Politics

Did I miss the nuances of free speech?

Friday, September 21st, 2007

This taken from the comments section of an article written by Joe Conason on the tasering incident.

The most distressing thing about this incident to me is that commentators like Mr. Conason, with whom I agree most of the rest of the time, insist on viewing this whole thing as some kind of free speech issue. It was not. On this point, the letter previously submitted by FinFangFoom had it exactly right:

“You don’t have the right to violate an organization’s rules, burst into their meeting, grab a microphone from another student, and begin rambling about your conspiracy theory. The University of Florida had every right to remove the student, and every [right] to get rough with him when he VIOLENTLY resisted arrest.”

If there’s any First Amendment issue here, it’s that Mr. Meyer infringed upon the First Amendment rights of everyone else in that room who hoped to ask Senator Kerry a question. He had his time to speak, he went over his time, and clearly his only purpose in being there was to cause a ruckus. Let’s be blunt: the kid behaved like a spoiled asshole. Why is he now being celebrated, defended, held up as a First Amendment martyr?

[…]

There are plenty of people in the U.S. who are legitimate victims of suppression of First Amendment rights. Go champion their causes — don’t waste your time defending this idiot who didn’t know when to stand down, and who was only there because he wanted to promote himself.

Is this commenter right?

It would be impossible to dispute that there are people whose First Amendment rights have been more egregiously violated than Mr. Meyers’. But, you could say that about any First Amendment violation, however large or small. So that is something of a non-issue. I won’t apologize for the fact that this kid was white, possibly rich, possibly had a sense of entitlement. In fact, from the video he looked like something of a jerk. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t entitled to his rights.

I’ll repeat it again — free speech is only free speech if it’s a right even given to people you hate.

The commenter writes, “If there’s any First Amendment issue here, it’s that Mr. Meyer infringed upon the First Amendment rights of everyone else in that room who hoped to ask Senator Kerry a question.” I have seen a similar sentiment expressed elsewhere on the web. The first thing that comes to mind for me is that the First Amendment protects your free speech from government infringement. It doesn’t say anything about the courtesy to speak among my peers, in any fair or equal share or measure. In other words, free speech (at least as defined by the First Amendment) is about allowing a soap box in the public square, but it says nothing about who gets to stand on it, and for how long. The key thing the First Amendment says is that the government has no right restricting the use of the soap box.

Did I miss the nuance here? I don’t think so. Police officers comprise an arm of the executive branch of government. They are law enforcement. When someone acting on behalf of the government restricts my speech, especially in a political context, that’s a First Amendment violation. Plain and simple.

In conclusion, Meyers was taser’ed for standing on the soap box too long, and for saying things too disagreeable to the general audience, especially the police officers. Like it or not, standing on the soap box too long is protected by the First Amendment.

If you want him off the soap box, it’s simple: ask him off, boo him off, or simply stop listening. You don’t get to ask the government to remove him, because the government doesn’t get to pick how long is too long, and what speech is worthy of being heard. Let me repeat that again: the government doesn’t get to pick what speech is worthy of being heard.

I think it is only intellectually honest to separate the free speech issue from the police brutality issue. But at the same time, I have a hard time doing so. Meyers was removed from the forum by force — initially, the police just grabbed him, and told him he had to go. This was a First Amendment violation in itself. But then, they handcuffed him. This made him think he was under arrest (and in fact, he was). So now, not only was his First Amendment right being trampled upon, but he was also being charged as a criminal. I, in the same situation, would not have simply gone quietly in the night. I would have done exactly what he did — shouted out, “They are arresting me! Do you see this!?” I would have squirmed. I would have asked for the police to reason with me. And, I would have been taser’ed.

So, although it seems intellectually honest to separate the speech from the brutality, the two seem vitally, essentially connected. More generally, if you have your rights violated, and then resist that violation, the punishment for your resistance still relates to the rights which were originally violated.

