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Showing posts from July, 2013

Two thoughts (and only two) on the Bradley Manning conviction

1.  The judge had little or no choice in this verdict.  It was quite predictable.  "Jury nullification" is not an option for trial officers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  In fact, I'd argue that the judge has been, so far, as lenient as it was possible to be, and sent a significant message in declining to find Manning guilty of providing aid to the enemy. 2. I can't figure out how to triangulate the public reaction to this verdict against the public reaction to the Zimmermann verdict.   In its own way the Manning trial outcome has the potential to be just as divisive as the Florida shooting, but the lines seem to fall much differently.  I've seen people who think Zimmermann was a hero both condemn and praise Manning; likewise with people who believe Zimmermann got away with murder.  Strangely, I find it a hopeful sign that we don't always divide along the same lines.

10 reasons to believe Delaware is a police state

10.  "Universal" background checks for person-to-person firearms exchanges are constituted so that current and retired police officers are exempted from this scrutiny , even though there is ample reason to believe that law enforcement officers (including the retired) commit suicide more often, are prone to domestic violence, suffer high rates of alcoholism/depression, and are resistant to seeking help for mental illness. 9.  Those semi-universal background checks can be examined by law enforcement agents any time, without probable cause, without a warrant . 8.   Red-light traffic cameras turn out (as Libertarians predicted) to be all about raising revenue, and not so much about traffic safety ( which seems to be exactly what Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Louis Schiliro ordered ). 7.   The Wilmington Police Department has an incredibly high usage of tazers to subdue suspects ( a fact that is only reported about when somebody dies after being tazed and the

RIP Bill Morris (1920-2013): Founder of the Libertarian Party of Delaware

William E. "Bill" Morris Founder of the LPD 1920-2013 William E. "Bill" Morris passed away on 25 July 2013, apparently from complications from pneumonia. Bill was the founder of the Libertarian Party of Delaware in 1975, and stayed actively engaged in what he considered an ongoing battle for freedom until just a few months before his death. Those of us who knew Bill will remember him first and foremost as a gentleman and a gentle man.  I cannot recall him ever speaking an intemperate word about another human being, though he could be merciless in arguing against what he considered stupid positions, laws, or policies. Here's what I specifically recall about Bill from knowing him during the last decade of his life: (1) When Bill ran for US Senate in 2004 he shared a debate stage in Dover with Tom Carper and whichever sacrificial Republican (some guy named Bill Roth) was up that year.  Carper, who never takes chances, ignored Bill through most of the

How Delaware's police track you (even if you are not a criminal)

The Automated License Plate Reader (vehicle mounted) The ACLU recently published You are being tracked:  How license plate readers are being used to record Americans' movements , in which the proliferation of ALPRs [Automated License Plate Readers] among law enforcement agencies nationwide is discussed: The implementation of automatic license plate readers poses serious privacy and other civil liberties threats.  More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives.  The knowledge that one is subject to constant monitoring can chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association. Databases of license plate reader information create opportunities for institutional abuse, such as using them to identify protest attendees merely because these individuals

It's official: Dems and GOPers come together to eliminate the US Constitution

From HuffPo : So I have some great news folks! The Republicans and the Democrats in Congress and the White House FINALLY came together and agreed on something. This is HUGE. These guys disagree on EVERYTHING! Getting them to see eye-to-eye is like getting the Jews and the Palestinians to do a trust fall together. Or getting Eskimos and polar bears to play Jenga.   I'm referring to the bill  H.R. 347  that was signed by President Obama the other day, passed unanimously in the Senate, and 388-3 in the House. That's nearly EVERY SINGLE lawmaker. The last time they agreed that closely on something, it was a bill raising monthly Congressional pay to include a box of Ding Dongs, two erotic cakes featuring  Bonanza  star Pernell Roberts, and a gentle yet inquisitive prostate exam every Tuesday.   What did this magical universally-loved bill say? Well some are calling it the anti-Occupy law and it allows the government to bring charges against Americans involved in many kinds of

