Archives for category: Law

“The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation,” intoned Robert Mueller the other day.

Several times in his talk, the much-lauded, much-reviled hired investigator spoke as if he did not know what his job in fact and law was.

“We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.”

Here he thinks his job was to assure us that the president did not commit a crime. Not, as is common practice in American law, find enough evidence to prosecute for a crime. He seems to think his task was to find enough evidence to exonerate.

This type of lawyering sure seems . . . soviet . . . to me.

Hardly surprising, since he was one of the key players in the Iraq Conquest push, as comedian Dave Smith noted on Part of the Problem today. If not soviet, then serpentine.

As Mueller resigned, slithering away, the Swamp just got ten feet shallower.

twv

My pistol.

Here in the Evergreen State, where the motto is “al-ki” (by and by), local sheriffs are basically telling big city voters that their gun legislation (enacted by initiative) is unconstitutional and unenforceable — and that they will not try to enforce the new restrictions.

So what are those restrictions?

Washington’s voters passed initiative I-1639 in 2018, which by-and-large regulates semiautomatic rifles. Since January 1, 2019, purchasers of such weapons must be 21 years of age or over, must undergo an enhance [sic] background check and complete a safety course, and must wait nine days to take possession of their weapons. Further, weapons must be stored properly, or their owners will face felony endangerment charges.

“Washington State Sheriffs Refuse To Enforce New, Strict Gun Laws: ‘It’s Unconstitutional On Several Grounds’,” Inquistr, January 27, 2019

I live in a very rural county, one completely lacking in intersection lights — no red lights, yellow lights, or green. Alas, I just missed a meet-and-greet at the local watering hole where the local sheriff made his opposition to the new gun regulations all clear, publicly.

Rural sheriffs are rebelling. And there is a legal challenge in the works. One sheriff explained that “until the National Rifle Association’s (NRA’s) lawsuit against Washington’s new laws is resolved, he won’t be enforcing the laws, either. And if the NRA fails, he’ll consider whether or not he wants to remain in law enforcement.”

Predictably, some denizens of the out-of-the-way utopia I live in challenged our sheriff’s prerogative of selective enforcement.

I bet those folks would not challenge him if they disapproved of the law. Were the law to require that Jews be rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps, I bet they would say they’d join me in supporting any resistance the county sheriff could mount. But I also bet they do not have the wit to see the problem, here.

But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps they are principled conservatives. Whatever the established legal authority says, I have heard conservatives argue, must be followed to the letter. No matter how gruesome.

Amusingly, the ideologues most likely to take this conservative position today are progressives. And not just on this issue, where they have demonstrated a 60 percent statewide majority on gun regulation. As I have been elaborating for years now — for decades — today’s ideological alignments are not what they seem.

Conservatives today are mostly the progressives of a century ago, but with a fantasy of liberty sprinkled in to leaven the lump. Progressives today, by defending all the progressive institutions enacted this last century, and because they push for more of the same — nothing really very radically different, even when advanced under the gonfalon of socialism — find themselves, willy-nilly, as the actual conservatives in this mix, conserving progressive tradition.

Progressives leaven their goofy partisanship with scarcely believable nonsense about “marginalized communities,” of course. But that is mostly for piety. Fake piety, Pharisaic piety, for show.

In truth, in this “Evergreen State,” as in all so-called Blue States, the overbearing centrists yearn and work mightily to marshal state power and the tyranny of the majority to make society less liberal.

A free society is an armed society, for, as I have argued before, no state can protect its citizens (subjects) in time of crisis. The state is an engine for the regulation of retaliation. Self-defense is absolutely central to a liberal state.

But the State as imagined by progressives? There is nothing liberal about it. Limiting the power of citizens is what progressives do. They are top-down, professional management-oriented through and through, our progressives. They have always been sympathetic to tyranny — witness the love of centralization, the hatred of the Constitution, the sympathy for the Soviets — and they aim to get their totalitarian state some day, by and by.

