Currently viewing the category: "Libertarian"

Barack Obama sadOn the occasion of some heroic individual leaking the Department of Justice white paper on the legality of drone strikes, here are some good links. Read them and  try to guess the chances of your getting assassinated by a flying death-robot in the next few months or years.

I am so sorry.Ladies. Am I right, fellows?

I am going to violate feminism right now and tell you to pay attention to several ladies who have nothing to do with each other except their gender and my love for them. Sorry for the tokenism/yay for the greatness.

1) Tavi Gevinson: Ha, laughed some people, Lucy is a god damned hipster after all. Also, she is not a teenage girl, so she is not allowed to be a fan of teenage girls. But, no, Tavi Gevinson is 16 years old and adorable and stylish gave us the best website ever for (technically) teenage girls. It is a web magazine called Rookie. It has a whole mess of stuff, some great, some just okay, but all of it worlds above any content in any print magazine marketed for teenage girls (no offensive, good Sassy, because I don’t remember you).  Tavi, according to her editor’s notes, is also working through ignoring that whole overly self-aware thing where you wonder if you like certain things because they’re cool and hipsterness, blah, blah, blah. Nah, she is genuine, and therefore actually fucking cool. And I am old (relatively speaking) and Tavi is a pipsqueak, but she makes me feel (the way my love Kennedy does) that you don’t have to grow up and wear beige all day so that people take you seriously as an adult. And who wants to do that, anyway? Mismatching, and putting shit you love on your walls and around your house until you die! Woo! (Manic pixie dream girl life crisis? Fuck you, no. The Smiths are pretty great.)

Rookie makes me want to flip off Luddites who scream about the death of print for hours and hours. If you don’t understand why a teenage girl magazine that included “Top Five Cryptoid Crushes” and why Hedy Lemarr  rules in inspired, you were never, ever, ever a weird teenage girl. And that’s okay, but you don’t get it, man.

2) Cary Ann Hearst: Cary Ann Heart of the staggeringly hardcore, cute, and sexy country duo Shovels and Rope. Shovels and Rope who were the best completely mysterious opening band ever. Cary Ann Hearst, who perfectly encapsulates the question usually provoked by male musicians — do I want to be you or marry you? Cary Ann Hearst who is all witty banter and sings all guts. And her hair, her crazy-ass hair. I love this woman. I love her stage persona. I love her chemistry with her (I think) husband Michael Trent. Their records are worth picking up, but their live shows are mandatory. Before you manage the latter, check out this whole series of live performances which I believe will eventually be part of a documentary on the pair. Look here, here, here, and here. Maximum cuteness with her and Michael Trent here. And if she doesn’t break your damn heart and raise the hairs on the back of your neck over here, you have no soul at all.

3) Wendy McElroy: McElroy is the libertarian lady of choice in your life, if you are living correctly. She saw the word “feminist” and was like, yeah, I’ll take that, statists. Her new book, The Art of Being Free, taught me about the best libertarian newspaper dude ever — R. C. Hoiles. It also explicitly looked and talked about the divide between wanting to be both of the two versions of Henry David Thoreau — the one who went to jail so as not to pay a tax that funded war and slavery, and the one who came out of jail, went berry-picking with some boys from town, looked over the rolling Connecticut hills and thought “the state was nowhere to be found.” She knows the conflicts, the warring feelings between just living free and wanting to not help to do evil towards your fellow man and lady. What I mean is, McElroy is the lady who wants to let you be, but she would appreciate you returning the favor.  She is great. Read her.

  • Barack Obama sadObama administration no longer even pretending to be opposed to indefinite detainment, or Gitmo in general. 
  • The New York Times’ John Tierney on why the crime rate in New York City has declined so much — soft on police, but a very good and useful read. I intend to study this further — perhaps while wearing my minarchist hat. I guess I would rather have more police and fewer prisons as well, but I doubt it’s that simple…
  • Two phenomenal ’60s collections of Life photos: a piece of 1969’s drug war, and  a look at Appalachia in 1964.
  • SWAT team silliness and video game hysteria and Sweden!
  • Wonkette is at least as tedious as Gawker whenever the word “libertarian” comes up.
  • Everyone panic!
  • North Korea continues to make everyone want to throw up — even if every single story that appears isn’t true.
  • Colorado prison population declines.  Yay. [Via: John Payne]
  • School choice week, bitches. I say bitches, because this link goes to The Hill.
  • I am a feminist asshole about high heels, I freely admit it. But have you seen The Towering Inferno or other disaster movies? Even with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman saving the day, those are not shoes to flee in. And also, people who lazily lean on the nature of nature vs. nature, remember when men wore high heels?
  • Girls apparently continues the glorious tradition of mocking magazine maestra Jane Pratt. 1) Daria will forever do it — and everything — better because 2) Girls is just pretty okay. But my God, the few times I have visited xojane.com — yeah it deserves to be satirized.

