Saturday, April 29, 2006
Apparently Prof. Jim Chen is a finalist in yet another dean search, this time at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I don't know Prof. Chen (though I am in his Statutory Interpretation course next semester, assuming he doesn't take the job), but I've seen him on a handful of these short lists (I remember Utah and South Carolina offhand), so I have to wonder if it isn't just a matter of time before he takes off. If Chen does leave it will cut the number of former Clarence Thomas/Michael Luttig clerks on the faculty in half.
For those of you in the law library right now, just be glad we don't go to Baylor.
Looks like Duke will be in the hunt for a new dean as well. (Ok, fine, I've been reading Leiter, so sue me, no wait don't, I just can't resist the faculty movement gossip, and he has that, if nothing else, going for him)
Finally, Wednesday marked the 20th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. As I am a big fan of nuclear energy, I see Chernobyl as a horrible learning experience, a show of what not to do, not an ominous warning that we shouldn't use the stuff at all, which is the Greenpeace/UCS position. David Satter had an excellent piece on NRO Wednesday explaining what went wrong. Turns out the problem wasn't nuclear energy, it was communism. Ok, I'm reading into it a little bit, but I think it's a fair statement.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
mentions on Volokh that Variety has an article on yet another attempt to make Atlas Shrugged into a movie, and opens the comments thread to speculation on casting, since the Variety article speculates on the possibility of Angelina Jolie being cast as Dagney Taggart. It further describes her as a "Rand enthusiast" and in an a turn typical celeb magazine turn mentions Brad Pitt as a possible John Galt. Now, let's be real here, this thing will never get off the ground, the book is huge. For the sake of comparison (pages won't say much), Atlas runs 565,223 words, while the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy goes 467,662. Any movie would thus be either too long to watch or too short to do the story justice.
There was a time when I thought that an Atlas Shrugged movie would be the sweetest thing ever. I'm not the Ayn Rand fan that I once was (I remembered that I'm Catholic), but I would probably still see it, though it would have to be in one of those theatres that still does intermissions and sells food and beer. What really remains of that time mentioned above (ok fine, it was high school, I was one of those kids, happy now?) is my notion of the proper cast. Brad Pitt was in it, but as the pirate Ragnar Danneskjold (he must have been in his long haired and bearded phase), not Galt. Oh, and I watched a lot of Law and Order, so I had Benjamin Bratt as Francisco and Angie Harmon as Dagney. The book has a lot of important characters, almost too many, so I won't go any farther than that, but I stand by my previous judgment.
recommended scrapping FEMA and starting anew with a different disaster agency. Frankly, it's not a proposal I think much of. FEMA should be scrapped, no doubt. But I don't happen to think it should be replaced. Here's the telling quote, in my mind.
"The first obligation of government is to protect our people," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation. "In Katrina, we failed at all levels of government to meet that fundamental obligation."
That's the mindset nowadays, and I find it a problematic one, especially with Republicans in the White House and Congress apparently adopting it as well. The attitude that government is the answer to our problems. Remember Reagan saying that big government wasn't the answer to our problems, but that big goverment was the problem? If you answered yes, you come out ahead of the most ostensibly conservative members of our political realm. I could write a polemical screed on the protectionist paternalistic government of our day, protecting us from ourselves, and promising to protect us from things it has no control over, while spreading fear of things to strengthen it's own power. But frankly, this is a problem we've had for many years, and we'll continue to have (unfortunately) for many more. And I've got a property final staring me in the face, and right now my property knowledge is negligable at best. So, I think I'll do that instead, and get back to my rant at some point in the future when my C exams are in the rearview mirror.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
this on Volokh and had to post it. A Duke law professor wrote one of the most (uninentionally) hilarious pieces I've ever read in a Canadian newspaper, or anywhere. The professor's name is Michael Byers. I'm going to post some of my favorite quotes.
Still, millions flock to the country, like moths to a flame.
I was on my way to a conference in San Diego when I surrendered my green card. The next morning, out for an early run, I saw scores of Mexican men tending lawns and flowerbeds. Later, a woman from Guatemala cleaned my hotel room.
(I like the fact that people always think they know what is best for immigrants. Why would you come here rather than going to live in Canada, or staying in Mexico? Perhaps because you know that you will be able to get the best life possible here. Not everyone is a posh law prof who can afford to pick up and move to Canada in easy luxury, indeed, can live almost anywhere in some form of luxury. I'm really tired of the "I know what's best for you" attitude, especially toward immigrants. I know many immigrants, including quite a few illegals. And they have a better life here than they did back home. Otherwise, they would leave.)
Next quote: But after Sept. 11, 2001, fear replaced curiosity as the standard response to things unknown. Before 9/11, my wife's English accent often generated a friendly response, including the comment "You sound just like Princess Diana." After the attacks, the warm chatter gave way to a strained silence.
(Yup, because everyone is scared of Britishers. I know their teeth can sometimes jump out at you, but I must say I've never been afraid of an Englishman, barring soccer hooligans. And I somehow doubt that this was a real reaction. I doubt that the English accent was a burden and a curse to the young lady, prompting random searches, suspicion, etc.)
Needless to say, my opinions attracted considerable hostility, all the more so because I was expressing them from within a conservative law school at a conservative university in the very conservative South. I stood my ground, but it wasn't easy. And then it occurred to me: The United States wasn't my country; it wasn't a place for which I wanted to fight. My thoughts drifted northward, to the place where my values had been forged.
