I hate Obamacare as much as anyone, but enough with the fire departments already. I have a feeling this is the same scare tactic nonsense that liberals use every time they're threatened with spending cuts.
The core of the argument made at a conference last month at the University of Akron by the political scientists Edward Carmines of Indiana University, Michael Ensley of Kent State University and Michael Wagner of the University of Wisconsin lies in the graphic representation in Figure 1, which shows the distribution of political orientations in the United States.Here's what they found (and the promised Figure 1):
According to their analysis of American National Election Studies poll data from the last 40 years, the electorate is divided into five ideological categories: liberals, who make up 19 percent of voters; conservatives, 27 percent; libertarians, 22 percent; populists, 11 percent; and, in the lighter gray center, moderates, at 21 percent.
A photo drama played out in a sequence of pictures today at the Mandela memorial.
The sequence seems to have started with Obama, Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron posing for a ‘selfie’, followed by Obama touching Thorning-Schmidt on her shoulder, then a glaring Michelle Obama, ending up in Barack and Michelle switching seats so that she is now sitting next to Thorning-Schmidt.
Michelle was not amused…
First lady appears to fail to see the funny side as her husband jokes with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
This is the best explanation of the Bitcoin protocol that I have read.
If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago….
The term “police state” was once brushed off by mainstream intellectuals as the hyperbole of paranoids. Not so much anymore. Even in the tweediest precincts of the legal system, the over-criminalization of American life is remarked upon with greater frequency and intensity. “You’re probably a (federal) criminal” is the accusatory title of a widely read essay co-authored by Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. A Republican appointee, Kozinski surveys the morass of criminal laws that make virtually every American an easy target for law enforcement. Veteran defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate has written an entire book about how an average American professional could easily commit three felonies in a single day without knowing it.The daily overkill of police power in the US goes a long way toward explaining why more Americans aren’t outraged by the “excesses” of the war on terror, which, as one law professor has argued, are just our everyday domestic penal habits exported to more exotic venues. It is no less true that the growth of domestic police power is, in this positive feedback loop, the partial result of our distant foreign wars seeping back into the homeland (the “imperial boomerang” that Hannah Arendt warned against).Many who have long railed against our country’s everyday police overkill have reacted to the revelations of NSA surveillance with detectable exasperation: of course we are over-policed! Some have even responded with peevish resentment: Why so much sympathy for this Snowden kid when the daily grind of our justice system destroys so many lives without comment or scandal? After all, in New York, the police department’s “stop and frisk” tactic, which targets African American and Latino working-class youth for routinized street searches, was until recently uncontroversial among the political and opinion-making class. If “the gloves came off” after September 11, 2001, many Americans were surprised to learn they had ever been on to begin with.A hammer is necessary to any toolkit. But you don’t use a hammer to turn a screw, chop a tomato, or brush your teeth. And yet the hammer remains our instrument of choice, both in the conduct of our foreign policy and in our domestic order. The result is not peace, justice, or prosperity but rather a state that harasses and imprisons its own people while shouting ever less intelligibly about freedom.
Read the whole thing. The article by Judge Kozinski appears in my book, In the Name of Justice, found on the home page here.
On Monday, the National Journal reported that "documents filed by other groups show that two labor organizations, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Laborers' International Union of North America, directed a combined $400,000 to the Republican group [the Defending Main Street super PAC] in September and October."
The Defending Main Street super PAC was organized at the end of 2012 by former Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-OH), and has very publicly declared war on the Tea Party. It is affiliated with and has offices at the same location as the Republican Main Street Project, which LaTourette currently heads and which former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) led from 2009 to 2012.
The group will not be required to file its first financial report with the Federal Election Commission until January 15, 2014, but earlier press reports indicate that it claims to have already raised $4 million of a planned $8 million to defeat Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries.
In October, LaTourette told the National Journal that "we'll go into eight to ten races and beat the snot out of them [Tea Party candidates] . . . We're going to be very aggressive and we're going to get in their faces."
Tea Party activists around the country were not surprised that the Republican establishment has enlisted the financial support of unions in their efforts to defeat limited government policies. Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party, told Breitbart News on Monday "this confirms our belief that Washington, D.C. is about one thing and that is power. Whatever method will allow those in D.C. to keep power will be used."
Image source: Buildingoneamerica.org
A supposed Google employee who was filmed Monday antagonizing a group of anti-Google protesters was apparently planted there by a union organizer.
Demonstrators in San Francisco are protesting Google’s economic impact on the area, claiming the company’s ultra-wealthy employees are driving up prices for low-income residents. Some protesters decided to express their frustration by blocking one of Google’s employee shuttles.
And while those protesters blocked the Google bus, a man originally identified as a Google employee was filmed yelling at them to leave the area if they’re broke.