Government gone nuts: three head-scratchers from today's WNJ

First, what's wrong with this picture ? Top state officials begin meetings today to discuss options to buoy Delaware’s casinos in the face of growing regional competition.   The meetings begin less than a month after lawmakers approved an $8 million casino bailout to cover higher anticipated costs to vendors who provide slot machines for Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway and Casino.   Delaware  Finance  Secretary Tom Cook will chair the board. Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, also is a member. Both are members of Gov. Jack Markell’s Cabinet.   Six state lawmakers, including Democratic House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, will serve on the committee, as well as a representative of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The committee will meet for six months and report back to the General Assembly by January.   Casino executives, who do not have a seat on the task force, are expected to continue lobbying state lawmaker

Interviewing Louis J. Schiliro, DE Homeland Security Czar

Louis J. Schiliro, our Homeland Security czar The whole interview actually took place about a year ago in Security Management, the PR blog for ASIS International, which does puff pieces on "security professionals."  But you would never have read it--because you weren't supposed to. But since this is hardly investigative journalism, I thought it would be instructive to provide a little context on the things that Mr. Schiliro, Delaware's Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security DOES and DOES not say. For example, when asked the question, "What assets and threats make the state unique?" Mr. Schiliro [who has presided over a gigantic mushrooming of the state Homeland Security budget since 2009], admitted that the chief terrorist threat to Delaware is ... snow and rain: We have a small state, but many of the same issues that the larger states do, just in terms of the things that we need to plan and prepare for. As it stands right now the issues that we

When progressives make libertarian arguments and the WNJ censors itself

Today's story in the WNJ that Senator Carper, Senator Coons, and Governor Markell all oppose the reinstatement of anything resembling Glass-Steagall on our "too big to fail" banks is pretty damn predictable. Those corporations bought and paid for these individuals a long time ago, and though Coons managed to keep his image of an actual liberal/progressive for longer than Carper and Markell, as they in the investment world:   Sooner or later, there will always be a margin call ... Curiously, however, the WNJ has scrubbed the following paragraph from its current online edition of the story: Returning to Glass-Steagall would go further, but the legislation doesn't have much support in Delaware, where banks employ thousands and are powerful contributors to political campaigns. It is, however, at least a little silver lining to find cassandra m of Delawareliberal in a rare fit of spouting libertarian economics in response : There is little doubt that markets and

Delaware's Fusion Center [DIAC]: More on Big Brother

Sometimes we all laugh (a bit nervously perhaps) at the idea that Google eventually wants to have access to every piece of information on Earth. We should not be laughing, however, at the intention of the Delaware Information Analysis Center (1575 McKee Road, Dover) to eventually have access to every piece of information about Delaware. It is a lot closer to happening than you think. For example, as I have covered here before, the DIAC offered a mobile app available for you to download that would allow you to report the "suspicious" behavior of your friends and neighbors in realtime, but which also did oh so much more : After installation of the app, the fusion center can manipulate the camera application on a phone whenever it is running, allowing it "at any time to collect images the camera is seeing." The app can also tell the fusion center exactly where you are at all times, because by downloading it you've given it permission to monitor your GPS l

GOP gubernatorial candidate in Va leading the right flank in the war on women ... and men ...

... by actively campaigning to re-institute the Old Dominion's anti-sodomy law that makes oral or anal sex between consenting adult a felony ... Ken Cuccinelli, the current VA Attorney General, claims that it's all for the children and the need to have this law to protect them from sexual predators. He's apparently not bright enough to figure out how to write a law that criminalizes sex acts with minors without turning amorous adults into felons. Or else he really does think the State should be in your bedroom. Yes, Virginia (and Delaware), there really IS a difference between Libertarians and Republicans.

Where Jack Markell gets his ideas

... from President Barack Obama, who has found the only way to cut the world's largest "defense" budget without cutting any weapon systems or deployments ... He'll just cut the health benefits for active and retired troops, while maintaining them for unionized civilian DoD employees.   Military personnel would see their annual Tricare premiums increase anywhere from 30 - 78 percent in the first year, followed by sharply increased premiums "ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels." "According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048," Gertz wrote. Active duty military personnel would also see an increased cost for pharmaceuticals, and the incentive to use less expensive generic drugs would be gone. See? Markell over five years has (a) never proposed a raise for state employees; (b) has trimmed their health care and retirem

The wrong response to Jenny McCarthy

I have been watching and listening to the ABC/The View/Jenny McCarthy hysteria both nationally and in Delaware. I don't have to link to it, because unless you live in a cave and don't have wireless you know that ABC has been royally roasted for putting Jenny McCarthy on The View to replace Elizabeth Hasselback because apparently when she gets on the air millions of impressionable parents will cease vaccinating their children and we will be overrun by The Walking Dead ...