(Yup. Ol' Conservative Duke. Practically the stronghold of the neo-cons. Express an opinion even somewhat liberal, and you are instantly isolated and ostracized. Terrible. On the list of conservative bastions it ranks just above Berkely. Seriously, who writes this stuff? Joe Stalin wouldn't call Duke conservative.)
And finally, my favorite: The moment was upon me. My heart bursting with pride, I looked the immigration officer in the eye and said, as simply and non-judgmentally as possible: "I have chosen to live permanently in Canada."
"Permanently?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, "Of course."
(I'm sorry, it's next to impossible to have a heart "bursting with pride" about Canada. To be fair, it's next to impossible to be "bursting with pride" about residence in Minnesota (and I love Minnesota). They're bland, uninteresting, and somewhat dull places sometimes. Maybe that's what you like. Canada really hasn't ever harmed anyone. You can love that. But you can't be proud of being from a country has contributed nothing. And finally, good riddance, Mr. Byers. Now, if we can just get the Baldwins to live up to their promise.)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Now consider this: how professional is it (in this day and age) to grant an exclusive interview regarding a very contentious and politically charged case to a HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER???
NY Sen. Schumer wants probe into 'whether or not we should break up the big oil companies. Enough is enough'...
I feel like I should add something here, something about power corrupting, or narcissism, or maybe a cheap shot at HLS, but it's Chuck Schumer, so it would probably be plagiarism; what hasn't been said about the guy?
post on pending legislation attempting to change the structure of the internet by (it looks like) turning it over to phone companies. I don't know all the details, except that I know that everyone's fighting for control of the internet now, with international agencies like the UN trying to wrest control away from us. And now the U.S. Congress is getting in on the act. From what I know, it sounds like a bad idea. Freedom promotes growth, both intellectually, fiscally, and in entertainment. Handing it to the UN would be the worst idea possible, with all sorts of censorship issues, similar to those in China, going on. I could definitely see the UN seeking to appease all sorts of regimes by attempting to quell online dissent. But handing it to a monopolistic cabal is also a pretty bad idea in my opinion. It looks like I agree with Nick on this one. Amazing.
article (quoting NRO and the WSJ) on the decline the Republican party, which is worthwhile to check out.
To sum up: here's the WSJ, "The last time the U.S. had a gasoline panic, in the wake of Katrina, some quick Bush Administration action and private ingenuity eased the problem in record time. Gasoline prices that had climbed above $3 a gallon quickly settled back closer to $2. Markets will make the same adjustments today if they are allowed to send price signals without Congress getting in the way. Republicans can blame business all they want for high prices, but sounding like liberal Democrats won't save them in November. "
Here's the NRO "Few things reveal the intellectual bankruptcy of Republicans in Washington 12 years after the Gingrich Revolution as much as the actions taken by congressional leaders and the White House in response to the recent hike in gasoline prices.As prices have soared to more than $3 per gallon, the Republican establishment has fueled hysteria by rallying around the idea that the higher costs are the result of dark forces at work in the economy."
And here's Chad the Elder, "For the record, I wouldn't vote for Bill Frist for dog catcher in chief in 2008, to say nothing of considering him as the Republican candidate for President."
Monday, April 24, 2006
Iran's still beating its chest. If this gets much worse, I might rethink my somewhat wobbly support for the Iraq war. Taking out dictators who routinely trample on human rights, gas, maim, and rape their people, and live sumptuously on the blood of the poor, which in their country is everybody, is one thing. But now we've got a lot of troops committed, and the administration has spent most of their "political war capital". The public appreciated the need for the war in Afghanistan. They were less appreciative of the need for a war in Iraq. They'd revolt if we went into a long term campaign in Iran. And yet it looks more and more like Iran demands our attention, diplomatically certainly, and perhaps eventually militarily. Any regime that continually and simultaneously develops nuclear weapons while manifesting their desire to wipe one of their neighbors, and one of our greatest friends, off the face of the earth, is a regime that will in all probability not be stopped by a visit from Madeleine Albright or Condaleeza Rice (though the former apparently can leg press 400 pounds, according to the NYT magazine, never one to exaggerate the accomplishments of liberals). I pray for wisdom for our leaders, because we're in deep waters now folks.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
a new bin Laden tape out, nothing much new in it, just the same old "kill the infidels" nonsense. Here’s what struck me:
"People in the West share responsibility for their countries' "war against Islam," said the speaker, who sounded like bin Laden, on the tape broadcast on Al Jazeera television.
The Saudi-born militant said the Darfur crisis in western Sudan and Western efforts to isolate the Palestinian government since Hamas won January elections were part of this campaign.
"Their rejection of Hamas affirms that it is a Crusader-Zionist war against Muslims," bin Laden said."
Is this really Osama? Isn't that first statement a little on the democratic side for him? Well, I guess not really, since we've (American civilians) been on his hit list for quite a while now, you know, since he declared war (in whatever capacity he thinks he has to speak for Muslims in general) on the U.S. and our allies in 1998 (and had been acting as such well before that).
Saturday, April 22, 2006
G. Tracy Meehan III on the American Spectator, discussing an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on environmental progress in the United States. Chock full o' statistics.
Sally Pipes on NRO, discussing problems with environmental alarmism.
Jonah Goldberg on NRO, trashing Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth", a new movie about Gore's green crusade.
The Commons Blog, with contributors Steve Hayward and Prof. Jonathan Adler (CWRU Law), is focused on free market environmentalism.