“I can pay my rent! Can you pay your rent?… Well, then, you know what? Why don’t you go to a city where you can afford it? ‘Cause this is a city for the right people who can afford it!” he yells, according to a transcript provided by Breitbart News. “If you can’t afford it, it’s time for you to leave…. I’m sorry…. If you can’t pay your rent, I’m sorry — get a better job!”
Here’s video of the supposed “confrontation” (via the San Francisco Bay Guardian):
“But it turns out the whole thing was staged,” Business Insider’s Steve Kovach reported, citing Joe Fitz Rodriguez, the reporter who uploaded the video.
The supposed “Googler” is an activist named Max Bell Alper and he was reportedly put there by a union organizer, Rodriguez said in a tweeted.
In fact, as BI points out, the so-called “Googler” even states in his biography on Making Change Media that he’s a local activist.
So, no, a Google employee didn’t go out of his way to harangue protesters. An activist was placed there to make a scene.
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A 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy was suspended from school for making an imaginary bow out of his pencil, pulling back an imaginary string and shooting an imaginary arrow in October. Now, his parents have legal help and are trying to fight back.
A Pennsylvania 10-year-old was suspended for pretending his pencil was a bow that he used to make an imaginary arrow shooting motion. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
Johnny Jones, a fifth-grade student at South Eastern School District in Fawn Grove, Pa., joins the ranks of other students who seem to have violated zero-tolerance weapons policies in schools around the country with their pretend weapons made from their fingers or even breakfast pastries.
“[Schools] fighting against anything that’s a gun or weapon of any kind,” John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” told TheBlaze Monday.
These zero-tolerance policies are not only “criminalizing childish behavior,” but they’re “criminalizing the imagination,” Whitehead said.
Here’s how The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties organization that’s defending the fifth-grade student and requesting that the weapons violation and suspension be removed from his record, described what happened:
The incident took place the week of October 14th, when fifth grader Johnny Jones asked his teacher for a pencil during class. Jones walked to the front of the classroom to retrieve the pencil, and during his walk back to his seat, a classmate and friend of Johnny’s held his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at Johnny. Johnny playfully used his hands to draw the bowstrings on a completely imaginary “bow” and “shot” an arrow back. Seeing this, another girl in the class reported to the teacher that the boys were shooting at each other. The teacher took both Johnny and the other boy into the hall and lectured them about disruption. The teacher then contacted Johnny’s mother, Beverly Jones, alerting her to the “seriousness” of the violation because the children were using “firearms” in their horseplay, and informing her that the matter had been referred to the Principal. Principal John Horton contacted Ms. Jones soon thereafter in order to inform her that Johnny’s behavior was a serious offense that could result in expulsion under the school’s weapons policy. Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.
Jones was suspended for a day for his actions.
It’s not only failing to recognize that the student’s intent was in play, not a threat, but the application of the school’s policy to punish Jones that Whitehead said was inappropriate. The South Eastern School District’s zero-tolerance policy for “Weapons, Ammunition and other Hazardous Items” prohibits “weapons,” which it defines as a “knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.” The school’s code of conduct elaborated upon this policy banning replicas of such weapons as well.
To Whitehead, these policies should not include the imaginary bow and arrow action made by Jones.
“The policies need to apply to actual guns, actual threats and actual intent,” Whitehead said, encouraging policies to be revised to reflect this sentiment.
The South Eastern School District was closed due to weather Monday and a representative could not be reached for comment.
Whitehead said schools slapping students with weapons violations in cases like this have lingering effects.
“This does affect kids psychologically. Politically correct bureaucrats are not thinking at all what they’re doing to kids,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead said the South Eastern School District has until Friday to respond to the institute’s letter requesting that this be wiped from Jones’ record. If they don’t respond, Whitehead said it will be up to his parents to decide if they wish to press for further legal action.
In the mean time, Whitehead said he tells students “don’t joke around in school today,” fearing they could get in trouble.
Featured image via Shutterstock
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This was received in e-mail from Lois Kaneshiki, chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Pennsylvania.
We were just alerted that there could be a committee vote on SB999, the Liberty Preservation Act, this week!
The Liberty Preservation Act makes it illegal for Pennsylvania law enforcement to assist the federal government in using the egregious sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to detain citizens indefinitely, without a warrant or any of our Constitutionally-protected due process rights!
We need you to do the following early this week:
Find your state senator here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/index.cfm
Senator Wiley (minority Chair)
Thank our courageous co-sponsors!
Senator Folmer (prime sponsor)
Senator Hutchinson (committee Chair)
Thank you for helping us fight for liberty in Pennsylvania!
Republican Liberty Caucus
Learn more about the Liberty Preservation Act SB999 here:
Become a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus today via paypal!