First step to get over their next hurdle to total adminstrative state supremacy? Curb Americans’ gun ownership.

twv

Contemplating buying another gun.

No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him: every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him: and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third. [W]hen the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions, and the idea is quite unfounded that on entering into society we give up any natural right.

Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer (June 7, 1816)

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“No Peaceful Transition,” promised the protest/riots organizers’ Web page, earlier this evening. The page later ditched the motto.

Since the 1960s we have been living a myth: protests that disrupt public traffic and private ingress/egress are “non-violent” and heroic. But the myth is merely a self-serving story, a crucial lie, that those on the left tell themselves and everybody else, thereby taking license to lord it over others.

We now witness the moral depravity that is at the heart of the notion.

Protesting something is staying on the sidelines and making your views known. Rioting is a mob abridging others’ rights. Most unlicensed protests turn riot because they are riot in ovo.

The mob is now a tyrant, and the worm, as they say, may soon turn — the worm, here, being the masses of truly peaceful people, who may now at last see the tyranny at the heart of the self-righteous mob.

The culture war may be going bloody this week. Someone was shot at a Milo protest in Seattl. We will see how far the violence goes.

“No peaceful transition” indeed.


Mr. Sotomayor has a dim view of the rioters:

The Young Turks seem to accept the nonsense from the folks dressed mostly in black:

But here is video without commentary:

Free speech is the unregulated speech of a free person. Free people become criminal when they engage in assault, which is what a threat on someone’s life is. And then those who threaten are open to prosecution.

Americans, of course, are too ill-educated to know what free speech is any more. Americans tend to think of “free speech” as all speech . . . minus those exceptions carved out somewhat arbitrarily by legislation and perhaps the common law (about which free speech absolutists shift in their seats when they acknowledge). But that is not the free speech idea. 

Yes: free speech is a term of art. It refers to (and is made explicable by) a larger concept, liberty. Which depends on the basic decency at the heart of civilization, indeed, humanity: reciprocity. I do not get to initiate force against you, you do not get to initiate force against me. And a threat is considered an assault, an act of aggression. An initiation of force.

The only violent threats tolerated in common law are threats to retaliate. One has a right to self defense. 

This is the great truth that libertarians emphasize, but almost no one else does: no one has a right to initiate force. That is honored in the breach, of course, in our government-ridden society, but more than acknowledged on the personal level in our law as applying to the person of the President. He is supposed to be constrained by our rights, listed somewhat crudely in the Bill of Rights, and he himself (like us) retains those common protections, plus an extra kicker bit of legislated law to back up his political station.

All those Anti-Trump assassination threats on Twitter? If the yobbos who made them continue, now they get to go to prison. And no rights would have been violated. Except Trump’s! But the prosecutors will be defending him.

Be assured, witless protestors and whiners, your days of license are soon to be over. Do you really want to test the system?

twv

John Fiske booksWhat I dislike most about modern life are bad laws. Bad laws encourage disloyalty among citizens and criminality among police.

Bad legislation thus cuktivates the very “anarchy” that government is supposed to prevent.

And the most witless response to this is to demand loyalty to law . . . without context. As a principle in and of itself.

What must be done is to change the law.

If you folks keep voting for the same goobers over and over, you will merely increase the “anarchy” — de facto lawlessness, disorder — of modern tyranny. Which is to say, you play a part, in every vote for an old-timer incumbent, in the deepening corruption of soctal life.

Further, demanding that new law be enacted after every crisis is foolish on the face of it, perverse at base. Many laws cause more problems than they can possibly solve, and to not admit this is to fly in the face of human experience. If a candidate can think of no law or program he or she would try to repeal, that candidate is at least a fool, probably a dunce, perhaps even a knave.