Friday, April 21, 2006
EDIT: (I forgot to include the link, so here it is)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
getting their guns back. Apparently the NRA brought suit and the authorities caved. But I have an issue with this:
"Some owners complained it was difficult to get them back. Gun owners must bring a bill of sale or an affidavit with the weapon's serial number. Police also are running criminal background checks on those claiming weapons.
Some gun owners found the weapons were evidence in a crime and not eligible for release. Others did not have the proper paperwork."
It appears that there were three situations under which guns were confiscated.
1. Guns found in empty homes, owners had evacuated.
2. Guns taken from homes when police arrived to evacuate the residents.
3. Guns found not in homes and not with people.
It's hard to have a problem with police taking the third type, and some solid evidence should probably be required to get them back. I also have no problem with running the background checks; there's no sense in giving guns back to felons. As a matter of prudence it may have been wise to take the guns in categories 1 and 2, especially 1, and 2 if the residents were headed to a common shelter area, otherwise not so much. But there should, even in an emergency situation, have been some way to ensure that the firearms would be returned to their rightful owners. If police were going to put in the extra effort to confiscate guns, how hard would it have been to throw an evidence tag with the address (category 1) or name (category 2) of the owner on each? There were only about 700 collected.
Administrative ease isn’t accepted as a reason to trample on other rights, why should Second Amendment rights be any different? Of course they're treated as if they are, but I'm an individual rights interpretation kind of guy (SURPRISE!). I think Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski put it well:
"It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as spring-boards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us." Silveira v. Lockyer, 328 F.3d 567, 568 (9th Cir. 2003) (Kozinski, J., dissenting)
Furthermore, I imagine a lot of these guns were very valuable, either monetarily or sentimentally. For the government to take property with little intention of restoring it to its rightful owner unless that owner provides what he most likely cannot (especially given that a lot of personal records were surely destroyed in the flood) seems, well, wrong. But then again, a lot of things got screwed up after Katrina, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. How about some more Kozinski?
"My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed--where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once." Id. at 570.
this happened. I think in everyone's fear of China as the "new rising superpower" whose newly liberalized economy will soon dominate, we sometimes don't speak out enough about the major problems in the country. Persecution of Chinese Christians and the Falun Gong continues unabated, as the Government continues to savagely crack down on people who are pursuing nothing more than a relationship with God. Also, despite the liberalization, the country continues to threaten Taiwan and other countries around it, flexing its muscles obtained by freedom in pursuit of more slavery. This country (though no NoKorea or Iran) should be dealt with. I'm not sure we even can. It's probably beyond us militarily, and the Chinese haven't shown a huge love for diplomacy. But it's not something we should ignore.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
this article from Mark Krikorian on The Corner.
"Considered felons by the Mexican government, they fear detention, rape and robbery. Police and soldiers hunt them down at railroads, bus stations and fleabag hotels. Sometimes they are deported; more often officers simply take all their money.
While Mexico demands the humane treatment of its citizens who migrate to the U.S., it appears to be unable to guarantee similar rights for Central American migrants to this country."
For my part I liked Johnson as Dean, and as a Professor (Property). Reasonable people can certainly disagree on his effectiveness in either role, and if they want to do it here (i.e. in the comments) they are free to do so (which means I have no idea how to close the comments), but please people, let's keep it clean.
The far more interesting question is who we'll recruit to be the next Dean, but alas, that will have to wait until next year. This of course means that this year's 1L class will go through three years of law school with three different people at the helm.
this article by Tara Ross on NRO, and even thinking about it makes my head hurt. Then again, I am a fan of the electoral college. Here's the deal:
"This latest anti-Electoral College effort, the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, was announced on February 23. Five states are currently considering the NPV plan: Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, California, and Louisiana. The Colorado state senate acted on the bill quickly, approving it on April 14.
If enacted, the NPV bill would create an interstate compact among consenting states. Each participating state would agree to allocate its entire slate of electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect when states representing 270 electoral votes (enough to win the presidency) have agreed to the compact. The eleven most populous states have 271 electoral votes among them, and could thus make this change on their own. If one populous state failed to enact the plan, it could easily be replaced by a handful of medium-sized states."
Granted, I don't think this NPV will pass in enough states for it to work, but that aside, would this work constitutionally? On one hand:
"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress" (Article 2, Section 1)
On the other:
"No State shall, without the Consent of Congress… enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State." (Article 1, Section 10)
Or am I way off base here?
This isn't the first time he's expressed this position, I just wonder how exactly he sees it playing out. This is, after all, a guy who left his church over a disagreement about a bike trail.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The American Enterprise has a transcript of a speech Justice Scalia gave at the American Enterprise Institute that is definitely worth reading. He explains his position on foreign law, where it should apply (yes, this is Scalia), where it should not, and why some find it so appealing:
"The second reason foreign law is likely to be used increasingly is Sir Edmund Hillary’s reason—because it’s there. Let’s face it: it’s pretty hard to put together a respectable number of pages setting forth reasons for newly imposed Constitutional prescriptions or prohibitions (as a legal opinion is supposed to) that do not at all rest upon one’s moral sentiments, one’s view of natural law, one’s philosophy, or one’s religion. Decisions on such matters, whether taken democratically by society or undemocratically by courts, often have nothing to do with logic or analysis. So judicial opinions will be driven to philosophic or poetic explanations—such as appeared in the Supreme Court decision not so long ago asserting that at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Scalia loves to bring out that last line. I do wonder how the other justices, those who joined the Casey opinion from which it came specifically, feel about his doing so, especially given the Court's apparently quite collegial atmosphere.
