Hit & Run

Reason Writers Around the Web: Radley Balko Interviewed by the Economist


Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko recently chatted with the Economist about the criminal justice system, his investigative work for Reason, and the state of libertarianism. Excerpt:

I think technology is adding a level of transparency to government we've never seen before, from crowd-source analysis of those 1,000-page bills Congress is so fond of sneaking through, to Google's recent move to make case law available and searchable to the public, to the proliferation of cell-phone cameras and the resulting documentation of police and government abuses for the world to see—be it the Iranian government's crackdown on democracy protesters or a Bay Area cop's killing of a BART passenger.

George Orwell wrote of government power, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever." He may still be right, but there's now a decent chance someone will be there with a cell-phone camera to post it on YouTube. And exposing abuse of power is half the battle.

Read the full interview here.

NEXT: Miniature Monsters Attack America

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  1. Balko's work is the epitome of what investigative journalists can do: he works to scrutinize the government where its exercise of power against individuals is characterized by the highest of stakes and by clear imbalances of resources.

    Bravo, Balko, Bravo!

    1. As far as I can tell, Balko is the ONLY investigative journalist left. The rest are just editing government press releases.

    2. Enough praise for Balko MNG.Why don't you segue into a defense of Wickard v Filburn?

  2. Very well said by Balko. Good to see him get some foreign press.

    1. The Economist is a British magazine, so it's not really foreign press.

      1. What, British press doesn't count as foreign? Seriously, I didn't know.

        1. They're no more foreign than Rupert Murdoch.

      2. We are divided by a common language.

  3. When my liberal friends see libertarians and conservatives as equivalent I have a four word answer: Radley Balko, Jack Dunphy.* One scrutinizes law enforcement, the other displays uncritical support. Liberals ain't perfect on the rights of the accused by any means (see things like "rape shield" laws or draconian gun control measures), but we are much more in line with libertarian sentiments than conservatives. Taxation is a bitch, but when the government exercises its power to take one's literal life and liberty that's when you really know the chips are down and it's interesting to see which side people take...

    *That's Jack Dunphy the NRO writer, not Truman Capote's buddy.

    1. Rothbard once commented that American Liberals had abandoned libertarian goals by libertarian means for libertarian goals by conservative means.

      Generally, libertarian goals of a society where there is a minimum of coersion are not objectionable to liberals per se - they just disagree on what the minimum of coersion is. Conservatives, on the other hand, don't care, being more concerned with maintaining the institutions of society and keeping things stable.

      It is only an accident of history that libertarians found themselves allying with conservatives at all. The liberals adopted coercion on steroids (force a man to destroy the wheat he grew for his livestock's consumption etc), making the conservatives look pro-freedom by comparison.

      1. I agree with most of that. Liberals thought they were helping more people like Wickard than they were harming, but they should have been more sensitive to the, well, illiberal aspects of such extensive regulation.

        1. Liberals thought they were helping more people like Wickard than they were harming

          By telling them what they could and couldn't do with crops grown on their own property for their own consumption? At what point do good intentions run up against the cold facts of self-evident absurdity?

          1. At that time a great deal of farmers like Wickard were doing absolutely terrible, and they seemed as a whole to support the programs with which Wickard-like decisions were intertwined.

            1. At that time a great deal of farmers like Wickard were doing absolutely terrible

              Claude R. Wickard was the Secretary of Agriculture you fucking dumb ass.He was doing just fine.

          2. OK, I have to say some more here. Graphite, are you unaware of the crisis that farmers like Wickard were facing at the time the programs that involved decisions like the one at issue in that case were created? American farmers were in terrible shape, record levels of foreclosure and all around bad times were prevalent. After the programs like the one at issue were instituted there was improvement on virtually all major indicators.

            So I'm not sure if it's not you rather than the New Deal liberals who is on the wrong side of "good intentions running up against the cold facts of self-evident absuridity."

