A Radical and yet Familiar Take on Consent

In his novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach argues that by staying in this world, we consent to everything that happens to us, no matter how horrible.

Although expanded to include everything in life, it is a similar argument to the one that, by staying within the territory of a nation, you consent to its government and everything that government does.

Some of the same back-and-forth from that thread would work very well here. When I argued against the claim of consent to government by pointing out there is no better place to go, or that it's quite expensive to move to another nation or might not be legally or physically possible, or that consent doesn't work that way with anything else, the reply was, essentially, "That's your problem."

The reply Bach might make to objections to his idea of consent is the same. If you haven't stepped in front of a fast-moving freight train or eaten a bullet, you have chosen to be here. You know what can happen in this world, you've read the news about cancer, hurricanes, rape, genocide, and all of the other evils that can befall people here, and you've chosen to stay and take those risks. Therefore, you have consented to whatever happens to you.

There is no whining in Mr. Bach's world.

Ouch

Harsh critique of the performances of Clinton and the debate moderator:
. . . it’s not surprising that several other follow-up probes were not attempted.
Probes such as, “Secretary Clinton, if you are the candidate who gets things done, how do you explain your failure to get ClintonCare into law in the 1990s and President Obama’s success in getting HIS plan through the political process? Did you learn anything from that?”
Or, “Secretary Clinton, don’t you really want to get to the same place that Senator Sanders wants to go, but you just can’t figure out how to do it? Or risk arguing for it full-strength before getting elected?”
After the opening flurry over whether we will get to single-payer full-strength, or on the installment plan, the debate moved over to more of Clinton’s comparative strengths on foreign policy experience (if not demonstrated success). And I appreciated the brief nap time.
A few style points along the way. Clinton worked hard to smile more, be less shrill, and stifle her inner school principal/prison matron. (“Must control fist” should have popped up periodically as a cartoon caption above her head). She usually succeeded at this. Sanders injected noticeably several bows toward African-American voters (looking beyond New Hampshire, toward future primary weaknesses), in comments about the death penalty and a couple of other issues.
The Clintonesque laundry list of government interventions everywhere came out at the very end of the debate (so much to do, so little of everyone else’s money to conscript and so little time for her one-way dialog/lecture to conduct….). One of the great howlers was Clinton’s expression of deep concern for the plight of small business. So different from Hillary, circa 1993. Remember this golden oldie: “I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized small business in America.”
I say sign this guy up as a moderator.

In Mother Russia, Nightclub Goes Clubbing on YOU

In fairness, I saw a very similar scene once in Charlotte, North Carolina. Except instead of 'refugees' harassing women, it was a pack of what are sometimes referred to as 'Yankees.' The most aggressive one got as far as lecturing a woman, "Listen, b****, I'm from the Bronx and..." before an impromptu citizens' committee formed to explain the error of their ways.

There weren't 51 of them, though. There were about five.

"Right to Repair"

Say you buy an appliance, it lasts through the warranty period, but then a little while afterward it breaks. Happens all the time, right? So you call the company you bought it from, and they say, "Of course we'll fix it! But since it's out of warranty, there will be a significant repair charge..." and then name a gigantic figure.

"Feh!" you say. "I'll just fix it myself." So you go to buy parts and... can't, because the manufacturer controls production of repair parts and will only sell to their licensed techs. So you go to a junkyard, find a suitably similar model, strip out the parts you need, and go to repair the appliance -- only to discover, after you've installed the replacement parts, that you can't reset the equipment to operate with the new parts without a password encoded into the electronics by the manufacturer. Will they give it to you? No, but you're still free to bring the appliance in to be serviced -- for the original extravagant quote.

That's what this article is about.

Failing this, I wonder if there would be a sufficient market for manufacturers of goods that didn't do these things. I like being able to fix my own cars, motorcycles, stoves, and things like that. Partially, I just like to maximize my independence as a human being. Increasingly, though, that means sticking to really old objects. My truck is twenty years old, but I can fix most things on it if they break. I can also modify it if I want it to work a little differently.

For a certain percentage of people, that's a major thing we really want from a product. If I buy it, I want to own it. I don't want to lease use of it, with an obligation to return to you for repairs and a prohibition against modifying it. I don't want to find out that it has some secret components in it designed to make sure the seller retains ownership over some core critical function. I want to own the things I buy.

