Bizarre reasoning, indeed – free speech?

By Nathan Barton

I seem to agree with Freedom Net Daily, which had this headline: “Judge: I have no earthly idea what the First Amendment means or requires”  FND posted a NBC News story, which read in part, “President Donald Trump cannot block Twitter users for the political views they have expressed, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday. Blocking users from viewing his own Twitter account — a feature offered by the social media platform — is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling. … The government had argued that blocked individuals could still access the president’s tweets. The judge agreed but said that even considering the president’s First Amendment rights, preventing users from interacting directly with him on Twitter represented a violation of a ‘real, albeit narrow, slice of speech.’”

This is, to my way of thinking, bizarre indeed. If I understand what this judge is saying, several situations are possible. Continue reading

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How government enforces our “protections” (and why it is wrong)

By Nathan Barton

In the last two commentaries, I discussed government and weeds.

In those, I raised the question of how government enforces laws, even without having any legitimate authority to do so. Laws which are supposed to protect people (especially children and stupid people).  But laws which do NOT. Because these laws seldom really accomplish what ostensibly they set out to do.

Laws against weeds (whether noxious weeds in fields, yards, and roadsides; or marijuana) do not eliminate weeds, and they really do not control people being exposed to weeds.  Laws which supposedly prevent murder do not.  Laws which theoretically prevent fraud and theft do not.  Instead, they simply give government power and money. They expand government and the parasites in government who live off of the rest of the people of the Fifty States.

(I wasn’t saying that weeds, or weed, are good.  Or killing. Or theft and fraud. These things are bad for people.)
Continue reading

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Is it government’s duty to control weeds? (Part II)

By Nathan Barton

In the last commentary I discussed the role of government in controlling weeds.  Weeds along streets and roads, on public property, and on private property. I believe that there are many ways to deal with weeds that do not require government.

But let me move on to the other kind of “weed control.”  That is, cannabis: marijuana.  It has many nicknames, including “weed.”  It is in the news a lot.  Especially government control of same, and the constant round of legislation, ballot issues, and debate over that. And in many parts of North America, especially in the Great Plains States, marijuana is indeed a weed: “ditch weed” found in the bar ditches and uncultivated fields along highways and county roads.

As with noxious weeds, I can find nothing granting any government agency or authority to regulate or control marijuana (cannabis) or its close relatives, hemp.  Especially not on private land.  But somehow, government has assumed this “authority” and, by tacit agreement, the electorate and their elected representatives have recognized this power.  And allowed billions of dollars – far more than ever spent on weeds like thistle and hound’s tongue – to be spent to control weed.  An effort which failed. Continue reading

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Is it government’s duty to control weeds? (Part I)

By Nathan Barton

A correspondent recently asked me an interesting question.  Is it government’s duty to protect us from weeds?  Is it government’s job to control weeds?

Although he was asking the question regarding a particular subject, in reality, there are several ways that we can answer this question.

I am not sure about whether it is the case nationwide, but most county governments in western States have “weed and pest control departments” as an agency. Sometimes, this is a separate, special district of some type, together with “mosquito control” and “animal control” and “recreation services” districts or bureaus or agencies.

Originally, these were apparently part of road departments, taking care of weeds along the public roads. But the mission of government agencies always seems to creep.  These expanded to dealing with weeds on public lands in general, such as parks, school lands and such places.  And then they became a regulating agency:  given the power to order people to treat (kill) the weeds on their private property. And then the power to tell people HOW to deal with weeds on their property. Many, if not most, county agencies today have the authority to require that landowners prepare and submit a weed control plan for their own property.  The agency can approve or deny that plan, and take enforcement action if the plan is not followed or is not sufficient to control weeds.  The agency can require certain methods (such as chemical or biological or mechanical) be used, and even require (or prohibit) use of certain chemicals. Continue reading

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SCOTUS legalizes sports wagering nationally

By Nathan Barton

The WaPo reports that SCOTUS has overturned a federal law which has been on the books for a quarter-century,  The law, supposedly to protect the ‘integrity of collegiate and professional sports, enacted in 1992, prohibited 49 states from authorizing betting on team sports such as football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Now, I do not gamble (on sports events or most other things; my gambling has to do with staying out of trouble or not, and accomplishing projects against bad odds, kind of like farmers and ranchers gamble on crops growing or livestock surviving. I believe that gambling on sports or elections or which way the chicken runs across the road is not morally right.

But I don’t see that government has any business, right, legitimate power, requirement, obligation, or legitimate reason to try and regulate betting money, matchsticks, m&m’s or cigarettes on team sports, individual sports, animal antics, weather, elections, or anything else. None, nada, zip.  I also fail to see any excuse for government to attempt to do so by some strange clause in the US Constitution, or some sort of referendum or initiative or compact. Continue reading

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Is there safety in numbers?

By Nathan Barton

Ron Paul recently discussed the latest report by the NSA on their domestic surveillance program: they monitored half-a-billion domestic phone calls and text messages in 2017.

Now, that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  But after all, there are 330 million of us living here in the Fifty States.  So that is less than one and a half messages or phone calls for each one of us.  Of course, that includes men, women and children. And all those folks who don’t have phones or texting – a couple thousand at least!  And even three-year-olds make phone calls, right?

So let us say that is only 200 million Americans that make/receive phone calls and send/get text messages.  My, oh my. That means that the Feds (NSA is of course a federal alphabet agency) might be snooping on 2-3 conversations (on average) each year for each of us.  (I sent/got more than 600 phone calls last month, and about 900 texts.)

That is not bad, but there are some big assumptions and caveats involved: Continue reading

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When the truth makes you angry…

By Nathan Barton

It seems that the media is upset that the guy sitting there in the White House (or at least running around there) has upset some good American allies.  Last week, CNN and other media outlets complained that Trump’s speech to the NRA angered the French and the Brits.  He dared to point out that the killings of all those people in the attack on night-clubs in Paris might have been stopped by a few – even one – people with a gun. And stating that strict gun control laws failed to stop the killings.  Worse, he said that the recent epidemic of knifing people in England and other British possessions was a problem, and that at least one hospital in Britain had been compared to a war zone hospital with blood on the floors.

The media reaction was mild compared to the actual reaction from the other side of the Atlantic.  One French politician called the remarks shameful and obscene.  A Brit politician said that Trump is “probably lying.” Continue reading

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