            The program in question aimed to raise the price of wheat so farmers who sold wheat could more in their sales of the product. You might not like the coercion involved in Wickard but the logic strikes me as pretty sound: folks like Wickard, their actions, taken in the aggregate, would certainly have had some effect on the supply and demand of wheat and therefore the price. What's even better than the logic are the empirical results: post-AAA we have never seen such high rates of foreclosure etc., etc.,.

            1. "During the Great Depression, farm foreclosures became a disturbingly routine feature of rural life. Between 1929 and 1933, a third of all American farmers lost their farms in the worst disaster to hit American agriculture. Hundreds of thousands of farm-owning families had their hard-earned land seized from under them. The record number of foreclosures during the late 1920s and 1930s disillusioned farmers and contributed to an unprecedented degree of federal intervention to improve the farm economy.

              What contributed to the large number of foreclosures was a farm debt problem that began during the agricultural depression of the 1920s and grew more severe by 1929. Farmers were knee-deep in debt, with about two-fifths of all farmers holding a mortgage and nearly three-fourths requiring credit to produce a crop from year to year. With crop prices declining, farmers were not able to pay off their mortgage loans. For instance, farm prices for cash crops, such as wheat, cotton, tobacco, and corn, fell steadily beginning in 1920. The price of corn dropped 78 percent, from 1.85 per bushel in June 1920 to 41 cents per bushel in December 1921. Prices rebounded somewhat during the mid-1920s, but plunged once again after the stock market crash in 1929. Between 1929 and 1932, crop and livestock prices plummeted by almost 75 percent. The impact on farm earnings was staggering. Farm income declined by 60 percent, from $13.8 billion to $6.5 billion, and the cash proceeds from marketing farm products in 1932 were about one-third lower than they had been in 1919.

              As farmers defaulted on loans and made fewer deposits, many small country banks were forced to go out of business. In 1930 and 1931, more than 3,600 banks failed. Those banks, life insurance companies, and farm mortgage lenders that managed to survive had little choice but to drastically reduce the amount of credit they made available to farmers.

              Consequently, farm foreclosures became more prevalent throughout the 1920s, and grew to sobering proportions by the 1930s. While the average foreclosure rate between 1913 and 1920 was 3.2 per 1,000 farms, it jumped to 17.4 per 1,000 farms in 1926, and by 1933 had reached 38.8 per 1,000 farms. During 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, more than 200,000 farms underwent foreclosure."

              1. Claude R. Wickard was the Secretary of Agriculture you fucking dumb ass.

                1. OK SIV, replace "Wickard" with "Fillburn" and do any of my points change? Or are any of them refuted, "you fucking dumb ass?"

                  1. I can refute them --- foreclosures are a good thing. Housing or farming.

              2. And how many people were starving in the cities while the government was burning food?

        2. *thought* they were helping. That's the key word.

          I have no doubt that most liberals mean well...just as most conservatives do. (Politicians of either stripe are another matter altogether.) The point is, I don't want their deluded beliefs controlling my life either way.

    2. Excessive taxation and regulation such as that pushed by liberals strangle everyone's freedom (well, everyone except the people in power) by a relatively minor (but not insignificant) amount.

      The aggressive police and prosecutorial abuses which conservatives either encourage or look the other way on only destroy the freedom of a few. Most of us never experience the ugly side of law enforcement in any significant way (beyond having a cop be a dick to you for a few unpleasant minutes during a traffic stop).

      Both of them are significantly negative on freedom. You're probably going to get screwed by either of them; it's just a question of whether you want to lose at the conservative roulette wheel or the liberal craps table.

  4. I knew I liked you for a reason, MNG. You have good taste in columnists.

  5. Art, that's like praising someone for liking sunshine. 😉

  6. exposing abuse of power is half the battle

    What worries me is the impunity that exposed abusers seem to continue enjoying.

  7. Every pic I see of Balko is missing one thing. A cigarette hanging down from his mouth. The appearance and demeanor presented by many of his photos cries for it. That hard assed, grizzled journalist-warrior working for good in the slums. Kind of like a real life Spider Jerusalem.

    1. I don't think Balko gets the jitters, but it would be nice if he made someone shit their pants.

      Ever notice that a couple of characters in Ellis's comics look like Spider?