These days, that mostly means buying old stuff that was made before the current craze at retaining hidden control over end-users. I wonder if there's enough demand that there would be a market for manufacturers to cater to us.

Oh, Really?

From tonight's debate, Mrs. Clinton: "If you’ve got something to say, say it directly. You will not find that I have ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I have received."

That's funny, because I was just reading this article about weapons deals to countries that donated to you:
Israeli officials were agitated, reportedly complaining to the Obama administration that this substantial enhancement to Saudi air power risked disrupting the region's fragile balance of power. The deal appeared to collide with the State Department’s documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family.

But now, in late 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was formally clearing the sale, asserting that it was in the national interest. At a press conference in Washington to announce the department’s approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been “a top priority” for Clinton personally....

Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The evidence strongly suggests that you traded access to American weapons for large cash donations. I'd be surprised if a little investigation didn't turn up very similar acts of corruption with donors here at home, too.

A Female Muslim Challenges President Obama

Shireen Qudosi did not appreciate the President's chosen symbolism.
Yesterday, at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the audience for President Obama’s speech reflected an Islamist’s vision of today’s Muslim-American community. That setting, promoted by the media and the White House, was meant to teach the American people—and, certainly, the growing number of Muslims in America—what an authentic Muslim looks like. It was a collection of hijab-clad women and long-bearded, severe-faced men.

The choreographed scene didn’t represent American Muslim immigrants like me—reformers, humanists, and critical thinkers—who find no place in Islamist mosques in this country, and are shunned by similarly Islamist pressure groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
She takes a few paragraphs to note the connection of that particular mosque not only to the Muslim Brotherhood but to al Qaeda. Then, she challenges the President's conception of his agenda here:
Sabah Muktar, the bright young college student who introduced Obama, whom the president applauded for pursuing an education and acceptance in an American community, wouldn’t be seen as an equal within her own mosque nor be given space equal to those granted to men. There would be no opportunity for voicing herself or engaging in dialogue during Friday’s khutbah. The heartfelt speech Muktar gave in front of a diverse audience of men and women wouldn’t exist in that mosque outside the vacuum of a presidential visit. Her voice would never be heard.

Obama speaks of the “threats and harassment of Muslim-American [that] have surged,” but he doesn’t speak of the threats and harassment that come from within our own community that silence the debate within Islam that has been an organic part of the faith up until the last 50 years.

...

As Muslim-Americans, we don’t need our ego stroked; we need our egos challenged. Obama spoke of Muslim excellence and heroism in everyday life, but the greatest act of Muslim heroism today is to tackle a decrepit faith.
As I suggested below, though, the real agenda of the speech was completely unspoken. The President's remarks were aimed not at the congregation, but at the American people. But the real purpose of the visit was outreach to the Brotherhood itself. It was a foreign policy speech that never mentioned foreign policy.

Shireen Qudosi isn't on that agenda. She has no power to help quell the crises in the Middle East, which President Obama desperately wants to subside. He is looking for partners over there, and he's willing to sacrifice some things over here in order to get them. Qudosi and Muktar's interests are among those things.

The NRA Wins Again

This time in Maryland, where the "assault weapons ban" was ruled to be in violation of the 2nd Amendment.

UPDATE: HuffPo: "People Have a 'Fundamental Right' to Own Assault Weapons, Court Rules."

Clinton for Prison Update

Representative Chris Stewart says of the Clinton emails, "“They do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets."

Problem Solved!

You know, it's embarrassing that only half of the illegal immigrants ordered to appear for hearings show up. What can we do to stop that from happening?
Undocumented immigrants are no longer given a "notice to appear" order, because they simply ignore them. Judd said that border agents jokingly refer to the NTAs as "notices to disappear."

He said the the new policy "makes mandatory the release, without an NTA, of any person arrested by the Border Patrol for being in the country illegally, as long as they do not have a previous felony arrest conviction and as long as they claim to have been continuously in the United States since January of 2014."
And you thought the Federal government never really solves the problems it takes on.

