Morning Links

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Yeah, I’ve been out of commission. My excuses: deadlines, a migraine, and last night’s Colts-Titans game. The good news is, the FDA has now approved Botox injections for migraines. Which means less pain for me, and I’ll get to keep my youthful, girlish glow.

Here are your morning links:

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54 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    the Chicago gun range story is classic bureaucratic activism- like the marijuana stamp act.

    God, I hate bureaucrats.

  2. #2 |  perlhaqr | 

    The importance of the WikiLeaks docs is orthogonal to the question of whether Assange is an egotistical assclown, which is also orthogonal to the question of whether he’s a rapist.

    And the importance of the WikiLeaks docs is also orthogonal to the question of whether the WikiLeaks team did an adequate job of editing them to protect the innocent.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703989004575653113548361870.html

    There is such a thing as “good idea, terrible implementation, by an asshole”.

  3. #3 |  J sub D | 

    Money isn’t speech.

    but

    Speech is the equivalent of a campaign donation.

    I’ve heard both from the campaign finace regulation crowd, including government regulators. It makes it hard to take them seriously.

  4. #4 |  Matt I. | 

    Hey Radley, are you still doing your ‘arbitrary political hack flip-flop index’ thing?

    If so, I’ve got one for you: Joe Lieberman has been railing about prosecuting Julian Assange for his alleged ‘crimes’. To his point, he went on Fox News on December 7th and said:

    “And, again, why do you prosecute crimes? Because if you don’t–Well, first you do because that’s what our system of justice requires. Second, if you don’t prosecute people who commit crimes, others are going to do it soon and again.”

    Apparently, he had another interview on Fox on April 23, 2009 where he had a much different opinion on prosecuting Bush era officials responsible for torture:

    “Look, we had an election last year. We got a new administration. This president has prohibited these tactics from being used against suspects in the war against terrorism. So let’s move on. If we start to go back, it raises the possibility we’re going to – we’re basically going to find lawyers who wrote an opinion, that I presume they believed in, guilty of a crime…”

  5. #5 |  Radley Balko | 

    Matt I. —

    Thanks for that. Excellent find. Do you know if anyone else has already posted those quotes?

  6. #6 |  Andrew S. | 

    On that last link, I’m absolutely stunned that the state employee is being charged with a crime.

    I’d been sent the asset forfeiture article yesterday. How the hell do you even pretend to have justice when it’s clear that government is in no way subject to law? If an individual had similarly defied the courts like that, they’d be in jail for contempt. Government defies the courts and nobody bats an eye.

  7. #7 |  Mattocracy | 

    “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested in somewhat Orwellian fashion that “such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government.”

    That’s right, we have to have state secretes so we can have open government. And burn down villages to protet them communists.

  8. #8 |  Andrew S. | 

    I’m still waiting for a single politician or member of the media to say how the Wikileaks releases put us in danger. They’re fond of saying that it puts us in danger, but, unsurprisingly, they don’t have much in the way of facts behind that.

  9. #9 |  oscar | 

    The vacuum salesman story flashed me back to a time in my youth when I sold Kirbys door to door. Almost everything in that article could have been pulled from my experience as a vacuum salesman. It was a great life lesson and an invaluable lesson in sales. I have some amazing stories from those days.

  10. #10 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    # Aurora, Illinois police seize $190,000 in a forfeiture case, despite no drugs and no drug charges. Judge orders them to give it back. Police are refusing, saying they’ve given the money to the Department of Homeland Security.”

    Homeland Security? Huh? Sometimes I think 9/11 was carried out in
    order to consolidate and inflate formerly separate law enforcement
    branches and thereby create a gov’t-sanctioned, money-slurping Supermob with no accountability (or scruples).

  11. #11 |  Mattocracy | 

    I’m so sick of hearing about how wikileaks is endangering peoples lives. That is such fucking bullshit. Our government is sending people off to war, meddling in every other country’s business, kidnapping people and holding them without trial, and Assange is the one who “might” be endangering lives? Our so called “liberal” media is such a damn joke.

