Sunday, July 31, 2005

Space Geek Fantasies

"Singularity" seems to be trekky fad of the moment. My old professor Tom Smith has a funny, as usual, take on the subject:

I was reading one of these "the singularity is coming" guys the other day, and he said in the future, we will have wireless modems planted in our heads so we can be plugged into the internet at all times. Bad idea. Driving is dangerous enough as it is. Also, look at how much trouble wireless networks already cause. They're up, they're down. I really don't want to have to reboot my brain twice a day. And then spam. Do I really want the thought planted in my brain every five minutes that my penis needs to be bigger or I need to tell some Nigerian my bank account and social security number?

I am a bit alarmed by the growing connectedness that is beginning to consume us. The proliferation of the cell phone was one thing, but the coming onslaught of PDA/Blackberry technology will soon make escape from work and the world of Google a complete impossibility. Is this what Teddy Kaczynski was scribbling about in the Montana woods?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The American Voltaire

Mark Twain, of course. I just finished watching Ken Burns' two-part ode to Twain. It is excellent. I admit that I have not read any Twain in long, long time - but I certainly have a newfound admiration for the man. He was, in my estimation, the most "American," American that I know of. He was much more than just a comedic-writer - he was a river boat captain, western explorer, miner, newspaper writer, stage actor, world traveler, failed businessman, speculator, social critic, philosopher, suffragist, anti-imperialist, libertarian, subversive renaissance man. And he excelled in each, for better or worse. I made mental notes of several of the more memorable quotes from the series:
Regarding the missionaries in Hawaii:
The missionaries braved a thousand privations to come and make them permanently miserable by telling them how beautiful and how blissful a place heaven is, and how nearly impossible it is to get there.
On government:
For in a republic, who is 'the country?' Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant - merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is 'the country?' Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.
The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.
The minority is always in the right. The majority is always in the wrong.
On humans:
Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" with his mouth.
There are many humorous things in the world: among them the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.
On France:
France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.
On life:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
On Christianity:
Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.
Good stuff. Twain reportedly challenged Teddy Roosevelt's imperialist policies so often that the President refused to shake his hand when the two men received honorary degrees at Yale in 1901. His loss. Personally, I would rather shake hands with Twain than anyone with the name Roosevelt.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Public Health is Bad for Your Liberty

This seems to be Radley Balko's topic-du-jour of late:

It's funny, when corporations do shady things to make or save money, they're demonized. When government trespasses all over our personal freedom in the name of saving money, it's generally considered noble.

Read it all here. For the 2nd time today, repeat after me, "economic liberty is both a necessary and indispensable ingredient for personal liberty." Good.

Mugabe and Hayek.

Marian Tupy discusses Robert Mugabe through the lens of Hayek:

Just as Hayek warned, the government's initial attack on private property led to intervention in the economy and, concomitantly, the destruction of political freedom in Zimbabwe. If Mr Mugabe continues along the path marked by other socialist dictators, the world may yet see Zimbabwe descend into an orgy of violence.

Read the whole thing here.

Baby Mini

The newest addition to the Mississippi family. No, it is not a mule or ass. That's my dad.... just kidding, pops.

It is a newborn miniature-horse (not a pony).

Thursday, July 28, 2005

CAFTA Passes (Narrowly)

Cheers to the House Republicans and 15 Democrats. And from that ethnocentric, protectionist-reactionary, Nancy Pelosi, we get this:

[CAFTA] will be a Pyrrhic victory..., because we will take our message to the American people that we are the ones looking out for them.

Who knew that Mrs. Pelosi is of the "America-First" stripe? And this:
I wish that the CAFTA bill ... included basic labor standards and protected our
. This type of an agreement would have lifted the economies of both
the United States and Central America. It would have attracted support from a
large number of Democratic members.
To borrow from Mick Jagger, "you ignorant slut." Poor, undeveloped countries do not have the luxury to insist upon wage and hour standards and environmental regulations on par with developed nations. To state the obvious, such quality-of-life improvements do not tend to rank very high on the scale of priorities when one is concerned on just how he is going to feed his kids on a buck a day. Pelosi and her Bay-area ilk are the very people who take $5,000 eco-tours in the pristine Guatamalan rainforests - all the while doing little more than pitying the impoverished shantytown dwellers who would kill for a $10/day gig at the Nike factory. It just wouldn't be a cultural experience if the Mayan-natives weren't jumping around in loin-cloths...
Related Posts:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Lessons in Free Market Self-Regulation

This is GREAT! Drudge reports,

Osama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americans one year after the 9/11 attacks, the NEW YORK POST reported on Tuesday. The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business...

