Civil Liberties

Trump’s Nomination Doesn’t Mean Libertarians’ Involvement in the GOP Has Been Misplaced

[Editor’s Note: This commentary by former Federal Election Commission Chairman, Center for Competitive Politics Chairman and Founder, and Capital University Josiah H. Blackmore/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law Bradley A. Smith is reprinted here with his permission.]


A libertarian professor friend of mine took the opportunity of Trump’s nomination to write on Facebook:

The fact that the GOP appears to be nominating Trump, and the fact that libertarian-leaning conservative intellectuals in the GOP are (rightly) frothing at the mouth the most about it, only provides more evidence for my long-standing view that libertarian intellectuals who thought their (our?) home was in the GOP were making a very risky “pact with the devil.”

He went on a bit but that gets the mood and core message of the piece.

My response, which I’ll reprint here with light edits, was this:

Bill Gates Sides with FBI Against Apple and It Is No Surprise

Bill Gates

If anyone was really surprised at the fact that Bill Gates broke ranks with Silicon Valley on the Apple v. FBI issue, they obviously have not been paying attention. As TechCrunch reported, he is blithely claiming that the FBI is just being absolutely truthful, and that there is no way that they have a desire or intention of using whatever mechanism Apple might come up with to fulfill their request ever again.

No, that doesn’t change the fact that Tim Cook was telling the truth about his products. There would be no way to make a backdoor into an iPhone or anything else a “one-time use” fix. Gates knows this, and is lying if he claims otherwise.

Of course, if this had anything to do with Microsoft at all, it’s safe to assume that Gates would be singing a totally different tune. No, it doesn’t matter how much he clarifies his statement on Apple. The bottom line remains the bottom line, and his comments need to be seen as a back-handed attempt to level the playing field when it comes to security in tech.

If You Want Real “Social Justice,” Support Free Markets and Small Government

Originally posted at Mitchell’s blog International Liberty.

 

Since almost everybody wants a society that is just, that presumably means we all favor “social justice.”

But in the American political system, the phrase has been adopted by those who favor bigger government and more intervention. Sort of the way “solidarity” and “social” are code words for statism in Europe.

Leftists think that this phrase gives them the moral high ground, but shouldn’t we judge “social justice” by outcomes rather than intentions?

Is statism really compassionate if it actually winds up lining the pockets of wealthy insiders?

Is statism really compassionate when it gives people an excuse to be stingy, as we see in Europe?

Is statism really compassionate when it means less long-run growth and lower living standards for ordinary people?

The answers to those questions probably depend on one’s definition of a just society.

If Criminal Justice Reform Can Do This, It’s Hugely Important for 2016 and Beyond

-

You may have seen the #justicereform hashtag pop up in your timeline this week. Well, it wasn’t random. There was a summit to discuss the issue in Washington DC, and it brought together two organizations that would normally cause a rip in the space-time continuum.

Co-sponsored by the conservative FreedomWorks and liberal Center for American Progress, the Coalition for Public Safety summit brought in activists, bloggers, and radio hosts from the right and left to learn more about this issue that has united these disparate forces. Anything that can do this deserves to be taken seriously as a unifying principle by our policy-makers.

Jason Pye, formerly of this site, and now of FreedomWorks, told me some great things about the event.

There was a lot of positive feedback from bloggers about Molly Gill of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who spoke at FreedomWorks’ morning session. She gave us some heartbreaking stories of families that have been torn apart by federal mandatory minimum sentences, a costly big government policy that has led to the incarceration of thousands of low-level, nonviolent offenders.

This is another reason why justice reform should be a huge issue on every level of government, not just for the presidential election. Pye says there’s already big things happening at the national level.

A Thought Experiment: Fraternity Initiation Gone Horribly Wrong

Freddie Gray

I would like to conduct a little thought experiment.

It seems that quite a few people have very strong opinions about the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Some of you see this as a race issue, others as a police issue (cops either almost always have halos or devil horns), and a few see this as the human tragedy it truly is. Some believe that there simply isn’t enough proof to bring charges against the six police officers. They are being railroaded and overcharged some say (I would like to point out that overcharging non-cops and railroading non-cops in the justice system is an everyday occurrence). I would like to remove these variables and see if we come up with a different conclusion if we change the actors.

Let’s say that instead of six cops putting Freddie Gray in a paddy wagon its six fraternity brothers (of any race you wish, but let’s say they are all of the same race…use your imagination) from the (fill in the blank) chapter doing an initiation. At this point in the story, our analogue for Freddie Gray is a pledge who wants to join this fraternity. Let’s call him Jim.

Are you with me so far?

Now that we know who the actors are let’s continue…

Several of the fraternity brothers find Jim and start the initiation process. They put Jim in hand cuffs and call the rest of the fraternity brothers who eventually pull up in a van. As they begin to put Jim in the van, he begins to panic.

“I can’t breathe, I need my inhaler!” Jim says.

