A Power Derived From Mistrust of Police and Government
Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes: Is the gun lobby still invincible? Yeah, pretty much. The reason is trust. And if you want more trust, police and politicians must be more trustworthy.
In 2012, Room for Debate asked ”Is the Gun Lobby Invincible?” Since then, the answer has turned out to be “yeah, pretty much.” And the reason is trust.
According to a recent Pew poll, more Americans support gun rights than gun control. That represents a significant shift over the situation a few decades ago. And I believe the reason is that people don’t trust the government to protect them anymore, and, in fact, that they don’t trust the government in general….(read more)
Thousands march on the legislature to demand a freer vote
Joanna Plucinska reports: Nine months after the Umbrella Revolution began, pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand a say in the way the city’s leader is elected in polls slated for 2017.
“We’re not North Korea, we know what freedom is.”
— Carol Lo, a protester at Sunday’s rally
A crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people—workers and families as well as students and democracy activists—marched on Sunday afternoon from Victoria Park, a traditional gathering place for protests, to the legislature buildings downtown. Many carried yellow umbrellas—adopted as the symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement after protesters took to carrying them during last year’s unrest to protect themselves from police pepper spray.
Others carried signs that read “Citizens Against Pseudo-Universal Suffrage,” declaring their opposition to the form of democracy described in a political reform bill to be voted on by the city’s legislature on June 17. That bill will allow the central government in Beijing, and a 1,200 member electoral college composed mostly of pro-establishment figures, to vet all candidates for the position of Chief Executive, as the city’s top official is known. Similarly unrepresentative electoral methods helped to spark last fall’s Umbrella Revolution, and protesters are once again demanding broader political rights.
“I’m a genuine citizen of Hong Kong, I’m not from China. Most people from China are after money, but I’m after truth.”
— Protester and Uber driver Chao Sang
“We’re not North Korea, we know what freedom is,” said Carol Lo, 35, a protester at Sunday’s rally and a parent of a 9-year-old girl. Lo voiced fears for the political future of Hong Kong’s next generation: “How will [my daughter] survive, if this situation gets worse and worse?” she said.
Another protester, Uber driver Chao Sang, voiced the growing tendency of many Hong Kongers to see themselves as politically, linguistically and culturally separate from mainland Chinese. “I’m a genuine citizen of Hong Kong, I’m not from China,” he told TIME. “Most people from China are after money, but I’m after truth.” Read the rest of this entry »
Danielle Allen is a political theorist at the Institute of Advanced Study and a contributing columnist for The Post. Her research will be the focus of a free conference on the Declaration of Independence titled “Punctuating Happiness,” on June 23 at National Archives in Washington.
Danielle Allen writes: For all that we talk about “original” founding documents, when it comes to the Declaration of Independence at least, we’ve had multiple versions since the earliest days of the revolution. The most important difference among these versions appears in the sentence about self-evident truths.
The manuscripts written out by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the version voted on by Congress, as attested to in the official minutes recorded by Charles Thomson; and the official poster printed up by John Dunlap at Congress’s request, on July 4 and 5, 1776, record a very long second sentence, reading as follows:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
This lengthy sentence is a remarkably cogent expression of the theory of revolution that developed in early modern political thought. The people preserve their right to ensure that their rights are secured. When governments fail to secure those rights, the people may alter their government or, if it comes to it, abolish it and start over.
Yet on July 6, Philadelphia printer Benjamin Towne — who had obtained a copy of the Declaration we know not how — printed an unauthorized version that broke that long sentence into two by placing a period after “pursuit of happiness.” Towne scooped Dunlap, who didn’t get the Declaration into his own paper until July 8. As the first newspaper printing, Towne’s version was circulated extensively and read like this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men are created equal; that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the content of the governed . . .”
In Towne’s printing, both the requirement that government balance the individual right to pursue happiness with the collective safety and happiness of the people and the accompanying theory of revolution drift out of focus. The period after pursuit of happiness leads us to disconnect the opening premise about individual rights from the argument for the positive value of good government and the all-important conclusion about altering governments that fail us.