Bad press is bad for business - end of story.

Privatize PBS

Congressional Libertarians?

Abercrombie (D), Berkley (D), Blumenauer (D), Conyers (D), Flake (R), Frank (D-MA), Grijalva (D), Hastings (D-FL), Johnson (D), E. B.Jones (D-OH), Lee, (D) Lewis (D-GA), McDermott (D), Owens (D), Paul (R), Payne (D), Serrano (D), Stark (D), Towns, (D), Velázquez (D), and Woolsey (D).
Do you see your representative here? These are the 21 nay-votes who dissented from Senator Clinton's suggestion that the FTC investigate the designers of the video game, Grand Theft Auto, for allegedly including sexually-explicit material within the game. Kudos to Jeff Flake - one of only 2 Republican dissenters (the Party of small government and personal responsibility, wink wink...) and the most consistent free-trader in Congress.
Related Post:

The Economics of Sinful Habits

Professor Mike Rappaport at The Right Coast suggests:
There is in fact a surefire way to get teenagers to consume less beer, tobacco and drugs, according to one study after another: raise the cost, in terms of either dollars or potential punishment.
Punishment - maybe. But, merely increasing the cost of products in dollar terms simply shifts production and exchange onto the black market - or, as we free-marketeers refer to it, "The Real Market." Artificial price increases, in the long run, only tend to distort the market while having no lasting effect on demand; and in the short-term, increases the chance that some dude named Soprano will get in the mix.

Santorum and the Morality Police

Senator Santorum strikes again. Over the last few weeks, The National Review Online has been publishing excerpts from the Senator's book, It Takes a Family. Most of the published chapters that I have read focus on the Supreme Court's "privacy" jurisprudence and the Senator's view of judicial activism. Here is one memorable paragraph where Santorum discusses the evolution of the Griswold right to privacy, and the effect of Lawrence:

What I feared the Court would do in Lawrence in striking down the Texas sodomy statute is to finally and completely eliminate marriage as a privileged institution in our laws and simply expand the zone of privacy in sexual conduct to all consenting adults. That is exactly what they did: Marriage has now completely lost its special place in the law. The Court said in effect that marriage has not only outlived its legal usefulness, it said it is discriminatory to treat people differently based on such an outdated social construct. Therefore, over the past generation, it has decided to change the zone of sexual “privacy” from one man and one woman in marriage to consenting adults, period. So, to paraphrase my own quote above: If consent is now the only standard to have your sexual behavior protected by the Constitution, then how can the Court prohibit any consensual sexual behavior among two, three, or more people? The answer is logically, judicially, that you cannot...

I am scratching my head... So, what?!? "Eliminate marriage as a privileged institution in our laws...."? Sounds good to me. What's the problem, Rick? Treat people equally? Preclude the government from restricting a person's individual choices? How freaking revolutionary. That being said - Griswold and Lawrence, were indeed "activist" decisions in that the Court, in essence, made up the fundamental "right to privacy" to further the personal policy preferences of the Justices involved. So, from a Constitutional standpoint - I'll throw the Senator a bone and admit that the Constitution does not (at least explicitly) recognize the fundamental right to "privacy." While there are originalist arguments that support such a right, I will leave that discussion alone for now.
What bothers me the most about Santorum's statement is not his Constitutional interpretation, but the audacious suggestion that marriage, as an institution, deserves favor qua institution and that the individuals who petition for such sanction are entitled to the same. The import of this view is that state governments may legitimately restrict or enhance individual liberty dependent upon an individual's marital status. I know, I know..., marriage is a state-sanctioned vehicle of privilege - but I am not referring to statutory tax benefits or rules of intestate succession. It is bad enough that the state uses the subtle-coercion of legal privilege to promote its collective view of morality. But even more generally, we, as humans, have a larger right to privacy that is part-and-parcel to the inalienable rights of liberty (e.g. "immunities") to which we pay so much lip service. And, that concept of liberty necessarily entails the right to be let alone and live as we choose (so long as we leave others alone as well). As such, those liberties cannot be legitimately enlarged or compressed by virtue of marital status, state-fiat, or Senator Santorum's sense of morality.