  8. He may still be right, but there's now a decent chance someone will be there with a cell-phone camera to post it on YouTube.

    Not before asking teh ToughQuestions first, right? 🙂

  9. Awesome for Radley!

  10. Nicely done.

    Who killed your puppy in that photo?

  11. Radley has the eyes of a saaaaad panda.

  12. "exposing abuse of power is half the battle"

    The other half is executing government employees who commit it.

    1. I thought 'knowing' was half the battle? Does this mean we've won? We've got three halves, that should be enough, right?

      1. No, "exposing abuses of power" and "knowing" are the same half of the battle.

  13. "Both of them are significantly negative on freedom. You're probably going to get screwed by either of them; it's just a question of whether you want to lose at the conservative roulette wheel or the liberal craps table."

    Well said.

  14. So who did this interview? This is a good example of why The Economist's anonymity is lame. I bet it's someone we've heard of, and someone who's friends with all the DC bloggers. Megan McCardle? Ryan Avent?

  15. Balko looks like enlightened ex-security service. Anyone watch "The Rise and Fall of TV Journalism"?


    Also, Betty Crocker and Reason have the same demographic?

  16. I didn't know Radley was so cute!

  17. Someone with some art skills needs to start a Reason Comic.

    1. I have the art skillz but not the writing skillz to do a Reason comic.

    2. I think the original Question was like this, right? Ditko's Rand quoting investigative journalist I mean.

      The Question would never have let Dave Shultz slap him around like Stossel did.

  18. A slight thread jack. (props to RB), but I thought the crowd here would enjoy this...


    1. I skimmed this study and was unimpressed.

        1. I found the tables pretty interesting. The US certainly stands apart from the pack on all the things they measured.

          Not sure I buy the conclusions, however. As is common in this kind of research, the data is far more interesting than the interpretation.

          1. Yeah, the tables were pretty interesting. The commentary in the study was interesting. I'm just skeptical of some of the conclusions.

            1. What I notice is that there are 3 countries that broke from the pack (which is a pack of hi-income countries) on adjusted per-capita income. 2 of the 3 are the 2 clearly most religious countries(United States and Ireland) in the study.

  19. Total threadjack, because I'm working but there's a lot of waiting involved: how bad does the new V suck? I say it sucks extra hard. The original V was more sophisticated than this one, and that's not a compliment.

    1. I can't get into it, but then I didn't like the original one much either.

      I have managed to watch all the "Flash Forward" episodes so far despite a gut feeling I'll wish I never wasted the time.

      1. I bailed on Flash Forward after 3 or 4 episodes. It suffers from the same cop-glorification that V suffers from (oh, all these heroic FBI agents!), and I find the writing on both shows to be stilted, with character motivations that just don't make sense.

        ABC is terrible. Fox puts great shows on and then cancels them, the bastards, but at least they have taste in SciFi.

        1. V and Flash Forward are both vacuous and lame. I will add Fringe and say that it appears the networks can't do anything even resembling sci-fi well. I mean, when Dollhouse stands above the pack, you know things are in bad shape. (worst Whedon to date).

        2. ABC's worst crime is the constant use of all that god-awful pop music in its shows.

          1. I stopped watching Flash Forward when the episode I watched looked like it was directed by Dominic Sena. I haven't seen such heavy-handed filter use since Swordfish (which I turned off after 15 minutes).

            V is just as badly written and has zero style; I almost think I'd rather suffer through some ADD music video director's shenanigans than have the direction and cinematography be so flat and boring. The scene where Morena is addressing all the other ship captains was a perfect example of how talentless the DP is.

  20. I failed to DVR last week's episode and found I didnt care.

    I fell asleep watching it the previous week.

    I own the original mini-series on DVD. As cheesy as it seems now, it rocks compared to this one. I just cant connect with any of the characters at all.

    1. At least the original did a good job with the portrayal of humans selling out to the Visitors and the subsequent paranoia. This new version is just idiotic. And who made the retarded decision to cut Morena Baccarin's hair?

