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Asset forfeiture 101

February 13, 2017

Frankly, it’s a little disappointing that Trump wants to wind back the clock on asset forfeiture. It would be disappointing to hear this from anyone, of course, but it’s worse because Trump has a bully pulpit these days.

Several states have banned the practice in the last year or two and the Institute for Justice has been waging war on it for quite a few years now – with some success. Check out their Policing for Profit page.

In the meanwhile, the folks at Reason are keeping the banner high.

I’m not wishing misfortune on anyone, but maybe if one of Trump’s family members or close friends had been a victim of civil asset forfeiture then he might have a different view of what often comes down to highway robbery.

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Sharing the Trump humor

February 5, 2017

Dan Mitchell posts some amusing videos at International Liberty today. Here’s one from the Netherlands.

OK… Since Be Social Education (whatever that is) got the Netherlands video taken down, here’s the clip from Switzerland. Later… The Netherlands clip is back. Did ‘Be Social’ decide to be sociable?

The idea seems to have gone viral. There are similar videos from Denmark, Germany, and many others.

See also #everysecondcounts.

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Spam fail

February 4, 2017

Since I registered some new TLDs recently (without hiding my contact info), I’ve been getting e-mail and text spam from people eager to help me put them to work.

But I had to LOL when I got the message below. It’s like watching a sharp-shooting competition where the shooter can’t load the gun. Or watching a ballet where the danseuse can’t get her slippers on. Smoove is the very word.

So here’s One Way To Tell Your Spam Campaign For E-commerce Clients won’t be going well…

Hi,
<!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–>
<!–[endif]–>
Hope you are doing well.

Apologized for cold outreach.

We are a Mobile App & Website Design/Development Company. We have delivered 100+ projects in last year and we have 40 designers & developers are working over projects. We provide below mentioned services according to your requirement.
<!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–>
<!–[endif]–>

Our services are:-

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>Website Development (Custom Website Development, PHP Programming, eCommerce, Joomla, Word Press, Dot Net, PHP etc.)

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2. <!–[endif]–>Website designing (HTML designing, corporate website design, Logo Designing, Java, PSD to XHTML/HTML, etc)

<!–[if !supportLists]–>3. <!–[endif]–>Mobile Apps Development (iPhone / iPad application, Android, Blackberry, Windows)
<!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–>
<!–[endif]–>

<!–[if !supportLists]–>4. <!–[endif]–>ORM (Negate the Negative, Regular Monitoring and Maintenance)
<!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–>
<!–[endif]–>

<!–[if !supportLists]–>5. <!–[endif]–>Digital Marketing Services (SEO, SMO, SEM, Content Writing, Email Marketing etc.)

If interested please share your detailed requirement.

Please share your contact details so that we can have a quick 5 min call to get a better understanding.

I will be waiting for your response.

Check your message headers, dude.

"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1" is not the one you want.

You’re welcome. Write again after you finish Chapter 2.

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The protest stimulus

February 3, 2017

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Just shut up and president (2)

January 28, 2017

David Harsyani writes a good column about how those who are supposed to serve the public prefer to lecture it instead. Get ’em, David!

Stop Telling Us How to Be Patriotic

Politicians have no business directing or defining patriotism, especially when their rhetoric sounds like 1950s-era Soviet sloganeering.

It was creepy when former President Barack Obama declared his first Inauguration Day as “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation” and called upon us to find “common purpose of remaking this nation for our new century.” And it’s creepy when President Donald Trump declares his Inauguration Day as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” one in which “a new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart.”

This kind of self-aggrandizement is what you see under cults of personality, not American republicanism. Far be it from me to lecture anyone on how to love their country, but if your devotion to America is contingent upon the party or the person in office, you’re probably not doing it quite like the Founding Fathers envisioned. […]

We just survived eight years of a messianic presidency with a finger-wagging, patriotism-appropriating administration lecturing us on how to be proper Americans. If you didn’t support the administration’s point of view, then-Vice President Joe Biden might accuse you of “betting against America.” […]

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Thanks, Obama

January 26, 2017

You know, I managed to avoid using this title for a post all through Obama’s term in office. But he finally roused me to use it.

In short, what gets collected in Utah doesn’t stay in Utah anymore.

Here’s Judge Andrew Napolitano writing at Reason about a recent order by former Attorney General Lynch. (My emphasis.)

President Obama’s Parting Shot at Personal Freedom
To make things more convenient for the government, the Obama administration makes it easier for agencies to spy on citizens.

On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency — America’s 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus — to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states upon request. She did so, she claimed, for administrative convenience. Yet in doing this, she violated basic constitutional principles that were erected centuries ago to prevent just what she did.

Here is the back story. […]

This is the New York Times article Mr. Napolitano links in his post. (I assume it was the basis for his post. My emphasis again.)

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people. […]

At the risk of saying this too many times, let me repeat that you should never expect privacy (or anonymity) when using electronic messaging – e-mail, text, voice, and (probably) internet chat as well.

That’s not just a projection based the news items above; it’s based on stories I’ve heard from people. Your past can come back to haunt you. You probably don’t want to happen when you’re up against an over-eager prosecutor.

Protect your privacy.

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Just shut up and president

January 23, 2017

My late mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was a big fan of the British royal family. She even subscribed to magazines about them. ‘Struth. As you might imagine, the Windsor family was a topic we didn’t talk about often. But we got on extremely well otherwise.

Once, while touring Britain with my in-laws, we stopped for the night at a pretty cool old English inn called the Wheatsheaf hotel. I think it was this place in Lincolnshire but I’m not certain. (‘Wheatsheaf’ is the name of several inns and hotels in the UK.)

Since we’d arrived late in the day, we headed for the public room to find a cool glass of and to meet the locals. We succeeded. And before long, I heard MIL telling some of those locals that she thought the U.S. needed a royal family too. Sigh…

So I liked this post by Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog. Plus, it’s a three-fer: Meyer, Boudreaux, and Williamson all make good points on this topic.

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Adopt A Ceremonial Royal Family for the US To Safely Absorb People’s Apparent Need for Powerful, Charismatic Presidents

I have been watching the Crown as well as the new PBS Victoria series, and it got me to thinking. Wow, it sure does seem useful to have a single figurehead into which the public can pour all the sorts of adulation and voyeurism that they seem to crave. That way, the people get folks who can look great at parties and make heart-felt speeches and be charismatic and set fashion trends and sound empathetic and even scold us on minor things. All without giving up an ounce of liberty. The problem in the US is we use the Presidency today to fulfill this societal need, but in the process can’t help but imbue the office with more and more arbitrary power. Let’s split the two roles.

Update: Don Boudreaux writes:

A Trump presidency comes along with awful risks for Americans. Yet one very real silver-lining is that Trump’s over-the-top buffoonery and manic barking like a dog at every little thing that goes bump in his sight, along with his chronic inability even to appear to be thoughtful and philosophical and reflective and aware that he is not the center of the universe, might – just might – scrub off some of the ridiculous luster that has built up on on the U.S. Presidency over the course of the past 90 or so years. Let us hope.

He also links a good article from Kevin Williamson on the cult of the Presidency

In this vein, I recommend Gene Healey’s book The Cult of the Presidency. You can read it for free.


Here’s an interesting anecdote that I read recently: many Swiss people can’t tell you who their president is. It turns out that the Swiss president is simply the presiding member of the seven-member Swiss Federal Council.

Wouldn’t that be a nice change? A president who does the job in quiet anonymity? A servant of the people who doesn’t think of the job as director of a reality TV show?

Where’s Calvin Coolidge when you need him?

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