What is a Federalist?

I know members whose political views range from moderate conservatives (more moderate than, say, O'Connor or Kennedy) to Christian rightists to libertarian anarchist individualists. Judicial philosophy ranges from Borkean anti-judicial review views to Randy Barnettian presumptions of liberty. In short, membership in the Federalist Society tells you nothing about a nominee except that he or she is not "on the left", which one presumes would be true about any Bush Supreme Court nominee.

Indeed, although I was a chapter President while in law school - I certainly do not fancy myself a "conservative."

Monday, July 25, 2005


Nothing like 2 consecutive t-shirts posts... This is nice. (tip Radley Balko). I have been amazed by the Che Guevera phenomena for a long time. Someone, please explain.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Resist the Federal Police State.

The attacks in London are beginning to stimulate the Paranoia here - particularly in DC and NYC. Some New Yorkers do not think to highly of Bloomberg's response (tip to Drudge). Good for them.

I must admit that I am feeling somewhat conflicted. While I believe that we, liberty-minded people, must be diligent in resisting every encroachment upon our liberties as they arise - I wonder if such resistance helps or hurts our ultimate cause? Consider, I think it is clear that another successful attack within our borders would create hysteria of such a magnitude that the resulting devolution into an Orwellian-police state would occur overnight. Can you say, "Patriot Acts III, IV, V, and VI - the Kremlin model?" Indeed, the American people are, I'm afraid, a London-style bombing away from trading whatever liberty and privacy that we have left in exchange for state-provided security. You doubt me - check this out. Don't get me wrong, I am of the firm belief that an autonomous life, untouched by state interference, is infinitely preferable to the alternative despite the ever-present possibility of death by terrorist. Call me Patty Henry - I'll take my chances. But, I am quite confident that I am in the minority in that regard.

Most Qualified??

And what is all this talk about Roberts being, "the most qualified candidate..."? Perhaps he is the most qualified insider and non-intellectual. Here is an interesting post on the mediocrity of Supreme picks from Think Progress.
Related: Here is an insightful personal testimonial re Judge Roberts.

Quick - Recite the 10th Amendment

Matt Welch has a wishlist of 7 questions for Judge John Roberts. Excellent.

All that I can say is that I feel pretty uneasy about this nomination. After almost 5 years in office, with the exception of a measly tax cut, some regulatory rollbacks for some campaign donors and other favored businesses, and genuine, yet not fully committed, lipservice to the promotion of an ownership society, President Bush has not exactly proved himself to be an ardent champion of liberty (at least not domestically) and limited government. So, why should we think for a second that his Supreme Court nominee will embrace those ideals? To the contrary, GW's two highest profile legal appointments to date - AG's: Ashcroft and Gonzalez - seem(ed) more interested in expanding the reach of the federal cop-power over us all - both flesh and stone - at the expense of those damned burdensome civil liberties and federalist boundaries. Hopefully I am wrong. But, why not appoint someone with a paper trail that explains his judicial philosophy? I do not buy the stealth-candidate line - that is just not Bush's style. Maybe he knows something we don't know...
UPDATE: Upon further thought - could it be that Roberts has purposefully avoided creating a paper trail with the intention of keeping his beliefs off the radar? Such shrewd and manipulative foresight is so Washington-esque. And that is precisely what frightens me. Professor Randy Barnett sums up my thoughts perfectly (much more eloquently, of course):
John Roberts appears to be the quintessential A+ student. That means being very smart, working very hard, and generally scoping out what the teacher wants to hear--which includes just the right amount of intellectual disagreement. Indeed, these would seem to be the qualities most desired in a judicial clerk who needs to anticipate and articulate the views if his judge, a Deputy SG who needs to voice the views of the administration, a Supreme Court advocate who needs to figure out what the justices want to hear while making his client's case, and an appellate judge who is trying faithfully to anticipate and follow Congress and the Supreme Court. Add to this what appears to be an admirable personal character and you have the "best qualified" person to sit on the highest court. But what may be missing is a judicial philosophy that will withstand the rigors of decades on the Court.
Am I being too hard on Judge Roberts? Perhaps. But I do know this. Writing an article, giving aspeech, or even writing a column or blog about how the Constitution should be interpreted--taking a position, and defending it against all comers--is hard. Not the same kind of hard as standing up to judicial questioning in oral argument, to be sure. Almost completely different, actually. It requires a knowledge of one's own principles and an ability to articulate them and defend them publicly against contrary views.
This is a type of trial by ordeal that hones one's beliefs and commitments. Consider it the academic equivalent of briefing and oral argument about one's judicial philosophy. Even engaging in private debate is no substitute for public disclosure and scrutiny by other scholars. John Roberts has been able somehow to avoid this ordeal throughout a long and distinguished career. This degree of avoidance would seem to have taken effort and discipline.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Abortion Court

