Free Markets, Free People
What was the time necessary for “first responders” to arrive at the Newtown CT school? 20 minutes?
Unacceptable if, as many want you to believe, you should leave your defense in the hands of others.
Sorry, I simply refuse to be a victim.
What happens when armed people going about their everyday lives are confronted by evil?
Well, things like this:
Police say a gunman, identified as Jesus Manuel Garcia, chased patrons from the nearby China Garden Restaurant into the lobby of the Santikos Mayan 14 movie theater at around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Garcia, an employee of the restaurant, reportedly walked in the establishment looking for a woman.
A gunman retreated from a Casper nail salon last week after realizing one of its customers was packing heat.
Police say about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, a man walked into Modern Nails at 2645 E. Second St. and asked a female employee if she wanted to buy some diamonds. The man walked toward the front desk area and the woman replied that she had no money to buy diamonds.
A witness said the man then reached into his coat pocket and began to take out a silver-colored pistol.
At that moment, a woman who was getting her nails donereached into her purse and got her own firearm. Police say the man never fully raised the gun and left the building after seeing the customer had her weapon out.
Eric Posner wants us to understand that we “value” freedom of speech much too much. Because, after all, the rest of the world doesn’t see it the way we do, and thus, one gathers from his article, we should become more like them. In the title to his article he says we “overvalue” the right of freedom of speech. Here’s what the hoary whisper of oppression sounds like:
This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
He goes on to give examples of our history where government has been less than supportive of the right.
Notice what he values more than free speech? Order. I wish I had a dollar for every pop-gun totalitarian whose clarion call was for “order” over other rights.
You see one of the acknowledged problems with freedom is it’s messy. That’s right, people get to make choices you don’t agree with and, even more importantly, get to act on them without your permission.
That’s just too “messy” for some, like Posner. Instead we sh0uld voluntarily curtail our freedoms to placate mobs and murderers half a world away because they choose to become violent over something someone said.
Posner spends the rest of the article trying to defend his premise and sound reasonable. Interestingly it devolves into a secondary attack on conservatives who apparently use this wretched overvalued freedom to oppose such wonderful and valuable things like hate speech laws and political correctness.
Make no mistake about it, at bottom, this is an appeal for speech codes and legal remedy for speech those like Posner find to be “invaluable” for whatever reason – in this case “order”.
Putting this to the old libertarian test, i.e. “freedom = choice”, it flunks. It limits or removes choice in the face of mob violence half a world away. It gives in to people who chose to be violent.
Anyone with more than a day on this earth knows that such a move would only encourage more acting out by those mobs. They sack an embassy, we clamp down on our own rights. Any time they can dictate a limiting of our freedoms with their actions we essentially play right into their hand and they win. For some reason, those like Posner can’t see the dark hand of al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamic gangs behind this. And the first thing these cut-and-run cowards suggest we do is limit our freedoms to placate those who would willingly kill us if given the chance?
Yesterday, as the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted for the 30th time to repeal ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi said:
“We put forth a vision for the middle class to make health care a right, not a privilege for all Americans. Today, as they have done more than 30 times this Congress, Republicans will vote to take away that right.”
Pelosi, among many of our legislators and politicians in general, displays a level of ignorance about rights and privileges that seems pretty basic to me. Governments don’t grant rights, they grant privileges no matter how hard they try to characterize what they do as a “right”.
A right, to be a right, must be inherent. It is something you have even before government shows up. The right to life. The right to liberty. As our founders identified these rights, they’re “inalienable”.
The best government can do, and the true foundation of a just government, is the acknowledge and protect our inherent rights. I.e government should exist to protect those rights.
Real rights are passive. They don’t require the assets, time, labor or commitment of others to enable their execution. Health care, of course, is a perfect example of a pseudo“right” which requires all of that.
Anything that government can give you (remember, we had the inherent rights I talk about before government existed and we formed the government to acknowledge and protect them – see founding documents) is not a “right.” And when government has to use it’s coercive power to “enable” these pseudo “rights” as it has in this health insurance debacle, it isn’t a right.
There is no right to health care. Period. There never has been. You have no inherent right to demand someone else use their skills, time and assets to service your health. You certainly have the right to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement (see liberty) with health care providers based on a mutual exchange of value (see property). But “right” – no.