Ontario schools should allow students with asthma to carry puffers with them in case of emergencies, says the mother of a 12-year-old boy who died when no one could get his inhaler in time because it was locked in the principal's office.
As outrageous as this story is, the school isn't the problem. That we have an entire generation of parents who will stand passively aside while a school confiscates a child's life-saving medication is the problem.
The poor fools at ThinkProgress are in denial.
That’s the only way to describe the latest screed from their blog declaring the Tenth Amendment dead as a political issue.
The logic behind this article is that since Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost an extremely close Virginia governor’s race, the 10th Amendment is dead. This is mainly because Cuccinelli showed opposition to ObamaCare and sympathy toward it being nullified. He also said some words about charity not being the function of government. Therefore, Tenthers are evil and over.
It’s obvious that this article’s writer, Ian Millhiser, has not been checking our legislative tracker. If he had done that, he wouldn’t be so ignorant on the topic of 10th Amendment and nullification to pronounce it a dead issue. He would easily see that there is a tremendous amount of state resistance coming from all across the country targeting a wide range of issues including Obamacare, NSA spying, NDAA indefinite detention and marijuana. All of this success was conveniently ignored so the author could have room for more spin and immature popshots.
In fact, progressives like Millhiser should be thrilled with some of the issues Tenthers are focused on. Two of the greatest successes came about last year when Colorado and Washington asserted their state sovereignty and legalized recreational marijuana, nullifying long-standing federal law. If he’s really so anti 10th Amendment, perhaps Millhiser’s should get busy chiding the people of Washington and Colorado. Why isn’t he hurling baseless insults at the people of those states?
No, he doesn’t want to even address the Tenth Amendment angle of the marijuana issue – or the state pushback against NSA spying and NDAA indefinite detention – because he wants to suck his readers into his warped, hyper-partisan view of society.
The Tenth Amendment Center is working with the left and the right and everybody in between to bring people together in the fight for freedom. We work at uniting people against the evil Washington D.C. establishment, and we are proud to say that we are having more success than ever.
To quote Mark Twain, reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.
With your help, we’re going to keep expanding and being the thorn in the side of the Ian Millhiser’s of the world for many years to come.
1. “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.”
~William Howard Taft referring to the temperance movement of the early 1900s that was a major force in America’s First War on
Drugs Peaceful Americans Who Chose to Use Intoxicants Not Currently Approved of by the Government, Who Will Lock Users Up in Cages if Caught.
2. “Once men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others they are not easily cured of it.”
~The NY Times editorializing in 1909 against the federal income tax.
MP: Unfortunately, our tolerance of: a) busybodies telling other people how to behave, and b) the practice of theft by taxation and civil forfeiture, has increased over the last 100 years, and the War on Drugs has contributed to both forms of despicable behavior.
We have highlighted here many times the almost insane “zero tolerance” policies at school wherein students are disciplined, suspended and expelled for biting a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, bringing Quarter coin-sized gun keychain charms to school, and even pointing a pencil and saying “bang.”
Now another case.
A fifth grader is suspended and faces expulsion for shooting an imaginary bow and arrow at school mimicking The Hunger Games.
Megyn Kelly reports (video at bottom of post):
A fifth grader in Georgia [note: original report has since been corrected to reflect Pennsylvania] has been suspended for shooting an imaginary arrow at a classmate. The 10-year-old also faces possible expulsion.
The Rutherford Institute, which is defending Johnny Jones, says he was told he violated the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons. They’re working to get the suspension reversed and lifted from his permanent record.
On Friday night’s The Kelly File, defense attorney Jonna Spilbor reacted to the ordeal. “Here’s how ridiculous it is. If we’re going to punish this poor kid for pretending to shoot a bow and arrow, let’s ticket his parents for parking their unicorn in a fire zone.”
The school is defending its decision:
Principal John Horton contacted Ms. Jones soon thereafter in order to inform her that Johnny’s behavior was a serious offense that could result in expulsion under the school’s weapons policy. Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.
According to the South Eastern School District’s Zero Tolerance policy for “Weapons, Ammunition and other Hazardous Items,” the district prohibits the possession of “weapons,” defined as including any “knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.” The Student Code further prohibits any “replica” or “look-alike” weapon, and requires that the school Principal immediately contact the appropriate police department, complete an incident report to file with the school Superintendent, and begin the process of mandatory expulsion immediately.
(Featured Image Source: Hunger Games Preview)
This week’s announcement that New York magazine was becoming a biweekly was greeted, in my profession, with the sort of cheer that might herald the announcement of a sewer line backup or a mid-honeymoon appendectomy.What I find remarkable is how many of these institutions will glumly permit themselves to sink into oblivion without ever doing anything to significantly address the core issues. CNN is going to try to compete with every other network showing reality shows rather than make any attempt to appeal to the other half of the ideological spectrum. New York magazine has gone to a biweekly rather than attempt to broaden its appeal beyond liberals who live in New York and liberals who wish they did.
