Category Archive 'Threats to Liberty'
07 Oct 2013
Dan Greenfield views Obamacare as a major landmark on our establishment elite’s route from Problemtown to Solutionville, and they are taking all of the rest of us along for the ride whether we like it or not.
You, sitting right there in your chair, watching these words move across your screen, are the problem. A problem 311,591,917 human souls strong.
You eat too much or you don’t pay enough taxes, you drive your car too often, you haven’t bought solar panels for your roof, you browse extremist websites when you should be browsing government informational sites for tips on how to do or not do all of the above. Most of all, you don’t understand what a great problem you are for the people running this country into the ground between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
They keep trying to solve you, but you don’t go away.
There is no neutrality when dealing with people who reject the very concept of opting out of a solution. There is no middle ground with people who don’t believe there is a middle ground, believing instead that every human on earth is part of the problem and can only stop being the problem by following their directives.
We confront the Great Solvers of the Human Problem who are determined to rearrange everyone to their liking. They began by controlling everything that people did. Now, they have moved on to controlling what people don’t do. If you live, if you breathe, if you stir, move your muscles, track moving objects with your eyes, then there are obligations imposed on you.
ObamaCare is one of the final declarations that there is no opting out. Even if you don’t drive, own a home, own a business, own a dog, or do one of the infinite things that bring you into mandatory contact with the apparatus of your government, you are committed to a task from maturity to death. Your mission is to obtain health insurance, and, in a system in which you become the ward of the government as soon as you taste air, it is the price that you pay for being alive.
In a free country, you are not obligated to do things simply for the privilege of breathing oxygen north of the Rio Grande and south of Niagara Falls.
But this isn’t a free country anymore; this is a country in which you get things for free. And there is a big difference between those two things.
Read the whole thing.
19 Feb 2013
Elderly Americans? small children? mothers with their kids? pregnant women???
A company supplying targets for law enforcement training, selling to all sorts of federal agencies, is now offering a special”No Hesitation” line of targets featuring the kind of targets that, historically, only SS Einsatzgruppen were trained to kill.
This is the sort of story that sends me normally directly to Snopes, but it is for real. The link to the target company web-site is right below in the first sentence of the quotation.
Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. is a 21-year designer and full service provider of training targets for the DHS, the Justice Department and thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
The companyâ€™s website offers a line of â€œNo More Hesitationâ€ targets â€designed to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training.â€ The targets are, â€œmeant to help the transition for officers who are faced with these highly unusual targets for the first time.â€
The targets include â€œpregnant woman threat,â€ â€œolder man with shotgun,â€ â€œolder man in home with shotgun,â€ â€œolder woman with gun,â€ â€œyoung school aged girl,â€ â€œyoung mother on playground,â€ and â€œlittle boy with real gun.â€
Why are top training target suppliers for the government supplying the likes of the DHS with â€œnon-traditional threatâ€ targets of children, pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds, and elderly American gun owners unless there is a demand for such items?
This is particularly alarming given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased roughly 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of the last year, enough to wage a near 30 year war.
In comparison, during the height of active battle operations in Iraq, US soldiers used 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month.
The DHS also purchased no less than 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles last September, labeling them â€œPersonal Defense Weapons.â€
The fact that targets of armed pregnant women, children, mothers in playgrounds, and American gun owners in general are being represented as â€œnon traditional threatsâ€ â€œfor the first timeâ€ is deeply concerning given the admitted preparations for civil unrest undertaken by Homeland Security as well as other federal agencies.
Read the whole thing.
14 Oct 2012
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Nederlandse Spreekwoorden [Netherlandish Proverbs], also known as The Blue Cloak and The Folly of the World, 1559, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Dan Greenfield has another absolutely brilliant essay on the contemporary tyranny based upon ressentiment.
[The] same noxious formula of the fight for equality shamelessly transmuted into special privilege has flowed into every struggle that models itself on the civil rights movement. And with each battle, freedom has been lost as a new layer of privilege and the regulations that protect that privilege have been added. We have long ago lost the presumption of innocence, now everyone is guilty of something and the power to wield that guilt like a whip is the ultimate privilege.
