America’s Political Class Uses Sophistry to Legitimize its Theft

A leading source of power for the Political Class is the ability to forcibly take money from those who have earned it and redistribute it to those who have not. This redistribution cannot withstand moral scrutiny, and in fact amounts to, in a word, theft. But the Political Class, in order to exercise power, needs this theft to continue. The Political Class needs, therefore, to convince itself and others, against both facts and logic, that theft is not theft.

Now, usually the most effective method for a thief to evade responsibility for his crime is to evade detection. But when evading detection is not possible because it is obvious to all that the thief has taken property from others, the thief might try to argue that the victim had no right to retain the property in the first place. This is the argument now being used by the Political Class to excuse its thievery. Specifically, leaders of the Political Class are asserting that successful people didn’t really earn their success, and so by implication, have no legitimate right to keep their own money.

As part of the Political Class’ campaign to delegitimize success, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren famously declared back in August 2011 that
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.” That sentiment was echoed a few months later by Barack Obama: “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Recently, Obama doubled down on the notion that success is unearned by comparing successful people to lottery winners. “Society’s lottery winners,” he called them.

This comparison clearly disrespects peoples’ achievements because winning the lottery involves no hard work, inspiration, or significant risk-taking. All that is required is pure luck. Is that how people actually get rich, just pure luck?

Henry Ford got rich by revolutionizing the auto industry. Bill Gates got rich by revolutionizing the computer industry. Did those guys really achieve no more than someone who lucked out by purchasing the right scratch ticket?

Again, the object here is to undermine the right of people to keep their own hard earned money. If people get wealthy only by luck, then they can make no legitimate moral claim to their own money, and the government therefore is justified in taking the money in order to compensate those who are “unlucky.”

Here’s the context in which Obama used his lottery metaphor.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

So Obama’s statement amounts to three terms: a verb (ask), a direct object (lottery winners), and effectively, an infinitive (to invest). Ask => lottery winners => to invest. The ‘lottery winners’ term is clearly objectionable and, indeed, offensive. The Great Thomas Sowell points out that also the other two terms are objectionable, and are in fact weasel words.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.” Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about “investing in the industries of the future”? After Solyndra and other companies in which he “invested” the taxpayers’ money went bankrupt, we haven’t heard those soaring words so much.

Obama’s anti-success rhetoric and weaselly euphemisms are indeed an insult to thinking and freedom-loving Americans. But since there are fewer such Americans nowadays, Obama’s appalling rhetoric works for him. As Sowell puts it:

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

And so the Political Class, led by the likes of Obama and Warren, continues its campaign of sophistry, intended to convince a venal and degraded American public that all money ultimately belongs not to the people who earned it, but to the government, which happens to be controlled by, very conveniently, the Political Class.

This sophistry seems to us deliberate, cynical, and disingenuous. But maybe we’re reading too much into it. Maybe Obama and Warren are just exhibiting the effects of psychological projection. Since Obama and Warren both got rich without producing anything of value, they think that’s how everyone gets rich.

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Grade Inflation Even Worse than It Looks

Graduation ceremonies are being held around the country this week, and many of the graduating students boast very high GPAs. In fact, some students nowadays even graduate with a perfect GPA of 4.0. Back in our day, a 4.0 was unheard of.

Most high-GPA students take great pride in their grades, but we are generally not impressed, even with the students sporting 4.0. We’re not impressed because we know how much, over the years, grades have gotten inflated, and standards have fallen.

Our friend Mark Perry recently commented on a fascinating graph, taken from GradeInflation.com.

gradesMark notes the systematic reordering of the frequency distribution across decades.

Mark_Perry_grade_inflationWhen over 40% of grades are As, a lot of pretty ordinary students are going to have high GPAs. And when even ordinary students get As, it’s highly unfair to the few truly outstanding students because they are left with no way to distinguish themselves.

But the situation is even worse than it appears. Students are not merely receiving higher grades, on average, for the same work. Students are receiving higher grades while working less, on average. A very careful study by economists Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks finds that, since 1961, the average university student’s reported study hours have fallen by about 40 percent.

In 1961, the average student studied 24 hours per week to earn a C+. Now the average student needs to study only 14 hours to earn a B+. That is a dramatic erosion of academic standards.

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Asset Forfeiture Updates

We reported a couple of weeks ago about the case of Lyndon McClellan, a small businessman who had his $107,000 bank account seized by the IRS even though he had committed no crime. The IRS tried to justify the seizure as falling under ‘asset forfeiture’ laws.