On a side note, I think Conason is right to relate this incident to the “Free Speech Zones” used by Bush during his speeches. Here’s another post from the comments section:

I live and work in a University community. Two years ago, I was among a group of about 70 people who quietly marched towards the campus, where President Bush was speaking, to protest the war in Iraq. We held signs, all of them within the bounds of good taste, and we did not chant or shout or create any disturbance, just marched quietly through town and to the campus, where we were prevented, by campus security, from getting anywhere near the central commons where the president was to speak. Only those who had been vetted in advance were allowed there, most of them wearing red, white and blue and carrying pro-Bush and pro-war signs and banners. We were shunted to an area — shade and grass there so we were not uncomfortable — well out of sight and earshot of the actual event. That was disturbing, in a free country on a public university campus. But more disturbing was the fact that there were armed guards carrying large, visible weapons, patrolling the rooftops of the buildings surrounding us, and keeping an eye on us. And most disturbing was the fact that, when the event — which we could not hear except for the cheering of the carefully assembled crowd — was over, the attendees departed the event by a route that took them right past our area. They threw things at us, shouted obscenities, and had a bullhorn through which they shouted “Traitors!” and other things far more offensive. No one made any effort to restrain their rage or hatred. But I am quite sure, had any one of us made a move, or started shouting, or in any way appeared to be trying to break free from our “free speech zone”, we would have been “handled” by the guys on the rooftops. It is alarming to me that this kind of thing has happened again and again and the media never mentions it in the coverage of these staged events. I believe that is how dictatorships operate; it is not how I was taught that people live and behave in a democracy.

I feel this is also related to the recent incident in New York with regard to President Ahmadinejad of Iran visiting Columbia University for a public forum. Here is a post and a clever response by someone named “ann” on NYTimes City Room:

“As some of the other people here have already said, what in the world could this guy have to say that we need to hear? Yes, I believe in freedom of speech, but, Iranians are NOT our allies…If you really want to hear what this man has to say, why don’t you go visit him in Iran, and, see if you get the same liberal freedoms that you want to grant him here…and, honestly, anything that comes out of his mouth will only be a lie, conjured up to make himself and his country look more like an ally than an enemy…and, as far as visiting Ground Zero, if we did let him, we would probably see a picture of him at the site (smiling) on the Al Jazeera website soon after…” — Posted by ron

I wouldn’t want to hear him speak in Iran because no one would have the freedom to question him there. In America, we will be able to hear him express his opinions, and we will be able to hear someone openly question them, debate them, and discuss them. It’s a beautiful thing. — Posted by ann

Let’s just hope Ahmadinejad doesn’t get taser’ed for speaking too long. Might make follow-up diplomatic relations difficult. (I hope Cheney isn’t reading this…)

Responding again to the above, I don’t think it’s alarmist to point to these currents in our culture and say, “This smells like fascism.” We may still be the greatest country on Earth with regard to free speech, but it isn’t a given. Everything can change, and everything does. We must defend this essential right now as fiercely as two centuries ago.

Fascism Rising: Suppressing Speech with Tasers

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I hate to alienate readers by starting with a Noam Chomsky quote, but oh well. Chomsky once said, “If you are in favor of freedom of speech, that means you are in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise – otherwise you’re not in favor of freedom of speech.”

I am sure by now you’ve heard the story of Andrew Meyers, a 21-year-old student who was arrested and taser’ed by four or five University of Florida police officers because he was loud and rude at a political Q-and-A session with John Kerry.

When he was being dragged off the podium, the audience applauded. To be fair, that was probably because Meyers was impassioned, and probably was asking questions that made people uncomfortable. Possible voter fraud in the 2004 election, impeaching Bush for war crimes: neither of these are things the average Floridian probably finds to be in alignment with their own view of the world.

I don’t think police should have the right to escort me away from the podium when I’m speaking to an elected representative of government. This is a democracy. Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s rude, things don’t always go according to plan. Questions aren’t always easy ones, and questions can make people uncomfortable. But that’s democracy. It’s messy, but through the chaos, our voices get heard.

Fascists were very good at making sure Q-and-A sessions were orderly. No one went over their time limit, and no one asked a question a politician didn’t like.

If Meyers had only been escorted out of the building, I would find that to be a violation of his First Amendment rights and I’d want the State to force those police officers to take some training courses. The first course would force every one of them to read the U.S. Constitution, before they go around supposedly protecting the rights it describes.

But it didn’t stop there. They didn’t just escort him out of the building, or practice good old-fashioned diplomacy. They didn’t even grab him — 4 vs. 1 — and drag him out of there.

Despite the fact that he posed no physical threat to the numerous officers around him — he had no weapons, he was throwing no punches, he was just a little squirmy because he had his 1st amendment right trampled upon — the police officers decided it was a good time to try out their new toy. They taser’ed Meyers, and left him writhing in pain in an auditorium full of his peers. A Senator of the US Government stood by and told everyone to “calm down”.

If you haven’t yet, you can see the full video here, and also from another angle (though warning, the latter one is a bit gut-wrenching).

