Wednesday Open Thread #73

 Posted by on 30 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  Open Thread
Jun 302009

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Good News on Free Speech

 Posted by on 29 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  Free Speech
Jun 292009

Wow, this news from the Institute for Justice is surprisingly hopeful:

June 29,2009

First Amendment Blockbuster at the Supreme Court:

Court Orders New Arguments in Citizens United, Majority Appears Poised
To Strike Down Electioneering Communications and Corporate Speech Bans

First-Ever Study of Impact on Nonprofits Demonstrates Need
To Rein in Out-of-Control Speech Regulations

Arlington, Va.–The U.S. Supreme Court today ordered a new round of oral arguments in Citizens United v. FEC, the “Hillary: The Movie” case. The Court wants parties to address whether Austin v. Michigan, a case that bans certain political speech by corporations, including nonprofit corporations such as Citizens United, should be overturned. The Court also wants to consider whether part of McConnell v. FEC, upholding the so-called “electioneering communications” ban in McCain-Feingold, should likewise be overturned and the ban struck down entirely.

“The Court has set up a blockbuster case about Americans’ First Amendment rights to join together and speak freely about politics,” said Steve Simpson, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Citizens United v. FEC. “A majority of the High Court appears to recognize the grave threat to free speech posed by both the electioneering communications ban in McCain-Feingold and the ban on corporate political speech. This case could mark a significant advance for First Amendment rights and will have major implications for state laws nationwide.”

Indeed, a study released today shows the critical need to rein in speech regulations that have flourished since the Court upheld the electioneering communications ban in McConnell. At least 15 states have electioneering communications laws, and in many cases those laws regulate even more speech by more groups than the federal ban. Indeed, just last month, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice, a federal judge struck down Florida’s law. He noted that “no court has ever upheld such a sweeping regulation of political speech.”

The study is the first ever to examine the impact of speech regulations on the kind of nonprofit corporations at issue in Austin. The study shows that these laws impose on nonprofit groups a heavy regulatory burden for their speech and most lack the resources to comply. “Locking Up Political Speech: How Electioneering Communications Laws Burden Free Speech and Civic Engagement” by political scientist Dr. Michael Munger of Duke University is available at

“Since McCain-Feingold, campaign finance regulation has exploded, leaving practically no room for free speech about politics,” said Bill Maurer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and lead counsel for the Institute on its Citizens United brief. “With each new regulation, more citizens are shut out of the political process. That is why it is essential for the Court to revisit and indeed overturn Austin and McConnell.”

The Citizens United case came about because the Federal Election Commission banned the airing of “Hillary: The Movie,” produced by the nonprofit Citizens United, on cable TV and required the group to “name names” of the film’s backers by disclosing to the government detailed personal information about donors if the group ran TV ads for the film. At oral argument, justices appeared concerned that if the government could ban corporate-funded films about candidates, it could also ban books. Revisiting Austin and McConnell allows the Court to fully consider whether speech regulation has gone too far.

“The Court will now squarely confront the inevitable consequences of regulating political speech: If the government can ban ads, it can ban movies and books as well,” said Simpson. “But we don’t ban books in America. Once you start regulating political speech, there is no place to stop. This is exactly why the First Amendment forbids government from controlling and limiting speech in the first place.”

Simpson continued, “It takes money to speak effectively, so the right to free speech must include the right to spend money and raise money to make that speech heard.”

“Reconsidering Austin and McConnell is a critical start to fixing what is wrong with campaign finance regulation, but it should not be the end,” said Simpson. “The root of the problem stretches back 30 years to Buckley: the belief that some speech deserves government regulation simply because it advocates for one candidate over another. In America, we have the right to try to convince fellow citizens how to vote. It’s called ‘political speech,’ and it’s exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect. We cannot fully protect First Amendment rights until the Court does away with the distinction between ‘good’ speech and ‘bad’ speech altogether.”

All my hopes are with Steve Simpson and the other good folks at the Institute for Justice! I am so grateful for their hard work hard to protect our rights — and for this ray of sunshine in the bleak landscape of American politics today.

Yaron Brook at Virginia GOP

 Posted by on 28 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  ARI, Politics
Jun 282009

On May 30, 2009, Yaron Brook gave the following speech to the Virginia Republican Party as their keynote speaker.