wasn't about the law schools' free speech? Turns out that not only did the Supreme Court not buy their argument, neither did they. In a speech to Lambda at Harvard, BC Law Prof. Kent Greenfield, who founded and led the group, made that much pretty clear. Straight from the glowing Crimson article:
"He admitted that the case “wasn’t really about free speech,” as FAIR had asserted in its challenge, but “about equality.” FAIR, he said, had come up with a “creative” argument to fight Solomon."
this is without doubt the most hilarious motion I've ever read. The defense is apparently begging for a fistfight with the other side from the court. And apparently it's real. It's definitely something I would do (the motion, not the fistfight). My favorite part is the poorly spelled and worded document compared to the grave and unamused response to the motion. Definitely something you should check out. (Hat tip: JSW).
This is the kind of story I like to see. Given how much of a fan I am of entrepenuership, this is really great news to me. I think the influence black-owned businesses can have in their communities is immense, both for the owners, customers, and area in general. I hope this trend continues.
I really don't know if this is just Tom Cruise, or Scientology in general, but, well, gross. (via Drudge)
here. Given that my Dad is Dean of a correspondance unaccredited law school, I suppose I should be against the ABA. I'm certainly against 211 and some of the other rules that the ABA is trying to push through for accreditation. Then again, I've always wanted to be in an exclusive club that keeps out qualified candidates, monopolizes an industry, and inefficiently raises the wages of its members.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute. His speech is entitled:
The Universal Hunger for Liberty-Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Not Inevitable
Mondale Hall Room 25
Mr. Novak is a theologian and philosopher, former U.S. ambassador, and author of more than 25 books. He currently holds the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Among many other awards, Mr. Novak received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1994. His book, The Universal Hunger for Liberty, was published in October 2004. His most recent book is Washington's God, published in March 2006.
Lunch will be provided.
The event is co-sponsored by the MacLaurin Institute, the Minnesota Association of Scholars, the Tocqueville Center, and the Minnesota Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.
UPDATE: How did I not mention in any of the promotional material that Novak is a frequent contributing editor to both NR and NRO? His NRO archive is here.
this article was a very good defense of free trade. Here's the crux of the argument, which I'm afraid many politicians either intentionally ignore for short term political gain, or are just ignorant of.
The reason is that as some capital and jobs leave America, workers -- along with some supply routes and capital equipment remaining in America -- are freed up to work at other tasks that in the past were insufficiently profitable. By freeing up this labor and capital, outsourcing increases the profitability of new investment opportunities. These diligent and honest workers, along with some capital equipment, remain in place, willing to work, all in an economy and culture friendly to enterprise. Perceiving these profit opportunities, entrepreneurs sweep in and create new capital, capital that never before existed and that would not be created were it not for the fresh opportunities opened by outsourcing.
I'm definitely in favor of compulsory remedial econ for anyone in or running for office. President Bush's steel tariffs were a prime example of ignorant policies that had harsh effects on the economy, effects that a first year college student in intro econ could have forseen.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Peggy (who had joined in the immigration marches to see what was up):
"Where does all this leave me? Does my feeling for immigrants, and my afternoon at the march, leave me supporting open borders, or illegal immigration? No. Why should it? To love immigrants is not to believe America has no right to decide who can come to America and become a citizen. America has always decided who comes here. That's why it all worked.
While the marchers seemed to be good people, and were very likable, the march itself, I think, violated the old immigrant politesse--the general understanding that you're not supposed to get here and immediately start making demands. It would never have occurred to my grandparents to demand respect. They thought they had to earn it. It would never have occurred to them to air mass grievances, assert rights, issue a list of legislative demands. Especially if they were here unlawfully."
"So it's really more like we've got the last Xbox 360s available on Christmas Eve and the customers are not only demanding money to take the hottest sales item off our hands, but are verbally abusing us and acting petulant. I'm offended that you would even think about asking me to pay for the Xbox 360! You say it has a "20 GB detachable hard drive"? Well, would you use the word "kike"?"
[the last line was a reference to Nativo Lopez's rant on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that was referenced earlier in the column, which I pulled from Lexis:
NATIVO LOPEZ, PRES. MEX-AM POL. ASSOC.: It's a racist legislation and it criminalize the people, and employers, workers, pastors of churches, the most, nastiness, racist legislation ever to see Congress and the history of our country.DOBBS: And will you accept anything less than amnesty?Lopez: Absolutely not. We're looking for full immediate, unconditional legalization for all persons currently in the United States. They've already paid their way, Dobbs. They paid their way more than enough, than anybody can expect of them, we don't need earned legalization, we need legalization right now of all our folks here…. And May 1st, you are going to feel the effects of nobody going to work, nobody going to school, shopping or selling, because we're calling it The Great American Boycott: A Day Without Immigrants. Marching in the street for full, immediate, unconditional legalization of all working people that are here currently without documents.DOBBS: Nativo, you're talking about feeling the impact, you're talking about a boycott of all illegal aliens in this country?LOPEZ: Well first off, I refute your terminology. You don't say kike, patty, WOP, OK, you don't say nigger.DOBBS: Partner, I don't even listen to that kind of language. You pollute the air.LOPEZ: You're using language that's offensive to me and offensive to my people.DOBBS: You are wrong.LOPEZ: You pollute the air every day, Dobbs. You are absolutely wrong.DOBBS: You have the distinction of using language that is never...LOPEZ: That language is offensive, it's derogatory, it's denigrating, and don't use that terminology to me again, referring to my people
ME: I actually think "illegal immigrant" is pretty tame, and definitely to the point. There are, of course, slang words that actually are derogatory, but polite people don't use them. For Nativo Lopez to claim that these terms are all equal is ridiculous. Of course, his use of the word refute is also ridiculous.
