Corrupt Craft

Some political opponents win your respect, even if not your agreement. Others … well, not so much.

Earlier this week, a publication called Arkansas Business editorialized against Issue 3 on the Natural State’s November ballot, calling it “a freakish hybrid, a gambit to trick voters into expanding term limits for state legislators.”

This constitutional amendment was proposed with overwhelming support from state legislators, who designed it to hoodwink voters into gutting their term limits. The measure hides that consequential change — from six years in the House to 16 years and from eight years in the Senate to 16 years — inside a so-called “ethics” amendment.

The ballot wording only tells voters that the measure is “setting” term limits, which Arkansas Business correctly points out “conveys something close to the opposite of what the amendment would do,” adding “it’s certainly misleading.”

Now, Arkansas Business is no fan of term limits. The editorial concludes, “Arguments can be made for each of these proposals [in Issue 3], including longer term limits.… But we can’t endorse the current form, as much as we’d like to.”

Arkansas Business seems clearly offended by the deception. How endearingly unsophisticated!

Meanwhile, more elite opinion applauds the brilliance of the scheme, the amazing skill of these politicians applying their sneaky technique.

“Arkansas voters soundly rejected term-limit changes in 2004,” reports Governing magazine, paraphrasing University of Arkansas Professor Janine Parry, “but this time proponents craftily inserted their language into a broad package that, among other things, prohibits corporate contributions to candidates and lobbyist gifts to elected officials.”


What on earth is their craft? Fraud?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The Eristic of Ann

If conservative Eris-wannabe and apple-thrower Ann Coulter wants to understand why those of us working for truly limited government sometimes have trouble voting GOP down the line, she might consider her beloved party’s history.

The Republican Party started out as the Big Government party, combining the abolitionist/anti-slavery cause with the “internal improvement” Whig Party remnant. That is, the party started out half right, half big government.

Further, Republican Teddy Roosevelt introduced Progressivism into national politics in a big way.

No wonder the Grand Old Party has been so bad about limiting government. It was the party that unleashed unlimited government in the first place. Institutional inertia set in. Some Republicans remain progressives at heart — though nowadays, thankfully, a tad more cautious in their progressivism.

George W. Bush’s many big-gov measures were no abberation.

Heedless of this history, Coulter called limited government folks who vote the Libertarian ticket “idiots,” ending her latest column with a dare: “If you are considering voting for the Libertarian candidate in any Senate election, please send me your name and address so I can track you down and drown you.”

Over at Reason, Ron Bailey provided Google instructions for Ann to get to his house. He’s voting for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate in Virginia.

I have trouble calling science writer Bailey an idiot for his vote preference. Sarvis is a lot better than his incumbent Republican competitor, Ed Gillespie — whom Sarvis aptly dubbed a “blank check for George W. Bush.”

Maybe Coulter should threaten to “drown” Big Gov GOPers for a change.

Or stop the death threats altogether and help find better Republican candidates.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Truly “Green” Energy

“The remarkable thing about fossil fuels,” says science writer Matt Ridley, “is that when we use them, no other animal is deprived of its livelihood.”

In a fascinating talk, Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist and other brilliant, eye-opening books, calls our attention to what really should be an obvious fact: “No other animal [than us Homo sapiens sapiens] wants to eat coal, or oil, or gas.” But, he insists, when we fell a tree for our fuel, “we deprive a woodpecker of its life.”

This helps explain why, in so much of the world, animal species are coming back, their populations growing. They are renewing because of our use of non-renewable energy. (Renewable energy, he says, is quite bad for the ecosystem.)

But that’s just one reason burning fossil fuels is a good thing. Another is increased carbon dioxide (CO2).

“What?!?!” — I can hear the enviro-shrieks from here in my bunker. This weekend there were protests around the world about climate change.

But climate change may be a good thing.

Well, at least, the planet is getting greener. The Sahara’s getting greener. Much of the world’s landmasses are re-foresting — that’s even happening in Bangladesh.

I read about widespread reforestation in The Atlantic years ago. I’ve written about this and other greening before. But the reason isn’t simply because our fossil fuel reliance has made agriculture more efficient, thus requiring less land — that disused land can then grow wild, or cultivate non-agribiz plantlife. It’s also because CO2 feeds plants.

The Amazon, Ridley says, is greener than it was mere years ago.

Could later industrial civilization be saving the planet from the depredations of earlier industrial civilization?


This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Townhall: Kicking the Can Down Crony Lane

Over at Townhall, the case for getting rid of big business’s favorite sugar daddy. Click on over, then back here for more reading.

Video: NASA contracts with SpaceX etc

Rundown of the week’s big stories, including the new space deal.

This is surely not full privatization, but it is better than NASA monopolizing the space effort.

Plus: Peter Thiel on good and bad monopolies.

Police Officer Un-indicted

We’re naturally worried about the potential for police abuse of power — cops who roust people for no good reason, then claim that the other party was “resisting arrest” or some such thing.

But sometimes it’s the person on the other side of the badge who reconstructs history.

Several days ago, a story broke about Django Unchained actress Danièle Watts, who is African-American, being accosted along with her white boyfriend by a police officer who wanted to see their IDs. Both later suggested that they were targeted by police for racial reasons. On her Facebook page, Watts reported that she “was handcuffed and detained by two police officers . . . after refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place.”

But audio of the encounter that has come to light shows an officer politely asking for ID, and explaining that he was responding to a call. (The caller had claimed the couple were having sex in public.) The officer is calm; Watts is persistently histrionic. She brings up race; he says race wasn’t the issue, sexual activity in public was.

We can argue about whether the officer should have handcuffed the actress in response to her recalcitrance. (Apparently, an accusation is all that is required to trigger police power, a demand to “see our papers.” It’s hard not to be on Ms. Watts’s pro-freedom side on that.) But now that this recording is out there, her original version of the encounter just won’t stand.

Enough reason to put video-recording devices onto every police lapel . . . in L.A., in Ferguson, everywhere.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

For Some Reason

Yesterday, the House voted to extend the legal ability for the Export-Import Bank to run . . . for another nine months. The people’s legislature passed the “stop-gap” measure, 319-108, with both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition.

Just last month, President Obama expressed dismay that Republicans would be against it.

“For some reason,” he intoned, “right now the House Republicans have decided that we shouldn’t do this. . . .” He pretended to incredulity and puzzlement. He gave the usual reasoning for the subsidized financial guarantees, and insisted that “every country does this.”

“When,” he asked, “did that become something that Republicans opposed?”

Obama could’ve asked all those members of his own party who opposed it.

But then, he could have asked himself. Back in 2008, he very clearly put the Ex-Im Bank on the theoretical chopping block. Candidate Obama gave the big business bank up as a program that “didn’t work” and one that had become “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”

So why the change of mind, Mr. Obama?

Has the Ex-Im ceased being a fund for corporate welfare?

No. It’s still there, propping up big businesses doing business abroad — indeed, multinationals abroad, the kind of companies that Obama’s Occupier friends despise so deeply.

What has changed? He’s in power, now. And that power derives from the mighty federal purse, filled by taxing hundreds of millions of Americans, and used to give hundreds of millions and billions in benefits to the few, the insiders.

President Obama and the congressional leadership of both parties are tighter than ever with special interests.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.