Friday, October 28, 2005

Conservative Helplessness

Peggy Noonan's piece in the WSJ today in quite thought provoking. It is worth the read. I am inclined to agree that the current state of affairs (particularly on the political front) are something of a concern. But not for the same reasons. All of the loyal bokononist readers know my kooky theories so I'll leave that alone. My kookiness aside, here is where we part company: It seems to me that, on some level at least, Noonan sees her world turning upsidedown and she wants somebody, somewhere, to do something, to make the world all rosey again. In my opinion, that's just a recipe for a bigger mess. Surely we have more than enough evidence of the damage wrought by the busybodies when they try to keep busy. While I realize that Peggy is speaking more directly to a feeling of utter despair in the face of an ever-changing world, I think that her feelings are ultimately rooted in what she views as the failure of humankind on some level - on human inactivity or, perhaps more precisely, misactivity. This is where I disagree. The "ball of wax" to which Noonan refers does not need to be consciously held together by the activity of men (elite or otherwise). Rather, like all else, the great gobbledygook of civilization will continue to progress in spite of meddlesome and regressive tinkerings of men, individually and collectively. Sure, society, culture and the remote control all become more complex (and confusing) with each passing day - but this is our world. And these are the perpetual unknowns that make it all so darn cool. It appears that Noonan is searching for something in the rearview because she is troubled by what lay before her. I suppose change can be a bit unsettling for some people - indeed, by its very definition, change shakes the foundations upon which we're built. And conservatives, among whom Noonan surely counts herself, by definition oppose change (some more than others). For centuries, traditionalists, appalled by the cultural degradation and societal evolution around them have been predicting the end of civilization. And they were usually correct in a sense. Things were, and still are, changing. Societies, cultures and people evolve. But it's not for the worse and it only seems that the "wheels are coming off" if you try to hold them on.


There should be a class. If a company is making profits, it must be gouging, right?. Such is the logic of our esteemed Washingtonian demagogues. Pathetic. Take a look at Doug Bandow's recent article on the topic here. Good stuff.
I admit that I am little more than an armchair economist, but I at least understand the function of price. At the risk of stating the obvious, price is the most capable and efficient method of allocating scarce resources. It's purely objective. As such, price must reflect that magical point where the supply and demand equilibrium remains static. If price is too high, then demand falls, supplies stack up, and company profits fall - they do not post record numbers. Surely our "leaders" know this. What gives? And as I type, in the background I hear Miles O'Brien exclaim, "record gas profits - exploitation or just good business?" Geez. I'm moving.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Layers of Meaning

Via Todd Zywicki at Volokh, the Onion on the Bernanke appointment:

After 18 years of service, Alan Greenspan is retiring as chairman of the Federal Reserve at the age of 79. What do you think?

"He's irreplaceable. This Bernanke guy may be an anti-inflation fiscal conservative, but you just can't run the Fed if you've never screwed Ayn Rand."

Gotta love the wit. How did Greenspan become such the anti-Randian anyway? I have my theories - but still, this is a man who once argued, "in the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation." (The Objectivist, July 1966). That whole power thing sure does play on the ego, I suppose.


Well, scratch my below prediction. I have never been so happy to be wrong. Indict away....

PS. Mark this as a win for the the new media as the withdrawl of Miers is directly linked to the noise from below.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rove, Libby et al Indictments = Miers Success

I am going to strut around with my pundit hat for a minute and predict that if Fitzgerald successfully indicts anyone in the Bush administration this week, then it will ultimately lead to Miers' confirmation. Consider, despite what you (or I) think about GW, I'm sure we can all agree that he is about as stubborn as they come. I'm talking of the spoiled three year-old model. Maybe it's arrogance? Or fear? Or just hubris? Irregardless, if his administration takes a hit, the wagons will undoubtedly circle and he'll push through Miers. Count on it. Currently the momentum appears to be running contrary to this prediction (as it should be), but just as the Dems fell loyally into line for Clinton in late 90's, the same will happen within the GOP if Rove, Libby, and/or Cheney is/are indicted. Its all about image and Bush will not allow repeat defeats within his inner-circle to taint his. Hopefully I am wrong because it appears as if the indictments are inevitable. I guess I am secretly hoping that Mr. Fitzgerald will just go out with a whimper. I'd much rather deal with Karl "the puppetmaster" Rove for 3 more years than Justice Lightweight for 20.