I saw a blog post about the event and Kerry’s response, but what really got to me was the following comment from a reader named “Roman B.” on that blog:

I’ve done my sint as a questioner at political functions in college. Whenever I had my mike turned-off & asked to leave the podium (always at conservative functions, go figure), that’s what I did. I didn’t wait for security to ask me to leave, escort me, argue with them, or get myself in a position where I could get myself in trouble.

This has nothing to do with Andrew Meyer’s freedom of speech, Kerry, Bush, homeland security, 04 elections, left, right, or anything of the sort.

Andrew went up there to the podium with the intent of instigating trouble & he got it. He was dumb enough to get himself into trouble, but smart enough to know he would get the notariety he was looking for.

Why else would he make sure the camera was on?”

I’ve decided to rewrite Roman B’s post, with a few key words changed:

I’ve done my stint as a questioner at political functions in college. Whenever I had my microphone turned off and was asked to leave the podium (always at Nazi rallies, go figure), that’s what I did. I didn’t wait for the SS to ask me to leave, escort me, argue with them, or get myself in a position where I could get myself in trouble.

This has nothing to do with Andrew Meyer’s freedom of speech, or any of the other political issues of Germany’s Third Reich.

Andrew went up there to the podium with the intent of instigating trouble, and he got it. He was dumb enough to get himself into trouble, but smart enough to know the notoriety he was looking for.

He may have died at the hands of the SS, or perhaps he’s working in a concentration camp somewhere (we’ll never know). But this is exactly what he wanted — why else would he have had all his journalist friends of the German Resistance there, taking notes for tomorrow’s paper?

For those of you who do care about the freedom of speech, I urge you to write a letter to the University of Florida Police Department, to the ACLU of Florida, and to the USDOJ. For those of you who think Meyers deserved to get taser’ed (and there are quite a few of you out there), I’ll remind you of the following parable:

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog will die without even realizing it.

Or, as Huey Long once said, “Of course we will have fascism in America, but we will call it democracy!”

What is Libertarianism?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

From an interesting thread on /.

My definition of “libertarianism” stands from a firm principle of “live and let live”. That is, everyone is free to do what they want as long as they are not doing any direct harm to others against their will.

I put in the phrase “direct harm” because it is all to easy to declare anything you want as an “indirect harm” without any justification. When I say “direct harm”, there has to be actual clearly identifiable victims of that harm, and also clear, identifiable harm. Alas, much of what in politics and the law today that is declared “harm” isn’t really.

So, in essence, unless you see me actually doing something that is clearly harming someone else, you are to leave me alone. And I, of course, will do likewise.

I have lost count of how many times in my own life, for instance, someone has phoned the police on me simply because they *thought* I was dangerous, regardless of the fact that I had not done anything wrong nor had any intentions of doing so. And that has caused much damage — much harm — to me and my family, and yet no one learns from this. Police still encourages the public to phone everything in at the drop of a hat. Then they go out and harass innocent individuals, doing harm to them.

If I were libertarian-leaning before, such experiences have firmly pushed me into that camp.

My response:

You’re conflating social libertarianism and economic libertarianism. Not your fault, so is everyone else on this forum.

“Live and let live” is social libertarianism. You’re saying, “personal / private freedoms must not be infringed”. Economic libertarianism says, “there should not be ANY government regulation on the ‘free’ market”. Someone who buys into both of these ideas (or, more commonly, conflates them) is a social/economic libertarian. In other words, a modern libertarian.

Most American-style liberals (i.e., people who believe in the power of government to help society) are also social libertarians, just not economic ones. An example of a policy offensive to an economic libertarian but not a liberal is the minimum wage, or the 40-hour work-week. Interestingly, most American-style conservatives are economic libertarians, but NOT social ones. They don’t mind eliminating the minimum wage, but they do want to tell you what you can and can’t do in your bedroom with your consenting adult partner.

You would think that modern libertarians would hate both parties, and some do, but you find many more of them supporting Republicans than Democrats.

The reason? Modern-day libertarianism really has more to do with Milton Friedman than it does with the ACLU. Many are just brainwashed Chicago school amateur economists. They think that the “invisible hand of the market” will fix everything, while they benefit from the fruits of a century of progressive policies that are only recently being dismantled.

They conflate social and economic libertarianism because it is convenient to do so; the latter is so vulgar that if presented alone to most compassionate human beings, it would seem completely insane. No 40-hour work week? No controls on foods and substances? No safety labels on medicines? No nutrition labels on food? No seatbelts in cars? No environmental regulations on dumping and pollution? Yep — that’s economic libertarianism. The “market” will sort things out. Just let the invisible hand do its work, and all these things will magically be taken care of. [You often hear economic libertarians making the mistake of applying Darwin’s principle of natural selection to the market — those with the most money and skills are “selected”, and the rest should be left in the dust.]