Well, we are happy to report that after much public pressure, and litigation by the Institute for Justice, the IRS has relented and has returned McClellan’s $107,000. Note, however, that before returning the money, the thieves in government tried to keep half of it. They also tried to shut McClellan up and stop him from publicizing his case. McClellan received an arrogant letter from an Assistant U.S. Attorney stating as follows.

Whoever made [the case file] public may serve their own interest but will not help this particular case. Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency. My offer is to return 50% of the money.

Well, from our perspective, it’s government thievery that “ratchets up feelings” among the justice-loving and law-abiding citizenry, and our “offer” is for civil forfeiture statues to be entirely repealed or declared unconstitutional. In the meantime, any government agents who attempt to violate citizens’ rights through civil forfeiture should be tarred and feathered.

McClellan’s case is still not entirely resolved, as he and the Institute for Justice are still fighting to get the government to pay interest and costs.

Even after he recovers his bank account, Lyndon is still out tens of thousands of dollars, thanks to the government’s actions. Lyndon paid a $3,000 retainer to a private attorney before IJ took the case on pro bono, and he also paid approximately $19,000 for an accountant to audit his business and to provide other services to help convince the government he did nothing wrong. The government is refusing to pay those expenses. And the government also is refusing to pay interest on the money.

“The government cannot turn Lyndon’s life upside down and then walk away as if nothing happened,” said Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney at the Institute for Justice who represents Lyndon. “Lyndon should not have to pay for the government’s lapse in judgment. And the government certainly should not profit from its misbehavior by keeping the interest that it earned while holding Lyndon’s money. We’ll continue to litigate this case until the government makes Lyndon whole.”

McClellan’s case involved the IRS, but a number of other agencies are using asset forfeiture to steal money. Here’s a recent case involving the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Joseph Rivers was hoping to hit it big. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the aspiring businessman from just outside of Detroit had pulled together $16,000 in seed money to fulfill a lifetime dream of starting a music video company. Last month, Rivers took the first step in that voyage, saying goodbye to the family and friends who had supported him at home and boarding an Amtrak train headed for Los Angeles.

He never made it. From the Albuquerque Journal:

A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied.

The agent found Rivers’s cash, still in a bank envelope. He explained why he had it: He was starting a business in California, and he’d had trouble in the past withdrawing large sums of money from out-of-state banks.

The agents didn’t believe him, according to the article. They said they thought the money was involved in some sort of drug activity. Rivers let them call his mother back home to corroborate the story. They didn’t believe her, either.

The agents found nothing in Rivers’s belongings that indicated that he was involved with the drug trade: no drugs, no guns. They didn’t arrest him or charge him with a crime. But they took his cash anyway, every last cent, under the authority of the Justice Department’s civil asset forfeiture program.

This Rivers guy was definitely railroaded, but he made a big mistake allowing the DEA agent to search his bag. Here’s some worldly advice for our younger readers–never consent to a search by a government agent unless that agent shows you a warrant, signed by a judge. All you have to say is, “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t consent to a search.”

Guess nobody ever told Joseph Rivers that. And it’s surely not something he ever would have been taught in a government school.

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In Defense of Political ‘Corruption’

The Obama Administration this week actually did something we agree with; it approved the first of several necessary permits for Shell to drill some new oil wells in the Arctic, off the coast of Alaska.

Shell has proposed drilling up to six wells within the Burger Prospect in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of the Eskimo village of Wainwright. The Interior Department ordered a halt to a previous drilling plan after it ran into safety problems.

But on Monday, the Interior Department determined that a revised plan “would not cause any significant impacts” to human populations, the environment, historical places or endangered species.

The decision to grant the permit has thrown environmentalists into a tizzy. Bill McKibben, who teaches environmental agitprop at Middlebury College, expressed his frustration at nytimes.com.

The Obama administration’s decision to give Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic shows why we may never win the fight against climate change. Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.

McKibben is correct that this victory for Shell is attributable to their political clout. And political clout involves the ability to deliver to politicians either money or votes. Shell wouldn’t seem to be able to control many people’s votes, so the source of Shell’s power must be money. By hiring lobbyists and contributing to political action committees and other pressure groups, Shell can use money to influence government policy in its favor.

This sort of influence of money on politics is what people often describe as money ‘corrupting’ politics. The idea is that without the influence of money, politicians and regulators would be free to objectively set policies that best serve the public interest. Or, in a more populist version of the theory, without money in politics, the policies enacted would more faithfully represent the will of the people. In this view, special interest money is corrupting, so the way to get better policies and governance is to remove or limit the role of money in politics. This is the argument for enacting legal restrictions on money in politics, such as so-called campaign finance ‘reform.’

