Reforming Surveillance Authorities

The President’s press conference last week was a disaster by most measures. Conor Friedersdorf has a good tit-for-tat followup. The President essentially denied the patriotism of a man who threw his life away to tell his fellow Americans about how their rights are being systematically violated, then seemed to strongly imply that a rigorous and responsible debate about surveillance was about to spring forth before NSA leaks ruined it. Tough sell, to say the least.

I chatted with Jim Harper about avenues for reforming these broad surveillance powers and a new brief filed by the Cato Institute in support of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s case against the feds.

By All Means, Destroy Coal Mining Jobs

I’m not sure if the above tweet is meant to convey something negative, but I certainly don’t view it as downside. While productivity has grown tremendously, employment in coal has been in decline for a very long time and thank goodness it has!

Coal-mining production and employment over time in the United States.
Coal-mining production and employment over time in the United States. Data aggregated by SourceWatch.

The trend translates to fewer coal-related deaths, both in mining disasters and (later) black lung. The downside here isn’t that fewer people are employed in coal mines, it’s that these people are unemployed. That’s a much better problem than black lung or having lost a working-age parent to a tragic and premature death.

Coal mine tragedies and death over time from the CDC.
Coal mine tragedies and death over time from the CDC.

Enjoy Your Weekend!

I want to read the Dan Balz book for this story alone:

Balz informs us that when Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist, saw Clint Eastwood on live television at the Republican National Convention speaking off-script to an imaginary Obama in an empty chair, “he walked out of the room and threw up.”

Let’s be totally clear: For many libertarian-leaning voters, Clint Eastwood was easily the highlight of of the 2012 RNC.