In a blog post yesterday morning, my former Cato Institute colleague Tom G. Palmer, who is openly gay and who once “brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation,” discussed Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s on-the-record remarks about his company’s multi-million dollar support for traditional marriage causes and advocacy. Mayor Menino, in an interview with the Boston Herald, subsequently threatened to lean on city planners to deny Chick-fil-A business licenses it would need to operate within the jurisdiction:
“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,” he warned.
Menino also told the Herald that
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
Tom Palmer concluded his post, writing
Blogger-in-chief Jason Pye has already written a great post on not giving in to hype and emotion over what happened in Aurora. What happened there was a terrible tragedy, and it was only made worse by baseless accusations and shoddy reporting on “both sides” being multiplied dozens of times over. (Personally, I think ABC’s Brian Ross should be fired for his incredibly inept rush to judgment, trying to pin the tragedy on a Tea Party member who had nothing to do with it, but that’s another post.)
There are just a few points I myself want to make:
Nearly everyone who hasn’t jumped on this political bandwagon or another has jumped on the “Don’t politicize this tragedy!” bandwagon. Doug Mataconis has a very good post on Outside The Beltway about just this, and for the most part, I agree with him. I think it is dirty and disgusting to try and score political points over the deaths of a dozen people, including a six-year old. It’s just wrong, period, and we should be mourning, not trying to use it as evidence in political trench warfare.
Yet, the problem is one of law and order—and one of government’s legitimate functions is the protection of lives and property. Many ask—rightfully so—what can be done to prevent this from happening again, and inevitably, that discussion involves government to some extent. When you have that sort of situation, it’s impossible for it to stay un-politicized. Complaining about it is about as useful as complaining about how bad an Aaron Sorkin feature is. It’s going to be that way.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker has made headlines in recent years for his dedication to responding to citizen complaints via social media, for rescuing a neighbor from a house fire, and for assisting one of his bodyguards in helping a car accident victim.
Indeed, his heroism become the subject of an amusing video with Governor Chris Christie that was part of the state’s annual political correspondents dinner. This past weekend, however, he made some headlines for what many people will likely consider controversial comments about the War On Drugs:
Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker took to Reddit Sunday to criticize the war on drugs, saying it was ineffective and “represents big overgrown government at its worst.”
“The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence,” the Democrat wrote during the Reddit “ask me anything” chat. “We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential.”
Booker then called drug arrests a “game.”
“My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle,” he wrote.
Here’s exactly how Booker put it in his Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session:
Following up on my piece last week on the newest version of the DISCLOSE Act, which failed a cloture vote to overcome a GOP filibuster last night, and which will face another cloture vote around 3pm Eastern today, I wanted to share this interview of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), the lead sponsor of S.3369, conducted by progressive talk radio host Sam Seder at this year’s Netroots Nation conference.
Around the 1:35 mark, Sen. Whitehouse says (emphasis added)
If you know me personally, outside of the blogosphere, you know that I generally hold a dim view of online petitions. I generally don’t think they mean much, they mostly get ignored by whomever is being petitioned. However, the First Amendment provides for the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And, with the rise of sites such as Change.org and even the White House’s own petition center, petitions are slowly gaining some traction. People do pay attention, if only because they’re afraid of the PR fallout.
With that in mind, I’m here to show you the one online petition you should be caring about. It was started by the Cato Institute’s Director of Information Policy Studies Jim Haper, and it literally says: Require the Transportation Security Administration to Follow the Law!
Harper explains on Cato-At-Liberty:
A year ago this coming Sunday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the Transportation Security Administration to do a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its use of Advanced Imaging Technology (aka “body-scanners” or “strip-search machines”) for primary screening at airports. (The alternative for those who refuse such treatment: a prison-style pat-down.) It was a very important ruling, for reasons I discussed in a post back then. The TSA was supposed to publish its policy in the Federal Register, take comments from the public, and issue a final rule that responds to public input.
So far, it hasn’t done any of those things.
In reaction to my post yesterday, and lots of other punditry around the web, my friend Rusty Weiss of Mental Recession fame (he recently celebrated six months of blogging!) emailed me to say he’s tired of having to settle for silver linings — that he want points on the board.
A lot of us — political activists, policy geeks, and court watchers alike — were disappointed with the outcome of yesterday’s ruling. We wanted a full takedown of Obamacare, for both substantive and political reasons. Instead, we got a ruling that the president’s signature legislative achievement passes constitutional muster, even if it was most peculiarly reasoned.
Apparently a reporter at the New York Times Magazine didn’t get the memo that left-wing feminist hack Sandra Fluke’s 15 minutes were long past up. The reporter, Andrew Goldman, tracked Sandra down to get her er…..thoughts on some issues related to her call for the American people to pay for her birth control.
First up: About Rush Limbaugh’s despicable comments calling her a “slut” and attempts to have him taken off the air.
Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.
First of all, there is no moral defense for what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke. If Rush Limbaugh called my mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend, sister, or any other woman I care about a slut, I would have some choice words for him. As a Southern boy, I was raised by my single mom to show women respect. However, I will defend to my death Rush Limbaugh’s right to free speech.
Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.
But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”
That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.
…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.
It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.
I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!
There has been an interesting back and forth over the past couple days between Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner and Walter Olson and David Boaz of the Cato Institute. Carney started the exchange by writing a piece about this weekend’s protests against the Obama HHS birth control mandate. In the piece he said:
This truth needs to get out there. The media need to figure out who is imposing morality on whom. Libertarians need to reassess their allegiances on social matters. And cultural conservatives need to understand that government is inherently their enemy.
This brought a response first by Walter Olson who said after mostly touching on a recent case from New Mexico where a photographer was forced to photograph a gay marriage against their will:
As I understand it, the libertarian position is to prize religious liberty, while also disapproving the use of government as an instrument of culture war. That’s no contradiction. It’s the American way.
David Boaz then responded by illustrating how social conservatives have been recently trying to expand the state:
But what about conservatives? Are conservatives really the defenders of freedom? Carney seems to want us to think so, and to line up with conservatives “on social matters.” But the real record of conservatives on personal and social freedom is not very good. Consider: