Driving ‘Round The Blogosphere

Light, and not so light, reading for a Saturday evening.

David Rossie, at De Gustibus, went to a talk by John Lott. He has some interesting observations on Lott, not quite what I would have expected.
I inadvertently typed Trent Lott when I meant John Lott. I can read and comprehend English, I really can. But sometimes, it seems, I can’t type it.

Clara, at The Liberty Belles, has an interesting economic proposition for dealing with the inherent injustice that a man has no say in whether an abortion occurs, under the law today.

Patri Friedman, at Catallarchy, discusses the motivation of suicide bombers. I disagree with him.

Trent McBride, at Catallarchy, discusses Parents vs. The State. A must read if you want to have your knee jerk, gut instinct reaction challenged.

Stephen Macklin, at Hold The Mayo, has a personal tale showing us that state regulation does not equal state protection or justice.

Stephen Gordon, at Hammer of Truth, gives us a good discussion of when it is, and is not, okay to use the bible, or any other religious text, in a government school curriculum.

Lisa Renee, at Liberal Common Sense, has a pretty cool Flash video of a Christmas extraganza.

On a side note, if I link someone in a “Drive ‘Round …” post, I also add them to the blogroll.

I’m going to live forever

From an entry at The Liberty Belles, we have this quote from the WHO:

“WHO tries to encourage people to try and lead a healthy life. There is safe sex, one can drink alcohol in a reasonable way and one can attempt eating in a balanced fashion,” Chaib said. “But with tobacco, there is no middle ground, it is black and white and it kills half of those consuming it.”

That cigar my father-in-law and I smoke at Christmas apparently puts us in the evil tobacco users club. Per WHO, one of us is going to die. Wooohoooo, that means one of us isn’t going to die. A cigar a year is a small price to pay for a 50% shot at not dying!

On a more serious note, the discussion of the marginal tax rate on the semi-poor, who are not qualified for Medicaid, is a good one. Check it out.

The Big Tent

There’s a time and a place for purity of principle, purpose and ideology. And there’s a time and a place to set it aside and willingly work with those folks who are traveling anywhere close to the direction you’re going.

In a day and age where individualism is tossed in favor of collectivism, where inherent rights are infringed upon daily, where economic liberty is set aside in favor of egalitarian mediocrity, those of us who treasure liberty must make common cause with a lot of strange bedfellows. The great and enduring Revolutions of the past, whether we are talking about the American one, the Czech velvet revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, were successful because a variety of groups made common cause with each other. Of course, in some cases, they later betrayed their fellow travellers (Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, anyone?).

That isn’t my real point though. Please recall that men like Thomas Paine, one of the most radically liberal of the Revolutionaries, made common cause with Puritan radicals like Samuel Adams, Federalists like Madison and moderates like Franklin. Had these various groupings in America stayed separate they would have, in Franklin’s words, “hung separately” for failing to hang together. Instead, they set aside their differences and united around their common cause, which was liberty from the oppression of King George III and Parliament.

Today we see the various groups of people who oppose the further encroachment of socialism in the US, the continued expansion of government powers, the continued collectivist approach to economics splintering and refusing to associate with each other because they disagree on points that those outside of our community would see as quite minor differences. Let’s be clear on this. The things you and I see as huge, massive differences, ones that make one person a “statist” in your eyes or another person an unrealistic anarchist or, maybe from a different viewpoint, attached to “mystical nonsense”, are so minor to the mainstream citizens of this country that they think we are a bunch of idiots for arguing over it. And truthfully, the differences are minor COMPARED to the horrific statism we confront. You and I may oppose any sort of tax as anti-property theft, but replacing income tax with a sales tax would be more free than we currently are. A sales tax would be voluntary compared to an income tax. So, while I want no taxation whatsoever in my idealism, I recognize that such a goal is not achievable right this instant, but that a sales tax that is somewhat more free is potentially possible. I’d rather get half a loaf than none at all.