      1. Dollhouse gets canceled but V is still on the air?

        Okay, I doubt V makes it to 26 episodes, but still.

      2. I think Morena looks good.

        They thought that would be enough to carry the series.

        They were wrong.

        1. According to Baccarin, she had short hair when she auditioned.

  21. Continuing the threadjack, list things you would do if you owned the Sci-Fi network (besides changing the name of it back):

    1. Give Joss Whedon a 72-episode contract. "The budget is lower than you are used to dealing with, but this is the last time you will hear from me, just deliver the episodes on time. We will discuss an extension in 3 years."

    2. Call Larry Niven (and Pournelle and Barnes). Tell them you are making a tv series of planetary colonization based loosely on Legacy of Heorot. Buy the rights and see if any of them want to consult/write. Loose plot outline:
    Season 1 covers a lot more of initial colonization ends with Cadmann walking into mountains.
    Season 2 ends with battle with Mama and maybe start of extermination of Grendels.
    Season 3 begins with final extermination of Grendels and ends, well, obviously (trying not to spoilers).

    3. See #2, only replace with Piers Anthony and Incarnations of Immortality. Only, he isnt allowed to consult and he has to deal with the fact that it will be set in the "real" world, not his science/magic are equals world. Havent figured out exactly how to work it without magic in the world, but, hey, didnt say it would be easy on the writers.

    I have plenty of other ideas, but thats my starters. What are yours?

    1. i'd love a trippy special effects laden TV series of John Varley's Gaia trilogy.
      also, if you're going to call Larry Niven, can we get a small screen version of Ringworld?

      1. Ringworld will be a movie some day.
        Ringworld will be a movie some day.
        Ringworld will be a movie some day.

        Im going to keep repeating it until it is true. It needs a big budget.

        1. it's a good mantra. i'd love to see it made one day before I die.

    2. First, change the name back to Sci-fi.

      1. Then buy National Geographic and burn what ever ad agency or person suggested Nat Geo.

    3. "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" miniseries.

      ..anything by Vernor Vinge or RA Heinlein.

  22. Another link - political


    1)Worth a shot.
    2)I'd much rather see Samuel Delany's "Trouble on Triton"
    3) Make a policy that nothing related or inspired by anything Piers Anthony has ever done can ever be aired on my network.

    1. Not familiar with Triton. I just want a really good colonization story. Not Earth2 level crap.

      I have no problem with #3, I just think the incarnations idea was a really good idea that Anthony completely screwed up. The Santa Clause was probably a better version of it.

      1. Trouble on Triton is a politically oriented space opera in a colonized solar system. Triton is a libertarian colony complete with an anarchist enclave. So, maybe not what you're looking for as the colonization has already occurred, but the series could certainly do the back story and meet your needs.

        1. As much as I enjoy anarcho-libertarian sci-fi, it isnt a requirement for this. Im much more interested in the colonization idea. The "what surprises is this planet going to throw at us" concept. Earth2 kind of had that, only it was insanely stupid as I remember.

          1. Well, Triton would certainly provide you with plenty of challenges as a colony. The novel gets into that very peripherally. It is more focused on the relations between the various colonies and the complexity of a solar system wide society.

            Delany's "Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand" would also have potential for a series.

          2. I went into Earth2 with some high expectations. (Wait. All the animals live underground? What does that portend about surface conditions?) Then they brought in the inevitable (for Hollywood) "secret conspiracy from Earth" angle, and it degenerated into Melrose-Place-on-Mars format.

            What I'd love to see (and I'm writing one) is more of a Little-House-on-the-(planet-name)-Prairie approach, with some frontier re-enactors as consultants. Or Oregon-Trail-on-(planet-name).

            While we're wishing, Lucifer's Hammer would totally hammer any of the recent EoTW blockbusters. And I'd pay to see Ing's Systemic Shock trilogy, but Hollywood couldn't understand it enough to pull it off.

            1. While we are wishing for Niven/Pournelle joint ventures, might as well throw out the Mote in God's Eye miniseries.

              Along that line, The Adventures of Renner & Bury would be a fun show. Imagine the first part of The Gripping Hand as a 1-hour episode. Now imagine that every week.