Sheriff Defends Oregon Occupation

Sheriff David Clarke has a radio show. He recently devoted it to laying out what he thinks is a rational case that the Oregon affair was justified and appropriate. In his opinion, the Federal government was not only overbearing, it was acting well beyond its mandate and in a way that suggests that no rational negotiation was possible. If you remain interested in the case, you can listen to the radio broadcast at the link.

Play Time's Over

Now you know women are in the combat arms for real.

Live long and shoot first

I saw an ad for a t-shirt the other day: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but a hollow point expands on impact."

"Return of Kings" Runs and Hides

Mysteriously, they felt they might not be safe in their gatherings designed to strip the protections against violence from others.

It Depends on What the Meaning of "Islam" Is...

Mr. Obama has elected to visit a mosque with Muslim Brotherhood and known terrorist connections, in order to explain to us -- while ostensibly speaking to the congregation -- that Muslims deserve more respect. It is indeed important to show proper respect to people, and we would be remiss not to notice that there are Muslim Americans who deserve our uttermost.

The problem is that he is quite selective in whom he is prepared to consider a Muslim. As this Power Line article points out, he seems to read the most troublesome actors out of the faith. His Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, has been going so far as to assert that such terrorists are "apostates," meaning that their behavior has actually thrust them outside of the faith from the perspective of the United States government.
On Twitter, Nasser Weddady, a popular online activist who grew up in Syria, mocked Kerry for his comment. Wedaddy and others also jokingly suggested that Kerry was a "takfiri," a word used to describe a Sunni Muslim who accuses others of apostasy.

I'm confused, I thought John Kerry is a roman catholic. Has he converted to Islam without telling us? https://t.co/Rhepido2gU

— weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016

I wanna know how the US ended up with a takfiri Shaikh running the state department..

— weddady (@weddady) February 2, 2016
ISIS and al Qaeda in Iraq are takfiri, which is one of the things that most outraged the Sunni tribes over there. They did not much like being told that they weren't real Muslims. At least ISIS is headed by an actual Islamic cleric, rather than a jackass like John Kerry... well, OK, I suppose Baghdadi is both a real Islamic cleric and a jackass. To say that he's an apostate is to jump in where other Muslims fear to tread. The Fiqh Council of North America (another Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, although one that is exceedingly polite, no friend of ISIS, and with its own thoughts on Islam's place in America) holds that it is only God's business. This extends not only to groups like ISIS but to even to Christians or atheists.
Rejection of belief in God will surely have consequences in the afterlife. However, it is up to God to determine these consequences. Such future determination has no bearing on the respect of the humanity of every person in this life. After all, the human is a free agent, and as such each is individually responsible before God for his/her belief and moral choices. A person can be held accountable in this life only if such a moral choice infringes on the rights of individual or society such as the commission of crimes or acts of aggression. In other words, no human is entitled to dehumanize or punish another on the sole ground that the later is following a different religion or no religion at all. This value implies that peaceful co-existence among followers of all religions and respecting their humanity is not only possible, but also mandated in the Qur’an.
That sounds great, and it is my sincere hope that they really mean it. The Brotherhood has a history, though. It's not just how they acted following their ascension to power in Egypt after the Arab Spring. They were organizing for revolution before the outbreak of WWII. They fielded battalions during WWII on the Nazi side -- not that they were pro-Nazi so much as anti-British, resenting the British colonial period, but they did share some anti-Jewish opinions with the Germans. They switched to unconventional warfare tactics following Rommel's defeat. They assassinated the Prime Minister and attempted to kill members of the Royalist government after the war. They assisted Nasser in his successful coup. Ten minutes later, they started trying to overthrow Nasser. Every time somebody else is stronger, they talk about culture and sport and the nobility of morals; every time they get a shot at power, it's bombs and mob violence.

Nevertheless, the United States executive has a long and interesting relationship with the Brotherhood -- one dating to Eisenhower, but carried on by each successive President until George W. Bush broke it up after the 9/11 attacks. The selection of this particular mosque was not, as Investors Business Daily suggests, a failure of vetting. It was not, as Power Line suggests, willful blindness. It is a message, one of many this President has sent:



UPDATE: Friendly fire from the NYT.

UPDATE: More friendly fire, this time from a Muslim writer who urges his co-religionists to abandon the Muslim Brotherhood's project of 'restoring the caliphate' forever.

