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July 6, 2012

need a post? troll the national review

I don't often poke around the National Review for something to get outraged at (instead I follow the Heritage Foundation on Tumblr, who's feed is mostly pictures of flags and charts of dubious provenance), but one of the smart kids on Twitter threw this link up, and it's essential hate-reading.

It's titled The Sexual Revolution Depends On Big Government and it's written by David French, which is the pseudonym that the writer of the online material uses when he tires of "Rich Lowry" and "Kathryn Lopez."  The premise of the piece is thankfully contained in the title: namely, that there is such a thing as the sexual revolution, that there is such a thing as big government, and that they are somehow related.

This would be the place where I'd post a pullquote, a little taste, but it's a nasty, poorly-conceived couple paragraphs, with NR dogma cited as axiomatic and supported with a link to, say the Washington Times.  But it runs like this: the government, looking to increase the Nanny State, deliberately loosened prescriptive laws considering bedroom behavior, so as to rend the fabric of society and create more Nanny State potential customers.

The nicest thing I can say about it is that, even if you take those NR truths to be self-evident, "French" (if that is in fact his name) has a bit of a problem discerning cause from effect.

"French" ends with a little pivot explaining that the piece explains why NR can oppose same-sex marriage and not be, oh, impinging on the rights of individuals (which is the raison d'etre of the NR).  So I'll end by saying that "French" could be a hypocrite and a liar, if he were not so addled as to avoid making a cogent point.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:39 AM

July 5, 2012

hello debtors prisons

From two days ago, in the NYTimes national section, we have the story of how certain municipalities (in this instance, in the Southeast) have privatized probationary services for misdemeanors.  So instead of being supervised by the Town of Somewhere, AL when you get popped for driving with a suspended license, you get supervised by SomethingCorp.  SomethingCorp takes the contract with no compensation from the municipality, because SomethingCorp gets to charge the probationers extra fees on top of the misdemeanor penalty fees — a "user fee" for "matriculating", monthly fees, etc.  And most awesomely, SomethingCorp is empowered to have the probationer thrown into custody if they fail to pay the fees, and then charge the probationer a daily fee for the privilege of being kept in custody.
Richard Garrett has spent a total of 24 months in jail and owes $10,000, all for traffic and license violations that began a decade ago. A onetime employee of United States Steel, Mr. Garrett is suffering from health difficulties and is without work... Hills McGee, with a monthly income of $243 in veterans benefits, was charged with public drunkenness, assessed $270 by a court and put on probation through a private company. The company added a $15 enrollment fee and $39 in monthly fees. That put his total for a year above $700, which Mr. McGee, 53, struggled to meet before being jailed for failing to pay it all.

The good news is that many of these cases are being challenged on the grounds that the private probation companies fail to meet Constitutional muster in the course of these punitive incarcerations.

The bad news is that someone somewhere sometime felt that the task of fining and imprisoning private citizens was something appropriate to be outsourced to a corporation without accountability.

The worse news is: Hello Debtors Prisons.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:29 AM

July 4, 2012

it is the fourth of july

Is it sort of silly that we set the "birth" of the United States as the year of the Declaration of Independence?  The Constitution wasn't ratified by the requisite ninth state until 1788, and the during intervening twelves years before it was by no means certain that a Constitutional Democracy is what we were going to end up with.

The signing of the Declaration was more of an engagement, or a first date even.  Come on, now.  Either way, whether it's 236 years or 224 years, that's old enough to make you think, "Why aren't you dead yet?" But Happy Fireworks and Paid Day Off Day.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:12 AM

July 3, 2012

radio silence 7.3.12

So I'm totally ignoring posting because I'm trying to ease myself into a vacation.  These "vacations" only come once every second or third year, so they're a little bit wrenching, and I tend to spend the first thirty or forty hours of it doing something like reading a book(s) and avoiding the Internet/television media, just to remind myself that people still do that.  But (as usual) enough about me.

Hamilton Nolan yesterday posted a delightful evisceration of the latest dumb thing that Scott Adams ran on his blog, in which he tries to reinvent something stupid because Scott Adams is just that smart.  It's really fun, and it fills you with that specific flavor of Schadenfreude that is derived from watching Scott Adams make a tool of himself.

So go read that.  I'm gonna finish reading this here book.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:44 AM