The End of Federalism and Death of the Republican Coalition

Here is an interesting article that suggests that the current ruptures within the Republican ranks have been a longtime coming and that the Miers' fiasco is simply another log on the fire. Tip to Randy Barnett for the link.
The conservative coalition that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980 was always a bit of a three-legged stool. The anti-communist wing, or "Hawks," consisted of strong advocates of national power in the Cold War (and now the war on terror). The "Moral Majority" wing—let's call them "Doves"—wanted to reverse the declining moral trends in society, on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and religion in public. The pro-business and free enterprise/personal liberty wing of the coalition—"Marketeers"—sought to roll back some of the more onerous government regulations, whether statutory, regulatory, or court-imposed via tort law, that were crippling the nation's economy. The glue that held these disparate groups together was an intellectual movement dedicated to recovering the original understanding of the Constitution—one that recognized the scope of federal power over matters truly national, such as national security, but that sought to revive the limits on federal authority in other areas of daily life, as the Constitution envisioned. The Hawks loved this theoretical formulation, of course, because it kept the national focus on national security. The Doves and Marketeers were comfortable with it, too. The doctrines of strict interpretation, limited government, and federalism promised an end to the judicial activism that had banned school prayer and imposed abortion as the law of the land, and it also meant (theoretically at least) less governmental regulation of the economy.

Rifts in the coalition began to appear long before the president's nomination of Harriet Miers....The big business component of the Marketeer part of the triad began to realize that a broad and preemptive federal regulatory power was better for them than having to deal with less sophisticated regulatory agencies in 50 different states, placing them squarely at odds with the limited government and federalism ideology. And the Doves, for their part, began to see a national government in their hands as a solution for the ills of society, a view equally at odds with limited government and federalism. In other words, the new glue that cemented the three legs of the governing coalition was no longer the original intent intellectual movement, but an expanded federal government in Republican hands. The era of "big government is over" was over.
Excellent. The moralist/Christian-right wing of the Republican coalition have never been believers in small government. They are, and always have been, theocrats of the old order. They only opposed big government when satan incarnate, Bill Clinton, was defouling the oval office. And as for big business, that's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

American Gandhi

The Montgomery bus-boycott of 1955 is a wonderful example of the power of private economic power and its ability to literally change the world. By default, the early American civil rights movement displayed the ability of free markets to cure injustice without the use of violence, coercion and government intervention. Thanks, Rosa.
Disclaimer: I am equating Mrs. Parks to Gandhi based on their mutual adherance to passive, non-violent resistence. I am not suggesting that Mrs. Parks was infatuated with the human bowel movement or the power of human excrement.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Thanks, Leo.

Ringleader of a dynasty. Leo Mazzone flanked by Glavine, Avery, Mercker, Maddux and Smoltz. circa 1995.

Good luck, Leo.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fairweather Strict Constructionists

Republicans.... geez. The hypocrisy never ceases. We all know that the usual suspects tend to conveniently forget that the Commerce Clause does not sanction regulation of a marijuana plant grown in one's closet for personal use; but, typically the conservatives can be counted on to tow the Lopez/Morrison-strict-constructionist-line and proclaim that Wickard was fundamentally wrong. So you'd think, anyway. Well, drum roll please... Now we have these 2 bills: (1) The Cheeseburger Bill, and (2) Commerce in Arms Act.
The purported basis for both bills rests on the absurd notion that suits against the food and beverage industry and the firearm industry "substantially affect interstate commerce." Masterful hucksters. C'mon fellas. We live in a federal system - remember? - and in that system the states are empowered with self-determination with respect to their respective tort law. Of course I don't like the idea of some supersize-lovin, whopper-eatin lard ass suing Burger King because [s]he can't put the fries down, nor the idea that some irresponsible gun-owner who negligently left the ole .357 laying around for the kiddies to use as a pacifier may end up suing Smith & Wesson rather owning up to his own ineptness; but, that is for the states and corporate managers to individually work out. This is our system, for better or worse. You don't just bend the law to advantage your personal policy preferences. Have some freakin integrity.