Social libertarianism, on the other hand, jives with American sensibilities and our Constitution. And so, through the sheep’s clothing of social and personal freedoms, comes the wolf of the business-run “free” market.

Update: A Wikipedia article on the Nolan Chart, as well as the chart itself, elaborates this distinction. If I were producing the chart today, instead of making the x-axis “economic freedom,” I’d label it “opposition to government regulation of the market.” Certainly less succinct, but more accurate.

Another Update: I was revisiting the /. thread, and found a particularly good description of the difference between economic liberals and economic libertarians:

[…] the question fundamentally comes down to, “What do you fear the most?”

1. An inefficient government running roughshod over you (taxation, interference in property rights, tyranny of the majority, etc).
2. Powerful, unaccountable private entities running roughshod over you (monopolies, externalities, inequity of power, etc).

Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification (as is the notion that most people fit into these little political boxes), but it mostly suffices. I find that most libertarian and most liberal points of view come down to concerns that their favorite bogeyman will ruin everything if left unchecked and powerless. More nuanced views come from realizing that they both are pretty bad and that you have to make a choice how to balance them (even if you tend to throw the balance almost entirely one way or the other). The crazy ideologues you see here on Slashdot and elsewhere are the people who seem to never acknowledge that the other side’s feared enemy is a problem too.

I love this explanation. My personal belief, as elaborated in earlier posts in this blog, is that careful government regulation of business is a good thing. But the modern US administrations strip away regulation of businesses, while growing the government in its ability to censor, to control social and personal behavior, to use the national purse for foreign wars, etc. In other words, the worst of both worlds!

Unanswered questions

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I passed by a church on the way to work today, and read the following:

Unanswered questions are far less dangerous than unquestioned answers.

This may just be the most succinct quote I’ve seen that summarizes my view on the distinction between honest religious beliefs and religious fanaticism.

If one uses religion as a way to cope with unanswered questions, that is fine. However, the moment you say this is true because my scripture says so — in other words, the second you stop questioning an answer which lacks evidence — you become a fanatic, and lose all credibility in my book.

Religion gives you an answer, not the answer. For certain questions (for example, “How did the universe begin?”), religion may give you just as good an answer as modern science.

This may be due to a current lack of convincing evidence that could provide answers to this question, as is true with many of the larger questions about existence and our “place” in the universe. Looking back in history, science failed to provide answers to questions like, “Why do diseases randomly afflict human beings?”, and religion was looked to for an answer, as when many believed that the Black Death was an earthly manifestation of divine justice from God, or the beginning of Armageddon.

It may also be due to epistemological constraints — in other words, it may be something that may never be known through empirical methods. An example of the unknowable would be the answer to “Is there an afterlife?”, since supposedly, there would be no way for those of the afterlife to communicate its existence to the presently living.

But for other questions (for example, “How did humans develop on Earth?”), science can provide evidence, and answers. These answers have been questioned, have been tested empirically, have been peer-reviewed. Accepting the religious argument in this case — saying, “science is just wrong because my scripture says so” — is fanaticism. And it should not be tolerated by intelligent people.

Double-header for Friedman

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

To be honest, I’ve completely ignored the “Thomas Friedman phenomenon” going on in this country. If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone reading The World is Flat on the train…

For some reason, people are in love with globalization and outsourcing as “the great leveler.” I have a different take on this. And precisely because The World is Flat was the most popular book about globalization, I never bothered to read it.

But the other day, someone came over and saw the book in my bookshelf. This person was definitely no fan of globalization. Mind you, I’m no Friedman fan — I only own the book to try to understand what the fuss is about. I haven’t turned a page yet. Yet, this person sat there and stared at this book. And I knew what she was thinking. “Another one of these schmucks? Another cheerleader?”

Well, it’ll take more research and time for me to declare my overall opinion of Friedman.

But today, by pure chance, I encountered two hilarious pieces on Friedman:

One, a cartoon by Tom Tomorrow: M is for Moustache.

Two, a review of The World is Flat by Matt Taibbi of New York Press.

A select excerpt from the review:

On an ideological level, Friedman’s new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans. Man flies on planes, observes the wonders of capitalism, says we’re not in Kansas anymore. (He actually says we’re not in Kansas anymore.) That’s the whole plot right there. If the underlying message is all that interests you, read no further, because that’s all there is.