With a new wave of civil rights movements popping up every few years, backed by academic papers, grants from the Ford Foundation and “groundbreaking books” with confrontational titles, it is easy not to notice how little actual freedom we have. We spend so much time on the barricades fighting for the next wave of freedom that we are too community organized to realize how much freedom we have lost. We lost it while demanding more regulations to protect our freedom to be regulated from all the people who would take our freedom away from us by giving us back our rights as individuals.
He’s spot-on right. Look at the talk these days about “Marriage Equality.” What Marriage Equality means is a small minority is demanding the right to redefine the most basic and immemorial human institution in such a way as to cause the state to recognize and enforce the moral and social equality of homosexual relations. And if you go around insisting in retaining the freedom to think as you like on that particular subject, you are defined as the oppressor.
Read the whole thing.
16 Aug 2012
Left: .357 SIG JHP — Right: .40 S&W JPH
Back in March, the Department of Homeland Security put in an order for 450 million rounds of .40-caliber ammunition. (UPI).
Then, this month, DHS ordered another 750 million rounds of miscellaneous ammunition, “including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.” (Prison Planet)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is looking for 46,000 rounds of ammunition for the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service stations in Ellsworth, Maine, and New Bedford, Mass., are slated to receive 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets. …
6,000 rounds of S&W JHP will be sent to Wall, New Jersey and another 24,000 rounds of the same bullets will be handed over to the station in St. Petersburg, Florida.
St. Pete. is the only city that’s not receiving 100 or more paper targets to assist with training of agency issued sidearms.
Two hundred targets are going to Maine and Massachusetts, but only 100 to New Jersey. So, 46,000 rounds and 500 targets.
[N]ow the Social Security Administration is set to purchase 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets that will be delivered to 41 locations across the country.
A solicitation posted by the SSA on the FedBizOpps website asks for contractors to supply 174,000 rounds of â€œ.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition.â€ …
the ammunition is to be shipped to 41 locations within 60 days of purchase. A separate spreadsheet lists those locations, which include the Social Security headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland as well as major cities across the country including Los Angeles, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle.
DHS clearly is planning to have enough ammo on hand to deal with the Zombie Apocalypse or an invasion from Mars, but what on earth is the Weather Service planning to do with so much ammunition, and Social Security, too?
Irate Senior Citizen: “My SS check was late!”
Social Security bureaucrat: “BOOOM!”
Since all these cartridges are being ordered with Hollow Point bullets, it is clear that they are not planning to shoot any foreign enemies. All such adversaries would be covered by the Geneva Convention, which bans the use of expanding bullets.
16 Feb 2012
Just in case anyone missed the news story, here’s the link.
28 Sep 2011
“An unwarrantable act without vicious will is no crime at all.” –4 Bl. Comm. 21.
‘Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will. It postulates a free agent confronted with a choice between doing right and doing wrong and choosing freely to do wrong.’ — Pound, Introduction to Sayre, Cases on Criminal Law (1927).
The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an important article describing the impact of the ever-expanding number of federal crimes, commonly resulting from feel-good legislation passed recklessly with little serious consideration, on one of the fundamental principles of justice, genuine intent.
Even in Classical Antiquity, Roman justice recognized the principle that a defendant needed to possess actual intent to commit a crime to deserve conviction and punishment. In today’s United States, however, citizens cannot possibly be familiar the entire body of federal law and regulation, so the basic principle of mens rea, “a guilty mind,” is commonly eliminated by the dilution of standards.
For centuries, a bedrock principle of criminal law has held that people must know they are doing something wrong before they can be found guilty. The concept is known as mens rea, Latin for a “guilty mind.”
This legal protection is now being eroded as the U.S. federal criminal code dramatically swells. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them.
As a result, what once might have been considered simply a mistake is now sometimes punishable by jail time.