The history of campaign finance laws, however, shows that removing money from politics is easier said than done. People will find ways to circumvent the laws, often with unintended and undesirable consequences. Trying to insulate politics from money is like trying to bind jello with a rubber band.

But leaving aside the practical and legal difficulties, would removing money from politics really be a good thing? Does money influence policy for the worse, or for the better?

Consider the case in question–Arctic oil drilling. In this case, it’s quite possible that the political market produced the efficient outcome. Allowing drilling is efficient if drilling produces more value than not drilling (leaving the sites untouched.) Shell was willing and able to devote resources to influencing the political market precisely because Shell expects to make money by drilling. And they expect to make money by drilling because drilling creates value.

The environmentalists also spend money on politics, and they’re willing to do so because they derive value from the opposite policy–not drilling. But in this case, the environmentalists couldn’t match Shell’s clout. Why? Perhaps because they don’t value not-drilling as much as Shell values drilling. In other words, because drilling creates more value than not drilling.

At least to some degree, the influence of money in politics makes the political system operate like a market. And markets are efficient. It follows that selling policies to the highest bidder, which most people call ‘corruption’, would generally improve efficiency.

The logic of the argument, applied to Arctic drilling, goes like this.

=> Drilling creates more value than not drilling (so drilling is the desirable policy) => Since drilling creates more value than not drilling, there’s more money available from drilling => Shell values drilling more than the environmentalists value not drilling => Shell is willing and able to spend more on influencing the political system to approve drilling than environmentalists are willing and able to spend to stop it => the greater resources on the pro-drilling side influence the political system to approve drilling => we get the efficient outcome.

The interesting thing is that, in an efficient political market, the politicians and bureaucrats who make the decisions don’t even have to know anything about the costs and benefits of the policy. All they need to know to make the efficient choice is to side with whichever party spends the most money!

Remove money, however, and the political decision makers would find themselves adrift at sea. We want the politicians and regulators to choose the efficient policy, but how would they know which policy, drilling or not drilling is efficient? To determine which policy creates the most value, the political decision makers would need to have an awful lot of information that would be difficult or impossible for them to obtain. Moreover, the policymakers would have little or no incentive to try very hard to obtain that information. And lacking the relevant information, the decision makers might easily be swayed by misinformation and political propaganda.

This same lack of relevant information would also undermine the results of direct democracy. For instance, suppose we held a plebiscite that asked the American public to vote directly on the question of whether Shell should be permitted to drill in the Arctic. In this case, the overwhelming majority of voters would possess neither the information nor the expertise necessary to evaluate the costs and benefits of drilling. Furthermore, a great many voters would be swayed by appeals based on emotion rather than logic. As a result, direct democracy would not reliably attain the efficient outcome.

Our argument leads to a startlingly counter-intuitive conclusion: opacity and special interest money can lead to better policies than can considered judgment based on transparency and open debate, untainted by money.

We don’t know the details of how, exactly, Shell went about winning over Obama’s Interior Department. That process was relatively opaque, and probably involved activities that Shell and their interlocutors in government would not brag about to their grandchildren. But that process, opaque and perhaps even somewhat sleazy, probably made the right choice on drilling.

In contrast, a freewheeling debate on drilling would likely offer up an object lesson on the limits of knowledge and human reason. For debate alone, without the influence of money, to settle on the efficient choice would require a considerable element of luck.

Opacity and influence peddling–good. Transparency, debate, and considered judgment–bad. The world doesn’t work the way most people naively think it does.

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A Whiny Assault on Academic Standards

Since time immemorial, students have whined and complained about being held to standards. In the past, students just wanted to be cut a bit of slack. But now, the whining is approaching the limits of absurdity as Ivy Leaguers are now claiming to be too emotionally fragile to read the classics of Western Literature. Four student members of Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board wrote the following in the campus newspaper.

During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.

We don’t really know the full story here, but let’s assume the professor did dismiss the student’s objection to reading Ovid. Was the professor wrong to brush off this student’s concerns? Even at libertarian Reason magazine, which was critical of the Columbia activists, the author thought that the professor should have granted the student some concessions.

We don’t know much about what happened between the student and the professor. Was there an assignment or further lectures on Persephone she wished out of? One would hope that when approached privately about such a matter, a professor would be sensitive to the student’s concerns and offer alternative assignment options.