The fraternity brothers ignore Jim’s concerns and proceed to put him in the back of the van.

11th Circuit: The Location of Your Cell Phone Isn’t Private

location

You know how Google, Apple, and Microsoft store your phone’s location history to help with searches and app interactivity? Well, a federal appeals court just ruled that none of that information is actually yours and you have no expectation of privacy from it, so courts don’t need a warrant to get it.

“Cell tower location records do not contain private communications of the subscriber,” the court said in its ruling. “This type of non-content evidence, lawfully created by a third-party telephone company . . . does not belong to Davis, even if it concerns him. . . . Davis has no subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in [the phone company’s] business records showing the cell tower locations that wirelessly connected his calls at or near the time of six of the seven robberies.”

This is an obscene and invidious ruling that has enormous implications for yes, your actual privacy. If the cell tower location data that shows where your phone is can from now on be acquired without a warrant, then your physical location is always within reach of government agents.

Nevermind that your phone has layers and layers of privacy settings that keep your GPS and other location data off the grid. Triangulating cell tower data can be just as useful and is now more accessible to the government than it is to you.

As an example of the lengths Google’s Android Lollipop system goes to allow you to protect your location data, the following are screenshots from my phone.

3

The Ferguson Report Should be the Catalyst for National Criminal Justice Reform, and Conservatives Should Lead

-

After briefly flirting with using the DOJ report on the Michael Brown shooting and Ferguson police department to continue tone deaf whining about the #HandsUpDontShoot protest slogan, conservatives are finally coming to realize the real importance of the report. It should be the catalyst for nationwide criminal justice reform, and they should lead that effort.

This week, leading conservative publications RedState, National Review, and Commentary all have long posts explaining in depth the horrific actions of the Ferguson PD and why conservatives should be leading the charge for reform, not making excuses.

For example, the police department, allegedly a public safety organization, was primarily used to pad the city budget:

Hillary Clinton’s email could be far worse for national security than Edward Snowden’s leaks were alleged to have been

-

In the months following the Edward Snowden disclosures of NSA surveillance procedures, hysterical establishment hawks chose to warn of the potential damage to national security from the leaks, instead of condemning the blatantly unconstitutional violations of American citizens’ privacy. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed Snowden had helped terrorists by releasing that information. As it turns out, the private email servers she was keeping for State Department communications may have been even worse.

Not only were her unarchived communications in violation of 20-year old federal records regulations, they were also terribly, horrifically unsecure.

The government typically uses military-grade certificates and encryption schemes for its internal communications that designed with spying from foreign intelligence agencies in mind. But the ClintonEmail.com setup? “If you’re buying jam online,” says Hansen, “you’re fine.” But for anything beyond consumer-grade browsing, it’s a shoddy arrangement.

Obama Strategically Waits for the Middle East to Catch Up to Civilization

modern medieval

Despite already having the ability — as he has been more than willing to mention — to wage war without asking for Congressional approval, President Obama nonetheless is trying to get a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) passed on The Hill, something that is proving controversial to both sides of the aisle.

From a three-year limit to a check on launching “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling Obama’s proposal either too restrictive or too broad — but few are calling it just right.

Those on the right wonder if the three-year time frame — which will bleed over into the term of the next president — doesn’t tie the hands of the executive office (bearing in mind Obama has made great use of that same executive privilege he would limit after he leaves office). It also turns our engagement in the region into a very dispassionate drone war, assuming we still have an interest in the region at all. Those on the left actually — oddly — argue the exact opposite: that the new AUMF gives the president too much power to say how and who we fight.

If You’re a Gun Owner, and You Live in New Jersey, I Have One Suggestion: Move

keepandbeararms

New Jersey, or New Germany, as my friend from the Garden State likes to call it, just ruined another innocent man’s life. Steffan Josie-Davis is the latest victim of New Jersey’s archaic gun laws.

Steffan was just a young man trying to make an honest living. In 2013, Steffan was working as an armed security guard. As you might expect, the security company provided him with a handgun – a 9mm Smith and Wesson - for work.  

According to the article, Steffan was in his garage inspecting some of his gear before work when his 6-year-old sister came into the garage. Not wanting her to see the gun, Steffan placed it in his glove compartment. However, before he left, Steffan forgot to remove the gun from this glove compartment.

Shortly after he left his apartment, Steffan was pulled over by the police for suspicion of an expired registration. When Steffan went to retrieve the registration from his glove compartment, he found his gun. He immediately informed the officers of the situation. The officers took his gun, gave him two tickets for the vehicle, and then informed Steffan that he could pick up his gun at the police station the next day.

When Steffan went to retrieve his gun from the station, he was promptly arrested by officers and charged with felony possession of a firearm – a crime that carries a five-year minimum jail sentence.

Let that sink in. This young man was subject to a five-year jail sentence for just possessing a firearm. Unfortunately, this type of nonsense is to be expected from the unjust New Jersey justice system.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.