              1. by the gripping hand, you're on to something.

    2. I lived in Switzerland in the early 90s. I considered it my backup country for a long time (two reasons it isnt, they joined the UN and my contacts arent fresh anymore. I had a job at will if I wanted it thru the late 90s).

      That doesnt surprise me. The Swiss need immigrants but they like blaming everything on them.

  23. rob,

    The main problem with SyFy is that they don't have a lot of money/tend to go the cheap route. I bet they would have loved to have picked up and continued Firefly, but it would have been too expensive.

    Now, if I owned HBO, I'd probably start making Martin's Song of Ice and Fire into a series...oh, wait.

    But that's not scifi anyway. The problem with a lot of scifi is that it's not episodic in nature and is ill suited for a TV series.

  24. Epi,

    I agree, re episodization. That is why I like the colonization idea. It doesnt really need to follow a specific story. Heck, it should be cheap, they wont have a lot of hi-tech and initially all you need is an empty landscape. 🙂

    Large cast of actors though. If they can afford Eureka, they could afford Avalon (my suggestion for the name of the LofH inspired show).

  25. Actually, upon reflection, Jack L. Chalker's Rings of the Master series would actually work pretty well. I think; it's been a long time since I read them.

  26. If I owned SyFy, I'd develop adaptations of Snowcrash, Gravity's Rainbow, and other books I'm pretty sure are impossible to adapt. I'd also make adaptations of obscure comic books. Moon Knight, anyone?

    1. Snowcrash could be a movie, no problem. It surprises me it hasnt happened, actually.

      1. Wasn't it just based on "Tron" anyway?


        1. Jeffrey Wright should play Hiro Protagonist. Danny Aiello should play Uncle Enzo. I've now run out of ideas.

          1. Well, maybe Chazz Palminteri should play Uncle Enzo...that part wouldn't be hard to cast, at least.

          2. Wright is too old and not asian enough, but other than that, I like it.

  27. Roger Zelazny has several that could be TV series: Chronicles of Amber seems the most obvious, but would be prone to cheeziness from the syfy special effects factory.

  28. ArtPOG,

    I think "Against the Day" would be the Pynchon to do...but I like the way you think...

    What about La Belle Captive by Robbe-Grillet & Rene Magritte?

    1. I'll have to check La Belle Captive out. The IMDB page looked brilliant.

      As for the Pynchon, good point. I'd have to give an "A" for effort to someone who tried to make a miniseries out of any Pynchon work.

      My mind wandered a bit: has any sci-fi writer had adaptations as good as Philip K Dick's? (A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner)

      1. Jules Verne? ;^)

        1. Whoa, I said "as good", not "as many" 😉

          1. I didn't realize that Robbe-Grillet had turned "La Bell Captive" into a film. I just read the book (Magritte does the illustrations). I'll have to find the movie.

            I think the TV version of Dune was as good an adaptation as Blade Runner, perhaps.

  29. Doris Lessing's "Canopus in Argos" would be a worthy challenge as well. Lots to work with.

  30. There's always the possibility of creating a TV series based on a particular SciFi author's universe, such as Neal Asher's Polity, and then get episodic from there, but that type of thing usually ends up bland.

    1. Man-Kzin Wars?

      Might be hard to make that bland.

      1. People would think it was a live-action Thundercats.

        Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs stuff would be cool enough, but they were clearly written for easy adaptation to the big screen (he's already optioned out Altered Carbon), and Kovacs isn't really a small screen character.

        1. People would think it was a live-action Thundercats.

          You say that like its a bad thing.

  31. Epi,

    The trick to avoid the bland is to poach a good character as well. The reason Blade Runner was successful was because it focused on an interesting sub-plot that was driven by an interesting character. The universe from the novel without that focus could have resulted in a pretty bland movie (from one of PKD's blandest novels, actually).

  32. This ain't good.

    Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said she was "shocked and horrified" by the killings.

