Archive | May 7, 2009

Jingo Bells

I just sent an email to Keith Olbermann saying:

I detest Sean Hannity too, but when you start throwing the word “treason” around in criticizing his analogies with the American Revolution, you come across like Joe McCarthy and make Hannity look good. Please leave the jingoistic nationalist rhetoric to the Republicans.

For Great Justice! or, Bob Barr Wants You to Stop Worrying and Trust the Government

Bob Barr, last year’s (ho ho ha ha) “Libertarian” candidate for president, is dismayed that the American people are losing their trust in government. Yes, you read that right.

Big Brother BarrBarr is particularly upset that “the U.S. Department of Justice is among the least trusted of federal agencies. … Nearly four times more Americans found the Postal Service worthy of their trust than they did Justice. ”

Why is that such a bad thing? Barr explains:

Confidence in the Justice Department’s ability to operate according to high standards of fairness is essential to upholding the rule of law in America. Lack of trust in government erodes the ability of the Justice Department to successfully prosecute important cases, including those involving corruption in government. If the citizenry lacks trust in law enforcement, especially at the federal level, they will be more hesitant to bring information to the government’s attention. If the average citizen perceives top government officials as thumbing their noses at the law, those citizens may feel emboldened to themselves violate the laws.

Okay, so Barr’s reasons for thinking it’s a bad thing are all reasons for real libertarians to think it’s a good thing. The Justice Department is the enemy; libertarians don’t want to make it easier for the Justice Department to “prosecute important cases.” Nor are libertarians eager to see citizens “bring information to the government’s attention”; a culture in which people are constantly informing on their neighbours is not one conducive to liberty. The attitude that Barr complains about, of skepticism and disrespect toward the established laws, is just the sort of attitude libertarians seek to foster.

It may be objected: aren’t many of the established laws just? and aren’t many of the crimes the Justice Department prosecutes genuine invasions of person or property that violate natural law?

Sure. But that’s going to be true of just about any legal system. In Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, ordinary citizens were for the most part forbidden to kill, rob, defraud, and assault one another; many of the crimes prosecuted even under those regimes were no doubt genuine crimes that deserved to be prosecuted. But that’s no argument for saying that it would have been bad to inculcate a culture of distrust toward government under such regimes.

Admittedly, our Department of Justice can’t yet get away with as much as the legal authorities in those countries could. But take a look through the links in the “What We Do” sidebar at the right side of the handy-dandy DOJ website and see what by their own admission they are already empowered to do: these are the folks who enforce such liberty-destroying policies as drug prohibition, gun control, immigration restrictions, tax laws, antitrust laws, obscenity laws, intellectual property laws, the PATRIOT Act, and a host of economic regulations mostly designed to make it harder for small businesses to compete with bigger, richer ones (e.g., the American Disabilities Act). They’re also the folks who run our horrific prison system.

So they also prosecute some genuine bad guys? Who gives a damn? We could do that without them. The real problem is that people aren’t yet distrustful enough of the Justice Department.

The Purr-loined Litter

I just saw an ad that said: “Never touch, breathe, smell, or handle cat litter again.”

I have no particular hankering to handle cat litter, but if the alternative means giving up on being able to touch, breathe, and smell, then thanks but no thanks.

P.S. – I would like to apologise most abjectly for this post’s title.

P.P.S. – I would like to, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to.

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