URLs du Jour — 2013-12-01

The First Amendment does not cover

  • Another data point exposing the hostility of the IRS to Constitutional freedoms: the recent proposed regulation of the political speech of 501(c)(4) groups. Bradley Smith has a good rundown at the NR website. Example:

    The proposed rule would not only limit speech, it would go backward to censor speech. The rule proposes to require groups, starting 60 days before the election, to scrub their websites of any material mentioning a candidate. Thus, an article written last month quoting Democratic members of Congress echoing the president’s assurances that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” would have to be taken down next Labor Day, just as the campaign was heating up.

    The point, Smith argues, is to force via regulation what "progressives" have failed to do via legislation: the disclosure of contributors to conservative/libertarian groups, so they can be boycotted and bullied into silence.

    Preferably, the IRS should be disbanded. If that can't happen immediately, the whole notion that certain groups are less deserving of First Amendment protections than others should be repealed, legislatively or judicially.

  • Also coming in for some deserved criticism: the recent apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis, in which he asserted (among other things):

    … [S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

    As a result of such, he has been widely quoted by "progressives" that would otherwise not give two figs about the Pope's opinions on anything.

    My own reaction would be ill-tempered, profane, and likely to offend the majority-Catholic population of the Salad household. Instead, let me quote Havard Genius Econ Prof Greg Mankiw in near-entirety:

    First, throughout history, free-market capitalism has been a great driver of economic growth, and as my colleague Ben Friedman has written, economic growth has been a great driver of a more moral society.

    Second, "trickle-down" is not a theory but a pejorative used by those on the left to describe a viewpoint they oppose. It is equivalent to those on the right referring to the "soak-the-rich" theories of the left. It is sad to see the pope using a pejorative, rather than encouraging an open-minded discussion of opposing perspectives.

    Third, as far as I know, the pope did not address the tax-exempt status of the church. I would be eager to hear his views on that issue. Maybe he thinks the tax benefits the church receives do some good when they trickle down.

    I would dearly love to see a debate between the Pope and Prof Mankiw on whose views are better "confirmed by the facts". To be fair, "facts" have never been religion's strong suit; the Pope probably shouldn't have tried to pretend otherwise.

  • Mr. Steyn's column is appropriately merciliess this week. To share one bit, our President is uttered the following in November 14 news conference:

    On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to. Has I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great. You know, I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity, a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn't going to work.

    Steyn responds:

    Ooooo-kay. So, if I follow correctly, the smartest president ever is not smart enough to ensure that his website works; he’s not smart enough to inquire of others as to whether his website works; he’s not smart enough to check that his website works before he goes out and tells people what a great website experience they’re in for. But he is smart enough to know that he’s not stupid enough to go around bragging about how well it works if he’d already been informed that it doesn’t work. So he’s smart enough to know that if he’d known what he didn’t know he’d know enough not to let it be known that he knew nothing. The country’s in the very best of hands.

  • New Hampshire's other great essayist, P.J. O'Rourke, has a new book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again) and the WSJ has a bit of it outside its paywall as I type. As a baby-boomer myself—yes, I confess—I heartily concur:

    We are the generation that changed everything. Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression—on ourselves. That's an important accomplishment, because we're the generation that created the self, made the firmament of the self, divided the light of the self from the darkness of the self, and said, "Let there be self." If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you may have noticed this yourself.

Last Modified 2022-10-05 2:16 PM EDT