The Locker Room

August 26, 2010

New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:33 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report about a state Employment Security Commission staffer fired for storing pirated movies and video games on his state-owned computer.

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GPS: Government Patrolling Service?

Posted by Sara Riggins at 2:51 PM

It's quiet out. A federal agent furtively sneaks to your driveway and crouches under your car, planting a GPS tracking device before disappearing into the darkness of the night.

While that may sound like a scene in some Hollywood thriller about government agents gone awry, a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (previously highlighted here by Amanda) makes that seemingly far-fetched scenario into a reality, deemed perfectly legal under the constitution. While it's true that this ruling currently only applies to states within jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, the possible implications of this decision rightly demand attention.

Without a doubt, this ruling was an egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment, as the court failed to address the legal precedent that has long recognized that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy both within and around their homes.

In one of the most notable Fourth Amendment cases, Katz v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a wiretapping device attached to the outside of a public telephone booth amounted to an unconstitutional search, in part because there was a reasonable expectation that phone calls in an enclosed booth would be private.

If the Supreme Court upheld privacy in the instance of a public telephone booth, how much more should the Ninth Circuit have recognized the reasonable expectation of privacy on the private grounds just outside a man's home?

In the opinion, the reasoning of the Court was that there is no expectation of privacy for a driveway that could be accessed by the general public, including deliverymen and neighborhood children, stating:

"If a neighborhood child had walked up [the defendant]’s driveway and crawled under his Jeep to retrieve a lost ball or runaway cat, [the defendant] would have no grounds to complain."

Quite frankly, that logic of equating a FedEx delivery man, neighborhood kids selling Girl Scout cookies, or a neighborhood child looking for their runaway cat with a government agent planting a device that tracks your every move would be downright laughable if the implications of this case weren't so disturbing.

While there may be times when law enforcement officials need to employ more aggressive techniques in their pursuit of criminals, such methods should always be checked by the requirement of having to first obtain a warrant.

Otherwise, the verdict should be clear: big brother has no right to be a stalker.

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Unsustainable ... That's what you are

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:55 PM

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has unveiled a new chart tracking state and local government spending versus private spending since 1950:

The differences are startling: since 1950, private spending has increased 5-fold while state and local government spending has increased nearly 10-fold. 

This finding is not terribly surprising for governments that follow a spend-and-tax budget cycle.

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Those compassionate politicians

Posted by George Leef at 1:12 PM

Read this Daily Caller piece on eminent domain and see if your blood doesn't boil.

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Hood interviewed for WRAL TV documentary airing at 7 p.m.

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:34 AM

If you missed him earlier this week, you can watch John Hood on television again this evening.

He offered analysis for a WRAL documentary on the dangers of using cell phones while driving.

From the TV station's news release:

RALEIGH – Hang up and drive. That’s the message of new research that shows you are four times more likely to be in a crash while talking on your cell phone, even while wearing a headset. The new WRAL Focal Point documentary “Fatal Distraction,”illustrates the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. The documentary airs Thursday, August 26 at 7pm on WRAL-TV and is hosted by WRAL News reporter and anchor Monica Laliberte.

Researchers say talking on a cell phone impairs your cognitive function. Documentary host Monica Laliberte demonstrates that theory as she drives an obstacle course set up by the N.C. Highway Patrol. From dialing to answering to talking to texting, the results of her test drive will get your attention. 

State lawmakers have banned texting while driving and cell phone use by school bus drivers and drivers under 18 years old, but efforts to pass a ban on cell phone use by all drivers has stalled.

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New Yorker Magazine attacks conservative values

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 11:14 AM

For a very very long read of Who's Who in the conservative movement, particularly the successful (read: unashamed) capitalists that Obama disciples are incensed about, see this article in the latest New Yorker magazine .

The radical philosophy of the "covert war against Obama" is freedom. The article does a pretty good job, in fact, of describing how hard work + freedom to work and freedom of consumers to choose = the possibility of great financial return. It's simply sour grapes that the authors and editors choose to try to tarnish every philanthropic gift and every capitalist success by implying that they are impure in spirit.

