Trick or treat
It’s been a rough week for the future president of the United States Penitentiary Hazelton. It began with the comically phony ABC poll showing Her Majesty up by twelve points, which is just about bang-on twice Barack Obama’s advantage over John McCain when he won in a landslide in 2008, and would require an entirely impossible pattern of votes in order to be true. ABC walked this poll back in a hurry, and we were once again reassured that only horrible conspiracy theorists could possibly think anything was funny about it.
Then Wikileaks delivered this delightful gem from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s e-mails, in which the chairman and his associates discuss exactly how they intend to rig the polls. Turns out I was right all along!
(With apologies to Robert Nozick)
Let us begin at the beginning. We stipulate that you live in a house, and in your house is a television. You own this television free and clear. One day, you go away on vacation, and I (without your permission, of course) smash in your front window, take the television, and leave. I submit that this is a clear case of theft: I have stolen your television. Your television, which is unambiguously your property, has been ferreted away in the dark of night without your consent.
Now let’s mix things up a bit and see what shakes out.
The naked truth
(Alternative headlines: "the naked city," "the empress’ new clothes," "Bare Stearns")
You gotta hand it to the New York Daily News; loony-left though it may be, the commie rag nonetheless manages to run some quintessentially New York stories, such as this charming missive about a naked statue of Hillary Clinton put up in Manhattan, and the spasms of violence that ensued almost immediately. The Daily News also has a talent for giving stories humongously unappetizing headlines; this one opens with "SEE IT: Naked statue of Hillary Clinton," which: no thank you.
An artist erected an obscene statue of Hillary Clinton in downtown Manhattan Tuesday morning causing a heated fight between defenders of the profane piece of protest art and women trying to tear it down.
The grotesque caricature of the Democratic candidate appeared outside the Bowling Green station during morning rush hour on Tuesday and shows Clinton with hoofed feet and a Wall Street banker resting his head on her bare breasts.
Man, those Trump supporters and their violent behavior, you know? I fully expect to hear that the attacker — a government employee called Nancy who works for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (a federal agency) — is a big Trump backer. That sounds like the right profile, doesn’t it? I expect her backup — an unidentified woman in a hijab — is also a Trumpista.
Interesting world we find ourselves in, this, what with both major-party presidential candidates claiming that the election is rigged. On the one hand, we have Hillary von Parkinson, Duchess of Slime, beating the war drums by reassuring her supporters that the Soviet Union still exists, and this time it’s hacked into all the elections! Much though I appreciate the incoherent idea that Donald Trump is at once a Nazi and a Soviet, I am still compelled to note that, contra what you may be led to believe, World War II ended a while ago.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has just scandalized the mainstream media — which is to say: the Hillary 4 Eva Super PAC — by refusing to accept the results of an election that hasn’t happened yet. According to the paid Democratic Party interns that pretend to journalism for Politico, this is an unreasonable statement that could destroy democracy and the office of the president, whatever that means. Don’t get me wrong, now: I’m 100% in favor of that outcome, but it’s not going to occur. But just think for a minute: what exactly is Politico so worked up about? Imagine you and I are in a big connect-the-dots tournament, and, three weeks before the tournament is held, I come to you and ask “hey, will you promise to accept that I’m not cheating no matter what happens?” What’s your answer going to be? Are you sufficiently credulous to say yes to that? What if, instead of a plastic "Best Try 2016" trophy, the prize were billions of dollars and world domination? Obviously nobody’s going to agree in advance that the contest necessarily will be fair. Per usual, this is a bunch of nonsensical manufactured outrage.
All year long, something’s been troubling me. Every time I see Hillary Clinton’s odd, empty expressions, listen to her scripted patter and mad cackling… it’s something I’ve seen before somewhere. In the 2008 presidential campaign, and during her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was there, but now the lights have gone out, and she appears more of an empty shell, like there’s just enough of her to fill a pantsuit and no more. Something of a grim echo, but of what? Now I comprehend just exactly what it was.
She said, trying to speak steadily: ‘If you proclaim yourself king, they will come from France to fight you. Then we shall have a double war instead of a single one, and it will be fought in England. The whole fellowship will be blotted out.’
He smiled in pure delight.
‘It seems unforgivable,’ she said, pinching the embroidery.
There was nothing she could do. For a moment it crossed her mind that if she humiliated herself to him, knelt down on her stiff old knees to plead for mercy, he might be soothed. But it was evidently hopeless. He was fixed in a course, like a ball in a groove. Even his conversation was, as it were, a spoken part. It would end according to the script.
‘Mordred,’ she said helplessly, ‘have pity on the country people, if you will have none on Arthur or on me.’
