Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trump’s Revoking of Washington Post’s Press Credentials is Not a Violation of Press Freedom

Donald Trump raised some hackles when he revoked the press credentials of the Washington Post for criticizing him. As I understand it, this revocation bans Washington Post reporters from covering Trump’s campaign from within the campaign. Critics immediately attacked Trump for violating freedom of the press.


Yahoo News reported:


Reporters Without Borders said that Trump’s decision was “a serious violation of freedom of the press.”


The organizations’s director in the United States, Delphine Halgand, said that they “strongly and unequivocally condemns this latest act of hostility toward the press as a serious violation of press freedom. How, in the country of the First Amendment, can the Republican party’s nominee for President justify revoking press credentials for one of the country’s major newspapers?” (sic)


Fox News reported:


In a statement, Post editor Martin Baron said, "Donald Trump's decision to revoke The Washington Post's press credentials is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press. When coverage doesn't correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along - honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We're proud of our coverage, and we're going to keep at it."


Both Baron and Reporters Without Borders are spewing nonsense. Trump is neither violating press freedom, the First Amendment, or repudiating the role of a free and independent press.


The First Amendment protects the press from governmental—i.e., legal; i.e., forcible—abridgement of that right to press freedom. Freedom of the press does not mean a private citizen must deal with a member of the press against his will. Candidate Trump, as a private citizen, can do what he did. A President Trump, in his capacity as a government official, cannot. Note that the Post itself acknowledged that it can and “will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along.” Trump cannot stop them. He can only refuse to deal with them. That is his right, which does not violate the rights of the Washington Post.


This post does not excuse Trump of his hostility toward free speech. But in this instance, Trump is within his rights under the First Amendment.


Related Reading:





Trump vs. Clinton Is Terrible News for Fans of Free Speech and the First Amendment—Damon Root for Reason.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Democrats’ Fascist Fangs Exposed in Crusade Against ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change

The Democrats’ attack on dissenters of the government's official catastrophic climate change narrative, which started with Exxon, is reaching more and more private citizens for the crime of speaking their minds. Now, the attack has hit Alex Epstein’s Center for Industrial Progress. The Daily Caller published Epstein’s “terse response to a subpoena sent by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Wednesday.” Michael Bastasch reports:


Healey demanded the oil giant ExxonMobil hand over 40 years of documents, including information pertaining to the company’s dealings with about a dozen think tanks and trade associations, which have been targeted by environmental groups for opposing left-wing global warming policies.


Healey’s subpoena targeted the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), a for-profit think tank founded by Epstein. Epstein wasn’t exactly happy about being targeted for disagreeing with Healey on global warming, so he sent the AG’s office the following response: “Re: your demand to seize my emails—Fuck off, fascist.”


The Washington Times also reported on Epstein’s response:


Mr. Epstein is a proud fossil fuel advocate, a believer that the benefits from cheap, reliable energy are more than offset by any still-under-debate problems from rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. His views are laid out in his 2014 book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” (Penguin Random House).


For this, he finds himself on the prosecutor’s radar. His advocacy group, the Center for Industrial Progress, was named in an April 19 subpoena issued by Ms. Healey’s office demanding 40 years of communications between ExxonMobil and a dozen free market groups and universities.




The government has no right to demand a single email of mine or Exxon’s unless it has evidence that we are committing fraud by concealing or fabricating evidence. In the case of the climate impact of CO2, this is impossible–because all the evidence about CO2 and climate is in the public domain, largely collected and disseminated by government agencies or government-funded educational institutions.


But [ExxonMobil] ended up being right. The speculative claims turned out to be false. We have experienced mild (not runaway) warming that is only loosely correlated with CO2–and global fossil fueled development has helped bring climate-related deaths to an all-time low. How can you say #ExxonKnew about an imminent climate catastrophe that wasn’t real?