The professor’s job is to teach Ovid. If the student can’t handle that, the problem is the student’s, not the professor’s. The professor has no obligation to give any student a special assignment. If this student is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or some other serious emotional or psychological problem, she should seek professional help. The literature professor’s job is just to teach literature. He or she is not a mental health professional, and should not be expected to have to play that role. Frankly, the professor in this case should just suggest to the student to seek treatment at the campus counseling center.

Of course, this issue wouldn’t even be worth worrying about if it were confined to the rare cases of students who are psychologically damaged. But it’s clear from the Columbia activists’ article that they intend to exempt broad categories of even mentally sound students from having to read literature.

Apollo and Daphne: A triggering sexual assault.

Apollo and Daphne: A triggering sexual assault.

Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.

So the problem is not just Ovid, it’s “so many texts in the Western Canon.” And those who should be exempt include not just rape victims, but persons of color and those with a low-income background.

So, wait, if you grew up poor or non-white, you can’t be expected to handle Western Lit? Does it follow that only those who grew up affluent and white can be expected to handle Western Lit? Is this what is meant by ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations?’

This ‘triggering’ nonsense is actually a dangerous and radical assault on standards in education, and we suspect that most students and faculty do not agree with this agenda. The ‘triggering’ agenda, however, needs to be stopped before it causes grievous damage to academic standards.

The term ‘triggering’ comes from the field of psychology where it referred to people with particular psychological or emotional issues. The proper response to students claiming to be triggered by the Western canon is not to throw out the canon, but to tell the students to seek treatment for their issues.

Or, if the students are otherwise psychologically healthy, they should just grow the hell up.

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Our Favorite UD Graduate

Graduation season is now upon us, so it’s a good time to remember our all-time favorite UD graduate, Father Guido Sarducci, aka Don Novello, Class of 1964. While not a real priest, Father Guido was nonetheless a great humorist, one of several with ties to the Dayton area, including Erma Bombeck and Jonathan Winters.

Father Guido’s popularity peaked sometime back in the 1980s, so most of our current students have never heard of him. But back in 1980, Father Guido foresaw the coming crisis in student debt, and proposed his own solution: The Five-Minute University.

At the Five-Minute University, all of economics gets reduced to just the two words “supply” and “demand.” We have to admit that supply and demand is the single most important concept in the entire discipline of economics. And Father Guido would have well appreciated that fact, since his major at UD was, indeed, economics.

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FBI Spent Years ‘Researching’ the Lyrics to ‘Louie, Louie’ Before Realizing the Copyright Office Must Have Them

An amusing story from TechDirt:

Last week, as you may or may not have heard, a guy named Jack Ely passed away at the age of 71. The name may not be that familiar, but the voice almost certainly is. Jack Ely was — fairly briefly — the lead singer of the Kingsmen, and happened to do a cover song in a single take under poor conditions, that created one of the most memorable songs in rock and roll history, also known as Louie Louie.

You know the song. You also know the lyrics are completely indecipherable. However, with Ely’s death, there’s been renewed attention to the fact that the FBI spent nearly two years investigating the damn song. It is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but the FBI has released the file on its investigation and it’s a rather hilarious read. It turns out it wasn’t just the FBI, but involved the FCC and the Post Office.

[—]

[i]t took nearly two years for someone in the FBI to think, hey, isn’t the song registered at the Copyright Office down the street? Maybe we should send someone over there to find out what it says?

Pop quiz: Did all the money and time spent in the FBI “investigation” affect U.S. GDP?  Why or why not?

Oh, here you go:

Bullwinkle Meets the Administrative State

As we’ve mentioned before, one of our favorite parlor games, which really makes us the life of the party, is to ask people to guess how many bureaucrats are employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. People almost always guess less than 10,000, sometimes only 1,000 or 2,000, and often are astonished to find out that the true answer is approximately 105,000. Then we ask what all those bureaucrats do, and nobody can say, even though their tax dollars are paying for it.

Steven Hayward, quoting a working paper from the Hudson Institute, reminds us of what at least a few of the USDA employees are doing–tracking travel itineraries and reviewing emergency evacuation plans. Sound legit? Except that the subjects of those plans and itineraries are…wait for it…magic show rabbits.

