Impropriety

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Suppose someone dropped off their real estate documents and I said “I’m very busy right now, I won’t be able to get to them for a couple of weeks.  Unless you wanted to paperclip $100 bill to the documents, then I’d be willing to stay late to get them done today.”  Would there be howls of protest over me abusing my government position to put money in my pocket?

 Suppose an off-duty cop gets pulled over for speeding, shows the on-duty officer his driver’s license and oh, just incidentally flashes his badge.  The obvious intention is that the on-duty cop will not write the off-duty cop a ticket, to save the driver embarrassment and also $100 fine.

 Putting $100 in my pocket or keeping $100 in his – they’re both corruption, using an official position for personal enrichment.

 Of course, not all cops are corrupt just as not all Muslims are terrorists and not all Blacks are criminals and not all . . . yes, yes, we know that.  But we also know for certain that some cops are corrupt except – and here’s the really important point – we can’t tell who they are.  A few known bad apples make us suspect the entire bunch may be rotten so the rational conclusion is to treat all of them as if they are rotten.

 Lawyers talk about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, so as not to cast suspicion on the entire legal profession.  Cops don’t seem to understand the concept. The instinct is for cops to band together, to circle the wagon to protect the Thin Blue Line, to denounce their critics as ignorant, to absolve themselves of technical wrongdoing despite what appears on the video.  That does nothing to solve the problem that cops appear to be corrupt, appear to be using their positions to put themselves above the law.

 The Black community already hates cops.  Politicians no longer reflexively support cops.  Middle class mainstream America sees video of cops beating or shooting people and are beginning to lose confidence. What happens when the bulk of society no longer believes cops are trustworthy but instead begin to view them as armed gangs, not much different from the Crips, just different gang colors?

 A professional public police force is relatively recent, invented by Robert Peel in London in 1829.  What did society use to keep law-and-order before the Bobbies?  And if the public decides the police are now hopelessly corrupt, what will replace them after they’re disbanded? Vigilance Committees made up of ordinary citizens, armed as necessary to protect their families, homes and neighborhoods? 

 Behold the wisdom of Federalist 29.

 Joe Doakes

There’s a reason you can’t find a Federalist Paper in a public school anymore.

Policies Matter

Not so long ago, a not overly bright person on a community forum called me a “racist” for asking “what does Black Life Matter” actually want?”

One might wonder if BLM is “racist” for finally answering my question.

Thing is, their ideas aren’t entirely wrong:

1. End “broken windows” policing, which aggressively polices minor crimes in an attempt to stop larger ones.

Broken windows policing has always been controversial.  But it’s worked; it was a key element in turning New York from a crime-sodden wasteland in 1975 to one of the safer cities in America in 2005.

It did lean hard on “communities of color” – because some of those communities have had all sorts of problems, both “broken windows” and crime.  We can debate the reasons for that – and a lot of African-Americans disagree with BLM on that; it’s usually they who are asking for more, and more integrated, police presence in their communities.

Is it possible to get good policing in a trouble community without impacting those, in the community, who are trouble?

2. Use community oversight for misconduct rather than having the police department decide what consequences officers should face.

I don’t disagree in principle:  groups investigating themselves never works.

But community review boards, especially in Democrat-run cities where most police problems are, inevitably turn into political footballs.

Better idea?  Make police carry individual liability insurance.  It’ll have the same effect it has on drivers; it’ll show us who the “bad” ones are, and fast.

3. Make standards for reporting police use of deadly force.

Excellent idea.

4. Independently investigate and prosecute police misconduct.

This would seem to make good common sense.

5. Have the racial makeup of police departments reflect the communities they serve.

A passable-sounding idea in principle; very hard to carry out in practice; if applicants for police service reflect the larger American community – 12% Latino, 11% black, 2% Asian, 75% white – what is “the community” supposed to do?  Assign cops to precincts on the basis of race?

Is it a good idea, though?  If our idea of “justice” is “bean-counting based on skin color”, then haven’t we really lost?

