve noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of “higher learning.”


The Climate Change Nazis are just not happy with “liberal democracy” because, you know, it depends on the will of the people instead of the will of the all knowing elite. Some selected passages from a piece by  Mark Triffitt (Lecturer, Public Policy at University of Melbourne), and Travers McLeod, Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne:

… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…

… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.

It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.

So, solution? (I bet you can guess):

[D]emocratic powers should be transferred to unelected bureaucrats, who would still somehow be “accountable” to parliament, despite having “staying power” beyond individual political cycles.

Or in their own words:

Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office or Infrastructure Australia). This would increase the capacity of policy planning and decision processes to have staying power beyond individual political cycles.

Yes, because when the party in power is the same party that wants whatever the bureaucracy wants, oversight is so exceptional and wonderful and our freedoms are protected to the nth degree – not!   There are closet despots everywhere, and especially among the climate alarmist crowd.

And finally there is the Hill/Billy update, this one concerning a uranium deal with the Russians:

The latest installment in the ongoing saga of shady Clinton Foundation finances is a story involving a deal in which Russians took take greater control of a major U.S. uranium company, Uranium One.

The details are somewhat involved, but the gist is that because the takeover deal involved uranium, a strategic asset, it required approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Around the same time the deal was going through, the Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars in donations from a foundation run by the founder of Uranium One and did not disclose the transaction, in defiance of an arrangement made with the Obama administration to identify Clinton Foundation donors. In addition, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian financial firm linked to the Kremlin for a speech in Moscow as the deal was happening. The New York Times has an extensive report, building on work from Peter Schweizer’s book about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign funding, Clinton Cashhere.

The questions raised by the story are obvious: Did the millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Bill Clinton for his speech, have any influence on Clinton’s decision as Secretary of State to approve the project?

Seriously?  You have to ask that question?

The reaction to the story from team Clinton, meanwhile, does not exactly inspire confidence that the Clintons have been entirely transparent about what transpired.

For example, Fox News reporters, also drawing from Schweizer’s book, dug into various aspects of the story, and found evidence that officials from Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company Kazatomprom visited with Bill Clinton at his home in New York to inquire about a possible deal with Westinghouse, which is also involved in the nuclear energy business. When contacted about the meeting by Fox News, a Clinton Foundation spokesperson denied that the meeting had ever happened. But when Fox News produced photos of the meeting, the Clinton spokesperson changed the story and said that it had happened.

In short, Clinton’s spokesperson flatly lied about a meeting Bill Clinton had with foreign officials, and admitted the truth only when presented with evidence to the contrary.

“Flatly lied”.  Or as most would put it, “business as usual”.


The face of creeping totalitarianism

Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:

One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there.  For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred.  Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime.  In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook.  Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims.  In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile.  Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.”  Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech.  Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.

There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start.  First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise.  It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”.  So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.

A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable.  It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”.  You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).

That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion.  What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her.  And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”.  Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom?  “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”

“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”.   Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject.  How screwed up is that?

I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting.  It is the germ seed of totalitarianism.  It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration.  These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting.  They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship.  Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:

Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.  In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people.  In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.

Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive.  Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.

So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them.  A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”.  Black is white, up is down.

Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants.  It bans government from abridging free speech.  It protects everyone from government interference and oppression.  She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like.  Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”

She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:

In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.

No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect.  Wrong.  No.

Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech.  Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech.  Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay.  Your path is the road to serfdom.  Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech.  There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church.  That’s how a free country takes out its trash.


Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.

Condescending and wrong.

Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.



The usual nonsense from the usual suspects

Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution?  Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:

As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.

Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.

“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.

“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”

But this president and his bureaucracy have no problem with this sort of over reach because, as I’ve mentioned before, gutless Republicans, who could withhold funding for this sort of misbehavior, haven’t the gonads for it.  They’re worthless.

Meanwhile our petulant and juvenile President can’t find it in himself to act Presidential when an ally wins an election:

On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.

“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.

Blah, blah, blah.  Of course, when it came to Erdogan, Sisi, Putin, and even Iran’s Rouhani … all over it, man.  Our one real and true ally in the region?  Yeah, not so much.

And finally:
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.
Because … well, apparently much of the left agrees that laws are for the little people, and enough of the middle goes along to make her corruption and blatant disregard for the law a minor event soon to be forgotten (and forgiven, I guess).  They prefer the bad reality show the next Clinton presidency would bring I suppose, and seem to be fine with the continued decline of a once great country.
Her job? Just keep the free stuff coming.