Rand Paul is Right: Excessive taxation and enforcement leads to government violence

Eric Garner

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

— George Washington

The words of the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War and the first President of the Untied States ring true in the New York City borough of Staten Island this week, as a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner during an altercation in July stemming from the illegal sale of loose cigarettes. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy ruled Garner’s death a homicide as a direct result of the officer’s action. That is the official report.

One of the striking differences between the killing of Eric Garner and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson — both by law enforcement officials — is that the entire altercation in New York was caught on camera.

But why did it happen? Why were police dispatched in the first place?

Senator Rand Paul, in an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, hit the nail on the head:

Big money is betting on Hillary Clinton in 2016

Hillary Clinton

You know, for all the whining and complaining Democrats do over “big money” in politics, they sure do love to cash those checks when donors write them. In fact, during the 2014 election cycle, Democrats pretty much stayed competitive with Republicans overall, but in hotly-contested Senate races like North Carolina and Virginia, the Democrats far-and-away outspent the Republicans.

Even The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart took notice of the Democrats’ love of campaign money during this cycle.

So it’s really not surprising when billionaires like Warren Buffett write $25,000 checks to Democratic political action committees. According to Bloomberg Politics writer Lisa Lerer:

Eric Garner’s death shows exactly what’s wrong with the American legal system

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At first glance, it’s yet another example of a law enforcement officer being cleared of charges for what was quite obviously an unjustified and unnecessary civilian death. But the story of Eric Garner’s homicide exposes so much more of what ails our legal and criminal justice systems.

Garner’s heinous alleged crime that was so deserving of police action, violent arrest, and ultimately death was…selling loose cigarettes out of their original packaging. In the allegedly free market capitalist society of Staten Island, New York, America, this is a misdemeanor offense, for which Garner had several charges already pending at the time of his suffocating death.

In New York, cigarettes are taxed and regulated so highly that they can cost more than $12 per pack. This insane bureaucratic scheme has inevitably created the black market that Garner was participating in - selling cigarettes out of their packs, avoiding the confiscatory taxes altogether, and pocketing the pure profits. Garner was no angel, but he was an entrepreneur, and in Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s view entirely justified in not following the oppressive New York cigarette laws:

Ted Cruz is dominating Facebook, Twitter

Ted Cruz

Facebook and Twitter revealed that “Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz together accounted for 40 percent of the discussion on Facebook and nearly half — 47 percent — of mentions on Twitter among 10 top presidential possibilities in the past three months” though neither of them were on the ballot during the November election, according to POLITICO this morning.

From the report:

Of the 27 million Facebook posts, comments and content likes related to the potential White House candidates between Aug. 22 and Nov. 22, Clinton and Cruz each were mentioned in 20 percent of the posts, according to Facebook’s data scientists. Clinton topped Cruz though in the number of people talking about her with 2.3 million people making 5.6 million interactions, while Cruz had 1.8 million users referencing him in 5.6 million interactions. (POLITICO provided the list of contenders to Facebook and Twitter.)

Of the 15.9 million mentions of candidates’ names or Twitter handles between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1, Cruz snagged 4.6 million mentions, or 29 percent, while Clinton garnered 2.9 million mentions, or 18 percent.

A former digital director for President Obama’s 2012 campaign noted, “Imperfect as it is, [Facebook] is probably the biggest trove of data of what actual human beings outside of Washington, D.C., are talking about day to day and that makes it intrinsically important, and these platforms are actually important for reaching people and motivating them.”

Cops are stealing your stuff for profit, and D.C. is the latest jurisdiction to try to put a stop to it

Police Man Stealing

Over the past few months, civil asset forfeiture has made national headlines.

Thanks to hard work by folks at the Heritage FoundationWashington Post, and journalists like Radley Balko, this corrupt police practice has been brought to the forefront of the debate on how the government erodes our civil liberties.

Thankfully for us, some politicians have taken notice and decided to make some positive changes.

A few weeks ago, the D.C. City Council passed a measure that limits law enforcement’s incentive to engage in civil asset forfeiture. They have informed the police department that forfeiture money will now be directed to the city’s general fund.

A recent Reuters article about the measure highlighted the fact that 90 percent of the time, forfeitures occur without actually charging an individual for a crime.

UPS changes policy for pregnant employees without government force

pregnant

The US Supreme Court is going to consider whether UPS violated the law when they refused to make accommodations for a woman with a doctor’s note to request lighter lifting requirements during her pregnancy.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was an amendment added to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The Act covers discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and any of the medical conditions related to childbirth. Employers are even required to provide disability and sick leave for women who are recovering from an abortion – which would lead one to believe that employers would be required to provide disability and sick leave for women who experience any complications during their pregnancy that do not allow them to work. It could also mean that women who normally are required to lift heavy objects be given either a lighter work load or leave.