6. Require officers to wear body cameras.

Fine idea in practice, and I support it in principle.

The devil is in the details.  Can we allow officers to turn off their cameras?  Do you want officers stopping at Superamerica to take a dump preserved on the public record?

I’m not asking to be funny or gross.  If you allow officers to turn off the camera for purposes of bodily functions, then you create an opportunity – several, in fact.  Unethical officers will use that facility.   Bureaucrats will create more rules and procedures around cameras, which’ll take more time away from policing.

I’m in favor, but with questions.

7. Provide more training for police officers.

Not a bad idea, provided the “training” is useful.

8. End for-profit policing practices.

We’re talking about civil forfeiture, and even if the other nine proposals had been complete hogwash, this alone would be worth it.  Using funds from “crimes” that haven’t even gone to trial should be stopped, now.

9. End the police use of military equipment.

I’ll meet ’em halfway on this.   The hero gear gets way too much of a workout.  When you have armored cars and police in full battle rattle knocking down doors to serve warrants for non-violent crimes – pot dealers, people who owe the city money, that kind of thing – that does kinda send a message about what you think about “a community”.

10. Implement police union contracts that hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Now that is going to be interesting to see out in practice.

BLM’s got a few useful ideas.  Where they go wrong is in relying on politics and politicians to do the reforming for them.

Opportunity For Improvement

Police overreach; it’s not just for black people anymore:

In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

The WaPo’s Christopher Ingraham notes that on the one hand, the figure is a little misleading for two reasons:  the “burglary” figure counts only rigidly-defined burglaries, and ignores a variety of other larcenies and thefts (which, together, add up to double what the cops take), and the cops don’t keep it all.

But even counting only what they keep from burglaries, they still siphoned 50% more out of the economy than burglars did.

And that includes an awful lot of people never convicted of any crime.

Taking property without a conviction is something that needs to stop.

Another Shooting

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails about the story of the day:

White cop from St. Anthony department shot Black man at traffic stop on Larpenteur at Fry in Falcon Heights.  Passenger took video, protests and vigils occurring.

you might want to reiterate your policy of refusing to comment until facts are known to stop speculation on SITD.

As with all shooting stories; the first 24-48 hours of media reporting will be absolutely squalid.    I’ll be withholding most comment.

Doakes continues, speaking about the narrative from the video (which I’ll include below the jump):

Passenger says cop asked driver for his wallet, driver reached down for it and while reaching, told cop that driver had a concealed carry permit and was carrying (which they tell us in training you’re supposed to do).  Cop told driver to put his hands up, driver brought his hands back up and officer opened fire because driver was making threatening movements, possibly bringing up the gun.

I’m guessing young cop, twilight, Black guy, gun . . . yeah, that script pretty much writes itself.  Girlfriend and child in the car watched it all.

Not an accidental discharge, by the way, several shots fired.

Driver age 32, employed, no serious criminal record if he had a concealed carry permit . . . bad scene all around.

Not just employed; employed by the Saint Paul Public Schools, apparently, in a position for which (I’m informed) one needs to pass a background check.

My focus would be additional mandatory training for law enforcement and for permitted carriers: What, exactly, are permitted carriers supposed to do if stopped when carrying? Play-act it.  Drivers need to know so they don’t alarm officers, and officers need to have a standard method of handling the situation.

Joe Doakes

While I neither confirm nor deny I own or carry any firearms, I have sat through carry permit training; the most prudent course seems to be to inform the officer only when there’s a likelihood of a search – like, if you’re asked to get out of the car.    This was posited for exactly the reasons that seem likely to have occurred in this incident;   an incident that started as a fix-it ticket (apparently) escalated because a (law-abiding, black) man told the (apparently jumpy, possibly rookie) cop that he had a permit and gun in a manner that had likely been prescribed to him in his training.

We don’t know all the facts, though.