And besides, what Pelosi et al really cranked out was a requirement to buy health insurance via the coercive taxing authority of government. It no more guarantees health care as a right than the previous system. You still have to find a health care provider to accept your insurance and agree to treat you. In fact, it’s even tough to characterize the ObamaCare monstrosity as a government granted “privilege”.
Back to the point – this fundamental ignorance about rights and privileges, however, is at the root of many of our problems. For decades we’ve allowed government to get away with calling things it grants “rights” to the point that the concept of rights is so muddled that most people don’t understand them at all and have fallen for the government line.
Falling for that line helps enable horrific legislation like ObamaCare because it gives it cover, a veneer of "good” the proponents use to push their agenda. Who wouldn’t be for something that’s a “right”?
My point: Don’t let them misuse the word. Call people and politicians who do this out. Make them substantiate their claim of a right and when they can’t point out what is really going on. They’re talking about a privilege established by government coercion. That’s not freedom. That’s not liberty, two things you have a right to expect and something these privileges usually curtail.
It’s time to take back the political language. And there’s no better place to start with the understanding that government’s don’t and can’t grant rights.
I come down on the side of the former – a violation of my civil rights. When does the government unilaterally get to decide if I’m able to talk to someone (or communicate by other means, such as Twitter) on a device I’ve contracted with a private company and for which they provide service? When it sees a compelling public safety risk.
And what would define that public safety risk? Well that’s kind of up in the air. Take the expected riots in Chicago for the NATO summit.
According to the Daily Beast, a little known Bush era regulation gives law enforcement the ability to jam cell phones … you know like they did in Tehran when the people attempted to stand up to their government. Or Syria?
Not only do the FBI and Secret Service have standing authority to jam signals, but they along with state and local authorities can also push for the shutdown of cell towers, thanks to a little-known legacy of the Bush administration: “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303," which lays out the nation’s official “Emergency Wireless Protocols.”
The protocols were developed after the 2005 London bombings in a process that calls to mind an M.C. Escher work. First, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) formed a task force— composed of anonymous government officials and executives from Cingular, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, and Verizon—that issued a private report to President Bush. Another acronym-dragging committee, also meeting in secret, then approved the task force’s recommendations. Thus, according to NSTAC’s 2006–07 annual issue review, SOP 303 was born.
"In time of national emergency," the review says, SOP 303 gives “State Homeland Security Advisors, their designees, or representatives of the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center” the power to call for “the termination of private wireless network connections… within an entire metropolitan area.” The decision is subject to review by the National Coordinating Center, a government-industry group responsible for the actual mechanics of the shutdown. The NCC is supposed to “authenticate” the shutdown via “a series of questions.” But SOP 303 does not specify, at least not publicly, what would constitute a “national emergency,” or what questions the NCC then asks “to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action.”
“[T]he termination of private wireless network connections …”. That should send a chill up your spine. This is the realm of dictatorship.
What if I have nothing to do with whatever the disturbance in the area might be? What if I have an emergency? What if I can’t get to a land line? Who in the hell are these people to deny me access to a private service I pay for and they don’t?
And all for their convenience, because that’s the point. Protesters use wireless services and social media like Twitter to organize.
Instead of Law Enforcement learning to monitor that and react sufficiently well to blunt its effect, they prefer to use the sledge hammer approach and shut down service to all in an area.
I have a contract with a provider. That provider agrees to provide me uninterrupted service for payment. I pay. Government decides to void that contract at its own whim and possibly endanger my life and safety by doing so.
Oh, and here’s a little ground truth:
“It’s the nature of law enforcement to push the envelope,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police instructor and professor of police practice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s act first and litigate second.”
Understatement of the year. For instance:
While it’s against the law for individuals or nongovernmental organizations to sell or use jammers, the devices are easily found online. The U.S. military was among the first to use communications shutdowns, and local government demand for the technology has been building for years, even as the legal rules for its use have remained ill-defined. Prison wardens want to snuff out the use of smuggled cellphones by inmates; school officials hope to disable students’ phones; the National Transportation Safety Board wants to disable all “portable electronic devices within reach of the driver” while cars are in motion.
I’m sure you can dream up many more rights abusing nanny state scenarios (yeah, jamming illegal prison cell phones actually seems legit) than those listed. Imagine a state banning cell phone use in cars and installing jammers along all major highways. Imagine a car wreck with injuries. Imagine the law suits to follow.
