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Friday links


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 23, 2014 6:19 am

    “If you meet John Galt on the Road, Kill Him.”

    Great stuff, as usual. I am one of those radicals who will never accept gradualism as a good tactic. We will not get there immediately, and not everyone will get there anyway, but to accept some lesser of evil is still accepting evil. We may have to live with it, but we do not have to accept it or, worse, encourage it.

    “reasonable freedom of trade” or a “relaxation of controls” are not what stir men’s hearts and souls to fight for liberty. “Truth,” “Freedom,” “Justice” – these are the words on the banners under which human beings are willing to fight.

  2. Joel
    Joel May 23, 2014 7:15 am

    On that article by Wendy McElroy: Ideals and idealism are all very well when you’re not in power. Idealists who actually gain power scare me. She says,

    “In wielding idealism, libertarianism has a distinct advantage over Marxism. Libertarianism describes how the world actually works with supply and demand, self-interested praxeology, methodological individualism and the realities of political power. ”

    I wonder if she isn’t aiming her blows at a straw man here. “Marxism,” as such, hasn’t actually been in power that often. (It was in power in a very big way, but not that often) Marxism Light, on the other hand, judging from its prevalence on the world scene, seems to understand the ‘realities of political power’ very well. As compared to all those Libertarian regimes, which…um…

    I find the economic arguments of libertarianism compelling. That puts me in agreement with twelve tubby geeks in the back booth of any Denny’s you care to mention, come any given Friday evening. But if libertarians really understood political power, wouldn’t they have some?

    Since gradualism is out, we’re left with revolution. After the idealistic arguments of our liberators inevitably fail, comes the protectorate. Am I too off-track to suggest the guillotines won’t be far behind?

    Of course Wendy M. is suggesting no such thing. The intellectual vanguard never does. Which is why they’re always first in line when the heads start rolling.

    I guess what I’m saying is, personally, I like gradualism. It might fail or give you half a loaf, but there’s less blood involved.

  3. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit
    The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit May 23, 2014 7:32 am

    You ought to share the Hofmann article with your fellow BHM columnist Mas Ayoob. He recently wrote (American Handgunner Magazine) that he essentially does not believe that modern police are “militarizing.” Quite possibly the only thing I’ve ever read of his that I find myself seriously disagreeing with.

  4. Joel
    Joel May 23, 2014 7:38 am

    On the subject of police militarization – or police anything – Ayoob is a lost cause. They’re heroes, m’kay?

  5. s
    s May 23, 2014 7:56 am

    Lawyer Scott Greenfield at the Simple Justice Blog has some tough love for Ladar Levinson: End the Lavabit Lie

    I highly recommend reading it. Levinson’s account may be true but is certainly self serving. As Greenfield notes

    Except this wasn’t Levison’s first rodeo with the feds. He had been turning over Snowden’s and others’ emails well before the shit hit the fan, and should have figured out that he needed some legal advice. Forewarning doesn’t get much better than this.

    This isn’t to say that what the government, and the judge, did to Levison wasn’t wrong. But those Pollyannas who want to whine about the unfairness of the system need to extract their heads from their naïve butts and come to grips with the fact that this is a nasty system designed to destroy lives and businesses. Grow up and deal with it. Making excuses for failure saves no one.

    Well worth the time to read the whole thing. I think Greenfield makes a valid point: in that business, with that amount of warning, not lawyering up in advance was beyond stupid, much closer to grossly negligent.

  6. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau May 23, 2014 8:27 am

    From that story in Alpine, Texas: “I’m a college student. If I get indicted I lose my Pell grant, my scholarship money, my student loan money.”

    The man is already a slave. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him.

    A good deal on that OC change of policy. Sometimes you have to follow common sense!

    Wendy’s article is excellent, but she is shooting for the wrong ideal, the libertarian society. The correct ideal is Panarchy.

  7. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau May 23, 2014 9:09 am

    [Levinson’s account may be true but is certainly self serving.]

    As was that article you posted, and the comments following it. I responded with the following although it will be interesting to see if the blog owner keeps it:
    Hmmm, some of this sounds a like blaming the victim, combined with a bit of self-serving. Yeah, he would have done better to retain a lawyer up front. We all would be better off to have a lawyer on retainer all the time, just in case – you never know when the tyrants are going to dump on you, since they can do it for anything these days. Shame on Levison for concentrating on his business rather than defensive “what ifs”.

    Still though, I think between the two scenarios, the one that occurred is not necessarily the worst. In the one case he shuts down his business and the case for Revolution advances a step. Simple, clean and fast. In the other, he gets a lawyer and spends significant piles of time and money and “works within the system”, which doesn’t bother the system a bit – for an outcome that is far from guaranteed, and may end up with him shutting down his business anyway.

    OK guys, you had your fun whacking the naive Mr. Levinson. It’s strange though that you depend in a way on government tyranny, just so you have something to save ordinary people from. It has the flavor of one great big rigged game. Hope the Revolution comes soon; we really need it.

    I don’t have much use for lawyers. They seem like a symptom of a broken society to me, at least when it gets to the stage when much of a society’s energies are diverted into legal system follies.