Some of the cases described will make your blood boil with indignation.
This is the kind of article which proves the crucial importance of the Wall Street Journal to American society. The Journal commonly substitutes effectively for all the rest of the media combined in addressing the serious issues. Read the whole thing.
14 Jun 2011
Big Brother is coming soon to take away your 100w incandescent light bulbs, and he’s planning to remove the rest of them by 2014. Virginia Postrel explains that Congress and George W. Bush did one of their crony capitalism deals at the expense of your freedom of choice (and your interior decor).
When compact fluorescent light bulbs were new, promoters sold them as a market-oriented, win-win proposition. They were like â€œliteâ€ beer: the same great illumination, for a fraction of the electric bill.
But, as with beer, not everyone was convinced. Some consumers didnâ€™t like the high out-of-pocket cost. (A basic CFL runs about three times the initial price of the equivalent incandescent.) Some didnâ€™t like that bulbs could take a while to build up to full intensity.
Some didnâ€™t like the occasional flicker. And a lot didnâ€™t like the light. Its bluish cast lacks the warmth of traditional incandescents and gives skin tones a somewhat deathly tinge. â€œFluorescent is just not attractive,â€ a resolute restaurant designer once told me. â€œI donâ€™t care what they say.â€ …
By the end of last year, CFLs had managed to capture only 25 percent of the general-purpose light-bulb market — a decent business, sure, but hardly the radical transformation evangelists were going for. Most Americans, for most purposes, have stuck to traditional incandescents.
So the activists offended by the publicâ€™s presumed wastefulness took a more direct approach. They joined forces with the big bulb producers, who had an interest in replacing low-margin commodities with high-margin specialty wares, and, with help from Congress and President George W. Bush, banned the bulbs people prefer.
It was an inside job. Neither ordinary consumers nor even organized interior designers had a say. Lawmakers buried the ban in the 300-plus pages of the 2007 energy bill, and very few talked about it in public. It was crony capitalism with a touch of green.
Of such deals are Tea Parties born.
Read the whole thing.
24 May 2010
Arthur C. Brooks, president of the America Enterprise Institute, has an excellent editorial on the current struggle over America’s future between the 30% comprising the American left and the rest of us.
America faces a new culture war.
This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big government are entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration’s money and influence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisis of recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introduce breathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from the health-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approved Thursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a free enterprise nation.
I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. “A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” He later warned: “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” In other words, beware government’s economic control, and woe betide the redistributors.
Now, as then, entrepreneurship can flourish only in a culture where individuals are willing to innovate and exert leadership; where people enjoy the rewards and face the consequences of their decisions; and where we can gamble the security of the status quo for a chance of future success.
Yet, in his commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13, 2009, President Obama warned against precisely such impulses: “You’re taught to chase after all the usual brass rings; you try to be on this “who’s who” list or that Top 100 list; you chase after the big money and you figure out how big your corner office is; you worry about whether you have a fancy enough title or a fancy enough car. That’s the message that’s sent each and every day, or has been in our culture for far too long — that through material possessions, through a ruthless competition pursued only on your own behalf — that’s how you will measure success.” Such ambition, he cautioned, “may lead you to compromise your values and your principles.”
I appreciate the sentiment that money does not buy happiness. But for the president of the United States to actively warn young adults away from economic ambition is remarkable. And he makes clear that he seeks to change our culture. …
[T]he real tipping point was the financial crisis, which began in 2008. The meltdown presented a golden opportunity for the 30 percent coalition to attack free enterprise openly and remake America in its own image.
And it seized that opportunity. While Republicans had no convincing explanation for the crisis, seemed responsible for it and had no obvious plans to fix it, the statists offered a full and compelling narrative. Ordinary Americans were not to blame for the financial collapse, nor was government. The real culprits were Wall Street and the Bush administration, which had gutted the regulatory system that was supposed to keep banks in line.
The solution was obvious: Vote for a new order to expand the powers of government to rein in the dangerous excesses of capitalism.