I do not know enough about John Roberts to comment on his nomination....yet. But I will make this prediction - for the next 6 - 8 weeks, all we are going to hear about is abortion. The single-issue ("minded") freaks on both sides are going to beat this horse silly. As for me, I would at least find it refreshing if, over the course of this soon to come blood-bath, the "pro-choice" folks would take the opportunity to discuss the concepts of "liberty," "the role of government," and the "proper scope of state power" and if the "pro-life" people, in turn, would talk about "federalism," "enumerated powers" and "unenumerated rights." But, then again, why would either side want to point out the obvious intellectual inconsistencies that they BOTH hold so dear?


Jeff Taylor at Reason comments on Bush's recent trip to Belmont, North Carolina:

[W]hat is it that has made the economic benefits of free trade such a tough sell in so many places? In addition to the security angle, it could be that the occasional presidential fly-by extolling the virtues of free trade just does not match the nearly daily drumbeat of large sacks of cash hitting the ground from state and local interests bent on providing business incentives.

While the president argues that agreements like CAFTA let economic resources move freely and efficiently to everyone's benefit, state and local officials scurry around "managing" the flow of jobs and prosperity to communities. This is a huge policy disconnect. North Carolina, for example, recently handed Dell at least $280 million to build a computer plant a short drive up I-85 from Bush's CAFTA rally.

If government can manage what amounts to domestic trade among the states so well, why not manage foreign trade as well, with similar incentives to businesses to keep jobs in the U.S.? The answer is you could, if you wanted a high tax, low-productivity, low-innovation economy, i.e. a fundamentally un-American economy. This is the bedrock pro-freedom argument that Bush did not really make in Belmont and cannot be made often enough.

I realize that politicians are required to "sell" policies to the masses in order to achieve desired ends. And to effectuate such sales, they must generally employ various (sometimes conflicting) arguments - most of which are small-box-utilitarian in nature as opposed to purely ideological. I just find it sad that "freedom," for its own sake, is such a hard sell.
Read the whole thing here.

Battlefield Earth

Ever hear this one?

An evil, intergalactic warlord named Xenu kidnaps billions of alien life forms, chains them near Earth's volcanoes, and blows them up with nuclear weapons.

Nope - not Carl Sagan. Just the basic teachings adhered to by your neighborhood Scientologist. This article on L. Ron Hubbard is beyond weird.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Elvis and Emmylou

July 16: Singing "Wild Horses" at Chastain Park amphitheatre in Atlanta. Smokin. And yes, Emmylou is the hottest silver-haired woman alive.

Adventures in Stupid Legislation

Another day, another law.
Mother-Hillary is concerned about sex in video games... In a letter to the FTC, Clinton wrote:

We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country.