1. To prove to be false or erroneous; overthrow by argument or proof: refute testimony.
2. To deny the accuracy or truth of: refuted the results of the poll.
I assume the second definition was closer to what he was after, since he never claimed to be proving anything. So he's denying the truth of Dobbs' "illegal immigrant" terminology, even as he demands legalization, thereby acknowledging that the immigrants are not legal now.]
Dean Johnson's resigning. For all I know this could be a big hoax orchestrated by Nick. But he seemed pretty convinced that this was true. If so, it's a huge scoop for Nick. This is from his site.
To: Faculty and Staff
From: Alex M. Johnson
After much consideration, I have made the decision to resign as Dean, effective May 31, 2006. The Provost has accepted my resignation and no doubt will be in touch regarding my immediate successor.
It has been an honor to serve as the ninth dean of the Law School the last four years and I am grateful for the opportunity.
As I transition to emeritus status and a member of the faculty (onsabbatical) for the 06-07 academic year, I look forward to continuingto work with all of you to establish the Law School as the bestpublic law school in the country.
(Again, I'm not testifying as to the veracity of this claim, just reporting what Nick has said).
Thursday, April 13, 2006
relevent. I think the point about self-censorship definitely needs to be made more often. Borders books pulled a magazine from stores because somewhere within its pages the Mohammed cartoons were displayed. And this was recent. Sometimes I wish SP would censor itself a little more. Some of the episodes get annoying in their attempts to push the envelope. But I think they're right on about this issue.
testifying that Bush and Cheney did not authorize him to leak Ms. Plame's status. I predict that this will have no effect whatsoever on the current debate. Those who adore the President will use this as affirmation, confirming that the President is actually free from blame, and shedding light on a new witch-hunt. Those that would prefer to use the President's guts for garters will simply shrug off this news, focusing on what was authorized for leakage, and darkly speculating on the gigantic coverup that Libby is participating in. I'm disturbed by some of the leaking, but not as disturbed as some others, I suppose.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
First Things, an interesting site, Richard John Neuhas has some things to say on the ostenible "Gospel of Judas". After basically making fun of the people who take a gnostic account from 300 years after the fact at face value, Neuhas finishes up with this, a point which I think has applicability to the political realm as well.
Which is not to say that there are not serious matters engaged by the discussion of the “Gospel of Judas” and other imaginative reconstructions of Christianity from the apostolic era to the present. The gnostic pseudo-gospels and related texts purport to be for the “knowers” who are equipped to deal with the “secret sayings” of Jesus and other matters unfit for the great unwashed. In his book The American Religion, Harold Bloom contends that most Americans are gnostics at heart, believing that they possess a “divine spark” that is spiritually serviced by whatever “works for me.” There is more than a little to that. It results in religions, typically called Christian, ever so much less interesting than Christianity.
The desire to "know what others don't" is universal. Everyone wants to be in the illuminati. Everyone wants the small bit of knowledge that isn't commonly known, whether it concerns religion, politics, or even sports. It's why services like ESPN "Insider" make money. It's why being "underground" is often enough of a tribute to ensure support for an otherwise untalented band. It's the reason that conspiracy theories are so popular. Nobody wants to be stuck with the sometimes pedestrian truth. Not pedestrian because of its inherent worth, but because of its acceptance by others. The gnostics were such a people. I think Neuhas correctly points out that it happens to be a problem in modern religion as well (although I think we'd differ widely on who would be included in the definition). However, it's a problem in modern politics and culture as well. I'm not saying it doesn't affect me as well. After all, I'm a libertarian. I just think it's an important point to make.
This article on Volokh reminded me of the debate held at the law school this term on the importance of precedent. Precedent definitely seems to me to be the old two-edged sword. Both sides usually use it to uphold things they like, while decrying it as "clinging to bad law" when they don't. In my view, precedent is something that can be considered, but especially in matters of constitutional law, it shouldn't be as dispositive as it is. That's why I didn't like some of the answers the two newest Justices made in their congressional hearings. For once I wanted them to say, "Yes, I think there are old decisions that are totally unconstitutional, irrational, and immoral, and if I get the chance, I will vote to overturn them." I know it's easy for me to say, being on the outside, with no responsibility except to my own conscience, and (probably) no potential harm that could be done if I clearly express my opinions (or at least as clearly as I am capable of). In other words, I don't think stare decisis should be as large a consideration as it is. And if that puts me on Mike Paulsen's side, that's fine by me.
I just know Chet Harper has a hand in this. (MN Law inside joke)
this case really interesting (ht Southern Appeal). Basically a defendant was trying to claim mental retardation to escape the death penalty, and failed miserably. I won't even post a teaser here, it has to be read beginning to end.
UPDATE: Link fixed.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
here. Here are the first three paragraphs, which I find very interesting.
In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency—Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect—was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie. After the Kuwait war in 1991, when Rolf Ekeus arrived in Baghdad to begin the inspection and disarmament work of UNSCOM, he was greeted by Zahawie, who told him in a bitter manner that "now that you have come to take away our assets," the two men could no longer be friends. (They had known each other in earlier incarnations at the United Nations in New York.)