New York magazine is very successful. Its editor is very well regarded, and it wins lots of awards. It gets scads of Web traffic. It publishes magazine features that win the admiration of fellow journalists and has also become practically ubiquitous on social media. And, apparently, it still can’t pay the bills as a weekly publication. Hearing that New York magazine can’t make it as a weekly is, for a professional journalist, rather like being told that your teddy bear has cancer. How is that even possible?
The answer is that the circulation of print magazines is declining, while advertising revenue has taken a suicidal plunge. Companies who wanted to inform people about their firm’s activities used to have basically three choices: print media, television or radio. (OK, four if you count billboards.) These were all media companies, and they used the money corporations gave them to produce news.
Wilmington was a dumping ground for the Underground Railroad. Thank the progressive social engineers of the pre-civil war period for giving us the gift that keeps on giving. The South had "slaves" that were loved and treated like family, just like Gone With The Wind. There were others who ran away to Wilmington with a chip on their shoulder.
The last 60 years of modern social engineering were the nails in the casket of this once thriving city. I blame people like Joe Biden who was a rabid supporter of forced busing in the 70's . The liberals dismantled civilization in Delaware and it was not just politicians, but also the blind liberal Christians.
p.s. - Look at all the shootings, murders and crime that are near the 4th & West location that assisted the runaways. The heyday of Wilmington was reached in 1880 when we had approximately 50,000 ? manufacturing jobs. Now we have next to nothing and what's left is fading fast.Thanks, Michael Pawlikowksi, for setting us all straight.
A compilation of several video clips showing dogs afraid to walk by their feline counterparts went viral on the Internet this week.
The video, uploaded Thursday and titled “You Shall Not Pass, Dog,” had over 725,000 views at the time of publication.
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Like most government agencies, the NSA lacks a sense of humor; instead, it has paranoia, which can be unintentionally comic. Case in point: The agency's recent cease-and-desist letter to Dan McCall, an online vendor whose parody t-shirts raised NSA hackles. The agency, along with the Department of Homeland Security, cites copyright infringement—it's illegal to appropriate the NSA logo for commercial use (especially after it's been "mutilated"). Depending on your mood, the crackdown on satire is either disproportionate enough to be amusing, or totalitarian enough to be, well, totalitarianism.
Simon Menner's new photobook, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archive, reminds us that the difference between terror and kitsch is mostly one of proximity. Per the book's subtitle, the images were culled from the vast archives of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, which spied on, bugged, interrogated, intimidated, murdered, and otherwise bullied its citizenry for 40 years. According to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor turned Nazi-hunter, the Stasi was "much, much worse than the Gestapo, if you consider only the oppression of its own people."
Indeed, the numbers are staggering: When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Stasi records show that it had 91,000 employees on the payroll, along with around 173,000 unofficial collaborators. Given East Germany's population of 17 million, this amounts to one informer per 6.5 citizens—or, as author John O. Koehler more viscerally puts it, "It would not have been unreasonable to assume that at least one Stasi informer was present in any party of 10 or 12 dinner guests." In Koehler's book Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, former Stasi Colonel Rainer Wiegand estimated that the total number of informers was as high as two million.
Think about what that means. Phones were tapped, mail was intercepted and read, families betrayed each other, apartment buildings and hotels crawled with informers, surveillance cameras abounded. A special division was tasked with inspecting garbage, while holes drilled into walls became the unofficial calling card of Stasi spooks. On the threshold of German reunification, approximately six million people were under surveillance.
All of this was part of a more systematic program called zersetzung ("decomposition") that wreaked psychological havoc across East Germany. The idea was to disrupt people's sense of normalcy by employing "soft torture" techniques. "Tactics included removing pictures from walls, replacing one variety of tea with another, and even sending a vibrator to a target's wife," noted the Guardian. "Usually victims had no idea the Stasi were responsible. Many thought they were going mad; some suffered breakdowns; a few killed themselves."
Repressive regimes around the globe turned to the Stasi for its surveillance bona fides: The secret police of Angola, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Syria, Uganda, and Yemen were all clients. In the 1980s, the Stasi and the KGB collaborated to spread propaganda that HIV/AIDS originated in US government laboratories (PDF). And an investigation leaked in 2011 suggested a link between the Stasi and Horst Mahler, a founding member of West Germany's Red Army Faction (also known as Baader-Meinhof), raising questions about just how deeply the spy agency had infiltrated its anti-communist neighbor.
Once it became apparent that the Iron Curtain was fraying, Stasi agents scrambled to destroy incriminating documents, including thousands of photographs. On January 15, 1990, protestors stormed Stasi headquarters and prevented a complete wipeout. That October, a newly reunified Germany established a government agency, BStU, to preserve the old records, which were declassified two years later. Millions of Germans have been able to share the surreal experience of perusing their own surveillance reports.