It was a convincing story. For a lot of panicky Americans, the prospect of a paternalistic government rescuing the nation from crisis seemed appealing as stock markets and home prices spiraled downward. According to this narrative, government was at fault in just one way: It wasn’t big enough. If only there had been more regulators watching the banks more closely, the case went, the economy wouldn’t have collapsed.
Yet in truth, it was government housing policy that was at the root of the crisis. Moreover, the financial sector — where the crisis began and where it has had the most serious impact — is already one of the most regulated parts of our economy. The chaos happened despite an extensive, intrusive regulatory framework, not because such a framework didn’t exist.
More government — including a super-empowered Federal Reserve, a consumer protection watchdog and greater state powers to wind down financial firms and police market risks — does not mean we will be safe. On the contrary, such changes would give us a false sense of security, especially when Washington, a primary culprit in the crisis, is creating and implementing the new rules.
The statist narrative also held that only massive deficit spending could restore economic growth. “If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years,” Obama warned a few days before taking office. “Only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. Only government can break the cycle that is crippling our economy.”
This proposition is as expensive as it is false. Recessions can and do end without the kind of stimulus we experienced, and attempts to shore up the economy with huge public spending often do little to improve matters and instead chain future generations with debt.
30 Apr 2010
When Republicans are doing bad things, you can count on democrats to offer to go them one better.
Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.
The proposal is one of the biggest differences between the newest immigration reform proposal and legislation crafted by late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.
It would require all workers across the nation to carry a card with a digital encryption key that would have to match work authorization databases.
â€œThe cardholderâ€™s identity will be verified by matching the biometric identifier stored within the microprocessing chip on the card to the identifier provided by the cardholder that shall be read by the scanner used by the employer,â€ states the Democratic legislative proposal. …
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who has worked on the proposal and helped unveil it at a press conference Thursday, predicted the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.
â€œThe biometric identification card is a critical element here,â€ Durbin said. â€œFor a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification.
â€œPeople understand that in this vulnerable world, we have to be able to present identification,â€ Durbin added. â€œWe want it to be reliable, and I think thatâ€™s going to help us in this debate on immigration.â€
Ezra Klein offers details of the democrat plan, and actually identifies the important irony. Note that all this does not give the ephebe Ezra any particular problem personally.
The Democrats’ immigration-reform proposal (pdf) is 26 pages long. Pages 8 through 18 are devoted to “ending illegal employment through biometric employment verification.” I don’t think the Democrats are going to like me calling this a biometric national ID card, as they go to great lengths to say that it is not a national ID card, and make it “unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.”
But it’s still a biometric national ID card. It’s handed out by the Social Security Administration and employers are required to check it when hiring new employees. Essentially, if you want to participate in the American economy, you need this card. “Within five (5) years of the date of enactment, the fraud-proof social security card will serve as the sole acceptable document to be produced by an employee to an employer for employment verification purposes,” the bill says. “This requirement will exist even if the employer does not yet possess the capability to electronically verify the employee by scanning the card through a card reader.”
The theory here is simple: Illegal immigration is a problem because illegal immigrants can get jobs. As the bill says, “in order to prevent future waves of illegal immigration, this proposal recognizes that no matter what we do on the border, our ports of entry, and in the interior, we will not be completely effective unless we can prevent the hiring, recruitment, or referral of unauthorized aliens in Americaâ€™s workplaces. Jobs are what draw illegal immigrants to the United States.” …
The oddity of this strategy, of course, is that anti-immigration sentiments run highest among the same communities that are most opposed to national ID cards. Now, it’s also the case that if you’re going to support citizenship searches for people with Hispanic-looking shoes, it’s a bit odd to worry about an ID card to verify employment. But even so, without Republicans on the bill to give this strategy cover, it’ll be interesting to see whether the anti-immigrant right embraces the ID card as a way of staunching the flow of illegal immigrants or assails Democrats for trying to create a biometric police state.