Perhaps a big part of why I see things this way is that I’m a rational anarchist. Rational anarchy is not a political philosophy in the sense that many other flavors of anarchy are. It is actually very simple. I recognize that we, each of us, are and always will be individually morally responsible for our behavior. Even if we are a soldier or a cop or some other cog in the state, the choices we make are wholly owned by us. At the same time I recognize the reality that the vast majority (like 99% +) of humans want government, want to be told, to some degree, or another, what to do, like being able to put the issues of their behavior off on someone else. Until such time as we can spread beyond this planet a society that I want, with no government or competitive governments, is not going to come into existence, not even in the ocean habitats that some advocate.

But, it is potentially possible, by working with people who want to make government smaller, to reduce the burden and oppression of government, at least temporarily. So, even though I don’t fully agree with, and in many cases only slightly agree with, many of the people who are in Life, Liberty, Property, I think that I would rather see something come together that has some opportunity to effect change in a positive direction rather than no opportunity. As much as QandO’s rather strident support of Iraq bothers me, I recognize that they advocate movement away from other parts of the oppressive state. So, I will choose to associate with them.

There’s only three choices in front of us that I see.

  1. Remain ideologically pure and remain politically ineffective
  2. Do nothing, quit
  3. Tarnish our purity, but possibly bring about some change

Maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to listen to ideas that show me how I’m wrong and how at least some change could be accomplished without association with people that propose some degree of statism. But I’m not willing to keep on doing the same old song and dance.

I would rather take a job that involves me with the state but gives me the opportunity to work for increased privacy (which my job does) and increased protection and security of personal data (which my job does) than refuse to be associated with the state. I would rather voluntarily use a health insurance company than not be able to make sure my kids have the healthcare they need. I recognize that I may (indeed will) have to compromise on my absolute principles at times to achieve what I want. But, while I firmly believe that radicals are the people who accomplish real change, I don’t think they do so by never compromising.

If all of this means that I’m not acceptable to “Libertarians”, so be it. They aren’t acceptable to me, for the most part. They are completely unable to see that they will never achieve anything more than sitting in coffee houses and talking about how things should be, in their perfect world. There are some people, Sunni to name one, who choose to work, instead, for their personal, individual, liberty. This I can respect. But sitting around whining about the government, talking the pure ideals of Libertarianism, and blacklisting those who aren’t “pure” is a surefire ticket to remaining completely ineffective. The people you are trying to “wake up”, to convince, will never respect you or take you seriously. Not so long as you are unwilling to compromise, work with others or tackle reality, rather than religious-like wishes.

And so, I take the position that a big tent of folks is the best approach. I truly think it could be built right now, but the Libertarians (as opposed to the libertarians) stand in the way.

Parsley is a Crime

Don’t carry a bag of parsley around. Don’t pretend it’s marijuana. Don’t play a prank on your friends. If you do, in the state of Florida, you are breaking the law and subject to criminal penalties. According to the Daytona Beach News:

Two Flagler County elementary school pupils were arrested last week after pretending a plastic bag of parsley was marijuana.

An arrest report by Cpl. Don Apperson, a school resource deputy with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, said the two girls, each 10-year-old pupils at Old Kings Elementary School, were showing classmates a plastic bag with a green leafy substance they said was marijuana.

School officials learned of the alleged bag of marijuana and called the girls into a conference with their parents. The girls admitted they did not have marijuana and said that the bag of parsley, which they brought to school in their book bags, was a prank, the report said.

Well, that certainly seems appropriate to me. Let’s arrest two 10 year old girls for a prank. That is certainly going to do something about the “drug epidemic”. Why were they arrested, you may wonder (I certainly did)?

The girls were charged under a state law that makes it a crime to claim that a substance is a drug — whether or not the item is intended for sale or distribution, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debra Johnson. They were taken to the Flagler County Inmate Facility and later released to their parents.

Well, that certainly makes it all better. Pretending that something is a drug as a 10 year old’s prank is heinous, an absolutely unconscionable act. We can’t have these 10 year old girls running around doing this sort of thing. But it was just pretend marijuana, you protest? Yes, but we all know where that leads, don’t we? It’s inevitable that they’ll move on to harder pranks. Next comes generic aspirin masquerading as speed. And, before you know it, they’ll be pranking their friends with cornstarch “heroin”. The parsley is just an entry level prank, I tell you! It’s a slippery slope indeed.