Ha! Insert joke here...
And this is just asinine. Thankfully, I think it's dying - as well it should. I agree that pit bulls can be vicious and they do tend to be involved in a disproportionate number of dog-bite-fatalities. Not to mention the strange fact that so many pit bull owners seem to enjoy adorning their "pets" with choker-chains more suitable for an adult lion or Brian Nichols. Must be compensating for something..., right? Still, just because many such owners flaunt the relative substandardness of their intelligence quotient and their breed of choice occasionally mauls a neighborhood kid or unsuspecting old lady, it does not warrant prohibition legislation of the canine-eugenics model. Like bad parents, irresponsible dog-owners (aka, wife-beater clad thugs who mistreat these dogs) can, and should, be held liable for the damage caused by their pets. Muzzle the owner, not the animal.

World's Ugliest Dog?

Poor thing. According to AP:

Sam, who's pushing 15, has something of a cult following after winning the contest - and fans' hearts - for three years running...

It kind of looks like a suicidal Paris Hilton pet (South Park reference).

Specter's Balance

Arlen's advice to Bush - "maintain balance." The ever-growing deification of O'Connor's ends-focused "moderateness" is starting to annoy me. So what is the "balance" litmus anyway? If O'Connor is a case-in-point, then I suppose it means subordinating principle, doctrine and law to personal policy preference.
Related Post:

Friday, July 15, 2005

Whining Rock Stars

I feel no sympathy for this. The paying concert-goers, on-the-other-hand, do have every right to feel cheated - but, such is the nature of a concert. So, will someone please tell the sanctimonious egos on stage to get over themselves. Please note: I express no opinion here as to Garrison Keillor because I am not sure as to what a typical "Prairie Home Companion" crowd is all about. But Neil Young and Michael Stipe know what and who they are dealing with every night. For one thing, Chastain Park is a BYOB social event where the musical act is viewed by most as nothing more than over-priced background music. From the picnic tables set up front and center to the obnoxiously-priced corporate packages, it is the only concert venue that I have ever visited where the concert-goers are encouraged to socialize. Surely Mr. REM from Athens, Georgia knows this. And if Neil did not, then he should fire the producers who put him there. And one more thing - I was at the Neil Young show. Not only did he choose to play at a corporate picnic party, but he charged $100 a head to stealthy put on his new, ill-conceived concept-album complete with stage actors. Geez. If Neil really wanted his audience to pay attention to his pathetic Dennis DeYoung fantasy, he would not have priced his fans out of attendance. Serves him right.

24-7 Government

It seems as though the MSM and various "watchdog groups" (e.g. the self-appointed arbiters as to what constitutes the "good" vs. "bad" use of power) have their collective panties in a wad over this one. Indeed, Mr. Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said yesterday:

A governor should be a 24-7 governor. I'd much rather have him receive $175,000 [salary] in taxpayer money than receiving $1 million from a special interest that can be affected by the governor's decisions or vetoes.

Of course you would, Bob. People like you decry "gridlock" and characterize a legislative-slowdown as, "unproductive" and oh..., so of the Calvin Coolidge era. Nonsense. FDR's 100-Days is no model of progress - at least not in economic sense. Slowdown is good, and stoppage is even better. I like to think of a legislative slowdown as the 7th inning stretch. It presents a quick opportunity for the real "producers" in society to jump up, stretch their legs, grab a beer, and run to the bathroom without the need to watch the ever-moving ball of government regulation that tends to totally consume the balance of their time. Why is it that we, or at least the Bob Stern’s of the world, expect our elected officials to devote their “undistracted” lives to office? I can't think of many things more dangerous than a fully-committed governmental body looking for things to do.

I say we eliminate the salaries and pensions for officeholders. Let's not encourage any more of these or these than necessary. Perhaps then the busy-bodies will be forced to focus a bit more of their time toward endeavors wholly unrelated to legislating.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bob Saget = Comedy

I know, I know.... Full House and AFHV's are pretty pathetic. But anyone who has seen Half Baked knows that Bob's cameo was one of the few highlights of that wasted 90 minutes. Well, last week Mr. Cameo showed up in my favorite new HBO original, Entourage, and has once again proven himself to be a hilariously, dirty old creep. The episode from the week previous included more cameos by Danielson - the Karate Kid, Ralph Machio, Pauly Shore and Hugh Hefner - all kickin' it at the Playboy Mansion. What is not to like there?