  12. #12 |  Cappy | 

    Radley, has anybody mentioned lidocaine nosespray for the migraines?

  13. #13 |  ClubMedSux | 

    The vacuum salesman story flashed me back to a time in my youth when I sold Kirbys door to door. Almost everything in that article could have been pulled from my experience as a vacuum salesman. It was a great life lesson and an invaluable lesson in sales. I have some amazing stories from those days.

    The story also reminded me of the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college when I sold Cutco knives. Unfortunately, the only things I learned from that summer were 1.) don’t trust want ads that look too good to be true and 2.) I hate sales. And sadly I don’t have any amazing stories… contrary to what you see on TV, suburban housewives are boring as shit.

  14. #14 |  pris | 

    Congrats on the Colts win. I know from a Pats fan that sounds strange, but Peyton Manning is a great QB, and one I admire. Hope this is a start for him getting his ‘mojo’ back.

  15. #15 |  Robert | 

    “This is not public property. This is state property.”

    Around here, there’s a ton of signs that say “State Property. No Trespassing”. Mostly around the highways where there are wooded medians between the two side of the highway, because they were catching homeless people camping out in there. And also under bridges.

  16. #16 |  Cappy | 

    Reference the food stamps – I work in a grocery store as a manager. I’ve seen people with food stamps come to the check out line with tenderloins, numerous steaks, candies, frozen desserts, pop and a host of other things that have been labeled as junk food. They whip out that food stamp card and “pay” for it. My wife and I both work, are not on foodstamps and it’s a rare day we purchase steak much less beef or pork tenderloin.

    Give me the reins of the food stamp bureaucracy and there will be a “fundamental” change in what can be purchased and where.

  17. #17 |  Andrew S. | 

    ClubMedSux, you mean all those… um… movies I watched when I was a teenager lied to me about the lives of a door-to-door salesman? I am disappoint.

  18. #18 |  Dave Krueger | 

    With regard to Assange, thankfully, most of us here don’t have an ego and most certainly wouldn’t take advantage of women throwing themselves at our feet simply because we happen to be the most famous political activist in the world at the moment. If such immense notoriety and power were suddenly dropped in our laps, we would behave with unquestionable integrity, poise, and reserve. In any case, I am not ready to call Assange an assclown by any stretch. When interviewed, I think he comes across with more sincerely and credibility than 99.9% of politicians or activists in the the U.S.

    What I find astounding is that much of the American public condemns Wikileaks for the U.S. government’s embarrassment and loss of credibility due its own behavior. People don’t want to be forced to face the fact that the U.S. government is an arrogant deceitful bully that can’t keep it’s nose out of anyone’s business and routinely abuses its power. The public is angry that Wikileaks has disturbed their delusion that the U.S. is the good guys and, even worse, now the whole world knows the truth.

  19. #19 |  James J.B. | 

    #8 Yizmo

    I started practicing criminal defense in 1999. Though there were police abuses – internet wasn’t as thorough – It did not seem like it does now. It is also funny if you look at the court decisions of 40- 30 years ago versus those of say the last 10-15 – there is such a different tone and tenor to the opinions – now far much more deference to the state in all things.

    I had an older friend we were talking on 9/11 – and the moment the towers fell – looked at me and said – bye,bye America – that our freedoms were falling just like the towers. I thought he was a bit over the top. Pretty Sure I was wrong.

    I am 36. Remember a little of the 1970s, most of the 80s and beyond – I remember flashing the lights ’cause the cops were on speed trap duty. Not many do that anymore. Why – we gotta lock’em up of course. So many people in this “land of the free” are quite comfortable with looking up everyone else – you know it is ok as long as those people are locked up.

    Though I am a different type of optimist – to me the glass still has water, half empty half full doesn’t matter – This trend is depressing. One of my projects is to compile a list of how many freedoms that have been lost – say in the last 30 years – from checkpoints, no knock raids , ids at airports, the TSA gropes, civil forfeiture plain feel exception, implied consent etc. – and use it when I talk to groups – like High School Students. I just think it may be too depressing of a project, though.