For once the ACLU and I are on the same side:
The ACLU, Verizon, and a coalition of public-interest groups noted that cellphone blackouts would, with few exceptions, violate the Constitution and federal communication law, as well as threaten public safety by eliminating the means to share vital information or call 911.
Now other efforts to cut through the legal haze have emerged. In response to the wireless shutdown in San Francisco last summer, California State Sen. Alex Padilla introduced what would be a first-of-its-kind bill stipulating that to cut off service a judge must sign off that the move is necessary to avert “significant dangers to public health, safety or welfare.” If approved, the bill, which has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, could become the gold standard for state policy. San Francisco transit officials codified their own policy, which remains quite vague, after the public backlash to their shutdown. It calls for “strong evidence” of dangerous and unlawful activity, a belief that an interruption will “substantially reduce the likelihood of such an activity” and that the interruptions are “narrowly tailored.”
No. That agrees to the premise that government should have that power and then tries to define it “narrowly”. I don’t agree with the premise of government’s right to do this. If they want to talk about an exceptional power in time of a declared National Emergency, I’m willing to listen. But we all know how wide “narrowly” becomes when law enforcement is given an ability to use such a power. They’ll use it for their convenience, screw your rights.
A lot has been said and written about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning ObamaCare. Many have claimed you can’t base much on such arguments.
Perhaps. But it seems to me that you can get an indication of the mood of the court if you consider them carefully and keep them in context.
What I’ve surmised over the past few days is the law is in deep trouble. I think, if nothing else, the oral arguments pointed out how dismally weak and poor the arguments “for” this law are.
Of course, depending on how they would like to see the court rule, each side has found ways to spin these arguments to support their hoped for result. No huge surprise there.
But I think the one thing that is clear is the court is pretty well split down the middle and along ideological lines. And, as we’ve said for some time, in reality the result will hinge on the vote of Justice Kennedy.
However, I think you have to keep in mind that it won’t be a single ruling but one which entails several votes. One on the individual mandate, one on severability and possibly, depending on how the severability vote goes, if portions or the whole bill ought to be struck down. If the whole law is struck down, of course the expanded Medicare portion discussed yesterday will go with it.
That leaves you wondering where Kennedy is in his deliberation of the case. Again, if looking at indications to be gleaned from the oral arguments, one could assume he finds it true that the individual mandate would “fundamentally change” the citizen’s relationship with government – and not to the citizen’s favor. I think it is also true that he is not satisfied that the government has successfully articulated a “limiting principle” – a critical and key point in the discussion.
Finally, I get the impression, from yesterday’s arguments, that Kennedy is leaning toward “paving over” the whole law. In other words, giving Congress a “do over” since taking the mandate out would create a law and a consequence that it is hard to argue was Congress’s original intent. What is also interesting is the developing opinion that striking down the entire law would actually be an exercise in judicial restraint, not judicial activism.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Mr. Clement is asking the Court to conduct "a wrecking operation," before stating that "the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything." The Obama Administration didn’t say exactly that, but it did argue that the mandate is indispensable to its supposedly well-oiled regulatory scheme and if it is thrown out the insurance rules should be too.
But Justice Anthony Kennedy doubted Justice Ginsburg’s logic, since by taking out only the individual mandate the Court would in effect be creating a new law that Congress "did not provide for, did not consider." To wit, costs would soar without any mechanism to offset them.
"When you say judicial restraint," Justice Kennedy said, "you are echoing the earlier premise that it increases the judicial power if the judiciary strikes down other provisions of the act. I suggest to you it might be quite the opposite." Overturning the mandate alone, he continued, "can be argued at least to be a more extreme exercise of judicial power than to strike the whole."
This is a critical point.
I think it is clear the 4 justices traditionally identified with the liberal side of the court are fore-square for the law and will find some way to justify it’s egregious and unconstitutional over-reach. And yes, no secret, I’ve always considered the law to be that and nothing I’ve heard in oral arguments has changed that. I think Justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia are for finding the mandate unconstitutional and for killing the entire law. I think Chief Justice Roberts is against the mandate although I’m not sure it’s a foregone conclusion that he wants to kill the entire law at this point. However I think he’ll be persuaded eventually.
That would make Kennedy the guy … again. No surprise for most who’ve watched the court for the past few sessions. He often ends up as the swing guy. You may disagree with my assessment of where he is in his decision making process, but his questions and comments, at least to me, seemed to indicate he was forming a particular opinion and that opinion favored both striking down the mandate and then striking down the whole law.