For anyone who has not seen Entourage - it is a show about a rising movie star in L.A. who lives with his 2 leaching buddies and his ex-child-star-brother (who is also living off of his younger brother's success). The story-lines tend to focus on daily life in LA (hence the cameos by fading has-beens) and the interactions between old school buddies - good stuff.


I wonder what Senator Rick would say about this one ?

See Tom Smith's take on Santorum's remarks here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Will on Animal Rights

In the upcoming July 18 edition of Newsweek, the Beltway Bomber, George Will, discusses an essay entitled, Fear Factories: The Case for Compassionate Conservatism—for Animals, by former GWB speechwriter, Matthew Scully, which reveals the abusive nature of industrialized farms. If you want some idea as to exactly what conditions Mr. Scully is referring, see here. While I am not sure if I should be surprised by Will's choice of topic, I am pleased nonetheless. Then again, I suppose this is the kind of topic that allows Professor Will to chastise the rest of the uncultured-world with his typical verbose smugness (am I one to talk??).
I think that Scully's argument, as Will understands it, is on the right track. Generally, I view the concept of "Animal Rights" (in the P.E.T.A.-freak sense) as a misnomer that not only confuses the issue but acts as a disservice to those of us who choose not to eat meat. Human beings have "Human Rights" (in the "natural" sense - life, liberty, etc...) because we, in contrast to animals, have the ability to reason and the capacity for conscious choice. This ability is what generally distinguishes us from our animal brethren who continue to kill each other for food and delightfully wallow in their own excrement. That said, while the wolf does not respect the "right" of the rabbit to peacefully hangout nextdoor, we humans, as rational beings, have the ability, "right" and privilege to live moral, compassionate, and reasonable lives - how ever each individual being chooses to define those terms.
Accordingly, I view munching on our 4-legged and feathered friends as wholly unnecessary in light of the fact that I can stuff myself silly, meat-free, upon a trip to the neighborhood Whole Foods. But that is the sole basis, not some misguided notion of "animal rights." If presented with the choice of beef or starve, I would gladly insist that you pass the A-1. However, I do not face this choice because I do not live in a wilderness or even a third world country. Anyone who has watched Zambian children play "Toss the Chicken" is well aware that respect for animals, like environmentalism, is something loosely proportional to the advancement of your respective civilization. All in all, it is a personal preference that is right for me and available to me - unfortunately, this tends to be a foreign concept well-beyond the reach of the "rights"-focused folks at P.E.T.A.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sad Story

This happened two nights ago, seven doors down the street from my home. Bad luck and good luck at the same time, I suppose.

Inevitable Collision Course?

Ronald Bailey suggests that a conflict between the liberal democracies and Islamic radicalism is inevitable irregardless of the direction of our current foreign policy. As of late, I am prone to agree. At times, the humanitarian individualist in me awakens to insist, human nature being what it is, if we walk away, surely they'll walk away. Don't get me wrong, I am not of the Chomskyist-mindset that we (the American people and our government) are completely at fault for inviting terrorism to our shores. Still, our politico-interventionist policies in the Middle East have not exactly endeared us to the Islamo-wack-jobs who are predisposed to strapping shrapnel and powder to their chests either. So, my libertarian-isolationist sense says, leave them alone. Let them run their respective countries into the sand. Why should we care? It might be a good thing to have a few more backward, anti-capitalist, totalitarian/monarchic, sexist, theocracies around - if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that liberal institutions are in fact superior to all else.

But, for the reasons that Bailey suggests, I don't think it is realistic nor wise to simply live and let live. Think about it. We have quasi-religious zealots within our own borders that are not content to confine their beliefs and related practices to themselves and their family, but rather feel strangely compelled to petition the power of the state to coercively insure that we all pray in schools; to censor what we all watch on television or in the movies; to prevent us all from controlling our own bodies in life and when death comes knocking -- should I go on? Similar to our home-grown theocrats, the "Islamo-Fascists" (borrowing the term from Neal Boortz) believe that we are an immoral people that must repent - if not voluntarily then at the point of a sword. As a side note, why is it that so many "believers" of faith insist that the non-believers be either converted or silenced? Whatever the reason, it does not seem like peaceful coexistence is a possibility as religious fanaticism and tolerance are apparently incompatible. According to Bailey, Osama bin Laden has written:

The United States [must] "reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and trading with interest.... It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind.