At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity. At the time, most democratic countries did not have full diplomatic relations with Saddam's regime, and there were few fully accredited Iraqi ambassadors overseas, Iraq's interests often being represented by the genocidal Islamist government of Sudan (incidentally, yet another example of collusion between "secular" Baathists and the fundamentalists who were sheltering Osama Bin Laden). There was one exception—an Iraqi "window" into the world of open diplomacy—namely the mutual recognition between the Baathist regime and the Vatican. To this very important and sensitive post in Rome, Zahawie was appointed in 1997, holding the job of Saddam's ambassador to the Holy See until 2000. Those who knew him at that time remember a man much given to anti-Jewish tirades, with a standing ticket for Wagner performances at Bayreuth. (Actually, as a fan of Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung in particular, I find I can live with this. Hitler secretly preferred sickly kitsch like Franz Lehar.)
In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report.
In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.
here's a story on the subject by a great ESPN writer. Read it, and don't be afraid to weep. I did. (but only because of the difference in writing skill between Chuck Klosterman and I).
Iran now has successfully enriched uranium. Personally, I think this is going to be an interesting test of our foreign policy, especially since it probably will involve the next administration as well. I think this is a good example of why we need to keep nuclear weapons around here in the U.S. We may want to wish to go back to a world where "soldiers, not scientists" dominated war and thus foreign policy (if we happen to be Douglas MacArthur). But the cat's out of the bag. Once the information is out there, we must keep up. And unfortunately, I don't believe that this Iran situation will be resolved very well diplomatically either. Either we just give up on them and let them become a nuclear power and wait for the inevitable demands, or we do something about it. Maybe once they become a nuclear power we'll get back into MAD mode with them. I'm not sure that'd be entirely a bad thing.
An interesting piece on manliness. Well, a review of a book about manliness, written by Christina Hoff Sommers. Be ready for Hobbes, Nietzsche, and Simone de Beauvoir. A teaser:
One of the least visited memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle "women and children first."
The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by "the women of America" in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."
Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men. Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I just don't think Ben Affleck gets it. Here's a (long) Power Line post that starts to explain why. Then again, his comments are pretty much par for the course when you consider the league in which he plays.
Well, at least according to a study done at the University of East Anglia. I'll try to get a hold of the paper and give it a good read and comment further later, but the column itself is sure to be interesting.
seems to have knuckled under to pressure to keep the status quo. In other news, sun rises, dog bites man, James ignores Property class. I've often thought that economics should be a mandatory class in high school here in the U.S. But everyone in Europe, including the leaders, should also be forced to take basic macro and micro, taught by someone who actually understands economics. France, (as Jason notes), once the country of "liberty, equality, fraternity", now has none (although arguably, it never did). It has no liberty, for employers, or those looking for work. (And immigrants here should look at the restrictive new immigration policy France is considering). It has no equality, because although immigrants are paid by the welfare state, they have no equality in finding work and something to do, because of the restrictive governmental structure, and creates a definite have/have-not duality. And it certainly has no fraternity, because as the riots earlier in the year suggest, few European countries are divided socially, religiously, economically, and in every other way. It's a great illustration of what exactly is the end-state of an economy run on socialist ideas, especially in a society with immigration and diversity.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
This story presents an interesting question: What qualifies as a seizable asset?
"Government lawyers tried to confiscate the gold tooth caps known as ``grills'' from the mouths of two men facing drug charges, saying the dental work qualified as seizable assets. They had them in a vehicle headed to a dental clinic by the time defense attorneys persuaded a judge to halt the procedure."
First, if you read the rest of the story, look out for the ridiculous Nazi reference and the foolish jab at the handling of terrorists.
Then ask yourself, do I really have a problem with the government taking highly valuable yet purely cosmetic dental work that is just as likely to have been purchased with the proceeds of the illegal activity as, say, the person's vehicle, which can be confiscated? I say pop 'em out, give them ceramics, and call it a day. I mean, it's jewelry, nothing more.
The Progressive's website that kicks off with:
"Was it only three years ago that some of our puffed up patriots were denouncing the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” too fattened on Camembert to stub out their Gaulois and get down with the war on Iraq? Well, take another look at the folks who invented the word liberté. Throughout the month of March and beyond, they were demonstrating, rioting, and burning up cars to preserve a right Americans can only dream of: the right not to be fired at an employer’s whim."
Oh man, somebody better tell the Supreme Court about this new fundamental right. Invented the word liberte? Where the hell did she get that idea? Obviously she knows that words evolve, in this case from Latin (libertas), so it seems to me that she's trying to argue that they were so integral in the development of the concept that they created the word to communicate it (I'm thinking "Don't give me the 'it's not you it's me', I invented 'it's not you it's me'!" from Seinfeld), or something like that. Whatever it is, it's a silly thing to say, so I won't dwell on it.
It's just the overall sentiment that rubs me the wrong way, the "oh aren't these people admirable for standing up to their government!", when what they're really doing is crying and screaming on the floor until their nanny state gives them what they want. I'm not going to try to give a comprehensive definition of liberty here, but what these people want is not it. It may be a right, but it's a rather fake, created, government dependent right. Further on down:
"French youth weren’t buying this, probably because they know where the “Anglo-Saxon model,” as they call it, leads. If you have to give up job security to get a job, what next? Will the pampered employers be inspired to demand a suspension of health and safety regulations? Will they start requiring their workers to polish their shoes while hand-feeding them hot-buttered croissants? Non to all that, the French kids said."