Also: expect a candidate for office to be capable of subtlety. If there is no evidence of this in a candidate — if everything is claimed to be simple, no complexity admitted — then vote against that candidate.

twv

timo-dither

againstDUALISMS

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide people into two categories, and those who don’t. I’m in the latter category. . . .

Japing paradox aside, I do try to avoid dualistic constructions in philosophy and explanation. It doesn’t take long in political discourse, anyway, to see that many popular dualities, though conceived as exhaustive, are anything but. Human experience does not often easily fit neatly into two.

Indeed, in the work of Aristotle we encounter a vision of ethics that does not regard Right and Wrong as the foundational antagonism, but Deficiency and Excess as a basic duality, with a middle point between these  extremes serving as equilibrium, and constituting the virtue. Aristotle provides numerous examples in the Nicomachean Ethics. When I was a young man, I devised a schema of cardinal virtues, not dissimilar to Aristotle’s, but distinct. I distinguished three cardinal self-regarding virtues and three cardinal other-regarding virtues. Each virtue could  be conceived  as middle point between one or more sets of antagonisms. My schema looked like this:

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The emotional realm I conceived in terms of the Will to Pleasure, and saw Temperance as a midway point between the lusts for pleasure and expressions of passions, on the one hand, and a deadly anhedonia and fearfulness, on the other. The person prone to anger was not temperate, but neither was the person incapable of strong feeling of any kind. The point of temperance was not to be evenly emoting at all times, but to be close enough to an emotionally stable point to be able to feel appropriately in any given situation.

Very Aristotelian, no? The other virtues I explained along similar lines, with wills-to contrasting with schemes of avoidance, fleeings-from. But in none of this discussion of a basic concept of ethics (and not the only important concept, either) did I give in to a simple dualism. Instead, I saw the experience of life in a three-fold division, and, within each division, each cardinal virtue understood as a mid-point between extremes (thus making another three-value logic) . . . and then divided into two, according to the center of regard, or direction  of concern or interest.

So when I began seriously to consider social life outside of a simple listing of virtues, but as issues to be argued over within the political realm, I became immediately suspicious of all the dualities I was presented with. As Chris Sciabarra explained so well in the opening of chapters of Total Freedom, what is needed to understand complex reality is more than a two-valued logic, the binary clicking of either-or. What is needed is a dialectical mindset, one that comprehends shifting perspective and a multiplication of entities. Shave with Occam’s Razor, sure; but you don’t grow hair that way.

Recently, James Gill and I have been making videos. He is in charge, and he aims to catch me in thought. Amidst my mumbles, I say some things that I regard as sensible. Here is the most popular of these videos, from a set reacting to Sarah Silverman’s defense of Socialist Bernie Sanders, which went viral on Facebook:

You see that I take on a statist sophism: that the basics of life be seen as “rights,” not “privileges.” And the listener tends to agree. Privilege is something only a few may have. Rights are universal. We want the basics to be universal, no?

Well, before we hastily cave to the statists’ rhetorical trap, look at it. Are these our only two options?

No. As I explained in the video, there is at least one missing third option, between the unearned advantage of privilege, and the coercible, obligatory focus of a right. What is it? It is the realm of contract, cooperation, and earnings.

I get most of what I want not by demanding each item as a right, or begging for each good as a privilege in someone else’s grants economy. Instead, I engage in trade. Or some other form of mutual cooperation. And, by agreement, I gain what I need. How? By offering and supplying something within my power and personal economy that at least one other person desires more than I desire it. This is the logic of exchange. It is a beautiful thing. When we come to terms, the results are beautiful and peaceful and harmonious.

We would surely want as much of life to fall under this realm of transaction, not under the realm of the coerced or the extorted or begged.

But socialists and other statists  continually elide any mention of this, when they push for some new realm of life to be sucked into the vortex of government, the maw of the State. They just put before us the simple binary, the duality Rights vs. Privileges.

And, in so doing, they lie.

It is a lie by omission of a great truth.

