You are browsing the archive for 2019 December 31.

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Who Needs Judges? Progressives Discover the Virtues of Democracy!

December 31, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Washington is convulsed by politics these days. The presidential election is less than a year away. The House is moving forward on impeaching President Donald Trump. And there is widespread preparation for a possible Supreme Court confirmation battle.

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Of course, the last is largely hidden from public view, since there is no vacancy … yet. It is morbid but inevitable business: across the spectrum, officials and activists alike are considering the likely progression of pancreatic cancer in Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No one wishes her ill, but an election-year nomination would trigger an extraordinarily bitter, high-stakes battle. So everyone wants to be ready.

Long committed to result-oriented jurisprudence, the Left fears that it faces payback from conservative jurists after years of unconstitutional judicial activism. AlterNet’s Jake Johnson warned that “Progressive advocacy groups and legal experts have warned that these right-wing judges will have the power to shape U.S. law on climate, reproductive rights, and other major areas for decades to come.” Just like the lefties did who long dominated the federal bench. But they now fear the end is nigh!

Progressive activists are pushing for “reform,” which means filling the courts with robed legislators. Emma Janger of the People’s Parity Project argued, “Without a meaningful plan for court reform any presidential attempts to make needed change will simply be blocked by the courts.” Listen to progressive activists and you hear an echo of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous declaration at the 1912 Republican Party convention that “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.” Yet it is the Left that long ago politicized the judiciary, hijacking the legal process and turning court appointments into brutal political battles.

As originally conceived, the judicial role was important. Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 78,

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The independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effect of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures [circumstances], sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Rise and Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, “the Romanian Fuehrer”

December 31, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Traditionally, Christmas is a time of peaceful reflection and restful appreciation of the fast disappearing year. In 1989, there was much to contemplate.

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The most dramatic symbol of totalitarian tyranny, the Berlin Wall, fell dramatically. The Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan memorably described the Soviet Union, was dissolving. The Soviet satellites were gone: Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Bulgaria all defenestrated their communist rulers. Even the Soviet republics were restless, headed out of the Russian-dominated union. Indeed, Lithuania was just a couple months away from declaring independence.

Even the ruthless totalitarian state created by Romania’s dictator and dictatress, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, was gone. And they were subjected to justice after 24 years in power. It was imperfect, but it was justice nonetheless.

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The Rise of Ceausescu

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Nicolae was a member of the communist youth movement. He was arrested and imprisoned multiple times. His 1936 mugshot at age 18 still haunts the internet. His country passed from traditional monarchy to troubled democracy to royal dictatorship to military control to occupied territory. In World War I, Bucharest had gained territory seized from the disintegrating Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. As World War II approached, Romania lost those lands. First allied with the Nazis, Bucharest switched sides in 1944 but was still dominated by the conquering Soviet Union, which established a communist government.

Ceausescu rose within the system, becoming party general secretary in 1965 and president in 1967. He trended liberal at first, easing censorship and denouncing the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. But by 1971, he had shifted back, mimicking the Chinese communists by issuing “July Theses” and imposing “Socialist Humanism,” the ultimate oxymoron.

He vied with Albania’s Enver Hoxha to establish the most totalitarian European communist state, while maintaining independence from Moscow. In fact, Ceausescu became the West’s favorite communist, despite the devastation that he wreaked on his own people.

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Thirty years have passed, but it is important never to forget the evil that men and women can commit.

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His …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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India’s Dark Path To Hindu Nationalism

December 31, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

India is being convulsed by mass demonstrations against a new citizenship law that places special disabilities on Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has responded with force, leading to more deaths in a couple weeks than during months of protests in Hong Kong.

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Some Western policymakers once saw India as the great democratic hope for confronting communist China. Indian economic growth was poised to spurt past that of the PRC. When Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a majority in the 2014 election, he was compared to America’s Ronald Reagan, expected to free India’s hobbled economy and unleash his people’s productivity. Charismatic and determined, Modi seemed destined to turn his nation into a weltmacht whose interests had to be respected.

However, he proved to be more pro-business than pro-market, favoring stronger state control over the economy to support his political objectives. First-term reforms were slow and tentative. He sought to squeeze cash out of the economy, enhancing the government’s power while starving small businesses of liquidity. The result was slower growth—last quarter saw the slowest expansion in six years. Thus, when the BJP sought reelection this year, it talked less about its disappointing economic record than about religious nationalism, especially the continuing conflict with Pakistan over majority-Muslim but India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The emphasis on Hindu nationalism should have surprised no one. Modi’s career saw him rise through the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organization that promotes Hindutva, or Hindu supremacy. In 2002, as head of Gujarat State, he presided over—and, some charged, encouraged—riots that led to the deaths of hundreds and even thousands of Muslims. He described his reaction to those killings as similar to witnessing the death of a puppy.

Although Hindu violence and persecution has most often been directed at Muslims, Christians, who make up a much smaller portion of the population, also are frequent targets. Widespread rioting in Orissa (or Odisha) State in August 2008 left scores dead, thousands injured, tens of thousands displaced, hundreds of churches destroyed, and thousands of homes wrecked. Christians, who often minister to Dalits (formerly called “untouchables”), still badly mistreated by traditional Indian Hindu culture, are routinely targeted by anti-conversion laws. And mobs, often at the behest of “cow protection” activists, have increasingly targeted Christians who deal in cattle. Sharad Sharma, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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To Reduce Vaping Illness, Legalize Marijuana

December 31, 2019 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron, J.J. Rich

Jeffrey Miron and J.J. Rich

States that permit recreational marijuana sales tend to have lower rates of vaping-related hospitalizations, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has linked vitamin E acetate, an adulterant typically reserved to the black market, to 48 of the 51 hospitalized patients it has examined. Governments have often responded to these contaminations by enacting bans on e-cigarettes and other vaping products, but the CDC data suggest they should take the opposite approach.

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As with prohibitions throughout history, these bans are misguided. They would push consumers to black markets, where vaping products are more dangerous. In fact, despite the disproportionate popularity of nicotine vaporizers, of the 1,782 hospitalized patients who were asked what type of product they were using, 80 percent reported use of vaporizers containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. And due to marijuana’s illegality, this figure is likely an underestimate, as patients are likely underreporting THC use to avoid potential prosecution.

The CDC has also found THC in the majority of lung fluid samples it has tested in conjunction with contaminates like vitamin E acetate, coconut oil, and limonene, while acknowledging that THC wouldn’t necessarily remain in the lungs. But this strong relationship is not because THC is more dangerous to vaporize than nicotine, but because THC vapor fluids are typically purchased on the black market.

Vaping first emerged in U.S. markets in 2007 as a safer alternative to cigarettes—it provides nicotine without the harmful tar in burned tobacco. Critics cite the possible adverse effects of nicotine, especially for teens, while harm reduction groups point to potential health benefits of vaping over smoking traditional cigarettes and their carcinogenic tar.

Until recently, the consensus supported smokers switching to e-cigarettes. Last March, however, reports of lung illnesses and deaths from vaping began to emerge, with 2,506 hospitalizations and 54 deaths reported to the CDC so far this year. In September, the CDC initially advised consumers of all vaping products to stop use immediately. But at the end of October, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned that THC products, particularly those purchased from “informal sources,” seemed to be playing a major role in the lung injury outbreak. Redfield added that users …read more

Source: OP-EDS