Thursday, April 05, 2018

Cruising the Web

Amy Swearer, a visiting legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation, has a very well-done and informative response to Justice John Paul Steven's assertions on the history of the Second Amendment. First of all, there is plenty of evidence that the Founders considered the right to bear arms an individual right.
James Madison, in Federalist No. 46, distinguished armed individuals from the protections of federalism and the existence of the militia: “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier … more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”

Noah Webster provided the following summary during the ratification debates: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed … .”

Samuel Adams, at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, declared: “The Constitution shall never be construed … to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

Similar understandings can also be found from, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason. These Founders were not articulating an original idea, either, but building on the foundations laid by such scholars as William Blackstone, Cesare Beccaria, and John Locke.
Legal scholars in the early years of the republic through the 19th century continually referred to it as an individual right. There was no doubt in their minds about the importance of the right to bear arms in preserving liberties.
George Tucker, whose 1803 American edition of Blackstone’s “Commentaries” was the standard treatise on common law for an entire generation, annotated Blackstone to reflect American rights this way: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.”

...Joseph Story, the highly regarded Supreme Court justice and author of the 1833 “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States,” built off of Tucker’s language in his own treatise and wrote: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary powers of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
It's only in the modern age that it even occurred to people that the Second Amendment concerned only a collective right. People might not like this history, but that doesn't mean they can just write off that history as if it doesn't exist.

Michael Tanner explains why we shouldn't be blaming Amazon for the financial problems facing Amazon.
Many commentators have noted that the president was wrong about almost everything he said in attacking Amazon. For instance, the president says that “only fools” believe that Amazon doesn’t cost the postal service money. However, the Post Office is losing money because of sweetheart labor deals, rising health and pension costs, and the decline in first-class mail. Delivering packages, like those for Amazon, is actually one of the few bright spots for the Post Office. Revenue from package delivery was up $2.1 billion last year, nearly a 12 percent hike. There’s even evidence suggesting that Amazon, through practices such as its Sunday delivery, may be driving an increase in postal customers. Yes, Amazon does receive a bulk discount because it ships so many packages, but, by law, that deal cannot reduce Amazon’s payments below the postal service’s costs.
Tanner goes on to lay out how Trump's attacks on Amazon betray the President's outdated vision of how the economy works.
Trump blames Amazon for “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.” In particular, Trump is reportedly upset that his friends in the real-estate business complain that Amazon is responsible for the decline of the shopping center. There is some truth here. The most pessimistic estimates suggest that competition from Amazon has been responsible for the loss of some 300,000 jobs between the Amazon’s founding and 2015. Although in fairness, we should note that Amazon itself employs some 300,000 U.S. workers, and its work force is growing by 40 percent year over year, with plans to hire an additional 50,000 workers at its yet-to-be-located HQ2.

More fundamentally, though, we should recognize that Amazon puts those retailers out of business because it offers a product that consumers prefer. I frequently choose to buy online rather than spend time and effort driving to my local shopping mall. If enough Americans agree with me, the stores in those shopping malls will have to adapt or lose business. That is the “creative destruction” at the heart of free-market capitalism.

And, ultimately, we are all better off because of it. We get newer, cheaper, and better products. How many of us wish that technology had stopped in 1900, or 1950, or 2010?
The government and the president shouldn't be in the position of trying to hold back progress in the economy in order to protect jobs in certain industries over changes that will build jobs in some new industry. He tells a typically lovely Milton Friedman anecdote.
There is a story, possibly apocryphal, about Milton Friedman. While touring China, he came upon a team of nearly 100 workers building an earthen dam with shovels. Friedman pointed out that with a bulldozer, a single worker could create the dam in an afternoon. A Communist official replied, “Yes, but think of all the unemployment that would create.”

“Oh,” said Friedman, “I thought you were building a dam. If it’s jobs you want, then take away their shovels and give them spoons.”

Trumpian economics — from his antipathy to Amazon to his escalating
There's a lesson there. I just wish that Trump had learned that while at Wharton. I sometimes wonder if he learned any economics there at all.

Sharyl Attkisson has a good suggestion if Trump wants to agree for an interview with the special prosecutor's office. He should agree to the same terms that Hillary Clinton had for the investigation into her private server.

Sounds fair, doesn't it?