Healey is part of a cabal of Democrat AGs using (actually, abusing) the prosecutorial power of the state to silence global warming dissenters. This attack is being waged under cover of anti-fraud laws. But as Epstein continues:


There is a fundamental distinction in civilized society between fraud and opinion. By calling dissenting opinions fraud, the Massachusetts Attorney General and others are making independent thought a crime. To do this in the name of science is obscene. Science thrives on the open, competitive exchange of evidence and arguments–not of suppressing dissenters. True scientists can win on the competitive market of ideas. Newton didn’t need to suppress dissenters to advance his three laws of motion and Einstein didn’t need to suppress dissenters to advance his theories of relativity. Only those with fallacious conclusions are desperate for government to descend on their opponents. The opponents of the heliocentric theory did need to suppress Galileo. And the opponents of fossil fuels, who have staked careers and status on what are now clearly exaggerated assessments of CO2’s warming impact and clearly underestimated assessments of fossil fuels’ life-and-death importance to billions, cannot win on a competitive market of ideas. This is why they are so desperate to claim that “the debate is over,” to indoctrinate young students into climate catastrophism before they can think critically, to deny government research funding to scientists who disagree with them, and to falsely claim a 97% consensus.


In my view, this modern day inquisition is proof that the catastrophic climate change dogma is a load of crap. The inquisition should remove all doubt that the American Left represents fascism.  


[One positive note: As the Washington Times reported, “[Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E.] Walker wound up dropping a subpoena in May against the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is pursuing sanctions against the prosecutor. The institute is one of the dozen groups named in the Massachusetts subpoena against Exxon.” We’ll have to wait and see if that is the beginning of the unraveling of the entire Democrat inquisition.]


Related Reading:



First the Government Went After ExxonMobil. Now They’re Going After Me—Alex Epstein

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Climate Change Catastrophists Who Oppose Nuclear have Anti-Humanist Premises

You can, perhaps, divide the anti-reliable energy crowd into somewhat sincere and completely insincere categories. The main objection to so-called “dirty” fossil fuels is the so-called “carbon pollution” they allegedly release. Carbon pollution is, of course, carbon dioxide, which is not a pollutant, but is believed to be a contributor to climate change (aka global warming).


For the more rational climate alarmists, so-called “renewable” energy—mainly solar and wind—is part of the solution but by far not the only game in town, especially given its unreliability. There are also non-co2 emitting, reliable nuclear and hydroelectric power. So, in my view, the test of the sincerity of the climate change worrywarts is the answer to the question, Do you consider nuclear and hydroelectric power to be part of the solution to climate change?


One such worrywart who failed the test is the writer of a New Jersey Star-Ledger letter titled Creating more nuclear power detracts from clean energy. Leaving aside the ridiculous implication that nuclear power isn’t “clean” by environmentalist standards, Nancy Taiani writes:


We certainly must convert from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. . . . However, I disagree with [The Star-Ledger's editorial] suggestion to increase the use of nuclear power.


Taiani’s fears include the “problem” of “safe” nuclear waste disposal, the Fukushima [earthquake] disaster, and the “hope to prevent New York City and island nations from flooding by century's end.”


I left these comments, slightly edited for clarity:


Nuclear waste has been safely disposed of for decades. Yes, better ways may be desireable. But that is a technological problem that should not stand in the way of expanding nuclear power. Nuclear power is the safest, cleanest energy technology available today, the Fukushima disaster notwithstanding.


So why do people supposedly “concerned about the environment” oppose nuclear? If environmentalists were really concerned about a cleaner environment, or minimizing co2 emissions, they’d embrace nuclear power. That they don’t makes no sense, on its face. Why?
Environmentalists’ opposition to nuclear power is not because of some technological issue. That’s just a rationalization.