  20. #20 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Andrew S.-

    ClubMedSux, you mean all those… um… movies I watched when I was a teenager lied to me about the lives of a door-to-door salesman? I am disappoint.

    YOU are disappoint? Imagine how I felt!!!

  21. #21 |  Athena | 

    Folks are worried about food stamp recipients buying candy and filet mignon? LMAO. Stop by the hood one of these days. Food stamps are exchanged fifty cents on the dollar for everything from babysitting to crack cocaine.

    I understand the desire to limit what people can buy with food stamps. I just don’t see how it’s possible. If you narrow the scope of what can be purchased legitimately, people will simply defer to the barter system.

  22. #22 |  James J.B. | 

    Food stamps – here’s my thoughts. Are we fine with people starving or trying to rob the rest of us on our way to work?

    How should the program be structured – a low stipend or the gov’t telling us what we can buy?

    I would also like the program to give people as much freedom as possible. If we treat people like adults, who can make decisions, then maybe they will start acting more responsibly. Setting a list of what is forbidden to purchase – well, then they are children spending mommy’s money. If they buy magic beans and then starve – I at least know we tried our best.

    I view the food stamp excess stories much like the marijuana arrest stories – really, that is who we’re worried about. Also, I see them for what they are – a diversion to allow our betters to rip us off elsewhere.

    To the extent you may see these people as theives, they are the least of of the bunch.

  23. #23 |  Matt I. | 

    Radley

    Yep, it was from Kevin Gozstola, I see you’ve found it.

  24. #24 |  Juice | 

    Every time a forfeiture case gets in the news, especially and egregious one like this, Joe Biden’s name should be mentioned in the same sentence.

    “Although no charges will even be filed, Joe Biden’s civil forfeiture law has been used yet again to seize $190,000 from two individuals despite 5th amendment prohibitions of such action.”

    Every time.

  25. #25 |  EH | 

    Man, I read all of these comments, gearing up to type, when James J.B. takes the words right out of my mouth.

  26. #26 |  James J.B. | 

    Sorry EH – on a roll today – I guess… Agree or disagree I welcome other comments.

  27. #27 |  Aresen | 

    Dave Krueger | December 10th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    With regard to Assange, thankfully, most of us here don’t have an ego and most certainly wouldn’t take advantage of women throwing themselves at our feet simply because we happen to be the most famous political activist in the world at the moment. If such immense notoriety and power were suddenly dropped in our laps, we would behave with unquestionable integrity, poise, and reserve.

    Speak for yourself.

  28. #28 |  nando | 

    Mattocracy:

    The Wikileak documents becoming public do endanger lives. Some of those documents aren’t classified because the information is so valuable, in and of itself, but because releasing so much information would give not-so-friendly nations a pattern of what information is collected, how it’s collected, and how it’s processed. They can then design ways around the intelligence gathering, which could severely disrupt foreign policy and national security.

    As for the lives that are in danger, by releasing documents where intelligence information is gathered, most nations will be able to drill down to the person who gave it to the US, therefore putting that person (and possibly his/her family) at risk of torture/death.

    Now, I’m not saying that we, as a nation, need to gather this information, but since we already did, releasing it could have serious effects.

  29. #29 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    If I were Assange I’d team up with Richard Branson and
    beam off into space in a rocket with my laptop. Circle the Earth and navigate
    the galaxy while you leak out government lies and abuses, Hi-tech Existential Hero in a world-gone-wrong. Nah, you’d never make it back to earth alive or be able to bang all those groupies, swooning over the prospect of your poison pill, but you’d get to go down in the history books as the world’s most respected Supervillains.

  30. #30 |  J sub D | 

    #21 Athena

    Folks are worried about food stamp recipients buying candy and filet mignon? LMAO. Stop by the hood one of these days. Food stamps are exchanged fifty cents on the dollar for everything from babysitting to crack cocaine.