He pushed the pug off his lap and stood up, smiling at her with crazy satisfaction. He stretched himself, looking down on her, but not seeing her at all.
It can’t happen there
Let’s begin at the end, with the interesting tweet Wikileaks put out Sunday evening:
Julian Assange, the controversial editor of Wikileaks, has been unlawfully confined within the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost six years now. Throughout all that time, he’s maintained his presence on the internet, continued operating Wikileaks, and assisted whistleblowers (such as Edward Snowden) in escaping the clutches of angry governments. Suddenly, six years into his internment, his internet connection has been "intentionally severed by a state actor." Why now? I’m sure I have no idea.
One of the foundational questions libertarians need to have a response to is the ever-popular "who will build the roads?" The question has a sort of superficial plausibility to it; most of the roads we see in our daily lives, after all, were built by, and are allegedly maintained by, some government or other. There is, however, no substance to the idea; the best and most concise explanation of how absurd this question is was given by Tom Woods, who said:
"Who will build the roads?" is the question that belongs at the top of every libertarian drinking game. If we didn’t have forced labor, the argument runs, there would be no roads. There’d be a Sears store over there, and your house over here, and everyone involved would just be standing there scratching their heads.
Clearly roads are a socially desirable good, and, given that it’s rather a challenge for people to get to work or go shopping — which is to say: produce or consume — without them, there’s quite an obvious and powerful incentive to build them. It should go without saying that, even in the absence of coercion, roads would get built. As to the specific question of who would build them, here it’s important for libertarians to be cautious; there’s a natural tendency to push the argument too far and attempt to outline some scheme by which we imagine the roads could be built, but, in reality, the most a libertarian can say in response to "who would build the roads if not the government" is "somebody else."
This is the end, my only friend
It’s not just the utterly unhinged Hillary Clinton anymore; now we have general Mark Milley, U.S. Army chief of staff, going on record threatening open war against Russia for unspecified "harms:"
The U.S. Army’s chief of staff on Tuesday issued a stern warning to potential threats such as Russia and vowed the service will defeat any foe in ground combat.
"The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven’t faced in many, many decades," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm… the United States military — despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing — we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that."
Your humble narrator is compelled to point out that history doesn’t contain a very comprehensive set of examples of Russia being beaten before. At least United States Army chief of staff Milley had the presence of mind to clarify which nation he claims membership in — a point that probably needed repeating at the Association of the United States Army’s meeting in the capital of the United States.
I’m not entirely sure who first coined the phrase "Trump Derangement Syndrome," but whoever it was hit the nail on the head. The term accurately describes the way the media — first during the primary season, and even moreso since — seems to lose touch with reality wherever Trump is concerned. Whether they’re breathlessly reporting that Trump didn’t evict lawful Iranian tenants from a building he bought in 1998, reading secret Nazi codes into his campaign announcements, pretending obvious jokes are sincere invitations to establish a new Soviet Union, declaring him both a terrorist and a toddler, or whatever other crazy thing, media flacks just become entirely unhinged when the subject turns to Trump.
It’s interesting that, while Trump Derangement Syndrome hasn’t really accomplished much by way of stopping Trump, it appears to be rather contagious. I’ve noticed an increasing number of regular people who appear to be coming down with this dread disease in recent weeks, as is brilliantly illustrated by this conversation (paraphrased, of course, but close to the original) between two of my dyed-in-the-wool Democrat-4-life friends:
Dr. Walter Block made waves recently with his claim that stop-and-frisk policing is compatible with libertarianism. On the surface, the claim seems entirely lunatic; surely Judge Napolitano is correct when he labels it the act of "an authoritarian police state." One thing I’ve learned over the years, though, is that, while one may not always agree with Dr. Block, it is always and everywhere a mistake to disregard him. If Dr. Block thinks a thing, it should be regarded as a position reasonable people may hold, and this is no exception. So we can stipulate that it’s reasonable, but is it correct?
First, we should dispense with the case of private police. If the police are entirely private, operating on private property, then there is clearly no libertarian case to be made against stop-and-frisk. If it is my property, I can set whatever conditions I desire on its occupancy, and that includes submission to random pat-downs. If you don’t wish to submit to my stop-and-frisky police, then your solution is simple: leave (or do not enter) my property. Is this "authoritarian?" Perhaps, but it should be noted that a proper libertarian society would permit such pockets of authoritarianism as long as the authoritarians restrict themselves to being authoritarian over their own property.
That aside, we turn to the more difficult question: can a libertarian support a stop-and-frisk policy among government police in a non-libertarian world? It seems difficult to see how, but Dr. Block provides the following argument, after "stipulating that the purpose is not to stop victimless crimes like drug selling, but, rather, crimes with victims such as rape, murder, theft, etc.:"