What next? I think it's called a paycheck. Her slippery slope argument is ridiculous, employers in France are far from pampered and there's no indication that those promoting the First Employment Contract reform have any intention to go any further, given how incredibly miniscule the reform is. I'll let you read the rest on your own if you so desire, but be warned, reading Ehrenreich will probably make you want to re-read Atlas Shrugged, which is fine, except that you should probably be outlining. Now, if you do go that route, make sure to bring yourself back to the real world by reading Whittaker Chambers' review of the book from 1957. The better course of action is to read Jonah Goldberg's column today that seems at least in part inspired by reading the Ehrenreich column. It's good, as usual, though he does go off on a strange plan promulgated by Charles Murray to deal away with welfare as we know it (but to put strange flat rate payments in its place). Goldberg used to be pretty anti-libertarian (not anti-liberty, just anti-libertarian, trust me), but has softened a lot recently.
ADDENDUM: I was moving around NRO and saw that the second title given to Goldberg's column (NRO pieces usually have one title when on the front page and a different one when listed on the sidebar, as in The Corner) is Egalite, Liberte, 401K. Much, much better than mine. I think I will cry myself to sleep now.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
NewsBusters has some transcripts of assorted interviews that Rep. Cynthia McKinney has given lately. Reading the first one reminded me of some thoughts I had when the story first broke. She says:
"And it's not a pin, as you can see this is the pin, it doesn't have my name on it, and it doesn't have a picture on it. So, and quite frankly, this can be duplicated. So, security shouldn't be based on a pin. We should have real security measures in place."
Like security stopping people who aren’t even wearing the worthless pin?
Or should security be required to know all 535 members of Congress by face?
To assume that someone refusing to stop after being asked three times is ok?
I was a secretary in the Iowa House of Representatives (others called themselves clerks, but we were still on the books as secretaries, though I sometimes jokingly referred to myself as my representative's Chief-of-Staff, since in Iowa each representative's staff is one person) during my junior year of college. Security was pretty strict, basically the airport treatment (bags through x-ray machine, you through a metal detector) without taking off your shoes. Representatives and staff were allowed to bypass the line, but had to wave our capitol complex ID over some sort of gizmo that showed that it was valid, and security still looked at the picture. And yes, members did actually wear them as well, and though I can't say how closely they were inspected by security, there were only 150 members.
What am getting at here? I actually agree with McKinney on this one, using a lapel pin as a security measure is a joke. How much sense does it make for Des Moines to have better security than D.C.?
here. I'm in favor of much more legal immigration, though I also believe that some work should be done on tightening up the borders. I'm not in favor of this for the Pat Buchanan-esque reasons of "keeping the national culture intact" but for reasons of security. Frankly, I think almost anyone who wants to get into the country should be able to, although they should be screened for ties to terrorism.
testified that the President authorized him to leak classified information to the press to defend the decision to go to war and contradict Joe Wilson's public statements on the reasons for going to war. Originally, some thought this meant that Bush was authorizing Libby to out Plame. This turns out not to be the case. I'm not going to go as far as Nick at genericheretic and say this is impeachable. In fact, I don't know all the facts and circumstances, so I'm not even going to say this was necessarily wrong. I do think that this administration has been rather inept, and in ways that has hurt its credibility. Again, I know that there are some for whom the credibility never existed, for whom the evidence needed to believe anything Bush says is comparable to the evidence desired by Dave Chapelle to prove that R. Kelly was a pedarast. However, I do think there were good reasons for going to war in Iraq, and although some of those reasons are a lot less credible in hindsight, there are still good reasons to defend the action. I have been troubled by the "spreading democracy" line, as well as the "freeing people from brutal dictators" line, because I'm not sure that's our job. But the President and administration have either not used the bully pulpit enough, or have come out with unpersuasive reasons. This war could have and still can be defended. But the defense of the war has so far been incompetent, and has been largely the reason for the decline in his opinion polls.
Here's a post on powerline on my little brother's worthy efforts at Duke. Despite not being on the lacrosse team, he's managed to make a little bit of trouble on campus. Now I'll be able to bask in the glow of his reflected glory, and perhaps ride his coattails to success. (Actually, my sarcasm is simply covering my burning envy at being mentioned on powerline, a blog which I used to love a lot more than I do now.)
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Here's an interesting article in the Washington Post on anti-Israeli sentiment that seems to have been building lately. The writer notes:
Academic papers posted on a Harvard Web site don't normally attract enthusiastic praise from prominent white supremacists. But John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has won David Duke's endorsement as "a modern Declaration of American Independence" and a vindication of the ex-Klansman's earlier work, presumably including his pathbreaking book, "Jewish Supremacism."
I am starting to disagree with that statement. I am troubled by the rising tide of anti-semitism (and racism in general) in Europe, but I am also troubled by the rise in acceptance of (what seems to me to be) of subtle anti-semitism in academia. It has become chic for one side to posit that we need to "understand" our enemies and their reasoning. I agree. But they then follow it up with calls to mitigate their angst by (for example) cutting Israel loose, and pulling troops out of Islamic countries. I also see the need to understand the mindset of fanatical jihadists. No doubt, one of the reasons they hate us is Israel. But another reason is that we don't accept their "religion of peace". We see no need to buckle to their demands to convert, why should we even consider capitulating by cutting ties (at least to some extent) with Israel, which has been one of our most loyal allies and most valuable friends since its inception. I would posit that Israel is our only hope for the Middle East, and must be supported even in the face of terrorism.