Indeed, that’s my only real answer to everything in this incident; we don’t know the facts yet.  Everything that everyone is saying is conjecture at this point.  Not pure, unadulterated conjecture; the video shot by the girlfriend an interesting wrinkle to this case (statements made while the incident is still in progress are admissable under Minnesota rules of evidence, although I’m not sure of any limitations that might apply); her story, for what it’s worth, stays very consistent through several retellings on video.

Question:  if Philando Castile was shot unjustly, was it because of paranoia over black men, or over the new plague of urban paranoia over gun owners?

Anyway, I’ll urge everyone to reserve judgment, knowing full well nobody will.

Video follows:

Continue reading

Wrong About Rights

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals want to strip gun rights from people on the No Fly List.  The only civil rights group standing up for the constitutional rights of citizens is the National Rifle Association.

 But wait, didn’t the ACLU also object?  Sort of.  The ACLU objects to using the No Fly List in its present form to deny civil rights.  If there was an easier way to get your name off the list, the ACLU would be fine with using it to block gun purchases.

 That idea flips constitutional law on its head.  The Founders explained in the Declaration of Independence that Rights come from God, not from government.  The Constitution exists to protect our Rights from the government.  Therefore, the government should not have the power to arbitrarily take away Rights and then allow citizens to beg to get them back (ACLU version).  The government should bear the burden of proving why the citizen’s Rights should be taken away BEFORE the Rights are taken (NRA version).

 To see how absurd the ACLU’s plan is, try substituting other rights.  “Journalists on the No Truth List are forbidden to publish anything bad about Hillary Clinton.  But you can request a special waiver to get off the list.”   Or how about “Women on the No Fetus List are forbidden to get an abortion.  But you can submit an application to get your name removed from the list.”  Can you imagine the ACLU’s response?

 Justice Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion to the new Whole Women’s Health abortion case, saying: “ . . . our Constitution renounces the notion that come constitutional rights are more equal than others.”  Too bad it’s only a dissent; the country would be better off if more people believed that.

 Joe Doakes

The big problem is that a majority of Americans have no idea what a “right” is.

Diagnosis

Andy Aplikowski – long of the “Residual Forces” blog – writes re the Brexit on Facebook:

So it appears the only people still whining about ‪#‎BREXIT‬ are:

1) European politicians who will lose power.
2) American politicians afraid of Federalism and State’s rights catching on in the US.
3) Filthy rich who lost a “crap ton” of money due to stock market and currency corrections.

The rest of the world doesn’t seem to be permanently affected. Maybe we should have more votes of no confidence in the people who are screwing up the world.

Line up the petitions.  I’m good to go.

Our Ever Changing Moods

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The movement to ban hate speech, especially on campus, reminds us that the political pendulum swings both ways.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, Britain’s laws were so strict that the Founders put Freedom of Speech first on the list of protected activities in our new country. Then the pendulum swung so far that pornography became protected speech. Now it’s swinging back again.

What would help is a more coherent explanation of WHY the more restrictive speech codes are required.  I’d like to hear a college president say:

“In Victorian times, women were considered too delicate for harsh and unseemly conversation. Speech was curtailed, lest it bring on spells of fainting and nervous agitation in women of tender sensibilities. For a time, American women were thought to be made of sterner stuff and regulations on speech were loosened to the point that nude dancing and cross burning were protected by “freedom of expression” but now, on college campuses everywhere, we see that American women are more like their Victorian ancestors than previously thought: unable to suffer the savagery of seeing the word “Trump” written in chalk; incapable of hearing English teachers read the title of Dick Gregory’s famous novel, “Nigger;” in desperate need of strong men in positions of authority to protect their fragile emotional state by punishing anyone who says anything that offends anyone.  I call on faculty and students here at Cocoon U. to cloister women, to keep their mental virtue untested, to pamper their feelings so they never have to grow to be strong, independent women who are fully equal to men.”

Joe Doakes

It’d help if public education did a better job – or any job at all – of explaining what “rights” are.