Hot on the heels of President Obama’s 23 new executive orders upping gun control, famed and fearsome conservative commentator Ann Coulter has a new column entitled “Guns don’t kill people, the mentally ill do”. Under that straight to the point headline, Coulter points to the mass-murders at Virginia Tech, Tuscon, and now Sandy Hook and mentions that each of the killers there had a history of mental illness — Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner in particular was feared by several acquaintance and teachers.  And yes, there are rumors, still unconfirmed, that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza snapped because his mother wanted to commit him to a mental institution.

Writes Coulter, not bothering to source anything:

Innumerable studies have found a correlation between severe mental illness and violent behavior. Thirty-one to 61 percent of all homicides committed by disturbed individuals occur during their first psychotic episode — which is why mass murderers often have no criminal record. There’s no time to wait with the mentally ill.

Coulter, of course, doesn’t bother to address the confirmation bias when it comes to trusting “warning signs”. Yes, some people who end up being killers frightened other people beforehand. What about all the people, even seriously mentally ill people, who weirded out their neighbors and teachers and never shot up a schoolhouse? Do they have rights, or don’t they? Coulter suggests no. Because it’s just no longer easy enough to involuntarily commit crazy people.

Or rather, she says don’t take guns from the rational and the law-abiding, instead — well, what?

Coulter bemoans the American Civil Liberties Union who “have decided that being psychotic is a civil right”, thereby making involuntary commitment standards overly strict.  She implies that this is yet another lefty, PC outrage that will spell our demise, but that is all. What exactly to do, and how to do it, is lesft unsaid.

Lefties who cry for gun control, especially the stricter than is popular variety, never seem to answer the question of how it shall be done. Banning guns — even only those that became legal post-assault weapons ban expiration —  sounds great, okay. What’s the punishment for defying the ban? Who is going to make sure it happens? How will it be organized? Do we need another bureaucratic office to oversee the proceedings? Liberals have a habit of crying out for government intervention and ignoring the potential costs in money, time, and on occasion, life. Conservative queen Coulter is doing exactly the same thing here.

If she wants America to “try something new” and make it easier to involuntarily commit individuals, how shall we do it? Will it be up to cops? Professors? Teachers? How long will people be kept? By what standards shall the mentally ill be judged unable to be free? Actual threats of violence, strange behavior, unorthodox opinions, paranoia? When will they be fit to be released? Are there appeals?

There are 300 million guns in America, yes, but according to the National Institute on Mental Health, 1 in 4 Americans suffers from a mood disorder, 1 in 17 from a “serious one.” How many of those 57 million Americans should lose their Second Amendment rights, according to Coulter? Or do you just lock the mentally ill up, thereby ignoring messy gun rights questions altogether?

There’s not really any point to appealing to Coulter’s attachment to civil liberties, because judging by past history, she has none. She does, however, profess a theoretical objection to government excess by mocking liberals and embracing conservatism.

The murderers that Coulter describes should have perhaps been kicked out of their schools, and perhaps prosecuted in the case of the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho who stalked three women. He also spent time refusing to talk. And Adam Lanza had trouble looking people in the eye! However, none of these young men, until they massacred scores of people, had done anything that would justify locking them up indefinitely at a psychiatrist or a judge’s pleasure. And, as Reason’s Jacob Sullum put it today “Stopping Mass Murderers Would Be Easy If Psychiatrists Were Psychics”.

Even law and order conservatives usually think that someone locked up should actually have committed a crime first.  But Coulter offers nothing concrete in policy suggestions, only a breezy disdain for the heroic work of the ACLU, and people like the late Thomas Szasz, who dared to object to easy involuntary commitment.

Coulter, it is worth noting, is also pro-Gitmo, so at least she is consistent in her approval of holding people without trial. But her suggestion that the government “try something new” because “there’s no time to wait” in regards to the mentally ill makes Coulter sound exactly like the big government liberals she so loathes.

For reasons I never quite figured out, I ended up on the Morality in Media email list. Today they sent me a smug, seemingly self-written and self-quoted press release by Dawn Hawkins, their head busy-body. The good news, since potential anti-smut crusader Mitt Romney lost the presidency and all? Well, a 61-year-old pornographer named Ira Isaacs was just sentenced to 48 months in prison, plus three years of “supervised release” and a $10,000 fine. Why? Well, prosecutors know obscenity when they see it. And they must know art when they see it, too. In spite of Isaacs’ pleas that he was making “shock art,” in this third attempt since 2008 to pin charges on him, they finally stuck Isaacs with five federal charges in April.

According to xbiz.com :

In motions prior to sentencing, U.S. prosecutors had attempted to sway the court to enhance Isaacs’ sentencing two levels to seven years and three months by using the theory that “vulnerable victims” were exploited in the commission of federal offenses.