And the Rich Get Richer...

This makes me laugh:

Millionaire Sen. Judd Gregg announced Thursday that he won $853,492 in the Powerball lottery.

The 58-year-old Republican was one of 47 Powerball players who correctly picked five of the winning numbers but not the bonus digit that would have qualified them for the $340 million jackpot _ the second-richest prize in U.S. lottery history.

The American Presidency

Gene Healy CATO has written a review of the new ABC docudrama, Commander-in-Chief, in which Healy tears apart the contemporary notion that the imperial-presidency is something to favor, applaud and, generally, take seriously. Here is my favorite part:

Perhaps instead of looking for a statuesque World Saver to fill the job, Americans ought to be willing to accept something less glamorous. You could hardly get less glamorous than our 27th president, William Howard Taft—who, since he did not start any major wars or offer any New Deals, is now best known for being shaped like a zeppelin. But Taft saw clearly where grandiose visions of presidential power would take the country, and fought against them with all his enormous bulk. In a series of lectures delivered at Columbia University in 1915 and 1916, Taft criticized the view of executive power offered by Teddy Roosevelt, his predecessor, a view that both Mackenzie Allen and George W. Bush embrace. Per Taft:

[The] mainspring of such a view is that the executive is charged with responsibility for the welfare of all the people in a general way, that he is to play the part of a universal Providence and set all things right, and that anything that in his judgment will help the people he ought to do, unless he is expressly forbidden not to do it. The wide field of action that this would give to the executive, one can hardly limit.

Geena Davis looks terrific, but we might do better with an awkward fat man. And perhaps the Republic will have regained its health when the presidency is no longer fodder for TV drama, but has instead been relegated to its proper place: the sit-com.

Here, here. Why do worship the Presidency? Don't you find something inherently creepy in such power-worship?? When Alexander Hamilton proposed that our executive be of the kingly-sort, the Framers rightly shot that crazed idea down faster than Aaron Burr's mini-ball. Seriously, Alex - there is really no need to bow to those power-whores that tend to seek the seats in D.C. - their heads are quite big enough as is.
Of late and in light of GW's mach-2 descent into Presidential bottom-dwelling, I have been a bit nostalgic for the days of good ole' Bill Clinton. Hear me out on this. Can you name one thing that Slick Willie did that made our daily lives any worse? Did he create a giant new bureaucracy? Did he implement a bank-busting new entitlement program? He certainly didn't advocate throwing US citizens in jail without the benefit of due process. In all truth, in 8 solid years the old boy really didn't do much of anything - other than make for some damn funny Saturday Night Live skits. Sit-coms, indeed.

Happiest Mug Shot Ever??

Always a politico...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Karma Bites Man

Heh. Who says that the karma donning gods don't have a sense of humor? Tip to Radley Balko. Thy who make stupid law shall receive a bite in thy arse - fitting:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The author of a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of dangerous dogs was hospitalized over the weekend after his own dog attacked him.

No Explanation Necessary

Via Nick Gillespi at Reason. Read the whole excellent article here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cop Against the Drug War

Former Seattle police chief, Norm Stamper, recently penned a doozey of an op-ed for the LA Times in which the former frontline drug warrior condemned the policy as "the most injurious domestic policy since slavery." Wow! Kickin' analogy. Here are a few more golden nuggets:

I don't favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD. Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug reform movement hasten to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines. I've never understood why adults shouldn't enjoy the same right to use verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water.

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation.

We're making more arrests for drug offenses than for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined. Feel safer?

As an illicit commodity, drugs cost and generate extravagant sums of (laundered, untaxed) money, a powerful magnet for character-challenged police officers.