Many people think companies should make special accommodations for pregnant women. After all, children are our future and we all have a mother. But what if our children run the companies, or our mothers? The discussion of whether or not something is good or whether companies should do certain things for pregnant women does not take into account the fact that the bosses could be pregnant women themselves.

The Decline of the Modern Democrat Party is a Study in the Quest for Absolute Power

Democrat Presidents

In an interesting piece in National Journal, Charlie Cook makes the case that Democrats, rather ironically given their tendency to forgo personal responsibility in favor of the much less guilt-inducing finger point, have only themsleves to blame for their current popular decline.

There are many reasons for this decline in support for Democrats among certain groups. But an argument can be made that it is because Democrats have subordinated their traditional focus on helping lower- and working-class Americans move up the economic ladder in favor of other noble priorities, such as health care, the environment, and civil rights. Whether these were the right or wrong priorities is totally subjective, but they have come at a cost. Sen. Chuck Schumer recently committed the classic case of a political gaffe, once defined by Michael Kinsley as “when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” The Democratic Left went crazy when Schumer suggested that the early focus on health care reform in 2009 and 2010, when he says Democrats should have been concentrating on economic growth and job creation, had cost them greatly (something that I have written about for over five years).

Cook believes that the modern Democrat party was born of FDR’s New Deal when the focus was helping people find work and healing the economy following the dark age of the Great Depression. He even draws a parallel between Democrat policies and the 2008 recession, including the implementation of TARP; and the Obama administration’s “rescuing [of] the automobile industry”.

Candor or Cynicism: How to be a Politician

JFK and Nikita Khrushchev

Who won, who lost?

In 1961, at the height of the cold war, the new American president John F. Kennedy met in private with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy was young and inexperienced in politics, having been elected president as a freshman senator. Khrushchev was an old hand who had risen to power under Stalin. Kennedy had an idealistic streak. Khrushchev was pragmatic and calculating - though himself a reformer. Kennedy was head of the government of a country whose people valued free enterprise - a country where large sections of the economy and personal life of the citizens were out the boundaries of government control. Khrushchev was the head of a virtual slave state, where every part of a citizen’s life was subject to the dictates of the political class. To Khrushchev, Kennedy was a potential threat, the head of the most powerful nation on earth, a man he hoped to neutralize and frighten. To Kennedy, Khrushchev was a man with whom he believed he could reason. It was Kennedy who pushed for the meeting.

After Ferguson, Washington (predictably) overreacts, attempts to further federalize local police

Police Body Camera

Increasingly in this digital age, our public actions can be recorded, posted online, and shared with millions of viewers. “Viral videos” on YouTube make us laugh and sometimes stun and surprise us. And when it comes to law enforcement, these videos — recorded by either third parties or through the use of personal body cameras — can hold them accountable when the desire to exert too much force or manipulate the law becomes too great.

President Obama called for $283 million in federal funding to provide police body cameras and training to police in communities where the relationship between law enforcement and the general public is strained. And while the push to provide more transparency and accountability for law enforcement is ultimately a good thing, conservatives should be wary of further federalizing local law enforcement.

From the NBC account:

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed new funding meant to help improve relations between police departments and minority communities, saying there is a “simmering distrust” between the two groups that extends well beyond the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

The White House has asked for $263 million in funding for police body cameras and training in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The program, which would need congressional approval, would offer a total of $75 million over three years to match state funding for the cameras by 50 percent, helping to pay for more than 50,000 of the devices.

Political Correctness Run Amok: University ‘speech police’ keep comedians like Chris Rock from college campuses

Chris Rock

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) picked up on a few details from a recent interview of comedian Chris Rock that shed light on the pernicious nature of the “unlearning liberty” mentality on America’s college campuses. The FIRE seeks to protect and defend free speech on college campuses in the face of restrictive speech codes and the growing belief by many that they have a right not to be offended by someone else’s views.

Susan Kruth, writing at The FIRE’s blog, notes:

In the interview, [interviewer Frank] Rich and Rock discussed how Rock, like many comedians, has been criticized by audience members who were offended by his jokes. When asked what he thought about the recent controversy over Bill Maher’s invitation to speak at the University of California, Berkeley’s December commencement ceremony, Rock said, “Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”

Now, Rock doesn’t actually mean politically conservative in this context. In the interview, he clarifies:

 


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