Oh my…

An Empty Calendar, a Dusty Blog

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

I took a look at my WordPress calendar, and realized I haven’t written a post in over a month. A sad state of affairs — I guess my blog waxes/wanes in and out of popularity for me.

One thing I have wanted to do is to create a “schism” in my blog between the political and technological sections. I realize there is no sense forcing my audience to wade through technology posts to get to the political stuff they may be interested in, and vice versa.

The main thing stopping me from doing so is the fact that even as I have a single blog for these two topics, I hardly find the time to post to either of them. That isn’t to say I don’t have much to say. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about Lisp (for the first time in my life), and have interesting ideas surrounding my use of Eclipse technologies and modeling tools at work. I have been following a lot on the political side of things, from Libby’s commuted sentence to debates over globalization, to WSJ’s potential new owner. And I’ve finished a slew of books, from John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.

But I just lack the time to write. I’m busy at work (at least 10-12 hours a day, when you include commute time), and the last thing I want to do when I get home is use computers some more. Which is sad, but an inevitable result of my situation.

I truly do not want this blog to die. How might I save it?

I Choose the State

Monday, May 28th, 2007

On Robert Reich’s blog, aly k wrote:

“And without a normative justification for the State, whether it be in the form of democratic government or a horrific tyrant, taxes can’t be justified (philosophically).”

I responded with the below message:

The most moving argument from the state can be stated in economists’ terms. It is sometimes called “the public goods” justification. Goes something like this (paraphrased from Wikipedia):

A market may allow individuals to create and allocate many goods optimally. But there are some goods — “public goods” — that are not produced adequately in a market system. These collective goods are ones that all individuals want (hypothetically — this is often a normative judgment, but comes from very basic things we consider to be “human rights”) but for whose production it is often not individually rational for people to secure a collectively rational outcome. The state can step in and force us all to contribute toward the production of these goods, and we can all thereby be made better off.

For example, it is true that if we had only private schools, people with a lot of money could ensure the best education for their children without having to pay for both the private school and the taxes necessary to fund the public school. But poor parents will have no choice but to send their children to less well-maintained and more poorly-staffed schools.

Supposedly, for society to progress we would prefer if all members of society had access to good schooling, regardless of the social class into which they were born. (That is, whether my parent is a millionaire investor or a plumber, I should have access to a good education.) Therefore, it makes some sense for us to pay a tax to the state, and for the state to provide good (and equal) schooling for everyone. What’s more, because the state needn’t turn a profit on schools, their overall cost through taxation can be lower than private schools would be.

Schools are one of those things you would prefer not be left to the market, because supposedly it’s good for everyone that everyone else is educated above a certain level. These people, after all, will become your neighbors, employers, employees, clients, etc. They also will be voting in elections.

In other words, if you value a high level of education as a universal right which should be secured for all citizens regardless of the socioeconomic class they are born into, then you are essentially already arguing for the state, because the market, per se, will not secure a high quality education for every individual.

Similar arguments can be made about health care, large pieces of infrastructure (like highways, roads, traffic lights), and certain components of institutional security (like firefighters, police officers, etc.). The state shouldn’t do everything — it should only make the level of quality equal across a market for certain goods, due to moral concerns we have. People shouldn’t have access to worse roads, or worse health care, or less firefighter or police protection, just because they live in a town of poor people.

We are okay with poorer people having less access to shiny new BMWs, bottled water, and Starbucks coffee, because these are frivolous private expenditures anyway. The poor person who drinks less Starbucks coffee than me won’t grow up to be an ignorant, sick, armed and desperate person ready to murder me on the street for the $40 in my pocket. But the uneducated person, without access to healthcare and who lives in a violent neighborhood with no police officers will certainly slay me for the $40 in my pocket.

To bring out the goodness in Man, I choose the state.

(That said, some states are better than others!)

Falwell Never Apologized

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Jerry Falwell died today. He was a great preacher, a wonderful father, a … oh, who the fuck am I kidding? The guy was an evil, intolerant man, who called the Civil Rights Movement the “Civil Wrongs Movement,” hated blacks and supported segregation, and then went on to hate gays, lesbians, the ACLU, and women who choose to abort their fetuses. For a supposedly Christian man, he led a life of complete hatred, and contributed to the growing divide in this country between people who believe in rational thought and science, and those who prefer to live under the protection of “God’s” blanket.