In 1965, Congress responded to a heartbreaking news report of animal abuse with a law requiring licenses for medical laboratories using dogs and cats in their research; in 1970, it amended the statute to cover other animals and “exhibitors” (circuses, animal shows, etc.) as well as research labs. Thirty-five years later, in 2005, a USDA official was attending a children’s magic show in Monett, Missouri, in which the magician, Marty Hahne, pulled a rabbit, Casey, out of his hat. She asked to see Hahne’s license, which he had not known about but immediately obtained. He began paying USDA’s annual license fee and following the agency’s requirements—which included furnishing USDA with itineraries for Casey’s out-of-town travel and agreeing to surprise inspections of his (Hahne’s) home. USDA began contacting other children’s magicians and their association, KIDabra, began playing an intermediary role.

Then, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina later in 2005 (in which some New Orleans exhibition animals were lost), USDA–APHIA initiated rulemaking proceedings for animal disaster-response planning that continued for many years and produced a final rule in December 2012.Soon thereafter, Hahne received a “Dear Members of Our Regulated Community” letter informing him of the new requirements. With the pro bono assistance of a professional disaster-plan consultant, he prepared a 34-page plan analyzing the risk parameters for a single bunny in Christian County, Missouri, including chemical leaks, floods, tornadoes, heat waves, and other emergencies, and specifying evacuation procedures including continued exercise opportunities for Casey and continued care if Hahne and his wife Brenda were incapacitated in the disaster, and other matters.

We don’t know if magic shows or magic show rabbits existed 227 years ago, but we don’t think at that time even the severest anti-federalist critics of the proposed constitution could have imagined that America would eventually see federal resources devoted to tracking the movements and monitoring the well-being of such kept rabbits. Never underestimate the ability of government to grow in scope and power and intrusiveness.

Old joke:

Ross Perot used to tell a story about visiting the Department of Agriculture in Washington where he saw a bureaucrat from the USDA sitting behind a desk crying rivers of tears. Perot said, “My God, man, what in the world is wrong?” The bureaucrat responded, “My farmer died.”

New joke:

“My God, man, what in the world is wrong?” The bureaucrat responded, “My rabbit died.”

Exit question:  Did USDA send Bullwinkle his “Dear Member of Our Regulated Community” letter?

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The government is coming for your handmade soap

Here is the story from Legal Insurrection:

As if there weren’t more important things to be concerned about…

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would further regulate cosmetics including handmade soap. The Personal Care Products Safety Act was introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last month. The bill is currently rattling around in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The stated purpose of the bill is to, “protect consumers and streamline industry compliance by strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate the ingredients in personal care products. While the personal care products industry is projected to exceed $60 billion in U.S. revenue this year, federal regulations on these products have not been updated in 75 years.”

So basically, “I can’t believe we let this industry make all this money without taking more and more of it in 75 years!”

[—]

Essentially, the Personal Care Products Safety Act is another venture in big government glut that would expand the FDA’s jurisdiction thereby creating more bureaucracy, wasting taxpayer money, and hindering small business growth. More specifically though, the bill would impose fees, and add ridiculous reporting and labeling requirements.

Sen. Feinstein boasts support from just about every big cosmetic industry player including:

  • Personal Care Products Council (a trade association representing more than 600 companies in the industry)
  • Johnson & Johnson (brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products)
  • Procter & Gamble (brands include Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana,
  • Gucci, Ivory, Cover Girl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon)
  • Revlon (brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum)
  • Estee Lauder (brands include Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors)
  • Unilever (brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree)
  • L’Oreal (brands include L’Oréal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken)

So it’s pretty much classic regulatory capture. Big firms support it because they can afford it, and it’s too expensive and drives the little firms out of business, preventing any of these little firms from disrupting the industry. Few people catch on to this, and most will think these laws are looking out for the little guy.

Political Class Surrenders on Free Speech

Question: Which would be a problem for America?

A. Citizens who exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech?

OR

B. Armed thugs who try to kill Americans for exercising their right to free speech.

If you listened to America’s decadent, ignorant, and cowardly Political Class for the last couple of days, you’d have to believe the answer was “A”.

In case you haven’t heard, Pamela Geller organized an event in Garland, Texas where she displayed some…wait for it…cartoons. These were the sort of cartoons offensive to islamofascists. Geller’s point was that islamofascists are a threat to freedom of speech. On this point, the event proved Geller to be thoroughly correct, since two armed islamofascist goons attacked the event, but were both shot dead by a policeman.

The next two days witnessed a nauseating display of ignorance and cowardice as America’s Political Class turned on Geller in an appalling case of blaming the victim. In the process, the Political Class demonstrated that it either does not understand the principle of free speech, or lacks the courage to defend it. By attacking Geller, the Political Class is siding with the terrorists, and saying to the rest of America, ‘you have to limit your speech.’ This is like saying to the rape victim, ‘your skirt was too short.’