Last summer, I stood behind a group of high school students at an exhibit about the Declaration. They began reading one of the versions of the text with the period. When they got to “pursuit of happiness,” they lifted their hands in the air, shouted “yes,” and were gone. They got the point about individual rights but not the people’s responsibility to determine principles and organizational forms that achieve their shared safety and happiness. Read the rest of this entry »
Kevin D. Williamson: ‘Today’s discussion suggests that some people have forgotten how government works. Here’s a quick explanation’Posted: April 2, 2015
[VIDEO] Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be Handling the Internet You Love, but at the Speed of GovernmentPosted: February 24, 2015
Meet the Department of the Internet! We’ll be handling the Internet you love, but at the speed of government. https://t.co/xDIjKdpete
— Dept. Of Internet (@Dept_Internet) February 23, 2015
This is not the first time that HKU, among the city’s most prestigious universities, has come under fire from the Hong Kong government and Beijing since the outbreak of student-led protests in September, which followed a decree from Beijing that Hong Kong should elect its leader from a handful of pre-screened candidates.
Isabella Steger reports: A relatively unknown student magazine at the University of Hong Kong may get a surge in readership after Hong Kong’s leader made a reference to the publication, warning that support for ideas it propagates could lead to “anarchy” in the city.
In his annual policy speech, Leung Chun-ying kicked off his address with a series of stern warnings against further attempts by Hong Kong people to challenge Beijing’s authority on the issue of constitutional reform. He specifically named ideas advocating self-determination for Hong Kong published in Undergrad, a monthly Chinese-language magazine published by HKU’s student union.
“The protest showed Beijing that Hong Kong people were not loyal so Beijing ratcheted up interference in Hong Kong, but it also catalyzed a new wave of native ideology.”
— From the article in Undergrad
Saying that Hong Kong problems should be solved by Hong Kong people “violates the constitution,” said Mr. Leung, warning that such slogans could help throw the city into anarchy.
“Regardless of the likelihood of Hong Kong independence…we must fight to the end for the freedom to at least talk about it.”
— Keyvin Wong, a former assistant editor in chief of Undergrad
Under the One Country, Two Systems framework, Hong Kong is supposed to have a high degree of autonomy, but many in the city fear growing encroachment from Beijing. Mr. Leung said Hong Kong’s autonomy is not absolute.
Joshua Wong, the 18 year-old leader of another student protest group Scholarism, called Mr. Leung’s reference to the magazine “stupid” because it will only serve to boost interest in the publication.
This is not the first time that HKU, among the city’s most prestigious universities, has come under fire from the Hong Kong government and Beijing since the outbreak of student-led protests in September, which followed a decree from Beijing that Hong Kong should elect its leader from a handful of pre-screened candidates. Read the rest of this entry »
Perceived Widespread Corruption in U.S. Government on the Rise, Americans Less Satisfied With Freedom
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For Gallup.com, Jon Clifton reports: Fewer Americans are satisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives compared with seven years ago — dropping 12 percentage points from 91% in 2006 to 79% in 2013. In that same period, the percentage of Americans dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives more than doubled, from 9% to 21%.
Gallup asks people in more than 120 countries each year whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives. In 2006, the U.S. ranked among the highest in the world for people reporting satisfaction with their level of freedom. After seven years and a 12-point decline, the U.S. no longer makes the top quartile worldwide.
Of the countries where Gallup asked residents about satisfaction with their freedom in 2006 and 2013 (108 in total), only 10 countries had declines as large or larger than the decrease seen in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) June 1, 2014
Thank you Vox for explaining what a White House correspondent is. pic.twitter.com/kKqdC6LGJK
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) May 3, 2014
“…I think that’s what should be the rule, that it should be legislatures rather than judges who draw the line on what is permissible.”
For National Review Online, Tim Cavanaugh writes: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens supports gutting the Second Amendment in order to remove any limit on government infringements on the right of self-defense.
In his new book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, Stevens — who generally favored maximum government power during his 35-year tenure on the high court — proposes, among other things, changing the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution so that the amendment would read, “ . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms [when serving in the militia] shall not be infringed.”
[Order Justice John Paul Stevens’s book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution from Amazon]
MSNBC Map of Ukraine Features Czechoslovakia
It’s not just CNN that’s struggling with broadcast disasters [see here] MSNBC is having trouble correctly identifying countries on a map. When defending and promoting the president, they’re in top form. But when forced by international events to set aside their priorities and cover the news, it’s amateur hour.
Peggy Noonan writes: Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines?
“America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars…”
Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?
“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.
Or maybe they’re just stupid.
But it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?
The biggest snowstorm of the year hit Washington Wednesday night, closing the federal government on Thursday.
Read the story here
In U.S., 65% Dissatisfied With How Government System Works
Justin McCarthy reports: Sixty-five percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s system of government and how well it works, the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend since 2001. Dissatisfaction is up five points since last year, and has edged above the previous high from 2012 (64%).