    I understand the desire to limit what people can buy with food stamps. I just don’t see how it’s possible. If you narrow the scope of what can be purchased legitimately, people will simply defer to the barter system.

    Truth. In Detroit, inner city liquor stores are the most popular locations for converting X in food stamps to .6X in cash.

    The vast majority of economists, both left and right, agree that cash assistance to the poor improves their lives more than targetted benefits. It turns out that, by and large, poor folks know what their own needs are better than bureaucrats and politicians do.

    We can disagree about whether the government should provide assitance to the poor elsewhere, but I think we can find common ground with, “If we’re going to provide it, it kinda makes sense to do it efficiently”.

  31. #31 |  James J.B. | 

    J sub D

    Sometimes I like to annoy my wife by saying those trite, oft used jokes that really aren’t funny…

    kinda like

    If we laid all the economists in the world end to end, the one thing they couldn’t reach is a conclusion

  32. #32 |  Mister DNA | 

    Last Valentine’s Day, my girlfriend and I were in the checkout line and the woman in front of us was trying to buy several stuffed animals with food stamps. Her reasoning was that the bears were holding little boxes of chocolate.

    The other day my girlfriend called me to tell me that the people in front of her in the checkout at Walmart had a shopping cart full of candy Christmas ornaments, and they were trying to pay for them with food stamps.

    When I see someone at the grocery store buying filet mignon and flounder filets with food stamps, the first thought that crosses my mind is, “Damn, that person is going to be starving at the end of the month”. I’ve been on food stamps before, and even shopping frugally, it’s a chore in itself stretching that money out for an entire month. I see a lot of people who are probably spending an entire months’ worth of food stamps on maybe 10 days’ worth of food.

  33. #33 |  Gideon Darrow | 

    @ #8 Andrew S.:

    “I’m still waiting for a single politician or member of the media to say how the Wikileaks releases put us in danger. They’re fond of saying that it puts us in danger, but, unsurprisingly, they don’t have much in the way of facts behind that.”

    They can’t tell you that. It’s classified.

  34. #34 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Nando,

    “As for the lives that are in danger, by releasing documents where intelligence information is gathered, most nations will be able to drill down to the person who gave it to the US, therefore putting that person (and possibly his/her family) at risk of torture/death.”

    Please cite an example.

  35. #35 |  random guy | 

    nando, you don’t know what your talking about.

    Wikileaks has posted less than 1/2 of 1% of the cables in their posession. They are slow to release them, specifically because they are taking their time to not release actually dangerous information, as opposed to politically dangerous. You would know this if you spent five minutes actually looking at the wikileaks site.

    These cables have been shared with other news organizations, in all cases redactions were made to protect individuals in sensitive situations. Many of the leaks have been published by the New York times with the exact same redactions as the wikileaks versions, yet no one is suggesting assassinating the editor in chief of the New York Times.

    The Pentagon, the DHS, and the State Department have all issued statements saying that the information within the leaks posses minimal, if any, threat to anyone. But it is embarrassing for politicians and the media, so they are undertaking an authoritarian campaign to slander and shut down wikileaks.

  36. #36 |  c andrew | 

    James said,
    If we laid all the economists in the world end to end, the one thing they couldn’t reach is a conclusion

    My father’s version of that was, “If you laid all the economists in the world end to end, they’d still point in all directions.”

  37. #37 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Only the very naive think the Wikileaks uproar is about “putting lives at stake”. That’s a clever facade to draw in the patriotic masses, but the real panic is over the embarrassment it’s bringing down on the heads of our egotistical, iron-fisted, self-worshiping rulers.

  38. #38 |  Nick T | 

    I agree with James JB on the foodstamp issue. We can’t stop all bad decisions and we don’t really have a right to just because “our tax dollars pay for that!”

    As for Wikileaks, it’s depressing to realize that the American people generally feel like protecting the privacy of government officials is more important than that of average citizens.

