URLs du Jour

2019-05-20

[Amazon Link]

  • At American Consequences, P. J. O'Rourke provides a primer: Negative Rights vs. Positive Rights.

    There’s a reason why so much political thinking starts out in the neighborhood of Idealism, crosses Naive Street, and winds up in Stupidville.

    The reason is confusion between negative rights and positive rights.

    We all agree that rights are wonderful, and we’ve got a lot of them – at least in this country – and we should get a lot more.

    But there are two kinds of rights – Getoutta Here Rights and Gimmie Rights. Or, as they’re called in political theory, “negative rights” and “positive rights.”

    Negative rights are our rights to be left alone – to do, be, think, and say (and buy and sell) whatever we want as long as our behavior doesn’t cause real harms.

    Positive rights are our rights to real goods – our rights to get things. The right to education. The right to health care. The right to a living wage, etc.

    And positive "rights" can be established and expanded at whim. Peej is a little easier on those than I am.


  • At his Fake Nous blog, philosopher Michael Huemer looks at the A-issue: Abortion Is Difficult. There's a long discussion, but here's the bottom line:

    I don’t have many conclusions from all this. But here is one conclusion: If the abortion issue seems very simple and obvious to you, then you’re probably a dogmatic ideologue, and your ideology is stopping you from appreciating this very subtle, complex question. Abortion is a highly intellectually interesting issue, connected with all sorts of important — and very difficult and controversial — issues: Issues about personal identity, potentiality, the foundation of rights, the physical basis of consciousness, the doctrine of double effect, special obligations to family, negative vs. positive conceptions of rights, and the problem of moral uncertainty.

    I think that's pretty much correct. Darned biology keeps invading our neat philosophical air-castles, causing a mess.


  • Big news, reported by Reason's Eric Boehm: Rep. Justin Amash Says Trump ‘Has Engaged in Impeachable Conduct’.

    In a series of tweets this afternoon, Justin Amash accused President Donald Trump of having "engaged in impeachable conduct." The libertarian-leaning Michigan congressman blamed his fellow Republican legislators for choosing to defend the president rather than the Constitution in the wake of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's report.

    "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment," Amash tweeted. "In fact, Mueller's report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence."

    I think Trump should be impeached, but not for some bogus "obstruction of justice" allegation, but for his multiple sins against the Constitution.

    Of course, I've thought Obama should have been impeached for similar reasons.

    Also Dubya, for signing McCain-Feingold even though he thought it was unconstitutional.

    Bill Clinton, of course.

    George H. W. Bush? Well, maybe.


  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff is not a fan of Justin Amash, a party of one.

    Amash is a hard core libertarian of the Ron Paul variety. Earlier this year, he did not rule out running for president in 2020 as the Libertarian Party candidate.

    Amash is a Palestinian-American. He routinely votes against Israel’s interests. For example, he voted against additional funding for Israel’s anti-missile system, Iron Dome, during the 2014 Gaza war. He even voted against a bill to set a 90-day deadline for President Donald Trump to fill the position of anti-Semitism monitor. Apparently, the bill would have passed unanimously but for Amash’s opposition.

    Yeesh. Of that I was unaware. If Amash winds up on the ballot, I could conceivably just skip voting for President in 2020.


  • Kevin D. Williamson is not a Trump fan, but he sees merit (heh) in Trump's latest effort: Immigration Reform: Merit-Based System Serves U.S. Interests.

    Having chain-migrated his way into the White House and a little bit of political power, Donald Trump’s son-in-law is shopping around an immigration plan. And if you can get past the hilarious juxtaposition of the words “merit-based” and “Jared Kushner,” it’s a pretty good one.

    As things stand, the majority of immigrants to the United States (the majority of legal immigrants, anyway) qualify for entry on the basis of having a family member legally present in the United States. This is the mechanism behind what is known as “chain migration,” in which one member of a family provides entry to another, who provides entry to another, who provides entry to another, and so on.

    In contrast, a small share of immigrants — about 12 percent — enter the country on the basis of a job offer or the possession of certain skills or education that make them desirable to employers. (Others enter as investors, coming in as potential employers rather than potential employees.) These are everything from doctors to software developers.

    Kushner’s agenda is to reverse those proportions, reducing the number of entrants through family-based immigration and loosening up restrictions on highly skilled workers. The plan would also eliminate the “lottery,” the visa system under which 50,000 applicants are selected randomly (almost randomly, anyway) in the name of diversity, albeit a kind of diversity that excludes Canadians, Englishmen, Indians, Brazilians, Nigerians, and many others. It is difficult to think of a worse criterion for the admission of new Americans than randomness.

    Sounds (mostly) good to me, but (of course) even mostly-good is a dealbreaker for Democrats.


  • And our Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article in the UK (!) edition of Wired: 3D-printed guns are back, and this time they are unstoppable. Discussion centers on "Ivan the Troll" a spokesmodel for the decentralized, so far successfully unsquelched, movement.

    One of his most recent videos shows the polymer Glock 17 frame in various stages of production in his workshop. The footage is set to fast-paced synthwave music and is run through a trendy VHS filter – the aesthetics are important. Toward the end, Ivan fires several rounds with the fully built handgun, as text flashes up saying “ANYONE CAN MAKE IT”, “LIVE FREE OR DIE”, and “GO AHEAD TRY TO STOP THIS YOU FILTHY STATISTS”. He’s also uploaded the complete CAD reference model designs for a 3D-printed AR-15 assault rifle to his file-sharing space online. It’s clear Ivan is trying to provoke his detractors as much as possible.

    It's Wired, so there's some expected hand-wringing about "gun violence", but it's pretty clear that homemade guns are a negligible-to-zero part of that.