Conflict of Interest

Andrew McCarthy writes:
I believe some, if not all, of the communications between Obama and Clinton should be classified. To classify them now, however, would imply wrongdoing on both their parts since they knew they were communicating via private, unsecured e-mail. Essentially, Obama is invoking executive privilege because the effect of doing so — viz., non-disclosure of the e-mails — is the same as the effect of classifying them would be . . . but without the embarrassment that classifying them would entail.
Now we come to the rub: it's not just that the President is protecting his party's nominee. His own gross negligence in allowing her to get away with it might rise to the level of a crime.

An insurance story that isn't a disaster

Much as I despise my new HMO Obamacare policy, which I never, ever wanted, I have to admit they came through for me on cataract surgery this week, even though the surgeon, the facility, and the anesthesiologist were out of network: completely covered. I feel compelled in fairness to acknowledge this success. On the medical front, I dreaded yesterday's operation, but it turned out to be a complete piece of cake. By yesterday evening I already could see better in the new right eye than in the left, after relying almost exclusively on the left eye for some time now and sort of editing out input from the right. I have better distance vision without glasses in the new eye than I have with glasses in the left. I asked the doc to bias my new lens in favor of near vision; he believes that by this evening the swelling will abate and I'll be able to read without glasses, as I almost can already. Medical intervention is getting impressive in many ways.

Concealed Carry Saves a Deputy

Son has a moustache, too.
“I’m alive today because of him,” the deputy, 23-year-old Dylan Dorris said Wednesday, reflecting on the events surrounding a disturbance call outside a Bastrop County gas station Jan. 16. “There are no words to explain it. He’s such an outstanding citizen. He’s here for our country, our community and you really feel the love.”
Ideally, this is how it works.

What if the 2nd Were Repealed?

A thought experiment.
As a legislator and I am always interested in people’s opinions. This is a thought experiment; a hypothetical. There are no right or wrong answers.

* What would you do if all of the requirements of Article V of the Constitution were met and the Second Amendment was repealed?
* What would you do if the Second Amendment was effectively repealed by a US Supreme Court ruling that the right to bear arms does apply to an individual, but only individuals in a militia?
* If the defense of the Second Amendment rests in reference to the Constitution as it stands now, what argument would you use if the Constitution was changed to no longer protect the individual right to bear arms?
* As a law abiding gun owner, would you give up your guns?
* What do you think would happen to violent crime rates, accidental shootings and suicides?
* Would you follow the new law of the land that was legitimately established, just as laws allowing the possession of a firearm have been legitimately established?

I care about the opinions of citizens of America; I would like thoughtful comments in the comment section about what law abiding gun owners would do if the Second Amendment were repealed or if the SCOTUS issued a new ruling reversing the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms.
You can read the answers at the link, but it might be better to give your own in the comments.

Wanted: Independent Prosecutor

The current Secretary of State also sent SECRET information over an unclassified account... to the former Secretary of State.

Somebody's got to clean this mess up, and it can't be someone who reports to any administration. The current administration won't do it, and an opposition administration would be accused of partisan punishment. We need an independent prosecutor dedicated to cleaning house.

Failing that, you know, there's good odds you're putting it in front of Ted Cruz next spring. So maybe if you're the administration you'd like an independent prosecutor, all things considered.

24 March is Sine Day

All right, boys, we just have to get from now until then: the Georgia Legislature's both houses have set the 'without a day' adjournment that marks the end of the 40 day term. Keep watch on them until that day, and we'll be free for a year.

Medical marijuana still seems to have a good chance of being passed in some form this year. Casinos, not so much, but they're still alive.

There's a semi-new gun bill, too: campus carry is back for another try. Georgia's universities are pretty set against it, though, and it'll have a tough fight getting through the Leg in the teeth of opposition from the administrations and police departments of all our major colleges. They can't stop a school shooting in a "gun free zone," but those are statistically rare. From day to day, they want the right to run you off campus (or into jail) if they catch you with a gun.

Chris Kyle Day

This is the second annual Chris Kyle Day in Texas, honoring the 'American Sniper' for his courage on the battlefield and his work with injured veterans back home. I don't do a lot of annual memorial posts -- really just one on 9/11, as a rule -- but I missed it last year when the Texas governor first made it real. It's a good idea, and a worthy addition to the calendar.