Creepy. Sounds like a phrase that could have come from 700 Club.
UPDATE: Related story about Van Gogh Murderer here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Defund State Media

David Boaz of the CATO Institute testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services today in favor of defunding "Public Broadcasting." Nailing it, Boaz said:

We wouldn't want the federal government to publish a national newspaper. Neither should we have a government television network and a government radio network. If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it's the news and public affairs programming that informs Americans about government and its policies. When government brings us the news -- with all the inevitable bias and spin -- the government is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy. Journalists should not work for the government. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize news and public-affairs programming.

Exactly. The typical complaint on the Right is that NPR and PBS lean to the left and, in a very Fox News-like-way, slant their stories accordingly. But as Boaz states:

The problem is not so much a particular bias as the existence of any bias.

Amen. Read the whole thing here.
Related posts:

Sunday, July 10, 2005

In-Vitro Meat

Wow! Now, if they can just figure how to make leather without skinning Bessie I'll be stoked! Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the link.
UPDATE: Funny take on this here.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Plato's Guardian - Sandra Day

In next week's edition of Newsweek, Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor, Jr. pen their ode to O'Connor. The piece leaves me teetering between hysterical laughter and head-shaking consternation. In summary, T&T characterize the Justice as:

Plato's Guardian... doing the right thing to protect the less enlightened from their own faults and shortcomings.

Pure elitist dribble. I'll leave their notion of the "right thing" alone for a minute and focus on Mrs. O'Connor's role as the guiding-light savior to us mere mortals.... Please. The sheer arrogance reeks of the kind of self-congratulatory and pompous B.S. that you expect from an enclave of second year doctoral candidates, sitting around sipping lattes and discussing the obscure layers of Emmanuel Kant, Hegelian dialectics, and the hidden, "self-evident" truths of their haughty gnosticism. Or, maybe even from the self-important snoots at The New Yorker - but Newsweek? This is the typical statist-apparatchik view that but for the counsel of benevolent elites and the cradle-to-grave handholding of their beloved leviathan, we would all face a miserable and unfulfilling life as we ignorantly damn ourselves through unenlightened pursuits. Oh, what fools are we to desire autonomy and, gasp..., freedom? I digress. Putting aside T&T's Platonic anointment of Justice O'Connor as the very personification of a judicial straitjacket - maternally protecting the masses from themselves, I am most appalled by their conception of the "right thing." Thomas and Taylor write:

Justice, [O'Connor] embodied an equally endangered species: the moderate establishment progressive, a centrist in an age of ever-edgier extremes... She was a deep believer in a sensible center, in humane compromise, in finding ways to defuse quarrels and sand down bitter edges.

OK, take a deep breath. Smell that? It's the musty odor of stagnant, saturated mush. I am confident that this is the very stench that has been seeping under the door of the Justice's chambers since 1981. Someone should have suggested some Bounty dryer sheets and a PVC pipe - it worked in the dorms. O'Connor is canonized in the pages of Newsweek because of her "centrist" tendencies and a willingness to "compromise." Maybe I am deluding myself, but I am quite sure that jurists are NOT supposed to compromise. Legislators compromise. Market participants compromise. When my girlfriend and I visit Blockbuster, we compromise. Judges interpret and apply written law. Those words have an objective meaning that do not lend themselves to negotiation and compromise. Here, T&T honor Justice O'Connor for her Judge Judy-like inclination to focus on end-results, usually aligned with her oscillating vision of justice and the popular will -- all at the expense of consistent application of the law and any remnant of an interpretive philosophy. T&T call this "judicial independence." I call it a lack of principles. Ayn Rand was fond of dubbing an act of compromise as, "moral treason" -- surrendering or watering-down one's fundamental beliefs when it seems most expedient. Perhaps. Or, more likely, perhaps O'Connor simply found that the road to elitist acceptance was paved with the abandonment of a consistent and principled ideology. Plato's Guardian, indeed.
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Pacific Beach, California.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown

I seriously doubt GW has the gonads (or even the desire...) to appoint a real libertarian (classical "liberal") to the bench. That is, one who believes that civil liberties and economic liberties are one and the same. J.R. Brown seems to fit this mold. Here is an excerpt from a speech given in 2000:

And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.