In turn, it would help if our public education system knew.

Rights

I’m not going to talk politics, here. I’m going to talk morality and ethics.

First: as a general rule, it’s considered immoral to make someone accountable and responsible for something, but to withhold the rights needed to carry that responsibility out. It’d be wrong to say “raise this kid!” without giving someone the rights to, y’know, raise the kid.

Right?

Second: If someone said to you “I have the right not to be hit by a tornado”, you’d think they were nuts – right? Your rights don’t affect nature – do they?

Likewise, if someone said “I have a right not to get hurt while driving”, you’d likely respond “there is no “right” to be exempt from bad luck, equipment failure, or even human negligence – your own, or someone else’s”.

No – in both cases, you have the *responsibilty* to protect yourself, and especially your family, from these dangers that nature, technology and human nature throw at you. You listen to the sirens and haul the kids down to the basement; you check your tires, you make sure your kids are belted in, and yourself to boot; you watch for drivers who seem impaired or reckless, and drive defensively. You have the *right* to take action to meet your responsibility to *avoid* having human nature, mechanical nature, or Mother Nature harm you and yours.

So in this past week and a half, since the atrocity in Orlando, a lot of people have been arguing about the Second Amendment. One line I’ve heard a lot is “your Second Amendment right doesn’t trump my right not to get shot!”, usually from people who think they’re making a show-stopper point.

They’re half right; the Second Amendment trumps nothing. Literally. Because there *is* no “right not to get shot”. There is only a responsibility to try to deter, deflect or end threats to your community, to you, and your family.

Like Mother Nature, human nature is full of ugly surprises and perversions; people who want to take what’s not theirs (criminals), people who think that violence is a means to a political end (terrorists), some who think killing is their ticket to immortality (rampage killers) and, every so often, someone who thinks their will to power is more important than your life, liberty and happiness; none of them have the “right” to do any of it, but that doesn’t prevent them from doing it anyway.

Do you have a “right” not to be affected by the worst human nature has to offer? In an abstract sense, maybe – but discussions of “rights” with criminals, terrorists, madmen and tyrants are about as useful as discussions with tornados and flat tires.

You don’t have a “right” not to be affected by perversions of human nature, any more than you have a right not to be affected by tornados, earthquakes or blowouts. But you do have that responsibility.

To meet that responsibility, you have rights; the right to take actions that protect everyone; you don’t need a permit to check your tires, to take your kids to the basement when the sirens go off [1]…

…and the *right* to defend you and yours from the worst of human nature with a firearm (among many, many other options – from speech, peer pressure and dogs, to locked doors and motion lights, through restraining orders, police calls and the like). The Second Amendment doesn’t grant this right; our creator did, just like our rights to speak, worship, publish, and so on. To try to suppress that right – the right to uphold that responsibility to protect ones self, community and family – is as immoral as giving people any other responsibility without rights.

There is no more “right not to get shot” than there is a “right to shoot people” [2].

——

OK, I lied. There’s some politics in here too.

Some people who should know better have been given to stroking their chins and intoning “y’know, the 2nd Amendment exists and is a right – but we’ve rolled back other rights, like the right to own slaves”.

Sure – we’ve changed the Constitution. The 13th Amendment abolished the “right” to own other humans – an institution that was morally repugnant BECAUSE it stripped away the other human’s rights. Basic principle, here: one person’s rights can not infringe other peoples’ rights.

But abolishing the Second Amendment – or more likely, trying to ban a class of firearms – has less in common with the 13th Amendment than the 18th, which banned alcohol. Like Prohibition, the gun grabbers believe that if they just regulate what people can get their hands on, they can repeal human nature itself!

Prohibition made everything that it was trying to help, even worse, and had unintended consequences that were far worse than the original problem (all-time high crime rates, ballooning government spending, contempt for the law).

Naturally, this’ll be different.

Anyway – you don’t, ever, get more freedom by taking other peoples’ freedom away.