From "Avilion," by Sallie Bridges

Written in 1864, this poem pictures a visit to the island of Avalon, given in an alternative spelling, to visit Arthur and -- surprisingly -- Guinevere. I don't know enough about the author, one Sallie Bridges, to do her justice. She wrote a lot of Arthurian poetry, and was apparently inspired by Tennyson. Here is an excerpt describing what she thought it might be like to approach the island:
I turn'd towards the glories of the sky.
The slanting rays shot up the azure arch
In silver streaks that waned in motes away,
Tinging the fleecy clouds with rainbow hues;
We sail'd on golden ripples, whose light foam
Died on th' horizon's verge, where, half in heaven,
A purple island hung with rosy shores;
While stretching off on either side there shone
White lustrous mountains edged with peaks of fire.
We came anear at last. Delicious airs
Play'd o'er my brow, that brought a faint, rare sound
Of distant harmony; while through my limbs
New vigor ran, that sent the dancing blood
Tingling in languid veins, as each heart-throb
More quick and eager with expectance grew.
In buoyant feelings I had long forgot,
My youth and hope came back to me once more;
And, like the slow uprising of a mist,
There roll'd away the darkness that was laid
Between my mind and things I strove to solve;
Deep, secret meanings dawn'd upon my brain,
That had been dull'd with dust, but in this clime
Saw clear the hidden truth. Sorrow and pain,
That woke such wild, blind prayers, look'd only now
As ministers to purify desire;
And e'en the earth's great riddle that we beat
Rebellious will 'gainst, -- ah! I may not show
What grand significance e'en evil took!

I'm All For Learning Experiences

A pro-rape activist -- no, really -- is organizing events in 43 countries.
Valizadeh argued on his blog last year that rape should be legal on private property.

“By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions,” he wrote at the time. “I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property.”

“I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds,” Valizadeh said.
I don't agree, but I do have a modest counter-offer. How about if we make it legal to beat people who advocate for legalized rape, provided that it's done on private property? I think it could be a real learning experience that would teach an important lesson about the underlying principle at work in anti-rape laws. I suspect they would discover a new appreciation for that principle from the experience, one that could settle this debate once and for all.

Coin-Toss in Iowa

Apparently an important part of the process of apportioning delegates. Clinton won a... surprising number of them.

I guess tossing a coin, if it is an honest coin, is as good a way of picking a President as anything. We just need a more random process for determining among whom the coin is choosing to go with it.

UPDATE: C-SPAN reports Clinton fraud in Polk County (which, by the way, is a huge county).

Russian Propaganda Says Hillary Clinton Emails to be Used in Court Trial

Putin's government gets to use the weekend's news both to rub her face in the security lapse, and to advance its own agenda against Ukrainian forces. Here's the intro:
A very intriguing Federal Security Services (FSB) report prepared for The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SLEDKOM) relating to the trial of Ukrainian “spy/terrorist” Nadiya (Nadezhda) Savchenko states that “beyond top secret” emails obtained from a “private computer storage device” belonging to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “should/must” be allowed into the sentencing phase of this case due not only to their “critical relevance”, but, also, because the “apprehension” of them falls outside the purview of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
Naturally you should understand that this is all a pack of lies. There's no reason to believe the emails in question had anything to do with Ukraine, nor that legitimate copies of Clinton's emails will be used in a Russian court. The statement comes only a day or two after the State Department admitted to the existence of these emails. While it is likely that Russian intelligence obtained them, this story is just Putin's propaganda people using the story for advancing the ball.

On the other hand, the 22 emails are 'too damaging to release, even redacted.' So Russia's free to say whatever they want, and to generate any "emails" it wants, and enter them into the court record without fear of contradiction. We might get a denial from Clinton that the emails are genuine, but what's a Clinton denial worth even in America?

It's a very neat trick. Any Russians wondering if the story is true will find ample confirmation that these SAP emails existed in the international press, and that State has refused to release them because they are so damaging. They will find US officials confirming that it is virtually certain that Russian intelligence obtained these emails. Why not believe the story, given all that?

UPDATE: This story, on the other hand, might really be true -- and if so, prison is too good for her.

Feature/Bug

I doubt the survey, but it would be funny if true: Large percentages of federal workers claim they would leave their jobs if Trump were elected. He ought to make a campaign spot out of it.