    "Our police put their lives on the line every day, and tragedies like this remind us of the risks they continually take to keep our communities safe," she said in a written statement. "My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of these officers, as well as the entire law enforcement community."


    1. Yeah, P, I noticed that this morning. The Seattle cops were already on edge from the cop killing a few weeks ago, and they are going to be paranoid beyond belief now. I wonder when they will shoot their first innocent person because they think a wallet is a gun or something. I really, really don't want to be pulled over right now.

        1. Paul, I just called the tip line and gave them your name. I know it sucks, but at least that should satisfy them and make things safer for me, which is of course all that matters. No hard feelings?

          1. For a long time I've said they should put a bridge across Puget Sound at the Seattle area so the ferries can go under. Now I'm kind of liking that separation.

          2. Hang on, Epi, there's someone at the door...

    2. WTF is wrong with people.

      1. This is the second one of these within the last two months. I'm with Epi on this. I fear everyone sassing a cop is going to get yanked from their vehicle and tased.

  33. I understand the gunman left a TeaBag at the scene as a calling card.

    1. One way to tell, turn on MSNBC. If they scoop anything that will be it.

  34. From the Seattle Times article on the cop shooting:

    Initial research suggests the shooting of four police officers in Lakewood ranks as the worst attack on law enforcement in state history.

    In March of this year, four Oakland, Calif., police officers were fatally shot ? the worst casualty count in that state since 1970, when four highway patrolmen were killed.

    Is it possible that something in the police's behavior is prompting increased animosity? Unfortunately, intense fear and distrust will sometimes manifest in violence.

    Doesn't make it ok, but it's worth taking an honest look at root causes- it would be a better use of time than all the hand wringing and posturing over "fallen heros" & related nonsense.

    1. *heroes

      Fuck, you spend a weekend in exile in Canada and lose all typing skillz.

      1. I agree with you, Dagny, I think it's possible that what we are seeing is a domestic case of "blowback." It sounds cold-hearted to say it so close to a shooting like this, but unfortunately this will definitely lead to escalation of aggression by the police. The suspect in the Halloween shooting is still alive, but it wasn't for lack of trying by Tukwila cops.

  35. Dagny,
    Yeah, they shouldn't have been wearing those short skirts.;^)

    While I appreciate your point, I think the only thing going on recently in the region has been increased pressure on criminal gangs (something they do poorly in Washington, so an increased focus is probably warranted).

    I don't get a sense that police abuse is any worse than the baseline regionally...but maybe I am wrong.

    1. Well, a lot more light is shining on police abuse (see the guy who got put through a window at a train station). When the cops act more and more like it's "us" vs. "them", they should not be surprised when some of "them" shoot first.

    2. I would actually give the Puget Sound area cops deference in that they tend not to overuse the SWAT teams like some of the smaller "flyover" country municipalities have.

      I mean, take the arrest of Monfort. This guy was a known cop killer, believed to be armed and dangerous. Did they do a thrill-seeker FBI/ATF/SWAT raid on the apartment complex with flashbangs and helicopters? No, they simply sent several detectives to the scene. After Monfort attempted to fire on the detectives, they dropped him with some well placed shots and sent his ass to Harborview.

      Old school.

  36. Neu,

    The California incident earlier this year mentioned in the Times article made me wonder if it's more than just a regional anomaly. As we see on H&R on a daily basis, the police's 'us vs. them' mentality is getting worse, not better, nationwide.

    It strikes me as odd that, while violent crime keeps decreasing nationwide, there are these incidents of violence against law enforcement which are some of the worst in history.

    1. I assume you mean "violence by law enforcement". But I suspect that's just a case of incidents that would have been easily swept under the carpet in past decades now being reported more widely.

  37. Dagny,

    It is indeed a problem, but I am not sure the "us vs. them" thing is any different than it has been in the last couple of decades. I may have a skewed view, of course, growing up in Albuquerque where "suicide by cop" worked because you could count on an overly violent response from APD.

    I don't see something like this, however, happening in response to a national level perception. It seems to me that police have a relationship with the local community and a crime like this would be evidence of something wrong with that relationship.