[1] although don’t give the Saint Paul DFL any ideas

[2] other than in self-defense, naturally

And To The Banana Republic For Which It Stands

While our professional ninny class was jabbering about the Second Amendment (almost entirely to try to gin up enthusiasm for a geriatric white woman this November), America actually, quietly, and with the nodding approval of an ignorant majority, became an actual police state.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that evidence found by police officers after illegal stops may be used in court if the officers conducted their searches after learning that the defendants had outstanding arrest warrants.

The Fourth Amendment is as near-death today as the Second was thirty years ago, and for pretty much the same reasons; political expediency.

We, the people, brought the Second back to life. Who’s going to do it for the Fourth?

UPDATE:  The more I read about the actual case, Utah v. Strieff, the more nuance I see in the majority decision.

Which doesn’t change the fact that the Fourth Amendment has been beaten to a pulp this past 50 years.

Separation Of Powers

There’s a reason our founding fathers put an ironclad separation between the state and the military.

“I believe that our Constitution affords responsible Americans the right to own guns, but we need to keep dangerous people from having easy access to guns. Felons, domestic abusers, even known terrorists can buy a gun here without something as simple as a criminal background check. This has to stop,” retired Marine Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney said in a statement. “Our laws don’t support responsible gun ownership, and far too often guns fall into the hands of dangerous, irresponsible people.”

And, Gen. Cheney, when you tell us how it is that background checks will stop criminals, by all means let us know.  

 

And if there’s any talk of “terror watch lists”, clearly you didn’t know much about that “Freedom” stuff you were sworn to defend.  Sorry, Generals McCrystal and Petraeus; your input is not required, here.

When We Warn You…

…that the left is trying to get traditional western culture treated as a thoughtcrime, it‘s really not hyperbole:

Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist at Oxford University, said that recent developments suggest that we will soon be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness.

Big deal.  Breshnev was claiming the same thing 50 years ago.

Bonus:  art imitates life!  Kathleen Taylor of Oxford:

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 9.39.34 PM

Suzanna Hamilton in the movie (or was it?) 1984:

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 9.41.51 PM

Accidental?  I think not.

Big Brah Is Watching

A longtime friend of this blog writes in re h this story, about Hawaii jumping ahead of San Francisco and Chicago in terms of leaning on the law-abiding gun owner; they plan to enter all the state’s legal gun owners into a federal database: 

Scary enough that they are targeting gun owners.  MORE scary that the database they are talking about already exists

I would be very interested in finding out who currently meets the criteria to be included in the “Rap Back” database and is already entered into that database without their knowledge or acquiescence.

The database – no doubt product of an earlier generation of hysteria – tracks “people in positions of trust” – school teachers, bus drivers and the like, allowing authorities to find out quickly if one of them is arrested for anything.

Sounds acceptable, right?

On its surface, maybe.  But to provision the list you need…what?

To know every gun owner in the state.  Meaning the State of Hawaii has the data they need to beat down any law-abiding citizen’s door when they change their mind about the Second Amendment.

Open Letter To Minnesota Public Radio News

To: Minnesota Public Radio News
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Food For Thought

MPR,

Isn’t it annoying – to say the least – to have to subject your constitutional freedoms to theatrical, unproductive and degrading scrutiny by bureaucrats, to no useful end?

A few minutes after 8 o’clock Monday morning, [MPR Reporter] Mukhtar Ibrahim started filing through the security line at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis.
It was a big day for Ibrahim, and figured to be a long one: Day one of a high-profile trial for three local men accused of plotting to join ISIS fighters in Syria.

Ibrahim and a reporter for the Star Tribune approached the security screening and offered their bags for clearance by a security officer. The other reporter, who is white, passed right through and headed for the elevator. Ibrahim was stopped, and told he couldn’t go in yet. He would have to wait for the time when the court opened to the public.

If it saves even one life…!