  8. Pat
    Pat May 23, 2014 9:18 am

    Joel ― “On that article by Wendy McElroy: Ideals and idealism are all very well when you’re not in power. Idealists who actually gain power scare me.”

    OTOH, you must have a goal to shoot for ― and generally speaking, Idealism is that goal. It doesn’t have to be ― it shouldn’t be ― a concrete objective so much as a theoretical guiding light. Politics is how you reach that light, but the political maneuvering shouldn’t alter or affect the ideal, and cannot re-define the ideal to suit its own purposes.

    “But if libertarians really understood political power, wouldn’t they have some?”

    Which is why I think libertarianism (with a small L) should not be political at all. (And the simplest maxim, or NAP, the non-aggression principle, is more than capable of putting all political persuasions in their place if it’s subtitled “First, Do No Harm”.)

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 23, 2014 11:16 am

    I fear a “Libertarian” government, political power, more than many others. I’ve talked to many in the Libertarian Party, and they do mean to rule well…. but they mean to rule.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

  10. s
    s May 23, 2014 11:54 am

    @Paul Bonneau

    SWG published your comment all right.

    I’m not a great fan of lawyers, or plumbers, or auto mechanics, or doctors, but I call in a pro when I’m in over my head.

    Levinson was in WAY over his head and had plenty of warnings. Plural. This isn’t the same as a family being wrong-address swatted in the middle of night for reasons they cannot possibly know in advance.

    If you want to count shuttering his business and establishing the precedent for federal demands of keys as a victory, go ahead.

    I view the loss of his business and the resulting chilling of free speech and loss of privacy as a loss. Good lawyers might have turned that around. We’ll never know. Levinson walked into a gun fight without even a knife. That’s not heroic in my book, and I don’t count is as winning one for the revolution.

  11. ILTim
    ILTim May 23, 2014 12:39 pm

    “I don’t have much use for lawyers.”

    You may not WANT to have a gunfight in the gas station at 9pm, you may not WANT to be dragged through some courtroom circus show, but when life affords you the opportunity to have a fight in some venue of its choosing, well… right tool for the job and all that.

    What a bleak view of human experiments in civilization those links portray. What a shame our attempt was so impotent.

  12. jed
    jed May 23, 2014 3:07 pm

    Friday links? Okay.

    Peter Watts on the Harms of Surveillance. I’m a fan of Peter Watts. His Rifter’s Trilogy is among the best things I’ve read in years.

    “A lot of critics say blanket surveillance treats us like criminals, but it’s deeper than that,” he said. “It makes us feel like prey. We’re seeing stalking behavior in the illogical sense.”

    And, The Only Email System The NSA Can’t Access. Perhaps too bold a claim, because there are always channels for attack, but a step forward for web-based e-mail — encrypting it at the client side.

  13. LarryA
    LarryA May 24, 2014 10:12 am

    Those Texas open-carry activists whose tactics of carrying long guns into businesses have proven so … counterproductive, to say the least … are learning from their mistakes.

    I wish.

    These folks came on the scene in January of 2009, determined to force the Texas Legislature to immediately pass open carry. They went to Texas State Rifle Association and Texas Concealed Handgun Association and demanded we drop all of the legislative priorities we had, some of which we had been working on for two or three sessions, and throw everything into open carry. They had absolutely no clue how the Texas Legislature worked, nor were they interested in learning. Inside two months they totally pissed off everyone they needed to work with to get legislation passed.

    Not much has changed. The OC folks still don’t understand that Texas has a gun-friendly Legislature. TSRA and TCHA have worked with the Legislature to the point that we’ve passed pro-gun legislation every session since 1995, and blocked any anti-gun bills from even getting close. Were it not for the OC movement getting one of our open carry bills passed would be simple.

    Yet the OC folks are still into “forcing businesses to make a stand and suffer the consequences of opposing the 2nd Amendment.”


  14. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau May 24, 2014 3:55 pm

    OT: Claire, no matter how jaded you are, you are not going to believe this one:

    [If you want to count shuttering his business and establishing the precedent for federal demands of keys as a victory, go ahead.]

    Precedent, schmecedent. The ruling class does not need this event to encourage themselves. They are perfectly capable of cooking up their own precedent any time they please – see the link I posted above.

    If Levison was dumb, it was in establishing his business in this country, the same one he was providing security against. Has he never heard of egold? It’s madness.

    Well, live and learn I guess. The publicity around the Lavabit closing can only help more serious businesses like Lavaboom (in Germany) and ProtonMail (in Switzerland).

    “Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions, and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads.”
    — Henry David Thoreau

  15. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau May 24, 2014 4:01 pm

    [… when life affords you the opportunity to have a fight in some venue of its choosing, well… right tool for the job and all that.]

    Fighting on the enemy’s chosen ground, the courts? What is their conviction rate these days, 97% or so? When are we going to say, screw that?

    A lot of folks are still pretty far behind the curve, living in yesterday. We’re not living in Mayberry any more. We may quickly be getting to the point where it no longer makes any sense to allow a cop to arrest you, for any reason.

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