Should that be the case, and given the Democrats are unlikely to have an unassailable majority in Congress anytime soon as they did when they passed this monstrosity, this is indeed “the most important case in 50 years”. That’s a “good thing” because the likelihood that a “replacement” will be passed in Congress becomes much less likely. Kennedy’s vote could save America as we know it and protect us from a law that would “fundamentally” change our relationship with government and place us in a position of involuntary servitude to a government given license to run our lives in pretty much any way it see’s fit to pursue.
Gotta love it (he said sarcastically):
The Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, says it does not endorse gender discrimination, although the Brotherhood argues women should not be allowed to rule the country.
The party is the dominant bloc in both houses of parliament after a sweeping victory in a multi-phase general election that began in November. Women hold just two percent of the seats in parliament.
Because, you know, not allowing women to rule the country isn’t “gender discrimination” as the Muslim Brotherhood sees it (they too are adept at redefining words apparently).
A women’s conference organized by the dominant Islamist bloc in the Egyptian parliament has called for a council for families to replace the existing National Council for Women, a state-owned daily reported on Friday.
The conference, held Thursday on International Women’s Day, also condemned the 1978 U.N. convention against gender discrimination saying it was “incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia” law, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization, or so say our apologists in the West. And, as all can see, it is taking a very moderate position by making women 2nd class citizens in their own country again.
But *cough, cough* they don’t “endorse” gender discrimination. Got it?
The suspect in the LA arson fires is Harry Burkhart. Burkhart lives in Hollywood. What else do you need to know?
According to law enforcement sources, Burkhart has been involved in a dispute with federal immigration officials.
Burkhart appears to have been battling the U.S. government over the immigration status of his mother.
His solution? Burning up other people’s property.
A string of 53 fires mostly destroyed the property of people he didn’t know and who had nothing to do with his dispute with the government.
The Los Angeles Times reports that it appears a U.S. State Department source pointed to Burkhart after he unleashed an anti-American tirade in U.S. immigration court recently, apparently in reaction to his mother’s reported deportation: A government official recognized him as resembling the man in the Hollywood+Highland surveillance video and alerted local authorities.
Oh, and his mom?
One woman told the [radio] station that the mother had indicated to her that her son wasn’t all right in the head.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally made the decision to evict the OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park last night. His decision, he claims, had to do with public health and safety.
Some time after 6 a.m., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement that while he supports the First Amendment rights of the protesters, his greater priority is protecting the public’s health and safety, and he took full responsibility for the “final decision to act.”
“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest but, rather, to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others,” Bloomberg said, noting that for some residents of the area, noise and unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camp had created “an intolerable situation.”
He added: “The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out — but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others — nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here — the First Amendment protects speech — it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.”
Well there is ambiguity (there’s also a right to peaceful assembly although it is arguable the assembly has been peaceful), but note the thing he doesn’t site – property rights. Or at least not directly. He sorta, kinda alludes to it when he talks about the “exclusion of others”. That’s a privately owned park which has been literally taken over by the OWS group and its owners have been denied the ability to make decisions about its use. Why not just say the occupiers (because that’s what they call themselves – perhaps squatters is a better description) have been declared trespassers and removed? To easy?
One of the pernicious problems I see all the time when it comes to government officials is their selective enforcement of property rights. It seems to me that once the exclusionary tactics were applied where those who owned the park were excluded from using it as they wish, they had every right in the world to demand the eviction of the protesters.
I obviously don’t know what the company that holds those rights had to say because it seems they weren’t really even given a voice in that sort of decision. On the other hand, had they decided that it was good use of their property and gone along with the OWS protesters, shouldn’t their decision about their property had some weight?
I guess what I’m getting at is that other than a mention here and there, no one knows much about the owners or their druthers.
I’m actually sympathetic with the city’s reasons for clearing the park. I think Bloomberg is exactly right. But my larger point is where are the property owners in all of this. Why aren’t they an integral part of this process?
Property rights have been under assault in this country for some time. The abominable Kelo decision was the cherry on top of the sundae that has all but destroyed those rights. More and more I see government deciding how private property will be used and only enforcing laws on trespassing and the like when it serves their purpose (in this case I imagine that the pressure from those who lived nearby finally got to the point that Bloomberg was forced to act).