In declaring a war on drugs, we've declared war on our fellow citizens. War requires "hostiles" — enemies we can demonize, fear and loathe. This unfortunate categorization of millions of our citizens justifies treating them as dope fiends, evil-doers, less than human.

It would extract from today's drug dealing the obscene profits that attract the needy and the greedy and fuel armed violence.

It's time to accept drug use as a right of adult Americans, treat drug abuse as a public health problem and end the madness of an unwinnable war.

Atta way, Chief.

Daily Miers Bash

From Dennis Coyle at NRO (thanks to Randy Barnett at VC for the tip):

Perhaps President Bush was conflating liberal dominion over constitutional law and activist courts since the New Deal with intellectualism. That is easy to do, given the pervasiveness of liberal ideology in legal scholarship and academia more broadly. It is tempting to blame the root for the branch. If the liberal jurisprudential establishment emerged from elite schools and journals and spoke in large words and grand theory, the thinking might go, it can only be tamed by reaching outside the Washington-New York intelligentsia to let some Texas common sense cut them down to size.

But law, unlike politics, is inescapably an intellectual exercise, and reason is the bedrock of the rule of law. It is about the careful articulation of principles and nuanced applications, made persuasive by a compelling understanding of the constitutional order and the role of courts. Law is not molded simply by the votes of judges and justices, but in the power and cogency of written opinions and the philosophy they express, which become the fodder of law-review articles, commentaries, and conference panels, and eventually permeate the classroom teaching that forms the next generation of judges, lawyers and scholars. To bypass the opportunity to strengthen a conservative intellectual core — an elite — on the Court is not to make it a populist protector of freedom, but to abandon the field to the liberal elite. If the president does not appreciate this, there is no reassurance another nominee would be any better, and Democrats would surely feel more liberated then to jump on any candidate of substance.

The nomination of Harriet Miers is another chapter in the lost promise of the Reagan revolution. From the heady days of the 1980s, there have been so many missteps, perhaps including the selection of the current president's father as the custodian of the Reagan revolution. The judicial legacy of the Bushes has been raised hopes and dashed expectations: The father left us Thomas, but also Souter; the son brings Roberts, but now Miers. This may be Bush's last opportunity to make an imprint on the Supreme Court, unless health forces Justice Stevens off the bench. The next resignation may well be that of Justice Scalia, fleeing in frustration.

The Republican hold on the presidency is razor thin, control of the Senate uncertain. There could well come a day, possibly sooner rather than later, when a Democratic president places a nominee before a Democratic Senate, and there will be little talk of keeping a balance on the Court. The Court will resume its leftward march, occasionally staggering back to the right. Conservatives slowed, but did not reverse, this trend.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Better Nominee

I am still lobbying for Janice Rogers Brown -- not that I have any illusion that anyone is actually listening. Nonetheless, David Bernstein apparently shares my affection for Judge Brown. It is nice to feel confirmed...

Janice Rogers Brown [is] popular with all wings of the movement, from libertarians to social conservatives. She's also extremely outspoken, controversial, and likely not confirmable. This illustrates the disconnect between the White House and its most intellectually active potential allies. In terms of her record, her outspokenessness, her visibility, her willingness to court controversy in defense of her principles, her independent-mindedness, and just about everything else, Harriet Miers is basically the anti-Brown (or, if you prefer, the Brown of the Bizarro universe). The only thing they seem to have in common is that Miers--as dull as Brown is interesting, as moderate-seeming as Brown is radical, as untested as a judge as Brown is experienced, as fiery a rhetoritician as Miers is a mouther of platitudes, as establishmentarian as Brown is individualist--may not be confirmable, either. Oh, and either woman energizes the Republican base; only that Miers has energized them to oppose the president, while Brown would have united them in support.

"Confirmable," in my opinion, should not be a factor. Rather the only consideration that should count is: who is the best possible candidate for the job? But, I suppose an appointment based on actual merit would conflict with all that our illustrious president stands for...
And, no, I am not going to stop ranting about this abominable appointment until she quits, is yanked off the stage, or is ultimately confirmed. And if the latter occurs, I plan to spend the immediate future spreading as many of these around the southeast as possible.