Menner spent two years combing the vast archives—a combined 50 miles of shelving that included 1.4 million photographs, slides, and negatives. His book is divided into chapters with innocuous titles such as "Wigs and their Application," "How to Apply Fake Facial Hair," and "Disguising as Western Tourists." There's a tension—which these titles exploit—between our inclination to read the photos as kitsch and the ominous history they represent. The photos were rehearsals for surveillance, arrest, interrogation, and blackmail; they are unnerving mementos of a government intoxicated by control. And what seems quaint or campy or mundane at first blush is harrowing in retrospect.
Case in point: the Polaroids that Stasi agents took during their routine home break-ins. These shots of kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, which depict life in a typical East German apartment, have a bland predatory quality—a knowingness—that's disturbing. Equally so is Menner's note that agents used the Polaroids as a reference for returning a room to its prior state after ransacking it. The artlessness of the images only intensifies their eeriness.
Elsewhere, the book offers a field guide for espionage. Agents demonstrate secret hand signals, shadow suspects, and rendezvous on desolate roads. Mock arrests are staged in dismal rooms, the agents' faces inexpertly redacted with a black Sharpie. Houses are searched and possessions cataloged. Unease tinges a photo of a teenager's bedroom wallpapered with Madonna clippings—Western sympathies, if simply of the pop-culture variety, could be cause for an investigation, or worse.
Top Secret is a timely rejoinder to those who argue that the NSA is a necessary evil, and it's even more timely in light of the revelation that the NSA targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for eavesdropping. The US is not East Germany, and the NSA is not the Stasi, but they share a common taproot of fear. While the NSA may not resort to the Stasi's cruelest methods, it lords over one of the most sophisticated and pervasive intelligence apparatuses on the planet. Would it be surprising if, decades from now, someone found similar relics in the NSA archive?
But the NSA recently offered this comforting nugget to the Washington Post: "The notion of constant, unchecked, or senseless growth is a myth." So relax, your secrets are safe.
Jason Anthony Ryan from Davison, Michigan, was charged on Tuesday with the murder of Geraldine Montgomery, a crime for which another man, Jamie Lee Peterson, has been serving time in prison since 1997.
In 1996, Montgomery was beaten, raped and murdered. She was found in the trunk of her car in the garage of her home in the small town of Kalkaska, Michigan.
NBCnews.com reports that Peterson became the prime suspect four months after the murder when a jailhouse informant told investigators that Peterson, who was in jail for an unrelated sex charge, claimed to commit the crime. After a series of interrogations, Peterson confessed to the police. Although Peterson recanted just days later, police insisted that Peterson was guilty because he provided telling details about the crime that only the perpetrator would have known. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole.
While DNA testing of semen left on the victim's shirt was unable to identify the source, testing of the rape kit excluded Peterson. Police said that the inconclusive results revealed that another perpetrator was present at the crime scene.
Michigan News reports that earlier this year, at the request of Peterson's former attorney, the Michigan Innocence Clinic re-investigated the case and worked with the state police and Kalkaska's new prosecutor to get new DNA testing of the evidence. The results identified Ryan as the source of the semen from both the rape kit and the victim's shirt.
According to A.J. Dixon, the University of Michigan law student who has led the Michigan Innocence Clinic's work on the Peterson case: " 'There is absolutely no reliable evidence that there are multiple perpetrators involved. And there is zero evidence that Peterson and Ryan had ever even met each other before the crime, let alone that they were friends or co-conspirators. It takes an incredible amount of mental gymnastics to conclude anything but the arrest of Ryan proves Peterson is innocent.'"
Police interviewed Ryan as part of the investigation in 1996. He was living with a man, now deceased, who lived just two blocks away from the victim. As part of the investigation, police took a saliva sample from Ryan, but that sample was never tested. He was ruled out as a suspect after he passed a polygraph test.
The Michigan Innocence Clinic is working with the Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions on Peterson's case. A motion for a new trial will be filed on December 25.
" 'I would certainly say that the true perpetrator being arrested is enormous and enormously important,' " Dixon told the Michigan Daily. " 'We're not going to be satisfied until Jamie Lee Peterson has been released.' "
One definition of a pathological liar is someone who lies where the truth would serve just as well. When President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, was arrested in 2011 for drunk driving, the truth — that Obama had stayed with his uncle years earlier for several weeks as a Harvard law student — would have served the president just fine. No potential Obama voter would have held it against him that an uncle he had stayed with two decades earlier was picked up for DUI.
Yet the White House went with a lie, claiming that Obama had never met his uncle.