But prosecutors backed off on that plan after [prosecutor Damon] King said in his “tentative view” that the vulnerable victim sentencing adjustment does not apply in the case.

King said that if scat actors consented to performing in the films, then as consenting adults who helped produce obscene materials, they are better characterized as co-participants in the offenses than as victims. The performers at center of the scrapped testimony include Veronica Jett and another former adult performer named April.

The pair of actresses told federal prosecutors that they never would have taken part in several scat films if they had not been high after allegedly being fed drugs by Isaacs at the time of the shoots. Jett attended Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.[…]

The LAPD officer ordered and received through the U.S. mail four videos — “Euro Scat Girls,” “‘My Pony Lover,” “Violet: Dog and Pig Fuckers” and “Hot Girl With Dogs” — that weren’t part of the Isaacs obscenity trial.

King said that because of Isaacs’ post-conviction behavior, he said it was pertinent to sentencing. Diamond, however, asked the court to grant Isaacs full probation.

“I have viewed the videos for this sentencing hearing, and I find them just as obscene as those used in Mr. Isaacs’ conviction,” King said. “He has not accepted his responsibility to the community.”

King further said that he didn’t buy Isaacs’ contention that his operation was based on the vision of art.

“I have totally rejected during the course of the trial that he’s a shock artist,” King said. “He has cloaked himself as a First Amendment defendant. But the fact is that he did it for money. He’s not a defender of the First Amendment. He cheapens the First Amendment.”

Isaacs may be an unrepentant sleaze — he may be less of a charmingly unrepentant sleaze-peddler than good old John Stagliano, who escaped the DOJ’s reach in 2010 — but it’s deeply disturbing that obscenity exist as a category of speech. It’s also troubling and telling that the Department of Justice has continued these pursuits even post-John “cover the boobs of Justice” Ashcroft. Attorney General Eric Holder is not just a lying weasel about guns, drones,  and drugs, he also lets his goons follow their awfully conservative-sounding agenda of hunting down and punishing peddlers of consensual smut.

[Edit: my friend Julia points out that Holder DID at least disband the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force and has been criticized by social cons for not doing “enough” about porn. So he’s not quite as heinous as Ashcroft in this particular area.] 

It’s also really awesome that the LAPD seemingly has nothing better to do with their time than order gross videos from a willing seller, then attempt to bring him to “justice.”

Please note the vague detail that these women claim they wouldn’t have done these films if they hadn’t been “fed drugs.” Might Isaacs be a creep, someone who pressures desperate women? Sure.  Should we shun him at the next libertarian cocktail party? Perhaps.  Are we saying the women didn’t  voluntarily take these non-specific drugs, then voluntarily engage in bestiality?  It’s insanely condescending towards adult females to act like they need to be protected from what is (somewhat arguably) a very bad career and life decision.

And as to the familiar libertarian thought exercise, should bestiality be illegal, well —  there are, logically, ways of engaging in it that are cruel to animals, and ways that are…not so cruel. If women and dogs are the participants, it’s probably moreso the latter. Gross, but so is prison rape. So is prison, period.

The Porn Harms press release notes ends, deeply  satisfied:

“Morality in Media will not rest until the federal laws designed to protect women and children from the porn criminals are fully enforced.”

They may not need the help of a nervous Mormon. Obama’s people are doing just fine.

Isaacs’ attorney says they plan to take their appeal all the way to the 9th Circuit, if possible. Reason’s Jacob Sullum has covered the Ira Isaacs case. Sullum also noted that Isaacs initially faced 25 years in prison. If that’s not obscenity, there’s definitely no such thing.

Cross-posted at The Skeptical Libertarian, where I intend to begin blogging as a contributing editor. Does the fanciness of that title help my ego? It does indeed.

  • “One would like nothing so much as a powerful legislative drone strike against the NRA and the industry it represents as the opening round in a long and relentless war against gun violence.”
  • “I don’t know what you talking about, I voted for Gary Johnson…I’m a libertarian” — Big Boi talks to Alyona Minkovski about, uh, certain assumptions people make about his politics.
  • One of my favorite things about Reason editors in chief is their ability to ruin everyone’s fun re political light heartedness. Seriously, it is one of their grand traditions. Check out Nick Gillespie’s heroically cranky response to the White House’s “cute” reaction to the can we build a Death Star petition.
  • I am starting to feel like I should be a bigger Tarantino fan.  Also, see, Hollywood people, you can do more than just cozy up to Chavez!
  • The Weekly Standard looks at Bill “my dad” Steigerwald’s Dogging Steinbeck book.
  • Gawker mocks libertarians/mostly just mocks Glenn Beck and confuses objectivists with libertarians. 
  • Go, Montana! Be the libertarian dream-state I so wish you were!
  • Every time I see a story about SWAT used for someone with mental health problems, I shudder. What’s the last thing that would make me feel better if I was in such distress? Jesus.