Viewed from environmentalists’ moral premises, their opposition to nuclear makes perfect sense. In truth, environmentalists are not driven primarily by a desire for “clean” energy. Solar and wind are not, in fact, renewable. They require massive mining operations to harvest finite natural raw materials, as well as extensive land use, manufacturing, transportation, construction, and maintenance operations; and they too have serious pollution consequences that must be dealt with. Environmentalists are driven by an anti-energy agenda rooted in their most fundamental moral premises. Environmentalists are not concerned about a cleaner, safer environment, because their standard of value is not human life and well-being. Their standard is unaltered nature.


But man’s means of survival is precisely to transform the natural environment into one that is conducive to human flourishing. That transformation means technological industrialization. What is the foundation upon which industrialization is built? The industry of industries—reliable, economical, massively scalable energy production.


But on the environmentalists’ standard of unaltered, unimpacted nature, reliable energy of any kind is the enemy of the environment, precisely because it is vital to the industrial transformation of the Earth’s natural environment. They embrace so-called “renewables” precisely because “renewables” are not reliable and, as a primary energy source, cannot sustain the wonderful, life-enhancing, nature-improving industrial infrastructure our better-than-ever and ever-advancing standard of living requires. If “renewables” ever achieved true viability, environmentalists’ moral premises would compel them to turn against renewables, as well, just as environmentalism’s leading intellectuals feared cheap, inexhaustible fusion nuclear power when reports of viable fusion power surfaced temporarily in the 1980s. They reject fossil, nuclear, and even hydro because those energy sources enable the industrial scale energy that the advance and maintenance of progressive industrialization depend upon.


A pro-human would champion the most feasible forms of energy, and try to solve any negative side-effects through technology. A pro-human would not erect legal barriers to the best energy sources like nuclear and especially fossils, in the quasi-religious hope that some inferior energy source will somehow pick up the slack. A pro-human would not risk human well-being in that way. A pro-human would leave all energy producers unimpeded to compete in a free market. If solar and wind could someday overcome their massive technical drawbacks and achieve industrial-scale capabilities, great. If not, that’s ok too; there’s always fossil and nuclear and their continuing technological advance. (Environmentalists know that “renewables” are not viable alternatives. This is proven by the fact that environmentalists’ primary focus is to stop fossil and nuclear, rather than advance “renewables.” They readily admit that nuclear “detracts from clean energy,” and fossil fuels “set us behind in our drive for a clean energy future.” If “renewables” really are better, nothing could stop them. But they are inferior. That’s why, given a free market choice, consumers will choose reliable, economical fossil fuels—or, when available, nuclear and hydro— over “renewables.”)


But environmentalists are anti-human. Like Dark Age witch doctors, they are perfectly willing to sacrifice human well-being to “mother nature.” That explains why environmentalists oppose fossil fuels. They claim co2-induced climate change is their reason. But that’s a rationalization. Otherwise, they’d embrace co2-free nuclear expansion. Environmentalists’ goals are driven by their moral premises; unaltered nature, not human life, as the ideal and standard of value. Environmentalist anti-humanism is a perfect partner to Pope Francis’s poverty-worshipping statism.


----------------------------------------------


There are more sincere (or less insincere) climate change alarmists. The Star-Ledger—the paper Taiani criticizes—for one. But there are others. In a hopeful sign, Reason.com’s Ronald Bailey reports on a potential Advanced Reactor Nuclear Power Resurgence in the U.S. Bailey reports on privately funded technological advances that offer “walk-away-safe” nuclear power; i.e., nuclear plants that burn away their own nuclear waste.


Encouragingly, at least for we pro-fossil fuel catastrophic climate change skeptics worried about a potential man-made energy poverty calamity, Bailey reports that a former top Obama Administration official has turned pro-nuclear thanks to the new technological developments:


"I was not always pro-nuclear power," former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner declared Wednesday at the Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase in Washington, D.C. She changed her mind 12 years ago, because she "couldn't be responsible about my views on climate change and carbon pollution without taking this clean energy source seriously." Now Browner has joined the Nuclear Matters' Leadership Council, which seeks to make sure America's 99 operating nuclear power plants—which currently supply nearly 20 percent of the country's electricity and two thirds of its no-carbon electric power—are not unnecessarily and prematurely shut down.