Well, yes, corporate shareholders want to reduce corporate taxes, etc., in their self-interest as joint owners of a productive enterprise—this is the damning indictment the author brings, clearly hoping to sway public opinion against good works that are not of the type or in the spirit of the Obama administration's wishes and current policies. Trying to drum up sympathy that isn't there for the besieged administration, the author concedes that "a recent poll agreed that fifty-five percent of Americans agreed that Obama is a socialist."

This leaves several options, and the Left is trying them all: selling the socialist label as innocuous, selling the socialist program under the label 'progressivism,' or purifying their own self-serving motives with public-good style rhetoric. Wealthy liberals/progressives are never, never self-serving in a bad way, the author intimates.

Is the political Right on Obama's case? Oh yeah. Much of the straight facts are correct. Is the Right being unfair or unethical--that's the rub. The slant here is all hand-wringing for the poor benevolent but mistreated Obama administration. "But it’s not just about Obama." the author notes, just in case readers thought that Obama was a special or a specially bad case from the point of view of political conservatives. "They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.” Well, that's not incredible; no real argument there, just in the way one might state it. Freedom and progressivism are incompatible. The pro-liberty side is out to preserve freedom and individual choice in America, while they still exist. It's pretty simple. What is incredible is that this mind set doesn't even see freedom as a viable option. In fact, that's pretty scary, and no doubt what is mobilizing so many people right now across the land.

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One sheet of paper killed New Jersey's Race to the Top bid?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:28 AM

Gov. Chris Christie is reforming New Jersey, but a clerical error cost the state $400 million. On the other hand, fake charter schools helped get North Carolina that money. Again the president's actions and those of his administration fail to match the promises of his campaign.


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Once again, Congress is out of control

Posted by Melissa Mitchell at 10:21 AM

If you think the Health Care and stimulus bills were out outrageous, then you will really be shocked by this video from CNN. When CNN reports that a bill is dangerous and outrageous, you know that it is. The proposed Amnesty bill needs to be closely scrutinized and watched.

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If you aren't paranoid yet...

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 09:49 AM

...about technology and government, these might do the trick.

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that government can sneak into your driveway and plant GPS devices on the under-side of your car. Apparently we don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our driveways. The government can then track you using the GPS without a warrant. 

Total Information Awareness program: Creepy name. Creepy logo. Creepy program?

You can run, but you can't hide. Ok, so I know this one is in Britain, but why assume things are different here?

I don't know about you, but stories like these give me warm fuzzies inside. With friends like these... well, have a nice day!


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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:10 AM

  • Rasmussen: A quarter of respondents say they are part of the Tea Party movement or know someone who is.

  • Writing at, Democratic strategist Gary Pearce argues this year won’t be like 1994.

  • Americans for Legal Immigration PAC endorses U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-7th.

  • Three Senate hopefuls have three different views on Islamic center at ground zero.

  • GOP declines to replace candidate in Senate District 13 race.

  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, says to keep Bush tax cuts.

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The problem with "demand-side" economics

Posted by George Leef at 08:24 AM

Keynesian thinking goes like this: if consumers have lots of purchasing power, then businesses will hire workers and produce goods to satisfy them. When purchasing power goes down, as it does in a recession, the role of the state is to pump up demand with increased spending of its own.

In this piece Peter Schiff clearly explains what is wrong with that line of thinking. Investment and production must precede consumer spending and government "stimulus" programs impede the market processes.

Schiff takes aim in particular at the utterly clueless but indefatigable Robert Reich, who keeps saying that the federal "stimulus" package should have been larger to get the economy moving again.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen McMahan's report about the U.S. Labor Department focusing its employment law enforcement efforts on the hospitality industry.

John Hood's Daily Journal explains that he believes — why shouldn't he? — the explanations Gov. Bev Perdue's campaign officials provided about their failure to report more than 40 free campaign flights.

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