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Month: May 2010

Number 147

Thailand’s Agony The violence and arson have trailed off, perhaps stopped; bitterness and mourning prevail. Thais have a lot to answer for, and they know it, though they may try to shift the blame or ignore it. There are virtually no Good Guys; even the clergy managed to misbehave. For commentary on some of what happened and why, see the companion attachment — it is not part of the body of this issue of TLB because of its length and limited interest. That explains the paucity of expository commentary in this issue. So…here are some links you might not have seen. Links This is the best argument TLB can think of for telling NASA to start working on a time machine. This guy would be a good president. “Much of what’s wrong with the criminal justice system today isn’t the product of evil or malevolent law enforcement personnel, but of poorly structured incentives put in place by bad policy. And bad policy usually comes from clueless politicians (the issue of crime seems particularly prone to unnuanced, slogan-based policy making).” That’s Rodney Balko talking, and you should read it all if you think law and law enforcement are important. Oh, good! There’s big news from Turtle Bay, which is to say — And now, from those same hilarious jokers and madcap comedians who brought the world the enslavement and sale...

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Addition to Number 147

An Attempt To Put The Thai Crisis Into Perspective Events following the destruction of the Red Shirts’ barricades and the voluntary surrender of Red Shirt leaders are particularly distressing. Arsonists have destroyed one very large and several smaller buildings in Bangkok. There have been shootouts here and there, including one in a Buddhist temple. Fifty-two people are reported killed on the fourteenth of May. These facts raise a number of questions, and they permit some tentative conclusions. 1. Several days ago, the government announced the Red Shirt area would be “sealed.” Yet some three hundred Red Shirts were located in a shopping mall — Amarin Plaza — where they had taken refuge after the rebels’ positions were overrun. Diehard fanatics also left the area, later to torch buildings in thirty-five locations. The incompetence of the police/military is obvious. Its cause, whether simple lack of professionalism, failure to attend to detail or deliberate malfeasance (making common cause with the Red Shirts), is unknown. 2. The Red Shirts destroyed Central World (Google it if you don’t know it), a huge mall that was recently expanded and upgraded. How could this building be so damaged by fire that parts of it collapsed, and the remaining structure is useless? What happened to the sprinkler system, and what, in a building all concrete, tile and glass, was the fuel for the fires? TLB does...

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Number 146

The Spark That Could Ignite A Rebellion Is Visible This may be a generation that is witness to the abuses and fury that eventuate in a genuine revolution. When tyrants impose their plans on a society that is accustomed to options, punitive measures always have to be employed to frighten citizens into obeying the government. That may provoke stubborn disobedience, leading the government to crack down harder, punish dissenters more severely, and widen penalties for a variety of formerly tolerated acts. Administrations can be voted out in the USA, so if (a) Team Obama is irrevocably committed to its Utopian reforms, and if (b) the electorate desires repeal, the administration will have to circumvent the democratic process in order to compel obedience. That assertion is not absurd paranoia, as it describes an event that has already happened: every member of Congress knew that fifty-nine percent of the voters opposed Obamacare, yet the unread, incomprehensible bill handing one-sixth of the US economy over to federal control was enacted. The fact that Obama has no ethical commitment to the will of the majority has been established. That is undeniable. It is also clear that some opponents of Obamacare are determined to avoid the program’s grasp: Like the Soviet central planners of a bygone era, today’s Democrats are marching us into an abyss of unintended consequences for our entire health care system....

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Number 145

Do You Want To Join The Crusade Against Arizona? You May Find That You And Your Fellow Crusaders Can All Fit Into A Single Bus Before you start ranting about the GESTAPO tactics of Arizona’s cops who will be using the new immigration status law to humiliate and harass Hispanics, remember something you may not even know yet: Arizona is one of twenty-three US states that have what is called “stop and identify” statutes. In those states, the cops can stop you — for “reasonable suspicion,” which is less than “probable cause” — and ask you who you are. Arizona and Florida have such laws, but TLB has been frustrated in its search for details of either statute. Californians do not have to identify themselves to the cops, as that part of the state criminal code was declared unconstitutional by the federal supreme court in 1983 (Kolender vs. Lawson); details here. Right away you can see that the pre-existing “stop and identify” law in Arizona is considered constitutional, and that its status is unlikely to change. The highest court in the land has not felt it necessary to tell any state other than California to behave itself. (That was done simply because California’s chronically incompetent legislature wrote a sloppy law.) To belabor the point: this means that if “stop and identify” laws were bad, in the sense of a...

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