It is what you expect con artists to do, distracting our attention from the best option to get us to settle for a brummagem alternative.

Of course, most socialists are not deliberately lying. Like all religious zealots, what is lacking is a sense of piercing honesty, free inquiry, even curiosity. They have a simple vision of the world they are pushing — their utopia — and they will not let something complex like reality, or difficult, like truth, get in their way.

Thus it is with most dualisms. As I go through the usual lists of everyday dualities, we shall see how true this is.

TomLehrer

 

I want to thank the “bigots” of Alabama for reacting to the whole “gay marriage” thing in the best possible way: getting the state out of the marriage business. It looks like it may happen.

Of course, marriages will still be created, folks (straight and gay and de facto asexual) will wed. And government will still be minimally involved. But NO LICENSES. Yes, no marriage licensing.

Generally, I hate licensing. A free people shouldn’t need a license to enter into a contract. It’s absurd. An affront to our rights.

So, what will happen, if the legislation passes and is signed into law? Well, “couples will get a ‘marriage contract form’ from the state, fill it out, sign it, declaring that they’re getting married of their own free will, get two witnesses to sign it, and turn it into the government for filing (and give them money). They can have whatever wedding ceremony they want or none at all.” Or so writes Scott Shackford at Reason.

But he also writes: “You’d think everybody would be happy with this outcome, but of course not. Alabama gay groups and the American Civil Liberties Union have to complain, even though they’re going to actually get everything they want.”

Yes, the Inclusion über alles folks are going to whine, but let them. That’s what they do best. Inclusion is the obsession of spoiled children and the weak everywhere (particularly, it seems, in colleges). Universal inclusion is totalitarian. I say get government out of our business as much as possible, and live and let live.

But if you are butt hurt about this, I’m sure you can find a salve.

Mine’s freedom. And the division of responsibility in a free society.


Extra points to those who “get” the [admittedly tenuous] rationale for the title and photo, above.

There exists an argument for high hurdles to make new laws.

The great Swedish economist Knut Wicksell thought that the only just rule for voting in a representative democracy should be by supermajority: 70 or 80 percent or more in favor . . . then only should a law pass.

If a new proposal cannot merit supermajority agreement, then it doesn’t deserve to be made a law. A proposal backed only by bare majority (or, even, effective plurality) support indicates that it helps its supporters at the expense of its detractors.

And is thus bad law.

Fine in theory. But in practice . . .

We don’t live in a world where the bulk of our laws have been passed that way, or one in which current legislatures work that way. Most laws that are passed in state and federal legislative houses possess only tiny support from the citizenry. And that only superficial. (Say, they like the promise but haven’t read the bill. Which is pretty much the same for the legislators themselves, in this decadent stage of our democracy manqué.)

Which means that while representatives could use a supermajority requirement, we the citizens shouldn’t be stuck with it, or any other high hurdles, for our initiative process. As long as bad laws remain on the books, and as long politicians go native and continually enact even worse laws, we sure could use ballot access and effective petitioning rights.

Just to bring some balance to the system. You know, a check in addition to the mostly discarded checks established in the U.S. Constitution.

So, at least a half-hurray for the ruling by U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, who declared unconstitutional a Nebraska requirement that initiative petitions sign up 5 percent in each county for qualification.

The legislated requirement presented a somewhat obstructive hurdle for the people.

The judge ruled that it made rural votes worth more than city votes. Whatever the rationale, the outcome is good.

Nebraskans may contemplate putting tougher requirements on their democratic process . . . but only after the Unicameral is socked with even stricter ones.

The idea that unjust laws should be disobeyed is often considered an extreme notion, a radical position.

I regard it as the common-sense middle ground.

After all, the idea lies between the two real extremes:

1. That every law, no matter how unjust, must be obeyed; and

2. That no law, no matter how just, must be obeyed — that disobedience should be the rule.

Both these positions strike me as ludicrous. Note that the second is the nihilist position. The first is the conservative.