Now that the lie has been exposed, thanks to testimony from “Uncle Omar” at his deportation hearing, the White House says it got its facts wrong. Why? Chiefly because it relied on Obama’s book Dreams From My Father, which contained no reference to uncle Omar.
How ridiculous is this? We are asked to believe that instead of checking with Obama, the only available person who could know the extent of his relationship with Omar, his flacks issued a denial based on book that doesn’t even purport to be autobiographically accurate.
Dreams From My Father does not, of course, provide a definitive list of Obama’s acquaintances. But more than this, Obama has said that the book uses pseudonyms and contains composite (or “compressed”) characters. Thus, it would make no sense to deny Uncle Omar’s existence based on his non-appearance in the book.
So what explains the denial? The most straightforward explanation is pathological lying — the impulse to deny, deny, deny whenever an embarrassing story, even an essentially innocuous one, appears. In this scenario, staff (perhaps at Obama’s direction; perhaps not) decided to deny that Obama had met Uncle Omar provided there was nothing in Obama’s book, or elsewhere in the record, that would show otherwise. Believing they could get away with the lie, they lied.
But Stanley Kurtz suggests a more sophisticated explanation. Stanley suspects, based on his experience with Team Obama’s responses to potentially embarrassing stories he has uncovered, that it is Obama’s policy not to have staff ask him about his past.
This policy enables Obama to avoid confirming embarrassing stories without having to lie. Staff can then deny, or at least not confirm, the story. If the story turns out to be true, Obama can blame his staff. Staff, while taking an obvious hit, can blame sloppy research and thus defend against accusations of lying.
Under either explanation — pathological lying or willful failure to learn the truth — we’re at a sad place. An administration that can’t be trusted accurately to provide basic biographical information about the president is an administration that can’t be trusted to provide accurate information about anything.
What we have in Barack Obama is not “the most transparent administration in history” but the most convoluted one. And we have this convoluted presidency not because Obama is our first dishonest chief executive but because he’s the first who had to conceal from the American people the essence of who he really is and what he really stands for.
Glenn Beck called the continuing case of Justina Pelletier, a 15-year-old girl whose parents lost custody after bringing her to Boston Children’s Hospital, absolutely “criminal.”
After more than nine months of being kept in the hospital, a judge on Thursday decided to keep the girl where she is, scheduling another court date for Dec. 10 in Boston.
Justina Pelletier, who was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by one institution, has been held for nine months against her parents’ will at Boston Children’s Hospital, which believes she has somatoform disorder. (Image source: WTIC-TV)
It all began after Lou and Linda Pelletier took their daughter to Boston Children’s Hospital after she began exhibiting flu-like symptoms back in February. Several years prior, their daughter had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by doctors at Tufts University, but Boston Children’s reportedly disagreed with the diagnosis. They said Justina actually had somatoform disorder, a psychiatric condition, and that her parents were “over-medicalizing” her. When the Pelletiers disagreed and wanted to remove their daughter for a second opinion, they say they were escorted out by security and within four days had lost custody of their daughter to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
The family has been unable to speak out about the situation since November, when a gag order was placed on their case.
“This is absolutely criminal,” Beck said on his radio program Friday in disgust. “I mean, if there was anybody in public office in the Northeast that I trusted, I would get them on the phone. But this is — this is crazy. How can a parent have a gag order and be told not to say anything? That’s their — it’s their child, for the love of Pete.”
Beck said the situation would be different if the parents wanted to “say Jesus at her at the top of the hour and hope that she gets better,” but they were acting on a medical diagnosis they had received from Tufts University. And while details about the situation are limited, it is being reported that while Justina was able to walk when she was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital, she is now in a wheelchair.
“What this is saying to you, America, is … that child does not belong to you,” Beck asserted. “That child belongs to the state. They’re allowing you to take care of that child unless they disagree, and then the State takes (the child).”
Beck spoke with Cristy Balcells, the executive director of the MitoAction, who said her organization is “mounting an advocacy campaign asking for donations to try to help this family mount an even larger legal response.”
“I think that the national awareness, and pressure from the media is helping,” she told Beck. “The family does feel that they are in a corner and they don’t know what else to do. So we hope that by showing our support nationally, we can make a difference. We are talking now and have reached out to the legislature to try to emphasize how unjust this is and to ask for some transparency.”
She added that the girl’s family “is not after money,” they just want “their little girl to come back home.”
“This child has no parents right now,” Balcells said. “She hasn’t even been put into custody of, like, a family member or an aunt and uncle or someone who could at least be acting like a mom or a dad for her. She has no parent. She lives in a hospital room. Alone.”
Beck asked his audience to get involved at mitoaction.org/advocacy to make sure the family at least has “a really good attorney.”
“Let’s see if we can get this child home for Christmas,” he said. “This is the biggest outrage. Go there and see if you can help out.”