The "Promoting Charter-District Collaboration Task Force": a lesson in Delaware politics

So we are now filling the newest education task force, and I am pleased to see Representative Paul Baumbach on the committee (although one wonders if he counter-balances Senator Dave Sokola). But the task force itself gives me the opportunity to address the fact that in Delaware you have to have an organization to get ahead: Let's first notice that you cannot apply directly to be on this task force.  You must be appointed by an "authority"--that is, a specific special interest group recognized by the Delaware government. Most of these organizations have extensive and known agendas, and can be counted upon to use their opportunities to appoint to add the usual suspects and avoid anyone with really divergent ideas. For example:  don't look for DSEA to appoint Mike Matthews, for the Chief School Officers Association to appoint Dr. Freeman Williams, or for the Delaware School Boards Association to appoint Harrie Ellen Minnehan. Also, don't look for a

Sadly, it is time to put Ted Kaufman out to pasture

I like Ted Kaufman--hardly ever agree with him, but I have always admired his integrity and his intellectual consistency. Until today. The horrible whitewashing of the Obama administration's surveillance programs is not just unbecoming for a man of Kaufman's credentials and experience, but could most hopefully be taken as a sign of early dementia (and least charitably taken as a sign he's been bought off). Here is Kaufman on surveillance and the FISA court , with the realities he chooses to gloss over provided in between:

Don't mess with Texas ... women

Libertarians differ over abortion; I fall into the camp that supports women's abortion rights (I refuse to use the ridiculous weasel terms "pro choice" and "pro life). But there are libertarians who hold that abortion is murder, and that therefore its prevention is one of the few legitimate usages of state power, and we manage to co-exist. However, there is NOTHING remotely libertarian about what Texas passed yesterday.  Instead, we have the Texas GOP using the power of the state to coerce women into specific decisions.  You want to make abortion illegal--fine, go for it.  But for the State to tell women which clinics they can patronize based on the thin fantasy that they are insuring better quality medical care is simple (and, yes, I'm going there) another facet of the conservative war on women. My position is pretty simple:  women have the right to choose their own medical care and procedures, period.  Whether it is abortion, home birth, breast implants,

Libertarians, Rand Paul, the Civil War, neo-Confederates, and why none of this matters

What you think you know about the significance of this photo of elderly US and CS veterans is very likely as wrong as what you think you know about Civil War history, at least if you haven't read David Blight or John Coski or Ervin Jordan, and instead depend on Thomas DiLorenzo or Paul Krugman for your history. Now that Paul Krugman has felt compelled to attack "libertarian populism" (which is his own particular formulation and absolutely nothing to do with libertarians, just sayin'), it is evident that a lot of people are worried about the influence of ideas that just a few years back they dismissed as lacking any traction at all. Krugman, of course, is attempting to pile on to the Rand Paul/Jack Hunter "controversy," and the attempt not just to tar the Kentucky Senator (who may or may not be sort of a libertarian depending on who you talk to) with neo-Confederate leanings, but to claim that Libertarians will never shake their neo-Confederate ties .

News Journal comes out in favor of grade inflation, diploma mills for state universities

At least, that's what you will get if you tie state aid to graduation rates. Want to see UD and DSU hit graduation rates of over 90%? Tell them that the more students they push through, the more money you will give them. Brilliant. And what they will then tell me as the professor is to give everybody As and Bs if you want to still have a job. Oh--and for complete idiocy--this editorial started out complaining that there were TOO MANY college graduates as it is.

Capitalism--Delaware style

... because I like my picture better than theirs .

