Saturday Links

Saturday, December 24th, 2011
  • Nevada legalizes online poker. Of course, that’s the one state where they don’t really need it.
  • Ex-cop won’t do jail time for multiple arsons.
  • More genius from Lawrence O’Donnell.
  • Obama breaks another campaign promise.
  • “As was the case in 2010, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual- based consolidated financial statements  were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.” But sure. Let’s give them more control over health care, too. (Via Peter Suderman.)

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35 Responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. #1 |  mad libertarian guy | 

    US DoJ blocks SC voting law, usurps clearly delineated powers reserved to the states.

    Since when the fuck can the FEDERAL executive branch block a law passed by a STATE legislature without prior judicial review? There’s a way to deal with issues without the usurpation of clearly spelled out powers. It’s called litigation. No hijacking of the Constitution necessary.

  2. #2 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Interesting to find out that Marx– at least some of the time– didn’t believe in a pure labor theory of value.

  3. #3 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Lawrence O’Donnel has no functioning braincells. If anyone were a scholar on un-Constitutionalities it would be the playskool pResident. This guy got some balls to complain about the separation of powers. His administrations repeated breaches of Constitutional law are epic.

  4. #4 |  claude | 

    “Since when the fuck can the FEDERAL executive branch block a law passed by a STATE legislature without prior judicial review?”

    Since that state has shown by their past behavior that they like to stop certain people from voting. Seems they still try to do that. Tsk tsk.

  5. #5 |  CyniCAl | 

    •Obama breaks another campaign promise.

    The only difference between a campaign promise and a lie is time.

  6. #6 |  CyniCAl | 

    Great article by Sheldon Richman. It might have been nice to see his name in the link rather than O’Donnell’s, but oh well, it’s nice just to see a market anarchist published in Reason. Sheldon has been writing for the Future of Freedom Foundation and The Freeman for years, he’s one of the best out there.

  7. #7 |  Michael P ack | 

    I,like many here,understand government is a needed evil that must to be limited and true democracy is a form of dictatorship.O’Donnell see’s it as a positive force for where all good flows.He also thinks that many ‘rights’ involve taking from other to give to others.[I.E. taxes,smoking bans,well,the list is far too long]

  8. #8 |  brian | 

    From the arson cop article:

    ‘If Russell successfully completes his probation he can come back to the court and ask for alternative misdemeanor sentencing.’


  9. #9 |  OBTC |

  10. #10 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Judge Grant Hawkins expressed concern about Russell’s safety if he sentenced him to prison.”

    Oh really. Russell is now a convicted arsonist and the judge is concerned about HIS safety. How about OUR safety? Well that’s sweet. Would a non-LEO arsonist get the same consideration? Oh well, he had a stressful job and all that, so fire-setting is a natural form of relase for him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t move on to kiddie-raping or grandma bludgeoning if he gets really stressed out. Hmm, I wonder if Russell is by chance an animal abuser and bedwetter as well?

  11. #11 |  Highway | 

    Yeah, I was kind of annoyed at the ‘feared for his safety’ aspect of that too. If the guy was a cop who pissed a lot of people off, then that’s what he’s gotta deal with. It’s not like anyone made him go around starting fires. Don’t want to get sent up the river for being a firebug? Then don’t start fires.

    Now, I do realize that some prisoners aren’t the most stable of people, and are likely to blame other people for their misdeeds. But those are the same prisoners that tend to take everything as an offense as well, so the fact that this guy is a cop doesn’t mean a lot, since those folks will likely attack him just as readily for taking their chair, or being in their space. So I don’t see why that should afford this guy special treatment.

  12. #12 |  croaker | 

    Schadenfreude: House fire at Grant Hawkins’ residence. Started by Russell.

    What did you expect? Cops almost never go to jail.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    With Obama, as with most politicians of any stripe, wouldn’t it be easier to keep track of campaign promises KEPT?

  14. #14 |  Barrack O | 

    I said, “We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.” So see, I haven’t broken a campaign promise

  15. #15 |  croaker | 

    @13 Yes, because the list would be empty for all practical purposes.

  16. #16 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    Oh, come now. There have been 43 Presidents (I’m nit counting Cleveland twice). There must be one or two promises that got kept, if only by accident.

  17. #17 |  Soup42 | 

    That Sheldon Richman column is a bit ridiculous. I just checked google, and “job” is defined as “a paid position of regular employment.” Are politicians paid? Yep! Is it regular employment! You betcha!

    Ergo, government has created jobs.

    But Richman has introduced a different definition into the mix. He cites Karl Marx for the proposition that “if it is not useful, then the labor it contains is also useless, does not count as labor and hence does not create value.”