You can listen to audio from Beck’s interview, below (relevant time 1 hour 34 mins. – 1 hour 46 mins.)
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“Taxes are theft!” Maybe. But that’s a conclusion, not a premise.
Some people think it’s amazingly simple to argue for anarcho-capitalist libertarianism. They think anarcho-capitalist libertarianism follows straightforwardly and directly from a few unquestionable, obvious premises. They think they have a simple, knock-down argument for libertarianism. But they’re wrong, alas. (Too bad! I wish they weren’t!) Instead, what they think is a knock-down argument for libertarianism actually begs the question, and so isn’t a good argument at all.
Consider this argument:
The Aggression-Is-Bad Knock-Down Argument for Libertarianism:
I’m not inventing this argument as a strawman. I’ve seen it countless times, most recently yesterday, when a clan of mean-spirited cartoon libertarians (e.g., this dude) went on a vile attack spree against Matt Zwolinski for writing this. (Matt’s been called a fascist, a communist, evil, a criminal, a “confused f*cker”, and a person who wants to aggress against the innocent.)
I actually agree with the conclusion of the argument. In my view, justice requires anarchist capitalism. I agree with Jerry Cohen that Rawls’s theory of justice concedes too much to human depravity, and so isn’t a theory of justice at all, but rather at most a theory of how to respond to depravity.
But, regardless, the argument above doesn’t prove libertarianism is right. Instead, it presupposes it. Rather than being a knock-down argument for libertarianism, it begs the question. That’s why so many non-libertarians are unimpressed by it. Non-libertarians are unimpressed not because they are vile, stupid, or evil, but because the argument doesn’t do any work. Let me explain why.
Everyone in political philosophy agrees that the state needs to be justified. After all, states claim a monopoly on the use of (most) coercive violence over a particular geographic area and claim a right to create and enforce rules within a certain domain against certain people. This requires justification. After all, as libertarians rightly note and pretty much every non-libertarian political philosopher agrees, states do a lot of things that look suspicious on the surface. Unless we can explain why states should exist and have some of the powers they have, then states are presumed unjustified.
But, then thing is, most political philosophers think it’s relatively easy to supply that justification. It’s relatively easy to show that states are justified. They think that have a bunch of compelling arguments on behalf of statism.
Now, for the sake of understanding the dialectic here, consider what would follow if they were right. Suppose JR is typical statist philosopher. JR adduces some argument A for a theory, call it ToJ, that, as far as he can tells, justifies the modern nation-state, including giving it a wide range of powers and rights to tax, though not an unlimited range. If A were a sound argument for ToJ, then ToJ would be true. And if ToJ were true, then all this would follow:
In short, if ToJ justifies state taxation, then the state isn’t wrongfully aggressing against people by collecting taxes any more than I am wrongfully aggressing against my neighbors by locking my house doors. What counts as aggression depends upon what rights people have. According to ToJ, people don’t have a right to the money the state taxes; instead, the state has a right to that money.
So, for example, Rawls has a number of arguments for the state. One argument, in abbreviated form, goes as follows:
Rawls’s Argument, Shortened:
The Aggression-Is-Bad Knock-Down Argument doesn’t refute Rawls’s argument. It’s powerless against it. Rather, to refute Rawls’s argument, you need to explain why premises 1 or 2 are false, or show that Rawls’s sub-arguments for premises 1 or 2 are unsound.
So, the Aggression-Is-Bad Knock-Down Argument fails. It doesn’t prove that any particular justification of the state and state taxation fails. Rather, it works only if all such justifications fail. The “it’s my money and the state is stealing it from me!” line works only if the state doesn’t have a right to that money, and to know whether the state does or does not have such a right, we need to know whether there is any independent justification of the state.
If you want to defend anarchist libertarianism, what you need to do is show that none of the arguments for the state work. You have to take them down one by one.
Importantly, one the most impressive arguments for the state holds that life without a state would be such a disastrous hell that we need to and should create states in order to escape that hell. (That’s the Hobbesian argument.) To refute that argument, you need to prove that anarchism would work, which means you need social scientific evidence, rather than a few simple moral axioms. To refute that argument, you need to do what Huemer does in part II of this book.
So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, people. Many libertarians think they have powerful knock-down argument for anarchist libertarianism, but, on the contrary, that argument is completely impotent. A sophisticated non-libertarian can just shrug the argument off–it doesn’t even merit a response. Premise 2 of the Knock-Down argument isn’t really a premise in an argument for libertarianism. Rather, it’s at most a conclusion. It doesn’t prove libertarianism is true; it begs the question.
The NAACP recently released a resolution encouraging states to come up with their own drug laws to prevent the ‘disproportionate over-confinement of racial and ethnic minorities’ caused by over-bearing unconstitutional federal laws.