06 Apr 2010
Glenn Whitman, at Cato Unbound, has a good essay on the Progressive’s newer, subtler strategy for running your life.
Instead of fighting major policy battles to secure the power needed to make you do what liberals think you should using naked force, clever persons on the left, like Cass Sunstein (recently appointed head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs) recognize that the same results can largely be obtained by the application of much-easier-to-enact regulatory tweaks and nudges.
For as far back as memory reaches, people have been telling other people whatâ€™s good for them â€” and manipulating or forcing them to do it. But in recent years, a novel form of paternalism has emerged on the policy stage. Unlike the â€œold paternalism,â€ which sought to make people conform to religious or moralistic notions of goodness, the â€œnew paternalismâ€ seeks to make people better off by their own standards.
New paternalism has gone by many names, including â€œsoft paternalism,â€ â€œlibertarian paternalism,â€ and â€œasymmetric paternalism.â€ Whatever the name, it arose from the burgeoning field of behavioral economics, which studies the myriad ways in which real humans â€” unlike the agents who populate most economic models â€” deviate from pure rationality. Real people suffer from a variety of cognitive biases and errors, including lack of self-control, excessive optimism, status quo bias, susceptibility to framing of decisions, and so forth. To the extent such imperfections cause people to make choices inconsistent with their own best interests, paternalistic interventions promise to help them do better. …
New paternalists, like many well-meaning advocates of expanded government, imagine conscientious policymakers carefully evaluating all the evidence, considering alternatives, consulting unbiased experts, and acting only when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Thatâ€™s the idealized picture that comes to mind when Camerer, et al., call their perspective â€œa careful, cautious, and disciplined approachâ€ to paternalism.
In political reality, legislators and bureaucrats face a constant stream of policy temptations, including both new policies and expansions of old ones. Rather than considering each new law on its merits, policymakers do what normal people do â€” they use simple heuristics and rules of thumb. They display what behavioral economists call extension neglect: the tendency to focus on â€œprototypesâ€ instead of measuring the true degree and extent of a problem. In the paternalist context, the prototype citizens are chain-smokers and junk-food junkies. And the new paternalists have made sure the prototype policies are gentle nudges like reordering the food selections in cafeteria lines. These prototypes are, unfortunately, more likely to guide policy than studious consideration of behavioral economic research.
To make matters worse, policymakers will be influenced not only by supposedly neutral experts, but by special interests as well. Some will support policies for financial reasons â€” like milk producers who favor ever-greater restrictions on the availability of soft drinks, or financial services firms that favor ever-larger requirements for people to save and invest. Others will have a moral or ideological agenda, as in the case of temperance organizations (like Mothers Against Drunk Driving) or personal health advocates (like the Center for Science in the Public Interest). These groups may not share the new paternalistsâ€™ stated concern for the subjective preferences of targeted people.
24 Mar 2010
After Leviathan has seized control of health services and is picking up the tab for your health care, Patrick Basham notes, government intrusion into your personal life and government efforts to reform your bad habits will inevitably assume a lot more urgency. Methods of altering citizens’ behavior are likely to get a lot tougher than a new series of public service messages.
During the course of this decade we will witness a global battle over the fate of the nascent Bully State. The Bully State will be this decade’s â€˜bad cop’ to the Nanny State’s â€˜good cop’ of past decades.
The past generation of welfare statism saw the unduly protective Nanny State bleed into every sinew of our daily lives. Sociologist David Marsland explains that, â€˜Once you have a big welfare state in place, the excuse for state nannying is infinite in scale’, he says. â€˜This … continues the process of reducing self-reliance and handing responsibility for ourselves to external bodies.’
Yet, just when you thought things could not get worse, they did. Two years ago, Oxford University’s Nuffield Council of Bioethics published a seminal report that provided the international public health establishment with the explicit rationale for a dramatic change in the relationship between the citizen and the State.
Did anyone think national health care was really going to be free?
Hat tip to the News Junkie.
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