He gave a strong, principled defense of individual rights, capitalism, and the separation of church and state. And he properly blamed the Repubicans for their failure to uphold these basic American ideals.

You can watch his talk here at the ARC-TV website.

His speech is also available on the ARI YouTube channel in two parts — Part 1 and Part 2:

Recap #48

 Posted by on 28 June 2009 at 1:00 pm  Activism Recap
Jun 282009

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

This week on FA/RM, the blog of Free Agriculture – Restore Markets:

Sunday Open Thread #72

 Posted by on 27 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  Open Thread
Jun 272009

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Vegans Versus Carnivores

 Posted by on 27 June 2009 at 6:01 am  Food, Funny
Jun 272009

Heh: I can’t possibly summarize this delight from Passive Agressive Notes for you. You’ll just have to look. (Via The Hoondat Report)

(My apologies for the light blogging. I’m insanely busy right now, and my queue is still bare.)

Gay Marriage Argument Chart

 Posted by on 26 June 2009 at 1:03 pm  Politics
Jun 262009

Heh: a chart of arguments about gay marriage. (Via somewhere I can’t recall.)

Yaron Brook and Peter Schiff

 Posted by on 25 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  Objectivism
Jun 252009

I’ve not yet had a chance to watch Yaron Brook’s many interviews posted online over the past few months, with one exception: this stellar 19 minute in-studio interview of Yaron Brook and Peter Schiff on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch. To hear The Virtue of Selfishness discussed in such a positive way was mind-blowing, but I was particularly pleased to see Dr. Brook — once again — hammer on the moral fundamentals, rather than merely skimming the political surface.

You can find that interview, plus tons of other multimedia goodies, collected at the new web site ARC TV. Clearly, I have lots of catching up to do!

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 25 June 2009 at 12:19 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Jun 252009

Rule of Reason has the latest Objectivist Roundup. Go check it out!

The Hell of Perpetual Youth

 Posted by on 24 June 2009 at 11:01 pm  Culture
Jun 242009

Wow: Doctors Baffled, Intrigued by Girl Who Doesn’t Age:

Brooke Greenberg is the size of an infant, with the mental capacity of a toddler. She turned 16 in January. “Why doesn’t she age?” Howard Greenberg, 52, asked of his daughter. “Is she the fountain of youth?”

Such questions are why scientists are fascinated by Brooke. Among the many documented instances of children who fail to grow or develop in some way, Brooke’s case may be unique, according to her doctor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine pediatrician Lawrence Pakula, in Baltimore. “Many of the best-known names in medicine, in their experience … had not seen anyone who matched up to Brooke,” Pakula said. “She is always a surprise.”

Brooke hasn’t aged in the conventional sense. Dr. Richard Walker of the University of South Florida College of Medicine, in Tampa, says Brooke’s body is not developing as a coordinated unit, but as independent parts that are out of sync. She has never been diagnosed with any known genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality that would help explain why.

The whole story is well worth reading. Her medical history is interesting — albeit in a kind of gruesome way. However, I’m far more disturbed by the way in which the family, particularly the parents, have devoted their whole lives to caring for this perpetual child.

Brooke has a caretaker during daytime hours, but the family’s schedule revolves around her, year after year. The Greenbergs take no vacations, have few nights out and involve Brooke in as many family activities as possible. “To go to a swimming pool for the summer, or belong to a summer club … we tried all those things, and it’s lacking something,” her mother said. “Brooke’s not there. We’re not a family without Brooke.”

And, of course, Brooke goes to school at taxpayer expense:

Brooke goes to a Baltimore County public school, Ridge Ruxton, dedicated to special education. Based on her age, she would be a junior in high school. Jewel Adiele, one of Brooke’s teachers, said she wonders sometimes what Brooke is thinking or perceiving.

Brooke’s whole life is a strange kind of tragedy. It’s abhorrent to think of her parents caring for her as a perpetual infant until the end of their days, but I cannot see what else they might do. And what will happen to her if she outlives them? Will her siblings inherit the burden, as often happens with severely autistic children? Even worse, the parents seem in the grip of warm and fuzzy feelings for their daughter, not guided by an honest recognition of the degradation and sacrifice involved in caring for a perpetual infant. They’re spending their one and only lives on the care of a creature that — by its very nature — is more like a pet than a daughter. That’s a terrible waste of a life.

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