There was a story on the Channel 11 News tonight that rubbed me the wrong way. These stories always do. A deer broke through the ice on a local lake (or river, I forget, it doesn't matter), and a rescue crew went and pulled it out. What's wrong with this picture? For one, Wisconsin and Minnesota neither have a lack of deer; from what I recall offhand both have populations far larger than they had 100 years ago and possibly larger than they were pre-settlement. The other problem is the misuse of and risk (which is more relevant when it isn't so springlike) to the human beings in the rescue services. They put a lot of work into preventing what the Department of Natural Resources in each state actively encourages, and at which they are successful by the hundreds of thousands. In many states, Wisconsin included, farmers with crop damage prevention permits can shoot deer practically any day of the year. But one goes through the ice and you break out the jaws of life (misusage, I know, it sounds good though)? I understand the desire to not let the animal suffer a slow, painful, watery death, I really do, which is why I've written the next paragraph.
This year is the centennial of what is arguably the best (considering a wide variety of parameters) centerfire rifle cartridge ever created, the .30-06 Springfield. It served the United States through both World Wars and Korea, and even now is one of the most popular sporting cartridges around.
And for about 50 cents it could fix the aforementioned problem.
Also, if you've been following the whole numerical anomaly of the day (for April 5), the anchor mentioned it (I am, btw, watching the rebroadcast at 1am) that it only happens once every 100 years. Close, but as pointed out previously on The Corner, it's TWICE every 100 years.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
me. A judge has been censured for mocking a person by comparing him to a character from Saturday night live. If I were a judge, I'd be hardpressed to avoid doing the same. Accept of course, I wouldn't reference Saturday Night Live which hasn't been "hip" or "funny" or even "entertaining" since I was but a young 'un. But I might reference Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Although that wouldn't brand me as mean so much as a addlebrained lout who loves random stoner humor. But back to the point, I think people need to lighten up. The judge made fun of a victim. Who cares! Man up, Jon Lovitz-esque plaintiff!
Thanks to the miracle of Google, I discovered that the song is entitled, fittingly, "Appointed Forever" (to the tune of "Happy Together" by the Turtles) and is performed by "The Bar and Grill Singers." The lyrics? Well, they start out:
Imagine me as God. I do.
I think about it day and night.
It feels so right
To be a federal district judge and know that I'm
I was anointed by the President,
And revelation told him I was heaven-sent.
And Congress in their wisdom granted their consent.
I'm a federal judge
And I'm smarter than you
For all my life.
I can do whatever I want to do
For all my life.
Oh, and where did I copy those from? Suboh v. Borgioli, 298 F. Supp. 2d 192, 194, that's where. Yes, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts put them in an opinion. Incidentally, I cannot find the full lyrics anywhere yet, they were at one time on Volokh in their entirety, but the link now goes to some strange page. Anyhow, there are a couple of site's that allow you to play or to download the MP3 (I think that's a no-no), just Google "Appointed Forever."
Monday, April 03, 2006
post that is generating the interest is by Keith Burgess-Jackson on his blog (one of them) which carries the title "Brian Leiter, Academic Thug". KBJ is a professor of philosophy (he also has a J.D.) at the University of Texas at Arlington. I had actually seen Harry's posts when I was first going through the blog, and think it is kind of funny that they are getting attention now, two years later.
EDIT: Here's a post from the archives that explains everything. Harry Niska looks to be an intelligent and reasonable human being. Which makes it a shame that he's the one who gets to have the fun confrontations.
blaming the poor showing of his latest piece of celluloid excrement, Basic Instinct 2, on "puritanical America". I hope everyone can see through his claim in this area. Paul, guess what, your movie is terrible. Sharon Stone is old. And you've never made a good movie. Ever. The public spent money back in the day, when your prurient foolishness was "fresh". It isn't anymore. It isn't a rise in puritanism, but the fact that your movies, which used to be excitingly "naughty" back in the day, now are firmly established as "old hat". And now that you've got nothing new in the area of eroticism or gore, there's no other reason for the American public to see your movies. Frankly, there should have been no reason to see your Hollywood abortions in the first place. Because you are a terrible filmmaker.
But on a related note, I think the claim that America has "turned Puritanical" censoring its artists and returning to McCarthyism is ridiculous. It's based on reasoning as follows: our President occasionally references God in his speeches, therefore, he's a religious nut (because only nuts reference God). Because he's a religious nut, his decisions are based on his nuttery (has anyone asked him yet if he can be unbiased on religious matters, give that he's religious? That'd be a great question.) Therefore, any decisions made by anyone in the government are based on religious quackery, because Bush runs the government. Because the government does or should run the country, anything that happens in the country can be laid at the Presidents door. To sum up, anything that happens in America, whether the failure of a horrible movie that happens to contain nude women old enough to be my mother, or the censuring of a talkshow host who hasn't yet progressed the 4th grade in terms of humor (not that there's anything wrong with that), must be the result of rampant religious McCarthyism. But hey, let's not print any cartoons that depict Mohammed. Because then Muslims will be perfectly justified in violence and rioting. We shouldn't have goaded them into it.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Peggy Noonan wrote a column on the Pope and communism right after his death last year, definitely worth reading, Catholic or not.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
It's a good thing Bill Buckley is still turning out columns, otherwise I would never have known.