From Your Lips to God's Ears, Senator!

Elizabeth Warren: "The next president can honor the simple notion that nobody is above the law, but it will happen only if voters demand it."

A Patriot's Take on Oregon

I've posted this guy's videos before: if Arab immigrants were all like him, we couldn't have too many. We might not even be able to have enough. Some of the language is strong, but only a bit.

Ah, the United Nations

In the comments to Tom's post, I was offering super-national organizations as a counterexample on issues of governance. They worked in that one case, but that's not to be misread as a general endorsement by me of them. They are potentially a serious affront to sovereignty, and they can become badly misguided.

For example, just this week the United Nations has had one of its working groups declare that the United States should pay reparations to black Americans, and also 'affirmed abortion as a human right.'

Now, in the past I've defended the plausibility of reparations, but conditioned on the ideal of compensation as settling the matter once and for all. That's not where the working group was headed. They want "reparatory justice" to be accompanied by "monuments and memorials" to make sure, I suppose, that future generations never forget the offense. The whole concept of a weregeld is that the blood money should settle the blood feud. You don't keep bringing it up. It's settled.

As for abortion being a "human right," what about the human's rights whom you are killing? I can accept the necessity of abortion in cases where the mother's life will be lost as well as the child's due to complications in the pregnancy. In that case, though, we're not talking about the exercise of a right but the performance of something akin to a duty. It shouldn't be a choice for which someone should feel guilty, but rather a tragic but necessary action taken to save life.

Internationalism has its place in dispute resolution, but the nice thing about it is that they aren't capable of forcing you to comply. They can make suggestions, but they are just suggestions unless you consent as a nation to be bound.

Why Real-World Democracies Don't Have the Consent of the Governed

Ilya Somin has an interesting article which argues that "the authority of actually existing democratic governments is not based on any meaningful consent. In a genuinely consensual political regime , 'no' means 'no.' But actual governments generally treat 'no' as just another form of 'yes'".

He contrasts our common idea of consensual, e.g., I order something from Amazon and Amazon sends it to me, with the government. One example he uses is that I may vote against a particular law, or a politician who promises to impose that law, and yet if more people vote the other way, the law will be imposed upon me against my will, the exact opposite of what we mean by "consent" in other matters.

He points out that we have no reasonable way to opt out of government control. Moving to another country simply doesn't solve the problem.

Additionally, he points out, the government has no enforceable duty to us. The USSC has repeatedly ruled that the police have no duty to protect you; if they ignore your 911 call and you die because of that, too bad.

So, in short, this is rather like Amazon simply deciding to charge you for things, never sending them, and you having no recourse. If it were not government, backed by overwhelming force, we would never stand for it.

He covers a number of other reasons why current democratic governments are non-consensual and then moves on to why that is important.

... the nonconsensual nature of most government power does not prove that government is necessarily illegitimate, or that democracy has no benefits. Government power might often be justified on consequential grounds, such as its ability to increase social welfare, provide public goods, or curb injustice. ... And democracy still has a variety of advantages over dictatorship or oligarchy. Among other things, those types of regimes are usually even less consensual than democracy is.

But the lack of consent does undercut arguments that we have a duty to obey the government because we have somehow agreed to it or because it represents the “will of the people.” When the government makes unjust laws, it cannot so readily claim we have an automatic duty to obey them, regardless of their content.

Moreover, if government power must be legitimized by its consequences rather than by its supposedly consensual origins, that strengthens the case for imposing tight limits on the state in areas where the consequences are negative, or even ambiguous. ...

And this is pretty much where he leaves it. I wish he would have explored what a consensual government would look like, or even if such a thing is possible. One of his sources, Georgetown Professsor Jason Brennan, argues that it is not.

Brennan, according to his bio, is currently writing two books with the titles Against Democracy and Global Justice as Global Freedom. I can guess where he goes already.

So what about consent and the justification for democracy? What about those consequential justifications? What about the idea of the "social compact / contract" for those who were born into the system and had no say in writing that compact or contract?

Somin is a libertarian, and I also think that's where this leads us: All government is violence: vote for less.

But. I also question the idea of consent as applied only to particulars. Instead of this particular law or that particular tax, consent could be to the system. In this case, democracy looks more like a team sport. I don't consent to the other team scoring a goal -- in fact I do my best to make sure they don't. But I do consent to play the game and abide by the rules and the referees' calls.

