Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
There are many ways to talk about liberty and spread the message. There are also many ways not to do it.
In this short video from The Libertarienne Show, co-produced with The Libertarian Girl and made by my good friend Sean Malone, see all these terrible ways. And then do your best to avoid them.
Except the last one. If you disagree with me or any of the United Liberty writers, you’re clearly not a libertarian.*
*You get that I’m kidding, right?
So the sequester approached like the screaming meteor of Chelyabinsk, startling everyone and convincing most to run for the hills, to grab cans of green beans and ammo to survive the coming collapse in society…only for it to pass by as just another oxygen particle, sucked up into our collective noses.
As everyone on Capitol Hill flailed around with their messaging (“Oh jeez, maybe we shouldn’t have hyped that up after all…”) Mike Riggs at reason noted that the OMB report summarizing the cuts to government, as part of the sequester, included cuts to an agency that no longer even exists. Curious as to what other nuttery there may be within the report, I’ve decided to make it the centerpiece of this month’s edition of 7 on the 7th, where I list 7 agencies, offices, departments, programs…whatever…that we should cut from the federal government. Here, we have them being trimmed in a very tiny, minuscule way….why not gut them entirely?
1. Capitol Police (And the Mint Police. And the FBI Police. And the….)
The first item I came across in my look was the Capitol Police. The Capitol Police are the men and women who guard the literal US Capitol, where Congress meets, and the National Mall (where sadly, the only products are overly expensive hotdogs and legislators) I’m not saying their job is unnecessary, but when you walk around DC, you see things. Like…we have a Capitol Police. And a Mint Police. And an FBI Police. And a Smithsonian Police. And the Federal Protective Service. And….
It appears environmentalism has officially gone insane. In Florida, a man released several heart shaped balloons into the air as an expression of love to his girlfriend. And for that, the guy was arrested:
Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning.
Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.
Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.
Seriously? We’re going to arrest people now because they released balloons into the air? What sort of joyless soul-sucking Dementors are the people who push for this kind of legislation?
The story notes at the end that Brasfield, if convicted, faces up to five years in prison. Five years for releasing balloons into the air to show his love to his significant other. If that’s not liberty-trampeling, un-American, and just plain immoral, I don’t know what it is.
Editor’s note: While the larger point of the post is a good topic for debate, Fortenberry was a bad example. According to the scorecards released by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, Fortenberry hasn’t been a friend to the taxpayer on fiscal issues. Thanks to Matt Hoskins for bringing this to our attention.
Author’s note: Yes, kudos to Matt Hoskins. I’ve added an update below.
Last week, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative magazine wrote about John Fortenberry, a Republican congresscritter from Nebraska who is considering a run for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns. What has Dreher annoyed —understandably — is that the Senate Conservatives Fund has come out against Fortenberry. Why? Because Fortenberry is “too liberal” on taxes:
“We can already say that we won’t be able to support Congressman Fortenberry if he runs. His record on spending, debt, and taxes in the House is just too liberal. Republicans in Nebraska deserve better,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins. SCF, which was started by conservative Jim DeMint and involved itself in the 2012 Nebraska Senate GOP primary, is looking to identify a candidate it can get behind, Hoskins added.
Dreher argues that’s completely bunk. In an interview with the Congressman last year, he wrote:
American liberty took one more punch to the gut yesterday when the Supreme Court decided that Americans can’t sue the government’s spy machine in court:
A sharply-divided Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an attempt by U.S. citizens to challenge the expansion of a surveillance law used to monitor conversations of foreign spies and terrorist suspects.
With a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled that a group of American lawyers, journalists and organizations can’t sue to challenge the 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because they can’t prove that the government will monitor their conversations along with those of potential foreign terrorist and intelligence targets.
The outcome was the first in the current Supreme Court term to divide along ideological lines, with the conservative justices prevailing.
Justices “have been reluctant to endorse standing theories that require guesswork,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the court’s majority.
From the Associated Press:
An appeals court has issued a ruling that upholds the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers in Arizona for driving under the influence even when there is no evidence that they are actually high.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals focuses on the chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests after people smoke pot. One chemical compound causes drivers to be impaired; another is a chemical that stays in people’s systems for weeks after they’ve smoked marijuana but doesn’t affect impairment.
The court ruled that both compounds apply to Arizona law, meaning a driver doesn’t have to actually be impaired to get prosecuted for DUI. As long as there is evidence of marijuana in their system, they can get a DUI, the court said.
The ruling overturns a decision by a lower court judge who said it didn’t make sense to prosecute a person with no evidence they’re under the influence.
Apparently, to the Court of Appeals, sense is irrelevant.
This is what it’s come down to: even when you’re innocent, you’re guilty. Welcome to American Legal System 2.0. It appears George Orwell was right.
H/T: Hit & Run
Did American voters send a message to Washington in November, the message that they want to fix the budget deficit through higher taxes? That’s what Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has recently written, claiming Americans not only “moved the goalposts” on the sequester, but they actually want taxes to go up:
Think back to July 2011. The problem was simple. Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling without trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Democrats wouldn’t agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction if it didn’t include significant tax increases. Republicans wouldn’t agree to significant tax increases. The political system was at an impasse, and in a few short days, that impasse would create a global financial crisis.
The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.
So far, so good. Klein is correct that the sequester was a complete punt, but then again I don’t know anyone who would really disagree with that. However, after this bit, he starts to go off the rails:
There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.
It was a mere tweet, but it summed up the entirety of the modern conservative movement:
Sequestration Cuts the DHS Off at the Knees herit.ag/WUTzw8
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) February 21, 2013
It has everything: the source is the preeminent conservative “think tank” in DC, soon to be headed by Tea Party conservative and former senator Jim DeMint; lamenting about spending cuts; the laments are all about a government department that by all rights should not exist; and for good measure, it has a photograph. It shows precisely how the sequester had torpedoed conservative credibility.
We have heard relentlessly these past five years, ever since Obama was elected, that we need to cut spending. (Indeed, another Heritage article is a dorky little bit that specifically notes a “thrifty” House which demands that they have a balanced budget and avoid deficits.) Yet now that there is something which will cut—no, sorry, I can’t type that with a straight face; it will not cut spending, but merely slightly decrease the rate of spending—Heritage is up in arms about it.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Military Contractors) wrote the following in an op-ed:
I had the great fortune of attending AEI’s reception Tuesday night featuring Jonah Goldberg, giving his talk titled “Cheer Up, The Worst Is Yet To Come.” As Mr. Goldberg is a very funny man, and the video of the speech is now available, I thought it would only be fair to share it with you all. Especially since you didn’t get the AEI goody bag at the end of the talk. Or the fist-sized shrimp.
Why did Baltimore need to pay outside consultants half a million dollars for a report that says the city’s financial future is grim?
Some city residents wondered as much after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for a new trash collection fee, a smaller city workforce and cuts to employee benefits as a way to deal with the projected $750 million, 10-year budget shortfall the consultants projected. For a city as financially strapped as Baltimore, couldn’t that work have been done in house?
The answer, according to city budget director Andrew Kleine, is no.
Though the city’s finance department makes three-year projections, it lacked both the manpower and the skill set to make long-term actuarial projections and propose reforms, Kleine said. Many of the more than 100 proposed reforms will be detailed Wednesday when Rawlings-Blake releases the full report, officials said.
“We just didn’t have the staff or the expertise to do this,” Kleine said. “Our core function is to formulate the budget and monitor the budget.”
WAIT A MINUTE. Hang on. Isn’t cutting costs and raising revenue via fees and taxes all about formulating the budget? So if you can’t do even that…doesn’t that mean your budget department is completely worthless?