The environmentalist movement could use more people like Browner, at least as regards rational thinking about the nuclear power option.


Related Reading:



In ‘Honor’ of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Grab a Burger

Monday, June 20, 2016

Favoring Poor Kids in Charter School Applications is Unfair—3

This is a follow up to the last two posts on the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial Giving poor families a leg up in charter schools.

In reply to my original comments, in which I promoted parental school choice, bayshore lady wrote:

We have school choice.All kids can attend the public schools in the district where they live.If their parents don't like those public schools,they can move to a district where they think the public schools are better.Or,they can send their kids to private or parochial schools,especially if the are,what you call,econmically successful The public schools in affluent areas tend to be as goo,if not better,than private and parochial schools. [sic]

Here is my reply to bayshore lady, slightly edited:

If you're forced to pay school taxes, no matter what—in effect paying double—you don't have real choice. Freedom of choice applies to your money, too, because your money is your ticket to the goods and services your life depends on. Money sucked in by the child’s assigned government school is not available for the parents to put toward what they judge to be better educational opportunities. True, people who can afford both school taxes and private school tuition can choose. But for most people, it’s not financially doable.

Likewise, to force someone to uproot and move in order to utilize a school that may be a few blocks or miles away is not freedom of choice. It is cruel. It’s true that schools in affluent communities tend to be better, although even there they may not meet the needs of all kids. But, since home prices tend to also be higher there, not everyone can afford to live in affluent communities.

What your essentially saying is that only wealthy parents should have anything approaching freedom of school choice. But then that very reality is behind the charter school movement, which is a movement of the poor. Less than wealthy parents want a better education for their kids, too.

The bottom line is, if the public schools are so good—“as good, if not better,” as you say, “than private and parochial schools”—why do they need force of compulsory education laws and taxation to survive? Wouldn't parents be voluntarily willing to send their kids to the government schools, and be voluntarily willing to pay for them? Why does the government school Establishment fear competition? The Establishment knows the answer, which is why it is so vested in the reactionary, anti-choice agenda.

There shouldn’t be tax-funded schools, because no one should be forced to pay for the education of someone else’s child. But Americans are committed to guaranteeing every child the financial resources to get a K-12 education. So education taxes are here to stay, for now and for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean education has to be dominated by a government-run monopoly. A robust, universal school choice system within the context of the existing education tax structure, such as the one I laid out here, is the moral thing to do.

Related Reading:




Education Funding: Let Taxpayers Direct Their Own Education Dollars

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Favoring Poor Kids in Charter School Applications is Unfair—2

This is a follow up to my last post on the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial Giving poor families a leg up in charter schools.

Reader317 commented:

Charter schools in NJ are sucking taxpayers dry with nepotism, exorbitant salaries and perks for administrators, and so forth.  They are not held to the same standards as public schools.  
Privitization introduces a profit motive which is fine for an enterprise like Uber, but not for obligatory government functions paid with tax dollars. [sic]

I left this reply:

Whose standards? The charters are [or should be] held to the only standard that matters. By the standards of the parents who choose charters for their kids, the charters are better.

And just who are the “taxpayers?” They are individuals who are being sucked dry by the government school establishment. Parents who choose charter schools are taxpayers, too. Why shouldn’t their tax money follow their kid to the school of their choice?

The problem with the traditional public schools is that they are not profit-driven. A for-profit school must satisfy the customers—the parents—or lose the business to a stronger competitor. The traditional public schools collect their students and revenues by force of truancy laws and taxation, not by voluntary consent of the parents. There’s no incentive to satisfy the customers, because there’s no profit motive.

Charters are upsetting traditionals’ monopoly, and that’s a good thing. There shouldn’t be tax-funded—and thus politicized, government controlled—schools. But as long as we have education taxes, charter schools are a step in the right direction because they expand parental school choice. School choice is a moral imperative.