Ibrahim protested, pulling out a press badge showing he works for Minnesota Public Radio. Not good enough, the officer said. Go wait with the rest of the public.

Ibrahim didn’t argue and instead just collected his wallet, keys, and bag, and went to wait with public spectators. The way Ibrahim figures, he shouldn’t have even needed to flash the badge. He’s been covering cases there for a year and a half: These guys should recognize him by now.

People with a long, proven record of not abusing free speech are almost never a danger!

On Monday, once Ibrahim and the rest of the non-journalists observers there for the trial were let in, he simply walked across the courtroom to the area sectioned-off for members of the media and sat down. But the episode continued to eat at him.

“It messed up my mood the whole day,” Ibrahim said. “I was just really frustrated. I didn’t expect this.”

It is frustrating, isn’t it?  Trying to go about your business, doing something you have a Constitutional right to do, and getting badgered by petty bureaucrats?

“I like to stick to the facts,” Ibrahim said, “so I’ll let people make their own conclusions of this.”

The obvious answer; force all reporters to take a background check.

That’ll fix it.

That is all.

Freedom For We But Not For Thee

The press isn’t so crazy about background checks – when it’s their freedom this being walked all over:

For the first time this year, the Secret Service has a hand in credentialing the media; during previous conventions only the Congressional press galleries were in charge of credentialing the media…[Buzzfeed “editor” John Stanton] Stanton cited concerns about the background checks, the lack of a clear appeals process, and the involvement of a third-party subcontractor, urging his fellow journalists to express their concern over the process.“It seems like an unnecessary step and it gives them in my mind a new and troubling precedence to try and exert authority over the press corps,” Stanton said in an interview. “It creates a logistical burden, a troubling precedent for their ability to have almost a de facto say in who is qualified to be a reporter at these events. What if they use this as precedent to extend to other campaign events or any government events?”

Right – but if it saves just one life…

Big Brother Is Watching

Remember way back, when the left wanted the government out of people’s bedrooms?

Either does the Left.    A liberal legal conclave is debating moving “affirmative consent” laws off of campus and to the general population:

The American Law Institute will vote in May on whether to adopt a model penal code that would make “affirmative consent” the official position of the organization. Affirmative consent — or “yes means yes” — policies have already been adopted by many colleges and universities, and have been passed as law in California and New York.

In my dreams, Hillary Clinton appoints Melissa Click as Attorney General…

The ACLU Vs. The First Amendment, Freedom, and “Choice”

So if you take the idea of “choice” on moral issues  – like, say, abortion – seriously, then people are supposed to be able to make “choices” about participating in the practice.

Because the First Amendment protects freedom of conscience!

And the ACLU protects the First Amendment.  Right?

Well

A federal judge just tossed the ACLU’s suit against a chain of Catholic hospitals, because he found that the plaintiff’s claim that women were “harmed” by having to look for, y’know, a non-Catholic hospital to get an abortion was specious:

On Monday, weeks before oral arguments were scheduled to take place, Judge Gershwin E. Drain of the U.S. district court for Eastern Michigan dismissed the suit, calling the ACLU’s claims “dubious.” It’s tempting to follow suit and dismiss from our minds the agenda underlying the ACLU’s legal action. But we can’t afford to do that.

Emphasis added:

Think about it: The ACLU argued that a hospital should require its doctors and nurses to perform abortions even if the hospital recognizes that a new human life begins at conception and holds that the moral weight of abortion is no less than that of taking the life of a born person. The playing field is shifting under our feet. This lawsuit wasn’t about “choice” at all; it was about ensuring that medical professionals can’t act on their beliefs if they clash with assumptions that are politically in vogue. Rather than invoke the old mantra that abortion is between a woman and her doctor, the ACLU did the opposite, arguing that the government should be involved in decisions for abortion by stipulating that others participate in them.

The goal, of course, is to make abortion safe, legal, and enforceable under thoughtcrime statutes.

It’s Probably A Good Thing It’s Raining Out

Mike Freeman is set to announce whether there will be charges in the Jamar Clark shooting at 10:30 this morning.