According to a Reason.com blog, the NAACP has come out in support of H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013. This bipartisan bill would stop federally-mandated marijuana prohibition in the 21 states that have either legalized or partially legalized the drug. While this move may be seen as out-of-character for the NAACP, it shouldn’t be. They have been long-time critics of the drug war and wisely picked up on the effectiveness of state-level resistance.
This is an example of exemplary leadership within the African-American community. While demagogues like Jesse Jackson spew propaganda falsely equating states rights with slavery, the NAACP realizes that the states can be agents for social justice fighting back against a racist, repressive, draconian federal government. That is exactly what we’ve seen with states fighting back against the war on drugs.
Hopefully, the NAACP realizes that state resistance can be effective on more issues than just the war on drugs. There are issues such as NSA spying, predator drone surveillance, indefinite detention, TSA groping and others that all folks that can be best remedied by action at the state and local levels. As we’ve seen with the drug laws, these abusive federal behaviors are more likely to be used upon minorities than other members of the general public.
That doesn’t mean that the states have not misbehaved the past. Certainly, states can act in ways that are completely abhorrent. But they can also act in ways that promote the public interest. That is what we are working on here at the Tenth Amendment Center.
Hopefully, the NAACP can join us in more ways than just one as we battle for free, harmonious nation.
Eighty years ago today, on Dec. 5 1933, the 18th Amendment was repealed, bringing national alcohol prohibition to an end.
How did the country get there?
The historical record shows that it was state-level resistance and nullification which killed the effectiveness of the Volstead Act, paving the way for full repeal.
The Volstead Act, passed by an override of President Woodrow Wilson’s veto on October 28, 1919, was the enforcement mechanism for the 18th Amendment and prohibition. It empowered both the states and the federal government to enforce the ban by “appropriate legislation.” Many prohibition supporters, such as the Women’s National Committee for Law Enforcement (WNCLE), felt the Act imposed a requirement on states to enforce the national ban.
But whether states were required or not, over time, they simply did not.
In testimony to Congress in 1926, WNCLE noted that, “in States like New York and Maryland, where there is no State enforcement law,” prohibition was not being enforced.
The book, Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History informs us that 28 states had stopped funding for prohibition enforcement by 1928, and that local police were “sporadic in their enforcement efforts.”
And, in a 1925 address to Congress, Maryland’s Senator Bruce noted the effectiveness of this state-level noncompliance. He stated:
“National prohibition went into legal effect upward of six years ago, but it can be truly said that, except to a highly qualified extent, it has never gone into practical effect at all.”
Whether the people of those states knew it at the time or not, they were putting into practice the advice of the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison. In Federalist #46, he advised a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” in response to what he called “unwarrantable” or “unpopular” federal acts.
In other words, whether a federal act is unconstitutional or merely bad policy, Madison suggested that the people and states refuse to participate.
Madison also noted that doing so in a number of states would be very effective in stopping the federal government. He wrote:
“Where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
When states around the country refused to cooperate with “officers of the Union” on the enforcement of the Volstead Act, they proved that James Madison was right. The federal government did not have the manpower needed to enforce, and prohibition never went “into practical effect at all.”
Dec. 5 should act as a reminder that states can be very effective at stopping different kinds of prohibition today. By not participating in any federal prohibition or limitation on the right to keep and bear arms or health freedom, people around the country would have an opportunity to live more free.
South Carolina is looking to resist the Affordable Care Act.
Last year, the South Carolina House passed H.3101. But the bill taking a first step towards nullifying Obamacare never got a vote in the Senate. It remains alive in the 2014 session. A special committee, headed by S.C. Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort recently traveled the state, conducting townhall meetings and gathering public opinion.
In reporting on this development, the Aiken Standard claims that nullification is not a valid tactic. In its editorial of November 12, the Aiken writes, “…that responsibility is in the hands of Congress, not the state legislature.”
This may be a common modern opinion, but it’s not in alignment with the views of the Constitution’s framers and ratifiers. James Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote clearly and passionately laying out the blueprint to nullify unconstitutional federal acts in Federalist #46,
“Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States…the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
But isn’t this rebellion?
No. It is what Jefferson called “the rightful remedy” to keep the federal government in check.
The States are sovereign political societies that agreed to create our Union: a gossamer overlay to link the States as a free-trade zone under a pact against external aggression. With that in mind, I’d ask you to pause for a moment and turn your ideas of rebellion around. When the federal government over-reaches, it is the federal government that is rebelling against the States. This means that the States, in nullifying, are putting down an unlawful rebellion by the federal government.
Of course, this must be the route. The federal government, whether we look to its executive, legislative or judicial branches, has no motivation to limit itself. A thief doesn’t usually put himself in jail when he steals. So, the people via their States must push back against federal tyranny.
Who else can?