Good stuff. Read the whole thing here.
If Judge Brown really believes what she preaches (and I think she does - why else would the anti-property rights left be so opposed to her??) then I am pencilling her in on my dream team list, just behind Posner and Kozinski.
UPDATE: Novak is reporting that Rehnquist will retire by the end of the week...


Stealing is stealing. I have heard people argue that wifi subscribers "should or would install protection shields if they wanted to prevent their neighbors from mooching off of their signals..." Maybe. But, just because I leave my front door unlocked doesn't mean that I want you to steal my tv.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another List

The July issue of Spin magazine (subscription required) lists the top 100 albums of the last 20 years. Here are the top 10:

1 Radiohead - OK Computer
2 Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back
3 Nirvana - Nevermind
4 Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted
5 The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
6 Pixies - Surfer Rosa
7 De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
8 Prince - Sign O' The Times
9 PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me
10 NWA - Straight Outta Compton

I usually view these lists as pretty silly - taste being taste. But, it is always nice to stroke the ego a bit by reaffirming the objective superiority of your own subjective tastes with the concurrence of "experts." Heh. I do agree that "OK Computer" is a killer album - innovative, beautiful, dark and timeless (at least for the past 10 years). That being said, I don't know how you compare Public Enemy and Nirvana. I suppose both stomped on the status quo, revolutionized their particular form of art, and changed the direction of "popular" music - but still, how do you compare? It is like saying Van Gogh is better than Picasso.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Real Aid

Departing from my usual skeptical tendencies, I do not doubt the genuineness of intentions held by the "Live 8" performers. Nonetheless, throwing money at the enormous problems that plague the African continent will ultimately cause much more harm than good. While emergency aid dollars do tend to alleviate some short-term hardships (such as in the case of tsunami relief), "free" money is generally destructive as it distorts long-term markets and perpetuates attitudes of dependence. From the donor's standpoint, giving money to the undeveloped, impoverished third world is like going to church on Christmas eve. You put in an appearance, it makes you feel good, and you never really have to get your hands dirty or miss a football game. Effective aid, rather, focuses on the promotion of self-help, empowerment, and long-term sustainability. If the the United States and Europe were truly interested in providing such aid to Africa, they would abandon their respective protectionist-economic policies that subsidize local agriculture and textiles to the detriment of impoverished Africans and pursue free trade with the continent. Opening the corridors of trade between the cheap labor of Africa and the deep pockets of western consumers will tremendously benefit both, only at the expense of the corporate welfare parasites that taint the concept of capitalism and continually line their pockets with the price-controlled dollars that guaranty that a Namibian farmer will never sell his sugarcane in the United States. Sounds like a win-win to me.
UPDATE: Here is an interview that seems to echo the above post. Hat tip to Hit and Run. I am having a Flex Capacitor - clairvoyant moment.

Nanny State Update

Mark one for the social do-gooders and lazy parents of Illinois. Why take responsibility for your children when you can just pass it off to the government? The alignment of the right and left on issues such as this are proof positive that hostility to true liberty transcends the mostly illusory party lines that separate them.

Mercantilist Republicans

Here are the CAFTA "no" votes cast in the Senate on Friday. Pathetic. I only point out the Republican votes to once again highlight the blatant hypocrisy of the party that so readily insists upon exporting the wondrous ideals of "freedom" around the globe at the point of a gun, yet ever so readily balks when given the opportunity to encourage non-violent, voluntary cooperative action among peoples in the form of free trade. I suppose that Lindsey "Smoot-Hawley" Graham et al are just getting back to their roots as protectionist, Whigish, Lincolnian, BIG-government Republicans.

I admit that CAFTA is not a perfect expression of free trade, but is a starting point.

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another. - Milton Friedman

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fare Thee Well, Madame Justice.

I cannot say that I agree with her much. But, her final two big dissents, Raich and Kelo, make for a great exit in my book.

Note: here is nominee O'Connor pictured with the President in my ex-hometown, San Diego (Spanish for, "a whale's vagina").

Related links:
The Supremes Fail Again