Fox9 reports that Freeman will also show a number of videos – likely the ones that “Black Lives Matter” has been clamoring for.

My guess – and it’s only a guess?  The videos will support the officers’ side of the story, and Freeman will announce no charges.  Since Freeman isn’t running for office again, he can be the target for the community’s ire, taking some of the heat off of Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau.   Again – it’s my speculation.

UPDATE:  No charges will be filed against the officers.

UPDATE 2:  Freeman is showing the videos.

UPDATE 3:  Nekima Pounds-Levy apparently wants to have quotas for charging and convicting officers.

UPDATE 4:  Did someone just threaten to burn the city down?

UPDATE 5:  Question from social media; “who let BLM (Pounds-Levy) into the press conference?”   Answer:  The same people who let them out onto 35W without repercussion.  The cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have coddled BLM more than they would any other protest group.

The Terrorists Are Pretty Much Winning

This observation is a whack upside the head (emphasis added):

Some U.S. counter-terrorism officials say much of the gap between Washington and Belgium — and some other European countries — is cultural. Europeans’ deeper commitment to personal privacy sometimes prevents or delays sharing of information such as travel data — that is taken for granted in the United States.

The idea that Europe – the contintent of sheep-like government-addled socialized drones who gave us Naziism, Socialism, Communism and Soccer – have more commitment to personal privacy than the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is a jab in the gut.

The Difference Between Obama And Reagan, Part MMMXM

If Barack Obama had been president in the 1980s, he’d have extended the Russians a line of credit to help them forestall bankruptcy (for a while, anyway) and keep a fresh coat of paint on the Berlin Wall . He’s have opened the nation up to trade and “public-private partnerships” (by companies that agreed to play ball with the Soviets, of course).  And he’d ahve not only thrown Solidarity and the legions of the Soviets’ political prisoners under the bus, but stomped on them a few times to keep them there and out of the way, incapable of sidetracking the narrative.

Thankfully, Obama was not president.  Reagan was.

[After Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire” – how un-Obama-like can you get?], Anatoly Shcharansky was in the Gulag. (After, he would become Natan Sharansky.) He and his fellow zeks heard what Reagan had done. Had the American president really called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”? Yes. Years later, Sharansky reflected:

“It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union.”

Barack Obama has thrown the Castros a lifeline – which, with the demise of the USSR and the disintegration of Venezuela, their major benefactors this past fifty years, they need to avoid being put, eventually, to the pike.  He was “opened” the country (to those who will play ball with the Castros, the Castros way).

And he’s just re-upped the sentence for every human rights and liberties dissident on the island.

I’m ashamed of this president.  That’s nothing new, of course.  But it never gets easier.

The Slogan-Based Life

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is at a hardware store, shopping for a chainsaw sharpener, when around the corner steps Bud GUNKEL, chairman of the CD2 chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”.  

GUNKEL:  Hey, Merg.  The only way to fix the system is…

BERG:  …yeah, I heard it.  To “withhold your consent from it“.   Feel free to tell the IRS, the BATFE and the Minnesota Department of Revenue you’ve “withheld your consent”; I’m sure everyone will get a good laugh but you.

GUNKEL:  He who would trade freedom for security…

BERG:  …deserves neither.  Good Lord, Bill, do you people ever communicate in anything but the form of clichés?   I mean, do you even know what that means?

GUNKEL:  It means he who would trade liberty for security deserves…

BERG:  …neither.  Yep, I got that.  Again.  I mean, have you thought through what it means?

GUNKEL:   What are you talking about?  What else could there be?

BERG:  Here’s another quote for you; without order, prosperity is impossible.  Without prosperity, liberty is pointless.

GUNKEL:  So you’d give up…

BERG:  …no, no, no, stop right there.   Here’s a quote back atcha; without order, prosperity is impossible.

GUNKEL:  So you want to be like a herd animal…

BERG:  No.  “Order” is a very broad term!   It just means that there’s a general understanding that everyone is playing by the same rules, and that if you bring you product to market, there’ll be consequences for people who try to steal it on the way to the market, or swindle you when they get there.

“Order” can mean “a voluntary agreement that whose end of, everyone holds up”, like the anarchists say; that’s perfectly legitimate.  And it can mean full-blown Danish bureaucracy regulating the transaction, or a medieval baron making sure everyone upholds their end of the bargain for the good of his fiefdom.   And the whole American experiement was built around the idea that order should be maintained with the minimum amount of government and force possible – while allowing for the inevitability, given human nature, that some was likely to be needed at some point.

GUNKEL:  So you mean government!  Government is theft!  Nothing but!

BERG:  Sure, if you let it get out of control.  And we in the US largely have, and that’s a very valid discussion to have.  But the fact is, human nature being what it is, it’s inevitable that if the means of keeping order disappear, while 99% of the people will be just fine, there’s that 1% who’ll decide that what they want is what you got.  It can be a mugger, it can be those accursed Methodists, it can be that whole group of people over the ridge that think your ancestors stole from their ancestors, whatever.

GUNKEL:  So you’re a warvangelical?

BERG:  No – I merely observe human nature.  As I observed in my book, while the vast majority of humans are perfectly content to live and work and produce and interact peacefully, there are some that prefer to take what others produce.  It’s just easier.

GUNKEL: So  you’d give up freedom for thirteen pieces of silver?

BERG:  Wow – way to mix milieus.  Here’s another quote for you:  without prosperity, freedom is irrelevant.  If you don’t have prosperity – if you’re a hunter-gatherer or a subsistence farmer – “freedom” is a very relative thing.  You’re free to speak and worship and assemble – but you’re busy seeing to your survival from dawn to dusk, year-round, like a medieval fyrd.  Which means not only are your more abstruse freedoms irrelevant, but you have neither the time nor the energy to see to things like prosperity and order – making you ripe pickings for anyone who wants to take what you’ve worked for.  And this time you’ll have no surplus to see to your very survival!   Which is, by the way, a condition that also makes you ripe pickings for whomever would call himself your king, either against your will or, as tired and close to starvation as you are by this point, with your full consent.

GUNKEL:  So you will trade freedom for security!  Hah!

BERG:  You make it sound like a binary, black or white thing.

GUNKEL:  It is!    If you don’t have all the freedom, you have none of it!

BERG:   That’s just madness.  You say because the American people have given up some freedom, we’re no different than North Korea?

And no.  I won’t trade my freedom, all or nothing, for security – not while I have anything to say about it.   I will, as a constituent of a limited government that has a few carefully-enumerated jobs, engage some agents to keep the order we all need.  And no more.

GUNKEL:  That’s not how government works today!

BERG:  You’re telling me!  Y’see, that’s the problem with “libertarians”; they take poli-sci class absolutes and try to apply them to the real world.   So I’ll do it back atcha:  without prosperity, freedom is academic; without order, prosperity is impossible.  Therefore, without order, paradoxically, freedom is impossible.

GUNKEL:  So you say freedom is impossible?

BERG:   Nope.  I am saying that while absolute tyranny is very possible, absolute freedom cannot exist in a world where others have the “will to power” to become tyrants.

There is a trade-off; it’s the job of a free people to simultaneously see to the order that enables the prosperity that makes freedom possible, and make sure the “order” they create doesn’t become oppressive.

GUNKEL:  All involuntary order is oppressive!

BERG:  So you throw off a “government” that governs by consent of the governed…

GUNKEL:  Yes!

BERG:   And live in a world with only “gentlemens agreements” for order…

GUNKEL:  Yes!

BERG:   So that you can be conquered or killed by someone who took advantage of the fact that you have no means to see to public order?

GUNKEL:  Er…yes!  Better dead than…er…

BERG:  Naturally.

And SCENE