These observations from Jim Geraghty about whether or not Trump is really ready to meet with North Korea's leaders make me worry.
It’s nearly a month later, and nothing’s been set yet. Not the date, not the location, not the participants beyond the two leaders. Since the announcement, President Trump has changed his secretary of State, national security adviser, and CIA director. He still hasn’t nominated anyone to be U.S. ambassador to South Korea. This is, arguably, the most high-stakes presidential meeting with a foreign leader since the end of the Cold War, and it’s not clear that this has been more than a passing thought on the president’s mind since the announcement....

President Ronald Reagan and his White House made extensive preparations for their first meeting with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The summit was announced in the summer of 1985 and didn’t begin until November 19. Reagan had wanted a summit with the Soviets since the beginning of his presidency, but as he put it so memorably, “they kept dying on me.” (Leonid Brezhnev died in 1982, Yuri Andropov died in 1984, Konstantin Chernenko died in 1985.) Reagan read through dozens of policy papers, met with slews of experts on Russia policy and history, former Soviet diplomats and KGB officials who had defected, former presidents Nixon and Ford, and former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. Reagan watched Gorbachev’s speeches, and did a complete dress rehearsal with Soviet Affairs expert Jack Matlock playing Gorbachev. Is there anything remotely like this going on in the current administration?
Can anyone imagine Trump doing that sort of preparation for anything? It boggles the mind. He seems to think that speaking off the cuff about whatever enters his mind is the best way to conduct foreign policy.
To the extent the president is thinking about the Koreas at all, he seems to be winging it with protectionist saber-rattling. As Fred Kaplan notes, on Thursday in Ohio, Trump referred to a recently reached trade deal with South Korea, saying, “I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea. You know why? Because it’s a very strong card. And I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly.” Why would the United States threaten to make implementation of a trade deal with South Korea dependent upon a nuclear deal with North Korea?

With the news that a town in California has decided to remove a statue of William McKinley because of a law he signed that broke up the land of native Americans to sell to white settlers, Alex Griswold goes through the list of our presidents and satirically demonstrates how statues of any of them should come down. I bet you're wondering what are more recent presidents have done to deserve to have their statues torn down, but it's clear that those who are so upset about a McKinley statue could find something wrong with any of them. For example.
John F. Kennedy– Escalated the War in Vietnam, overthrew Iraqi government, attempted (poorly) to overthrow Cuban government. Campaigned on civil rights, but was dragged kicking and screaming into action as president for fear of alienating Southern Democrats.

Lyndon B. Johnson– Escalated the Vietnam War even further, displaying Jumbo in several #MeToo moments

Richard Nixon– Was pretty racist.

Gerald Ford– Pardoned a guy who was pretty racist.

Jimmy Carter– Critical of abortion, opposed federal funding of abortion. He also thinks prostitution is bad, which apparently makes him problematic?

Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama– Opposed gay marriage.
Add in all the #MeToo moments we could find for Kennedy, Clinton, and Trump. It's clear that no president is worth honoring.

Here's an amazing story about how New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman might have played a role in stopping a school shooting. Apparently, someone sent him a DM telling him that someone had made a comment on his Instagram account saying that he was going to shoot up a school. He got his assistant to find the comment and contact the Boston police who then went to work to find out who had posted the message.
The detectives collected some information about the person who posted the threat. They then returned to their office, where they made an emergency records request for account information, which allowed them to determine the sender’s email and IP address, which was traced to Port Huron, Mich.

The detectives called police in Michigan, who immediately drove to the house where the threatening message originated. When the police arrived at the address, they found a 14-year-old boy, who, they said, admitted to posting the threat. They also found two rifles that belonged to his mother, according to Capt. Joseph Platzer of the Port Huron Police Department.

Platzer said the boy’s threat was aimed at the middle school that he attends in a nearby township. The boy was taken to a juvenile-detention center, where he remains. He was charged with making a false report of a threat of terrorism, a felony that is punishable by up to four years in jail.
Just imagine if the authorities had done the same thing when the Parkland shooter had posted a very similar message.

Thank you to a reader who sent me this column by John Stossel about how Philadelphia politicians are using the money gained from their new soda tax. As anyone might have predicted, the reaction by Philadelphia consumers has been to buy soda elsewhere or buy even less healthy things. Apparently, while the sales of soda are down, the sale of liquor is up. But all that doesn't matter because the politicians are having so much fun spending all that money.
Politicians do love spending other people's money. Philadelphia gave $4 million of its new soda tax funds to the Office of Arts and Culture. That bureaucracy spent the money on things like "hip-hop teach youth empowerment and social issues."