    Apparently, he thinks that, if the government has paid for something, it is outside the context of price signals, and that therefore it is valueless because the exchange didn’t occur in a market.

    If the government massively overpays Boeing for a military contract, do the assembly line workers therefore not have jobs?

    Sorry if this is a bit incoherent, but it’s infuriating to see such circular logic being applied to claim that government employees don’t have “Real Jobs”.

  18. #18 |  John | 

    You are great when it comes to reality and current events. But here is the most Inportant thing HAVE A MERRY XMAS, AND HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

  19. #19 |  gersan | 

    Can the government create jobs?

    Well, I can’t answer that question with any certainly. But I know who can: Go down to your nearest post office, walk up to the employee(s) of said post office, and ask them if the government can create jobs. The answer will be far more accurate than any google search you can do.

  20. #20 |  SJE | 

    At least the prosecutors charged the arsonist cop, and were asking for jail time. Its an advance from usual business.

  21. #21 |  Soup42 | 

    If I go up to an employee of the postal service and ask “Do you have a job?”, I am nearly certain they will say that they do, right after they mock me for asking such a ridiculous question.

  22. #22 |  Stephen | 

    OT- Merry Christmas everybody!

    Try not to worry about this crap until Monday. :)

  23. #23 |  Bill Poser | 

    Police officers are at particular risk in prison, but we can’t allow this to interfere with jailing them. That is especially true in the case of a very serious crime like arson. Police officers can be protected by segregating them from other inmates.

  24. #24 |  Jay | 

    The judge’s reasoning that the cop might not be safe in jail is complete bullshit and SHOULD be reviewed by whatever board reviews judges there. There’s something called administrative segregation where prisoners who are in danger are sent to ostensibly keep them safer than they would be in general population.

  25. #25 |  Soup42 | 

    Indeed, Stephen. Merry Christmas!

  26. #26 |  Matt | 

    “Obama breaks another campaign promise.”

    Pfft. Is anyone surprised? He’s the date-raper still slobbering to the girl that he loves her as he holds her down by the throat the instant he’s got her into his car.

    Make government irrelevant every chance you get.

  27. #27 |  mad libertarian guy | 


    So we can simply ignore both the 10th amendment and the fact that similar laws have actually RAISED the number of people voting, including minorities, because some guy says so?

    “We have two examples of states that have had photo ID laws now for seven or eight years — Georgia and Indiana,” the election expert told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. “They’re very tough requirements, but voting has gone up in those states, including minority voting. And not just the election that Barack Obama ran in, but even in the 2010 midterm election.”

    And this isn’t even mentioning the very dubious thesis that requiring IDs in order to vote is designed to keep black people from voting. It sounds far more like an excuse to keep the accusation of racism alive and well towards a southern state than any possible mal-intent on the part of said state.

    For instance, am I to take it seriously that requiring ID to get on a plane/train is designed to keep black people from flying? Or to keep them from driving, for that matter? I suppose, also, that the federal government is racist because their own laws require an ID in order to open a bank account? According to your “reasoning”, the federal government wants to keep black people from voting and flying. Is that your stance? Or are you a Team BLUE hack that will throw around charges of racism without any real world support at all? I’m going with the latter.

  28. #28 |  Dan S. | 

    @ Soup42

    I think Sheldon Richman’s point is that, in economic terms, simply creating jobs is irrelevant; job creation is just a convenient proxy for economic growth. Government created jobs aren’t valueless because they are created outside the context of price signals. Rather, since they are created outside that context, the politicians and bureaucrats creating them have no real way of telling whether or not the jobs will create value in the economy.

    O’Donnell’s argument about politicians having jobs is facile and specious, not because they don’t have jobs in the Google sense, but because those jobs are irrelevant to whether or not government can create economically useful jobs. The hypothetical Boeing contract is sort of an apples-and-oranges example in this context. The government isn’t just handing them money to build things that may or may not be wanted, it’s just overpaying. Incidentally, it is a prime example of the inefficiencies of crony-capitalism. A better example in this case would be Solyndra or the Chevy Volt.

  29. #29 |  Windy | 

    @ #27 My State has vote by mail, when one registers to vote their signature is kept on file and one must sign the top of the outermost (mailing) envelope then fold that part over and seal it with the privacy envelope containing the ballot inside. When the envelope arrives at the auditor’s office the mailing envelope is opened and the signature is checked against the one on file, if they don’t match the ballot is invalidated, if the match the ballot inside its privacy envelope is passed on to the counters while the mailing envelope with the validated signature is discarded. So we don’t have a voter ID law but we have a system that validates that ballots are made out by registered voters.