And what happened to these girls? Aside from being arrested, booked and placed in a jail, at least temporarily.

The girls were also suspended from school and ordered to attend drug awareness classes.

Good call guys. The Drug War is all but won now!

H/T:Tim Cavanaugh @ Hit and Run

Justice Denied

Justice Delayed is Justice denied

We hear that mantra frequently, from both sides of the judicial philosophy aisle; and it is a core concept of our justice system… or at least it was until the 1970’s (why is it that so many things got so much worse then.. well actually we know why that is, but that’s another topic entirely).

In 1969, Stanly “Tookie” Williams and Raymond Washington founded the most violent street gang in the history of the united states, the Crips. You might remember hearing about the crips every… oh about thirty seconds or so, during the ‘80s

That’s about how frequently they were murdering, raping, selling crack, stealing cars, robbing homes and businesses… hell it was probably every 5 seconds.

Over their 36 year history, the Crips are believed to be DIRECTLY responsible for at least 10,000 murders. Tookie himself is suspected of personal involvement in at least 30 murders; and may have ordered or been an accessory to hundreds. Of course those are just wild ass guesses but they have been repeated in the media often enough, and by law enforcement often enough, it’s entered the national consciousness as “true”.

Tookie is on death row; not for being the founder of the gang, but for the robbery and murder of Albert Owens, Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin, in 1979.

There is no question that Tookie is guilty of these crimes. He confessed to them (to informants. Publicly he has always proclaimed his innocence) while in prison after his sentencing. He robbed and very brutally murdered those people, he was convicted, and sentenced to death in 1981.

From 1983 until 1990 Tookie was placed in solitary confinement for fighting, assaulting guards, and for ordering murders from prison. He bragged about how many cops he had personally killed. He was in every way a monster.

Do you believe in redemption?

I believe that people can change. I believe that people can redeem themselves for their prior bad acts, and can live good lives going forward. Lord knows I have done many things that I need to redeem in my lifetime; I think we all have.

But I also believe in personal responsibility, and in consequences for your actions. I believe that justice requires the redress of wrongs, whether in money, or in some cases in blood.

In 1993, Tookie had a personal revelation. I won’t say he was born again, though he says that he found his way back to god as part of it. Tookie finally realized the pain and suffering he had caused. He finally felt remorse. Tookie woke up, and became a man; taking responsibility for his actions as the founder of the gang… though he has never lawfully confessed to them.

Tookie started educating himself, and he started writing. He wrote about his life, and his experiences. He wrote about life in prison. He wrote about gang life, and how it was destroying our cities and our black youth.

Tookie started working as an anti-gang activist. He’s helped out law enforcement to combat gangs and gang violence. He wrote more.

Tookie has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against gangs. He may even win it. In fact, considering the other nominees, he probably deserves it.

From all reports, Tookie became a genuinely good man.

Let me be clear, I honestly believe that Tookie has had a complete turnaround. I believe he has become a good man. I believe that one can redeem themselves; and I think he has done it; at least as much as is possible.

But Tookie still needs to die.

Tookies conversion, and his redemption, change nothing. He still killed those four people, he was convicted, all of his appeals have been heard, and denied.

For 24 years, the families of those murdered; and of all the other people who’s lives he ended, or destroyed; have been waiting for him to die. For 24 years the will of the people has been delayed.

I have a serious problem with the death penalty. I believe that it is just; and that it is neither cruel, nor unusual; but I just don’t trust the state with that much power. I don’t necessarily trust juries with that much power. But when it is absolutely clear that a man has ended the life of another without good cause; then it is justified that man be killed.

There is no doubt that Tookie Williams murdered AT LEAST those four people; and his redemption changes nothing.

The rule of law, a law that is clearly constitutional, a law that is approved by the legislature, the courts, and the people; has declared that Tookie has to die.

All of Tookies Appeals have been exhausted. His execution date has been set for later this month. His defense team has taken the final step in asking California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for executive clemency, because they say Tookie is a changed man; he’s not even the same man that commited those crimes so long ago.

But he IS the same man. He may be completely changed, but he is still responsible for his actions, and he must suffer the consequences of those actions.

On December 13th 2005 Tookie Williams has to die.

Justice Delayed, is Justice Denied

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