I'm beginning to understand this gun control thing

I believe I've been going about this the wrong way. It is obviously important that the mentally ill (or even just the mentally queasy) be kept away from guns.  It's not just for the violence that they might do to other people, but also what injury they might do to themselves. So that's why Delaware legislators passed "universal" background checks and tried to pass a bill to keep firearms away from people with signs of mental illness. Now, let's suppose there was a definable sub-population of Americans--say about 1,000,000 people--who had the following characteristics: 1.  They attempted or committed suicide at more than twice the national average. 2.  About 23-25% of them were known to have serious drinking problems. 3.  They have a history of higher than average domestic abuse rates. 4.  They tend to be involved in shooting fatalities at a rate as much as ten times higher than even highly urban populations. 5.  As a group they are highly resis

Disarming Delaware: one step at a time

Although only one major piece of gun control legislation ( SB 35; universal background checks ) actually passed the General Assembly this year, and--of course--advocates of "common sense gun laws" said they were not attempting to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, the truth is somewhat different. The truth is that we are in the midst of a conscious effort to chill the atmosphere for legitimate gun owners in Delaware until we reach the point where there will be no legitimate gun ownership in the state. Consider the following three exhibits from this week's news: Exhibit 1:   Wal-Mart stops selling firearms in Delaware.  Why?  Because SB 35 would have required the Sporting Goods departments of Wal-Mart to conduct third-party background checks even for people not purchasing a gun from the store, and the ambiguity of the law led Wal-Mart's liability attorneys to conclude that people wanting to trade or sell guns privately might well reach the

Nobody cares.

It's not like he's actually running our non-existent foreign policy, anyway. The picture that proves Secretary of State John Kerry HAS been out on his boat while Egypt plunges into chaos - after his spokesman denied he had been sailing in Nantucket

Germany's elimination of cultural pluralism in education: coming to America?

It is not so much the fact that home schooling is illegal in Germany, or even that home schooling is illegal in Germany based on a Nazi-era law (1938), but the rational for its illegality that is troubling: In 2003, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, its highest court, reaffirmed the government’s authority to compel attendance in state- run schools and held that the state’s interest in ensuring access to adequate education outweighed the parents’ interest in choosing how to educate their children. Oddly the German court defended its decision as strengthening cultural plurality : “ The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area. Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close

Listening to the sausage being made in the General Assembly

During the, ah, Special Session of the Delaware Senate in the wee hours of the morning I listened to two items of interest. The first was interesting because of the substance:  I was hoping that HB 194, the bill to raise penalties on non-certified non-nurse midwives, would fail.  In that debate, when Senator Karen Petersen brought up the Canadian study published in 2009 (which tracked over 13,000 births at home and in hospitals), either Senator Hall-Long or her witness (it was impossible to tell from the audio), simply lied about the study.  She (I could tell that much from the audio) blandly told Senator Petersen that the Canadian study had only involved nurse  midwives, not non-nurse  wives. In point of fact, exactly the opposite was true.  But Senator Petersen lacked the full data on the study right at that moment, and the measure passed, at least in part because somebody simply stood up and lied about the facts of the case.

Today Senator Karen Petersen, Corey Marshall-Steele, and others got married in Delaware

Yesterday, while the General Assembly was in session and we were all focused on the fate of our particular favorites (or un-favorites) among the flurry of legislation, couples all over Delaware were counting down the hours to get to the day they had waited for ... often for years or decades. The Libertarian Party of Delaware applauds the expansion of human freedom wherever it occurs, but today it occurred here in Delaware. And, oh, although it's not in keeping with the tone of the rest of this post, here's a message for the psychos from Westboro Baptist after the break ...

General Assembly wrap-up for Libertarians: good news & bad from the midnight session

Good news:  the badly flawed HB 88 did not come back for reconsideration.  Word had it that Beau Biden was working Senator Marshall really hard for a reconsideration, but he didn't get it. The AG did get his bail bond constitutional amendment, however.  That's not good news for a lot of poor people in Delaware. Unfortunately, the very last thing that the Senate did at about 12.40 AM was to pass HB 194 that creates stiffer penalties for what one bureaucrat witness called "rogue" non-nurse midwives. She and Senator Hall-Long had to lie to get the bill passed, however.  After Senator Dave Lawson stood up and shared that he and his ten siblings were born at home under the management of a midwife, Senator Karen Petersen made a brave effort to bring some science into the room. I had written Senator Petersen and clued her in about the Canadian study that showed the risk of birth by midwife was no more dangerous than birth in a hospital, and led to few complications,