    Before the vote by mail method was implemented, we voted at a single site in our individual precincts. We did have to show our voter’s registration card, which was checked against the list of registered voters in that particular precinct to compare the name and address, and then we had to sign that list next to our name before we were allowed to access the punch card voting machines.

    However, I don’t think vote fraud occurs much with the voters at the various voting locations as it does in the count (whether done by hand or tallied by machine). What was that old quote? “It matters not who votes, what matters is who counts the votes.” That is why my local Libertarian party recruits observers to watch the votes being counted at the auditor’s office.

  30. #30 |  Soup42 | 

    @Dan S.

    I appreciate the reply, and I would understand Mr. Richman’s argument better if he were responding to an O’Donnell assertion that the government cannot create economic growth. But O’Donnell is not saying that the existence of politicians proves that government can grow the economy, he’s saying that the existence of politicians proves that government can create jobs.

    As a liberal, I am very concerned about economic growth, and I want to see the GDP pie get bigger. But I’m also concerned about the ability of individuals to get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. (Whether a politician gets an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I won’t address. Just consider instead other government employees, such as public defenders, postal employees, teachers, park rangers, etc., most of whom are probably as honest as anyone.)

    The value of a job is more than its contribution to the greater economy. It’s also in a person’s ability to provide for his/her family, and in giving someone a sense of self-worth and dignity. If the government can provide lots of people with that, with a smaller GDP gain than could be had if the people were hypothetically hired by the private sector (which doesn’t seem to be very interested in hiring nowadays), I won’t claim that it’s pure added value, but I would claim that an argument can be had about whether the job has added “value” or not, whether or not the added value is purely economic.

  31. #31 |  a_random_guy | 

    No one is commenting on the financial statements? To me, this is hugely important. Publicly held companies are required to file clear, understandable, auditable financial statements shortly after the end of each financial year. Failure to do so can result in criminal penalties.

    If each government agency were required to report its finances publicly, using precisely the same standards required for companies, government would suddenly be a whole lot more transparent. Failure to file statements should be subject to the same penalties as applied to company personnel.

    Transparency – that, of course, is the primary reason that the government does not do so. Sauce, good for the gander.

  32. #32 |  supercat | 

    #27 | mad libertarian guy | “And this isn’t even mentioning the very dubious thesis that requiring IDs in order to vote is designed to keep black people from voting.”

    The efforts are designed to reduce the number of votes cast by cheaters who would, if possible, vote in multiple polling places and/or vote where they are not eligible to do so. The primary way in such efforts would reduce voting by people of a particular group would be if that group of people would otherwise be responsible for a disproportionate number of illegitimate votes.

    I wish people who want honest elections would more aggressively point out that every fraudulent ballot that is cast disenfranchises a legitimate voter who had selected the other candidate. A measure which wrongfully denies the vote to a hundred people who should have been eligible, but prevents the casting of a thousand illegitimate ballots, will reduce by 900 the number of people disenfranchised. While it may be hard to quantify exactly how many illegal votes are blocked by such a measure, or would have been cast in its absence, it’s pretty clear that the higher the perceived probability of getting away with illegal voting, the more people will engage in it. The fact that few people would engage in illegal voting in places where methods exist to stop it, in no way implies that few people engage in illegal voting in places where they can do so with impunity.

  33. #33 |  Pi Guy | 

    The value of a job is more than its contribution to the greater economy.

    Only to that employee and their family.

  34. #34 |  JOR | 

    Much as I like Sheldon Richman, his (and almost every other economist’s) error is the apparent belief that there is such a thing as objective economic value, or growth, or whatever.

    The Austrians and fellow travelers – pioneers of subjective value theory – of all people should have grown out of this by now. Yet they, much like Randians, remain in the grip of the old socialist models, with society perceived as a struggle between good guy producers and bad guy parasites. The truth is that it’s the producers (taxpayers and the thugs who work for them) who produce the system and everything that is wrong with it; the parasites are largely their victims (third world Nation Building victims, convicted prisoners, people reduced to material desperation by taxpayer- and voter-supported zoning/minimum wage/gentrification efforts, third world workers who provide cheap labor after having traditional means of independent subsistence closed off and prohibited to them by local governments, etc.). The truth is, government jobs produce plenty of economic value. It’s just that they produce it towards horrifying ends.

  35. #35 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @#17: “That Sheldon Richman column is a bit ridiculous. I just checked google, and “job” is defined as “a paid position of regular employment.” Are politicians paid? Yep! Is it regular employment! You betcha!

    Ergo, government has created jobs.”

    This is what a leftist actually believes.