I’m going to toast to his death tonight. Hope Michelle Malkin finds my blog and lists it on her left-wing vitriol page.

Salon rightly ran an article called “The Stone is Cast“, exonerating left-wing bloggers for verbally pissing on his dead skull.  It begins with Falwell’s most famous quote:

Falwell will always be remembered for his “700 Club” comment in the wake of Sept. 11: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.'” Even though Falwell later apologized, the damage had been done: A sacred moment had been used for profane purpose.

I pointed out that Falwell never really apologized, so even Salon is being too polite here. Click here to read my letter. Wasn’t gonna let him get away with that just cuz he’s dead.

The Divine Right of Capital

Friday, March 30th, 2007

A playful paragraph from the book by Majorie Kelly, which I’ve lately been re-reading:

We might note that while employees in the community are left to the protection of the invisible hand, wealth is protected by the visible hand of government and corporations. But this is something, it is hoped, that will be overlooked.

To help us begin to see it, we might, for a moment, imagine a different arrangement of institutional power. Picture a free market in which labor rights are enthroned in law, and property rights are left to the invisible hand. This would be a world in which we believe employees are the corporation. They are, after all, the ones running the place. Hence only employees could vote for the board of directors, and the purpose of the corporation would be to maximize income for employees. In theory, stockholders would receive income they negotiated through contracts. In practice the corporation would dictate those contracts with little real negotiation and stockholders could accept the terms or go elsewhere, only to find other corporations offering nearly identical and dismal terms.

In this world, stock would be sold in a manner controlled entirely by the corporation, much as wages are set today. Stockholders would appear alone at the company where they would be taken into a room and made an offer. There would be no reliable way to compare current stock price to pass price, the return one person receives to what others receive, or to compare returns from one corporation to another. Wage and benefit data, on the other hand, would be published daily in “The Main Street Journal”, and the movement of the Dow Jones wage index would of course be tracked nightly on the news. But returns to shareholders would be considered proprietary information and would not be given out.

If stockholders tried to improve their negotiating position by organizing into mutual funds, corporations would threaten to cut off payments altogether. The companies would talk about replacing stockholder money with funds from people overseas were willing to accept lower returns.

And, of course, overseas, stockholders would have seen even less power. Although free trade agreements would provide intricate protections for labor and environmental rights, they would offer capital no protections. “What does capital have to do with trade?” pundits might ask. “Trade is about goods and services and the people who create them, it’s not about capital.”

Comment on Amazon for Michelle Malkin’s book

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I think Michelle Malkin is one of the craziest commentators to come from the right. But her persistence seems like an eternal spring. Here’s a comment I found on Amazon about her book (“Unhinged”) which talks about how the Left supposedly “abuses” the right with verbal attacks and satirical plays.

It is a fact of spiritual nature that humans have an innate dark side also known as mankind’s intrinsic “depraved nature.” Since mankind’s depraved nature is a spiritual problem, it can only be combated by spiritual means by submitting oneself to the God of the Bible and allowing His supernatural love to cleanse and subdue it. Nothing else will work. Overwhelmingly, liberals reject God and therefore, his power for combating their depraved natures. As such, their dark side reigns unchecked, manifesting itself more often and to a more egregious extent than those who have accepted God’s supernatural love – such as most conservatives.

Such is the case as chronicled by Michelle Malkin in “Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.” In this short work, Malkin exposes this innate depravity as it is manifested by liberal leaders and their rank-and-file alike. Malkin sets the tone of her book in the introduction when she states, “The traits that distinguish today’s unhinged Left are the pervasiveness of its pathologies, the intensity of its hatred, and the sanctimony of its self-delusion.”

She then proceeds to document myriad examples of each of these culled from newspapers, television, books and her own personal e-mails. She demonstrates how the speech of the unhinged manifests itself through extreme profanity, paranoia, racial bigotry, fraud, hypocrisy, intolerance, anti-Americanism, and contempt for the military.

Particularly disturbing are the examples of the Left’s desire to assassinate President Bush. Malkin describes several tasteless products, a book, a play and a musical with the theme of presidential assassination produced out of the Left’s seething hatred for Bush. She then opines, “For all the left’s fear and loathing of the `religious right,’ religion and patriotism are powerful conservative incentives to decency – perhaps the absence of liberal decency is explained by their lack of both.” Precisely.

Oh, okay, now I get why Malkin is popular. Because her readers think that the left means “godless” and that godless means “depraved.”

Don’t some other people think the same way? Like, the people we’re supposedly fighting?