    If you’re a criminal and someone illegally obtains evidence of your guilt you can go screw, unless you “take advantage” of a “technicality.” But if you’re the government caught lying or breaking the law, well the investigators who ublished the evidence should be shot.

    Why even keep pushing forward, Radley? What’s the point?

  39. #39 |  Nick T | 

    Also (sorry for doubling up) Radley, I’m pretty sure the Wikileaks reactions is Game-Set-Match on your thesis that the mainstream media is statist.

  40. #40 |  Dal | 

    In regards to campaign finance reform: Not trying to troll here. I embrace the majority of libertarian philosophy, but can not accept this concept of the corporation as a person. Can a corporation be prosecuted and jailed for a crime (I don’t mean an individual within the corp, but the entity as a whole…since the issues of free speech in question here apply to the whole)? Can it be called to jury duty? Drafted to fight and die in a time of war? It seems to me that we’ve created an elite stratum of citizenship here – one that receives all the constitutional protections of an individual (and the aggregate resources unavailable to any one person), and none of the responsibilities. Moreover, unlike a flesh and blood individual granted unalienable rights by birth, its an entity that has been artificially and subjectively created by the parameters of law, therefore by (theoretical and indirect) public permission, which could likewise be revoked at any time by due process of law (thus not at all “unalienable”).

    Also, this idea posited in the Atlantic article that “money equals speech” (implying that one’s degree of expressive freedom is tied to one’s wealth, and that that is how it should be) is worrisome. The prospect (indeed, the reality) that money buys political influence – and therefore the application of public policy, which directly affects MY (and every other citizen’s) life – seems like a primary, inherent and inevitable threat to individual liberty (and Kamner’s implication that corporate influence on public policy is greatly exaggerated is laughably and dangerously obtuse). Libertarian purists argue that corporations should be free to give as much money as they please to political campaigns, then act shocked, shocked I tell you, when a local government claims eminent domain on low-income property so it can be handed over to a wealthy developer (who no doubt made large contributions to certain key officials). Their cries for reform of eminent domain policy (and the broader philosophy of limited government) also seem laughably and dangerously obtuse in light of the fact that they defended the very mechanism that engendered such an outcome in the first place (and the more cynical part of me wonders if some prominent corporate-funded libertarians don’t deliberately cultivate such naiveté amongst their followers, knowing very well that “limited government” actually means limiting government’s ability to resist corporate influence…). Who exactly is going to reform that policy? Those same officials who were elected as a result of unlimited corporate funding? Not going to happen. Decrying government corruption while simultaneously protesting any restriction to corrupting influences strikes me as, well…doubleplus ungood. It’s like blowing up the damn and exclaiming “Where the hell did all this water come from?”

  41. #41 |  cks | 

    There is a good post by Baruch Weiss on the Washington Post web site from 12/5 titled ‘Why prosecuting wikileak’s Julian Assange won’t be easy’. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120303267.html
    I reference it mostly for two reasons…Robert Gates’ admission that the Wikileaks are more embarrassing than dangerous, and the fact that Wikileaks sent a letter to our embassy in London prior to the latest release asking for redaction suggestions. They were rebuffed, so the claim that Mr. Assange is putting people in danger rings a little hollow.

  42. #42 |  albatross | 

    So, is the filet mignon usually intended for eating, or for resale for cash?

  43. #43 |  Alex | 

    Cappy- ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE.
    Also, if this guy’s problem is that people who don’t need food stamps can easily get them, he did the wrong investigation. If this guy’s problem is that you can blow your entire food stamp allotment in one day, then 1, he didn’t need to be investigating anything in the first place, 2, he’s just dumb. If his problem is that you can buy junk food with food stamps, then that’s still pretty weak and still completely knowable without any investigation. So what is this investigation about?

  44. #44 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Ah yes, the twisting of the law to give legal fictions rights – a corporation should have absolutely no rights beyond those explicitly granted them, period.

    Anything else simply lets their owners use them as puppets to commit acts which would otherwise be illegal.