    Or, hitting criminal gangs has resulted in the gangs hitting back.

    I don't pretend to know as I have never spent any time in the community where this happened.

  38. Or some crazy motherfucker shot 4 cops.

  39. I have to go with hmm on this one. Blowback from the community wouldn't take the form of a four-cop execution, I don't think. And any gang would have to be insane to kill four cops; the cops are a bigger gang and will come down on them like a bolt of lightning.

    If it's not just that some crazy motherfucker shot four cops, I will be very surprised.

  40. If it's not just that some crazy motherfucker shot four cops, I will be very surprised.

    I would not be surprised to hear the crazy motherfucker had a personal and specific grudge against cops. Not the four he killed, unfortunately.

    1. Yeah, I could see it being that. But I'd say the operative words here are "crazy motherfucker". This person just walked themselves into a death sentence, whether while being apprehended or on death row.

  41. OT, but just where in hell is Reason's front-page coverage of the ClimateGate scandal?

    1. top of the next page or just after "previously."

      1. Plus a couple of stories older than that.

  42. Guys, one of the things we all have to be thankful for is Radley's unceasing dedication to exposing injustice and speaking truth to power. Please consider putting your money where your heart is and send a donation Radley's way at The Agitator.

    1. No, I'm busy financing meals for Palestinian children.

  43. I like the new photo of Radley with the more natural posing. It's the first photo I've seen of him (after years of reading The Agitator) that doesn't look like it was taken while he was on guard duty at Buckingham Palace.

  44. Good God. Hit&Run; never ceases to amaze me. Here, Radley, finally gets 121 comments and it mostly amounts to one huge threadjack.

    Don't get me wrong. There is something beautiful about that and Radley's normally low response rates I think relate to the relative honesty of his work.

    I do question this, however:

    'Obama's holding fast to his campaign promises that expand the size, scope, and power of government.'

    I can see why Radley would put this in his argument to counterbalance any perceived Bush/Rightist bias, except that it simply isn't true.

    Obama is Bush/Rightist maybe. But that statement ain't true. Never. No Way.

  45. Mr Balko: In theory, libertarians share about half of our positions with the right, and about half with the left. Broadly speaking, we're social liberals and fiscal conservatives.

    I hate to see this cliche in an otherwise excellent interview.Half with the right, OK maybe more or less. We share almost nothing with the left.Collectivism? Statism? What do "liberals" believe that we agree with them on?Where ther may be some rough similarities in policy or outcome the underlying principle or reason, is never the same.

    1. I agree. But then I'm always surprised at the extent to which I find liberal ideas floating around (and well accepted) here.

      Nonetheless I find more people I agree with hanging around here than most other places.

    2. Where ther may be some rough similarities in policy or outcome

      That would be called sharing the same position. You're over thinking this one.

      Collectivism/Statism are just as much a part of the right as they are of the left. I wonder why you don't have similar problems comfortably sharing positions with the right.

      Really, to believe the idea that the right in this country is in any way more supportive of individual freedom than the left takes a pretty strong dose of denial to swallow. Both sides are good and bad to about the same extent, just picking different issues to push you around on.

      1. I think the point is, on those few issues the right is right (heh), they are right for the right reasons. Or at least similar reasons to libertarians. On those issues that the left is right, they are right for the wrong reasons.

        Quick examples: Lead up to Iraq War, I agreed with the anti-war people, but I felt 99% of them were anti-war for the wrong reason.

        On the other hand, when it comes to gun rights, the right supports them for the correct reasons. Ditto taxes, when they actually oppose taxes.

        1. How does your position on, say, the war on drugs have a different philosophical underpinning than that of someone on the left who agrees with it?

          1. Classical liberals, Provocateur.

          2. Classical liberalism, Provocateur.

            (trying to beat the spam filter here)

          3. Probably.

            Otherwise the left wouldnt pass smoking bans. Its the same underpinning to both. Or trans fat bans, or calorie labeling or foie gras bans or for that matter gun ownership. Or allowing a restaurant to have "No dogs or Irish" signs.

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