It’s certainly been an illuminating 48 hours, as so many prominent free-speech quislings have emerged that it’s impossible to list them all. The Hall of Shame includes blowhards Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump, but more troubling, also Laura Ingraham, Brit Hume, and just about everybody on Fox News.

But let’s start with the execrable Chris Cuomo of CNN. Here’s a guy whose father was governor of New York, and whose brother is the current governor of New York, so his Political Class credentials are impeccable. Here’s what Wonder Boy tweeted:

CuomoOK, we did read the Constitution and there does not appear a ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment anywhere in the text. Nor does the case law support Cuomo on this; the Supreme Court has never issued a ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment. Maybe it’s asking too much for Cuomo to know this, since he only got his law degree from Fordham, but the purpose of the First Amendment is not to protect inoffensive speech. Inoffensive speech needs no protection. The purpose of the First Amendment is precisely to protect speech by some citizens that makes other citizens uncomfortable. In America, we have freedom OF speech, not freedom FROM speech.

If you can believe it, ignoramus Cuomo was “chief law and justice correspondent” at ABC News.

Next up, the Washington Post, one of the two leading Political Class newspapers in America. The Post published a piece by Sandhya Somashekhar attacking Geller. Here is the actual title of the piece:

Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas

Wait–why would anyone expect the victim of a terrorist attack to apologize? To whom is she supposed to apologize? Her attackers? ISIS has now announced explicitly that it is targeting Geller for murder. Is Geller supposed to now apologize to ISIS? This piece by Somashekhar ranks as one of the most repugnant and morally inverted pieces of journalism we have read in quite a long time.

For more journalistic dumbassery, we also have a McClatchy piece by Linday Wise and Jonathan Landay, who ask, “After Texas shooting: If free speech is provocative, should there be limits?” And by limits, they mean that the “government should intervene.” In reply, we would merely point out that anyone who believes that government should intervene to restrain “provocative” speech either does not understand the First Amendment or does not support it. For a more detailed reply, see the brilliant takedown by Ken White at Popehat. White’s conclusion is worth quoting:

Wise and Landay don’t answer their own question about “provocation” and don’t provide their readers will tools to get closer to doing so. The answer is no. Speech should not be banned because it is “provocative,” as they use that word. Accepting that premise gives every hothead in the world the right to control our speech by indulging their subjective reactions to it…[I]t’s only at the whim of violent people that their question is so narrow. Nothing restrains [the hotheads] from cultivating a much broader list of speech that makes them violently angry. Established First Amendment exceptions are carefully defined and objective, but “provocation” as a measure of censorship cedes all authority to the offended and provoked. Can people who react violently to speech — to cartoons — be expected to be judicious in selecting the topics that will provoke them to aggression? Wise and Landay are effectively inviting people to be more violent in order to control what speech is permissible. [Emphasis in original.]

Next up in the rogue’s gallery is the mayor of Garland, where the attack occurred. He too, seemed more upset with Pam Geller than with the terrorists.

Mayor Douglas Athas said he wished Ms. Geller, co-founder and president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, hadn’t picked Garland as the site for Sunday’s event, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“Certainly in hindsight, we as a community would be better off if she hadn’t,” he told the paper. “Her actions put my police officers, my citizens and others at risk. Her program invited an incendiary reaction. She picked my community, which does not support in any shape, passion or form, her ideology.

“But at the end of the day, we did our jobs,” he added. “We protected her freedoms and her life.”

Yes, mayor, protecting peoples’ rights, even the rights of people you disagree with, is your job. If that job puts you out too much, maybe you should consider doing something else, like maybe managing a sheep station in New Zealand.

And this is a mayor in Texas. What is this country coming to?

We only have our freedoms because in the past, thousands of brave people fought and died for those freedoms. But it only takes one foolish and cowardly generation to throw everything away. In this regard, our current Political Class is not doing much to inspire confidence.

We close with video of some blonde bimbo on Fox News telling Pam Geller that she and others should allow violent thugs to dictate the limits of speech. That, apparently, is the in-house position at Fox News, that terrorists and thugs should dictate the limits of speech.

Geller survived a murder attempt, and the Fox bimbo tells her, essentially, that the would-be murderers had a point.

And incidentally, isn’t there something offensive about the bimbo telling Geller (2:20), who is Jewish, that her actions need to be more Christian?

Geller, who must be one of the bravest people in America today, acquits herself well.

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