That is weak, though. In a sport, if I decide I no longer want to play or abide by the rules, I can quit and do something else with my time. Not so with government. This is a sport we are forced to play. Again, I think the coercive nature of the relationship argues for the minimum government necessary. The less the government impacts my life, the more I can live it in consensual relationships outside of government control. It isn't perfect, but it seems a lot better than the alternatives.

Woah.

Carly Fiorina rings some bells on why Mrs. Clinton cannot be President.

Twenty Seconds in North Georgia

video

An Interview With the Woman in Charge of the T-TIP

Do you have concerns about the damage to national sovereignty from the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? Have you noticed the intense popular opposition to it, and how it steamrollers on without taking much notice? A reporter from the United Kingdom's Independent got a word with the boss, who explains.
When put to her, Malmström acknowledged that a trade deal has never inspired such passionate and widespread opposition. Yet when I asked the trade commissioner how she could continue her persistent promotion of the deal in the face of such massive public opposition, her response came back icy cold: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.”

So who does Cecilia Malmström take her mandate from? Officially, EU commissioners are supposed to follow the elected governments of Europe. Yet the European Commission is carrying on the TTIP negotiations behind closed doors without the proper involvement European governments, let alone MPs or members of the public. British civil servants have admitted to us that they have been kept in the dark throughout the TTIP talks, and that this makes their job impossible.
The T-TIP's mirror image is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which is also being negotiated in secrecy. Congress wasn't allowed to look at the text except in a secured room from which they were not allowed to take notes, and they were sworn not to talk about what they saw. When the Obama administration was asked about opposition, they had the audacity to say that their opponents couldn't name anything specifically wrong with it. Well, indeed they could not: they were forbidden by law.

Both of these treaties need to be shot down or, failing that, abrogated immediately by the first better administration we get.

Babylonian integral calculus?

This article claims the Babylonians knew that the area under a curve showing velocity as a function of time equaled the distance traveled.

When we're not watching

Sheriff's office's got moves.

Common Ground: Daily News

Where do the folks at the Hall get their daily news?

For me, I tend to go to aggregators first:

Real Clear Politics (and its associated sites) does a great job, I think. I particularly like that they'll put opposing articles on top of each other. E.g., from today's RCP:

Clinton Harmed Our Country & Helped Our Adversaries - John Schindler, NY Observer
Hillary Clinton Is the Change America Needs - John Stoehr, The Week


The Drudge Report

Then, I like to follow USA Today, because I like to think it's what the average American who is not totally consumed by politics would see every day instead of all the stuff I read.

I'm afraid I only read a few blogs on a daily or near daily basis. In addition to the Hall:

Instapundit
Ace of Spades

There are a couple of conservative / conservativish sites I check daily:

The Federalist -- One of my favorite places, these days.
PJ Media

I have to confess that I think I should be reading a broader range of stuff. For example, I do little to keep up with what Progressives are saying, or defense news, or international news sources.

So what do you read on a regular basis?

Short Reads for Common Ground

There's a good list of sources which have influenced various members of the Hall at the Common Ground: Sources post. Here, I thought it might be useful to link the shorter ones that could be read relatively quickly. The longest is "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," a novella that might take a couple of sittings. I have included links to the Wikipedia articles on these documents as a starting point for understanding their context, history, etc.

Feel free to add more short sources in the comments, or to give related sources and links (e.g., websites or books that explain or interpret these sources).

The Magna Carta (This is the National Archives page on the document. Here is the text.) (Wikipedia article)

The Declaration of Arbroath (This is the National Archives of Scotland page on it. They offer a PDF with the original Latin and translation in English.) (Wikipedia article)

The Declaration of Independence (Wikipedia article)

The Constitution and Bill of Rights (Wikipedia article)

NB: The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights pages are part of the National Archives's Charters of Freedom website, which has a number of pages which explore the history and impact of these documents.

"Harrison Bergeron", Kurt Vonnegut's short story about the push for complete equality (or, depending on your interpretation, his sarcastic attack on those worried about the push for complete equality) (Wikipedia article)

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novella about life in the Soviet gulags (Wikipedia article)