Noah Rothman writes: In early December, a year-end review of congressional productivity in 2013 uncovered a bleak truth: The 113th Congress is on pace to be one of the least productive national legislatures in American history.
The news spread across the media landscape like a brushfire with the commentariat entering a race to outdo one another in their disproportionate displays of revulsion over congressional inactivity. Few posited an objective reason for why having a relatively lethargic Congress was so terrible. Many in the press presented this revelation as self-evidently regrettable, feeling no pressure to justify this impression.
In fact, this prejudice within much of the establishment political press to welcome activist government for its own sake has characterized virtually every contentious issue that was publicly litigated over the course of 2013. From New Year’s Day until today, the political media has been pressing, agitating for the Congress to do “something” -– often for its own sake. The efficacy of that something was, in most cases, deemed irrelevant if only by virtue of how rarely the press even discussed the value of those various somethings.
WASHINGTON — George F. Will writes: The education of Barack Obama is a protracted process as he repeatedly alights upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery. In a recent MSNBC interview, he restocked his pantry of excuses for his disappointing results, announcing that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly”:
“We’ve got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways, whether it’s helping to finance them, helping them to export. … So, we’ve proposed, let’s consolidate a bunch of that stuff. The challenge we’ve got is that that requires a law to pass. And, frankly, there are a lot of members of Congress who are chairmen of a particular committee. And they don’t want necessarily consolidations where they would lose jurisdiction over certain aspects of certain policies.”
The dawn is coming up like thunder as Obama notices the sociology of government. He shows no sign, however, of drawing appropriate lessons from it.
I watched this on Fox this morning, and knew it would be on the web within hours. It’s a classic George Will moment.
George Will gently mocked President Obama’s continuing education Sunday morning, needling him for discovering that some federal agencies are “outdated.”
“The education of this president is a protracted and often amusing process. . .as he continues to alight upon the obvious with a sense of profound and original discovery,” Will said.
“The president is saying ‘the trouble with big government is it’s so darn big.’ And like a lot of other big organisms—dinosaurs spring to mind—it has a simple nervous system, it’s sclerotic, it’s governed by inertia, and it’s hard to move,” he said. “This from a man who’s devoted his life to increasing the power of government as an instrument of the redistribution of income because government is wiser than markets at that.”
President Obama says blame the government, not President Obama
President Obama has found someone to blame for the Affordable Care Act’s rolling failures besides Republicans. ObamaCare is the government’s fault, not his.
On Thursday, Mr. Obama dropped by American University for a heart to heart with Chris Matthews, and the MSNBC host wondered who in the executive branch is responsible for the botched health-care rollout. Mr. Obama listed a few impersonal culprits including “cynicism,” “Washington gridlock” and “the management of government,” but he then drifted into another classic.
“The challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization,” he said. “It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier, which is we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly. . . . The White House is just a tiny part of what is a huge, widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world.”
So after five years, Mr. Obama has discovered government is inefficient and wasteful, or at least it is when he needs a political alibi.
Built-in incompetence and bureaucratic inertia are two of the reasons that some of us opposed handing the feds power over, oh, say, one-seventh of the economy. But there’s a special irony here for Mr. Obama, given that the cardinal political project of his Presidency is to rehabilitate the public’s confidence in large activist government.
Romney’s Uncanny Predictions About Obama’s Second Term Make Him Look Like He Had Psychic SuperpowersPosted: November 14, 2013
Michael Miller writes: Prior to the 2012 election, Mitt Romney spoke hundreds – if not thousands – of times about America under an Obama second term. He made predictions. He warned us. He was lambasted by the “mainstream” media. There’s just one problem. Mitt Romney was right. Uncannily so.
J.D. Tuccille writes: Remember Lavabit and Silent Circle, the encrypted email providers that closed their doors because they faced government pressure to enable government snooping on their customers (Silent Circle still offers other privacy services)? Well, you can addCryptoSeal to the mix. The company has ended its CryptoSeal Privacy virtual private network (VPN) service (it still offers enterprise-lever services), which was advertised as “keeps prying eyes off of your internet usage while you’re at home, in a coffee shop or even another country,” also over concerns about the legal environment and government snooping.
According to a note on the CryptoSeal site:
With immediate effect as of this notice, CryptoSeal Privacy, our consumer VPN service, is terminated. All cryptographic keys used in the operation of the service have been zerofilled, and while no logs were produced (by design) during operation of the service, all records created incidental to the operation of the service have been deleted to the best of our ability.