Related Reading:




Charter Schools and their Reactionary Enemies--Part 3

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Favoring Poor Kids in Charter School Applications is Unfair

Charter schools are tax-funded, so the admissions policy should be unbiased. You’d think that simple statement would be uncontroversial. But not to some. The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized in favor of allowing charter schools to “weight” their admissions policies toward “disadvantaged” kids.


In response to Giving poor families a leg up in charter schools, I left these comments:


So some kid whose parents happen to be economically successful will be denied a better education because some other kid’s parents happen to have incomes that fit statistically into an arbitrary category labeled “poor.”


The unfairness of this method should be uncontroversial. But that’s what happens when you identify people according to some economic group: You lose sight of actual individual students. And that’s the problem with education collectivists: They don’t actually give a d__n about actual kids.


The Hola scheme is designed to disadvantage kids on behalf of “disadvantaged” kids. That’s the kind of Orwellian idiocy you get from social collectivists who obsess over  “racial balance” or “a student body that reflects and represents the community” or condemn successful charter’s for having an “unfair advantage” or helping “the neediest students” (whatever that means).


Hola’s scheme is corrupt. But it does expose a real problem: The demand for charter schools exceeds the supply. What’s needed is more school choice. That can mean more charters, for sure. But universal education tax credits for private school attendance or homeschooling can expand the supply of choices available to all students, “disadvantaged” and “rich” alike. A “rich” kid whose parents can afford a private school because of tax credits could leave a charter opening for the “poor” kid.


One thing that all decent parents have in common, regardless of income, race, or what have you, is a desire to get their kids the best possible education. They also have the moral right to choose the best options available, and should have the legal right to choose without government impediments. It’s obvious that there are not enough quality educational options available to satisfy all parents, thanks in large part to the smothering effect of the government school establishment. We need more school choice. No kid’s education should ever be sacrificed for the sake of some other kid. A free, or at least freer, market in education should be the goal of education reformers so that all kids have realistic options. For the hollow phrase “no child left behind” to be given any real meaning, parents must be free to direct the course of their own children’s education.


-------------------------------------


Once again, charters are tax funded, meaning they are theoretically “owned” by all of us. Therefor, admissions policies should be fair and unbiased. Private schools, on the other hand, have a right to admit who they want based on whatever criteria they choose.


Related Reading:





Thursday, June 16, 2016

Apple’s Tim Cook Undercuts His Own Defense of Apple

In a lengthy interview concerning Apple’s recent battle against the FBI’s order that the company create a program that would allow the government to access an Islamist terrorist’s iPhone, Apple CEO Tim Cook passionately defended the company's position. In Tim Cook's full 30-minute interview on Apple's fight with the FBI, the CEO said:


If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write. Maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance. Maybe it’s the ability for law enforcement to turn on the camera. I mean, I don’t know where this stops. But I do know this is not what should be happening in this country. This is not what should be happening in America. If there should be a law that compels us to do it, it should be passed out in the open, and the people of America should get a voice in that. The right place for that debate to occur is in Congress.


But one sentence—“If there should be a law that compels us to do it, it should be passed out in the open, and the people of America should get a voice in that”—destroyed his whole case


In other words, this huge threat to our liberties, so eloquently laid out by Cook, is acceptable if the majority of the people says it is. With that one statement, Cook destroys his whole defense. America is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic based on the moral principle of inalienable individual rights. In America, your rights cannot be violated under any circumstances, including by majority vote. (Your rights can, of course, be forfeited if you violate the rights of others by force or fraud. But that is the individual’s doing due to his choice to become a criminal.) Yet, Cook accepts the government’s right to run roughshod over Apple's rights so long as an elected Congress approves!


Cook wonders, “I mean, I don’t know where this stops.” Indeed, where does the power of the electoral majority stop? Such is the result of the failure to understand the difference between a democracy (which America was never intended to be) and a constitutionally limited republic based on individual rights.


Related reading: