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Keystone Eminent Domain

January 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

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The New York Times has a news article about the eminent domain seizures involved in the Keystone XL pipeline, which is something that congressional Republicans, if they were principled about property rights, might want to pay some attention to:

This week, TransCanada, the company proposing the pipeline, began eminent domain proceedings in Nebraska county courts, seeking to gain access to almost 90 properties where the owners have not agreed to terms. Many of those landowners have said they have no intention of allowing construction.

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Further on Silver

January 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

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A reader sent an irate response to point 4 below, suggesting that, in essence, it is ridiculous to suggest on the basis of two cases, Silver and Rapfogel, that there might be anything about Modern Orthodox Judaism worth scrutinizing. Maybe the reader is correct.

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Sheldon Silver Criminal Complaint

January 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

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There's so much to say about the federal criminal complaint just filed against the speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, that it is hard to know exactly where to start, but here are a few preliminary observations:

1. Part of the case is built on the slim reed of "honest services" fraud, the same statute that prosecutors tried to use against Conrad Black and Jeffrey Skilling but that the Supreme Court rebuffed them on.

2. It's the arbitrary regulatory power of the state over business that creates the opportunity for corruption and that makes one of the best cases for modest government with limited power and limited discretion. From the criminal complaint:

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Insider Trading History

January 21, 2015 at 12:26 pm

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The New York Times has an update on the state of insider trading law. A professor at Wayne State University Law School, Peter Henning, writes:

Figuring out exactly what is required to prove a violation reflects the fact that insider trading law is a product of judicial decisions that are not always clear or consistent. Judges sometimes throw in a general statement about the law that is at best peripheral to the issues in a case but can become the basis for a controlling precedent. The courts are finally confronting the issue of what must be shown for a tipping case. So we are seeing the law develop, albeit in fits and starts.

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The Annotated State of the Union

January 21, 2015 at 12:33 am

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Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page. [Well there's some wishful thinking, about turning the page on the war with the terrorists, just as ISIS releases video of Japanese hostages and Islamic militants murder Jews and cartoonists at Paris.]

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The Club for Growth Letter

January 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

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The president of the Club for Growth, David McIntosh, has sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell laying down some markers for the economic policy agenda in the Congress ahead. The key points:

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The Inequality Trap

January 20, 2015 at 11:52 am

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Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have both kicked off their embryonic presidential campaigns by talking about income inequality.

From the "what we believe" section of Mr. Bush's "Right To Rise" Political Action Committee:

While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they've been a lost decade for the rest of America....We believe the income gap is real, but that only conservative principles can solve it by removing the barriers to upward mobility.

Note the reference to the "income gap," like candidate John Kennedy talking about the "missile gap" between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (which turned out to be overstated if not imaginary).

From a New York Times report on Mr. Romney's remarks to the Republican National Committee:

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White Boston Ferguson Protestesters Living In Parents' Mansions

January 20, 2015 at 11:13 am

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"White #BlackLivesMatter Boston Protesters Found Living with Parents in Luxury Mansions" is the headline over a Gateway Pundit post about some local reporters in Boston who tried to track down the protesters arrested for blocking highway traffic in Boston rush hour by chaining themselves to cement-filled barrels. It's not clear that the story entirely justifies the headline, but it's close enough that it's worth a smile, or an eye-roll.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, a Democrat, has fired a part-time city employee as punishment for having participated in the protest.

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Obama's Saturday-Night Tax Grab Turns Redistribution Into Retribution

January 19, 2015 at 8:25 pm

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President Obama's proposed $320 billion over-ten-years tax increase is the subject of my column this week:

Some day, when historians look back on the Obama administration, the Saturday night tax-grab will loom right up there with Benghazi, the broken ObamaCare web site, and the je suis Charlie no-show as one of this presidency's lowest moments.

Low, but telling, because it shows how this administration approaches tax policy not from the point of view of raising the revenues necessary to run the government, and not from the view of creating the maximum incentives for growth and innovation, but rather as a kind of zero-sum, redistributionist means of political warfare. It is tax policy as power and punishment, tax policy as vengeance.

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Ferguson Protests Divert Ambulance

January 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

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The "Black Lives Matter" protesters in Boston who blocked highways by chaining themselves to 1,200-pound cement barrels during morning rush hour caused at least one ambulance to be diverted. CBS News, which has the story, says the condition of the patient in the ambulance hasn't been disclosed. Nor does the article mention the race of the patient in the ambulance.

This one is a bit far afield from our usual subject matter here, but it seems like blocking rush hour traffic is a good way to express anger and get attention, but not a very good way to increase popular support for a cause.

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Preet's Appeal

January 15, 2015 at 7:28 am

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A court filing offers a hint that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, plans to appeal last month's Second Circuit ruling dismissing two insider trading cases. A Bloomberg News article reports on a filing in another case in which prosecutors wrote that the ruling "dramatically (and in our view, wrongly) departs from 30 years of controlling Supreme Court authority and, in so doing, legalizes manipulative and deceptive conduct that no court has ever sanctioned."

Our coverage of the issue is linked here.

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Peter Berkowitz on Liberty and Tradition

January 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

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Peter Berkowitz writes:

to combine and to reconcile the competing demands of liberty and tradition—the defining task of modern American conservatism—has never been more daunting.

Much as some fiscal conservatives would like to deny the connection, limited government cannot be separated from the character of its citizens. If individuals are not determined to make decisions for themselves and take responsibility for their lives; if they are not nurtured by family, rooted in community and sustained by faith or a firm sense of duty; and if they are not educated to grasp the principles of freedom and to appreciate freedom's blessings—then they will not experience an increasingly activist and ever-expanding government as an affront and a danger. To the contrary, they will welcome it as a comfort and a consolation.

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The Trouble With Scandinavia

January 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm

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The social welfare states of Northern Europe aren't the egalitarian liberal utopias they are cracked up to be, writes Michael Booth in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, reviewed by Kyle Smith in the New York Post.

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Je Suis Juif

January 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

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The French prime minister's clumsy attempt to whitewash his country's history of anti-Semitism is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Maybe the Police Should Stay on Strike

January 9, 2015 at 10:05 am

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With a New York Times editorial condemning the New York Police Department's work slowdown as "reckless" "madness" that is "damaging the social order," perhaps it's worth considering the — heretical, I know — possibility that less police activity might actually not be such a bad thing.

Not all situations without police degenerate into violent anarchy, after all. Many of them evolve into patterns of spontaneous order. One way to see that is this YouTube video of traffic in Vietnam (here's another, shorter one). No one is directing the traffic, yet most everyone gets where they are going safely.

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