  45. #45 |  Cappy | 

    #43 – Alex, I think the “investigation”, which was hardly an investigation, was to open peoples eyes as to what can be purchased with food stamps. I agree though, it is a pretty weak argument.

    Since I reside in a small town, population just under 600, you get to know (and of) people pretty well, particularly where I work which seems to be the local get together for most people to stop and talk. I have witnessed several families on food stamps, families who have lost their employment and are struggling to make ends meet that really do try and purchase what’s only necessary. Then I see those, like the single mothers (who have even tried to pick me up at the bar) who have been lifetime recipients of welfare, purchase their name-brand groceries along with all the junk food they can carry. They come back in two weeks with their parents as their parents pay for their next batch of groceries.

    Then there’s the one dude who’s on food stamps, gets his meals with them, then plunks down $60-$70 for a carton of smokes.

    In my opinion, food stamps should be very restrictive and as shameful on the recipient as possible. In most cases they need that shame to motivate them to get a fucking job instead of living off the backs of others.

  46. #46 |  Nando | 

    @Mattocracy and Random Guy,

    I spent 7 years (I left there a year ago) working in the DC Metro area for three different Intelligence Agencies (yes, there are several, not just CIA). I worked with Top Secret and above information (including needing a polygraph to access certain information) and we had a class every 6 months that taught us the dangers of leaked information, what would happen, what has happened, and how to detect/prevent these leaks. Trust me, I do know what I’m talking about. I cannot cite specific examples, but I know for a fact that at least 8 of the over 100 stars on the CIA wall are people who were killed because of sensitive/classified information that was leaked and foreign agencies/countries figured out who the US operatives were.

    Also, any agency named/involved with the leaked information will not, as a matter of policy, involve themselves with a site/group like Wikileaks, even if offered the ability to redact some of the documents because of fears that then the information released would be sanctioned by that agency.

  47. #47 |  Nando | 

    Sorry, submitted before I reviewed:

    What do you think would happen to someone whom Iran, China, N. Korea, or Russia (just to name a few) found out was giving information to the US? Do you not think that they would, at the very least, jail them (if not outright kill them)? If these countries are able to deduce whom our sources are, they will do everything in their power to plug the leak and make sure that that person cannot leak any more information. That is where lives start to become endangered.

  48. #48 |  demize! | 

    And yet some of the same congress-scum clamoring for Assanges head on a pike are also advocating for the release of Jonathan Pollard who most definatly cost the lives of officers and operatives. But consistancy is the hobgoblin of small minds

  49. #49 |  demize! | 

    And when someone on the internetz says “trust me I know what I’m talking about I was xyz” you automatically know not to. It’s a law or.something…

  50. #50 |  Marty | 

    lots of people want more restrictions on foodstamps, welfare, etc- my problem with this is that it would mean more govt employees would be needed to enforce these (probably bullshit) restrictions.

    Welfare and foodstamps are issues worth debating, but I really can’t bring myself to care about them. I’d rather look at corporate and industry welfare…

  51. #51 |  Windy | 

    Dal, I agree with you, and I think of myself as a born (and hardcore) libertarian (but only known to call myself a libertarian since the early 70s when I first became acquainted with Reason magazine and soon thereafter, the LP). A lot of my friends are telling me that the libertarian movement is being co-opted by the corporatists; in general, I disagree with that assessment, but this issue certainly makes me more likely to examine that accusation a bit more thoroughly.

  52. #52 |  Militant Libertarian » “V” for Vigilante | 

    […] not one whit from the crimes committed by Henry Plummer, David Updyke, and their minions. (H/T The Agitator.) Your donations help keep Pro Libertate on-line. Thanks, and God […]

  53. #53 |  James J.B. | 

    Dal – I agree w/ you.

    If you really think about it, corps are state creations and are the state tampering with the free market.

  54. #54 |  FreeWestRadio.com » Blog Archive » “V” for Vigilante | 

    […] not one whit from the crimes committed by Henry Plummer, David Updyke, and their minions. (H/T The Agitator.) Your donations help keep Pro Libertate on-line. Thanks, and God […]

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