The right to private property (and its exclusive use) is a foundational right from which many other rights spring. Like so much in this country, government has moved in on that right and while giving it lip service has intruded to such an extent in its execution that it is arguable if the right can be exercised properly anymore. When that right is subsumed, all of our rights are in jeopardy.
We’ll see how much they’re in jeopardy with the upcoming ObamaCare decision. It will either give us a new lease on our rights or, it may end up being the final nail in their coffin.
The other day, Michelle Bachman said:
“We will always have people in this country through hardship, through no fault of their own, who won’t be able to afford health care,” Bachmann said. “That’s just the way it is. But usually what we have are charitable organizations or hospitals who have enough left over so that they can pick up the cost for the indigent who can’t afford it.”
That initiated the usual reaction from the left:
Before the advent of Medicare and Medicaid, charities did provide health care to those in need. But to suggest that they can do the same today is to misunderstand the enormity of the health care crisis, as charities simply do not have the capacity to handle the demand. As the number of uninsured creeps up to 50 million, for any politician to argue that government should outsource the task of keeping Americans healthy to charities is like saying that people should be punished with death if they are unfortunate enough to be poor or are priced out of insurance due to a pre-existing health condition.
And that’s one of the more family friendly reactions.
But let’s look at it. First question, why is it that “charities simply do not have the capacity to handle the demand?” Any takers?
Is it because there are no established charitable programs in place anymore because government usurped the need for them with Medicare and Medicaid? Perhaps not wholly, but it certainly is one of the reasons. Charities, like any other organization, focus their giving where there is a need. And where no one else, usually, is helping. No need, no priority, no charity.
Secondly, you see the insidious conclusion that “the demand” that would strain the capacity of charities can only be met by … government, of course. Naturally there’s no way to really test that conclusion because government has destroyed the market for charitable health care giving.
So, as usual, government has helped create the problem (lack of charitable institutions focused on providing health care for poor) and now, according to the left, the government is the answer to the problem it created. It may not be something you traditionally consider a market (charitable giving in health care) but there’s no question that government intrusion into the health care market changed the dynamic completely.
And finally the unspoken premise: Health care is a human right. Sorry, but health isn’t even a “human right”. Obviously health care requires the labor of others. It requires their time and the abilities they’ve developed over the years. It is their property to dispose of as they will. But bottom line, health care requires the labor of others in order to fulfill this assumed right.
Clue: To be a right, the right must not violate the rights of others. It cannot take precedence or priority over someone’s right to decide how to use their property – i.e. their developed and marketable abilities. Period. That’s slavery. Here we see another twisting of a word that denotes a condition of freedom and liberty into one that demands virtual slavery from others.
You may or may not agree with Michelle Bachman’s statement. But, in reality it is the way a truly free country should work. Instead we seem to opt for “government is always the answer” (even when it is the entity that created the problem) and coercion is just fine for fulfilling utopian dreams.
Hard to call that “free” isn’t it?
Yes the rabble that calls itself Occupy Wall Street has those that live in the neighborhood of Zuccotti Park less than receptive to them or whatever their still undefined message is:
"They are defecating on our doorsteps," fumed Catherine Hughes, a member of Community Board 1 and a stay at home mom who has the misfortune of living one block from the chaos. "A lot of people are very frustrated. A lot of people are concerned about the safety of our kids."
See, the rabble demand “rights” but they apparently can’t find it in themselves to respect the rights of others, such as property.
Or the ability to walk down a street without being harassed:
Fed up homeowners said that they’ve been subjected to insults and harassment as they trek to their jobs each morning. "The protesters taunt people who are on their way to work," said James Fernandez, 51, whose apartment overlooks the park.
Or something as simple as keeping the noise in the neighborhood down:
"It’s mostly a noise issue," he said. If people can’t sleep and children can’t sleep because the protesters are banging drums then that’s a problem."
One elderly woman told a protester to stop screaming and was met with an even higher volume. "Get some earplugs!" retorted David Spano. "This is the street. I can say whatever I want! I can’t calm down, I’ve been struggling for 30 years!"
Nothing more ignorant than a man who claims his “rights” preclude any responsibility to anyone else. Most understand that as both selfish and clueless. Respect the rights of others? Hey, this is a “revolution”, he’s been struggling for 30 years and that gives him better “rights”.
At a standing room only Community Board meeting, members of the community voiced their anger, frustration and indignation to board members who essentially agreed. They want something done.
Now comes the fun part for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. These people complaining are voters. They’re the people who put him in office. They want action.