Buyer's Remorse

The godfather of Republicanism seems to be fed up. George Will's latest Newsweek piece calls for a cleansing of the Republican ranks. Amen. Forgive me for the giant paste, but I believe it is worth the read:

For a few conservatives, the accumulation of discontents may have begun building toward today's critical mass in December 2001 with the No Child Left Behind law, which intruded the federal government deeply into the state and local responsibility of education, grades K through 12. That intrusion has been accompanied by a 51 percent increase in the budget of the Education Department that conservatives once aspired to abolish.

The accumulation accelerated in December 2003, when the Republican House leadership held open for three hours the vote on adding a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare. The time was needed to browbeat enough conservatives to pass the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ—an entitlement with an unfunded liability larger than that of Social Security. The president's only believable veto threat in nearly five years was made to deter an attempt to cut spending by trimming the drug entitlement.

Agriculture subsidies increased 40 percent while farm income was doubling. Conservatives concerned about promiscuous uses of government were appalled when congressional Republicans waded into the Terri Schiavo tragedy. Then came the conjunction of the transportation bill and Katrina. The transportation bill's cost, honestly calculated, exceeded the threshold that the president had said would trigger his first veto. (He is the first president in 176 years to serve a full term without vetoing anything. His father cast 44 vetoes. Ronald Reagan's eight-year total was 78.) In 1987 Reagan vetoed a transportation bill because it contained 152 earmarks—pork—costing $1.4 billion. The bill President Bush signed contained 6,371, costing $24 billion. The total cost of the bill—$286 billion—is more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than the combined costs of the Marshall Plan and the interstate highway system.

With Katrina, "nation building"—a phrase as sensible as "orchid building," and an undertaking expressive of extravagant confidence in government—has come home. It is one thing to invoke, as Reagan frequently did for national inspiration, the Puritans' image of building a "shining city upon a hill." It is another thing to adopt the policy of rebuilding a tarnished city—it was badly tarnished even before the inundation—that sits below sea level.

DeLay is exhibit A for the proposition that many Republicans have gone native in Washington. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, leader of the more than 100 conservative members of the Republican Study Committee, charges that some Republicans think "big government is good government if it's our government." DeLay's troubles, and his party's, may multiply with coming revelations about the seamy career of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He is emblematic of DeLay's faux conservatism—K Street conservatism. That is Republican power in the service of lobbyists who, in their K Street habitat, are in the service of rent seekers—interests eager to bend public power for their private advantage.

Since 2000 the number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled, from 16,342 to 34,785. They have not been attracted to the seat of government, like flies to honey, for the purpose of limiting government. Conservatives are not supposed to be cuddly, or even particularly nice. They are, however, supposed to be competent. And to know that scarcity—of money, virtue, wisdom, competence, everything—forces choices. Furthermore, they are supposed to have an unsentimental commitment to meritocracy and excellence. The fact that none of those responsible for the postwar planning, or lack thereof, in Iraq have been sacked suggests—no, shouts—that in Washington today there is no serious penalty for serious failure. Hence the multiplication of failures.

Thanks, George. I admit, intellectual honesty makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy. All too often the party apologists, on both sides, bumble around defending Caesar even as the old man is condemning them to death. So, all ye loyal conservatives out there, ask yourself - "what has GW done in his 5 years at the helm of which you can say you are proud?" I thought so.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What the....

I am not sure that I really want to know the answer. Anyway, if you're confused like me, here's the definition of "scatology:"

1. The study of fecal excrement, as in medicine, paleontology, or biology.
2. An obsession with excrement or excretory functions. The psychiatric study of such an obsession.
3. Obscene language or literature, especially that dealing pruriently or humorously with excrement and excretory functions.

The ordeal only gets better..., in sadistic sort of way.

Damn the Producers

Edward Renehan at Tech Central has written a nice critique of Matthew Josephson's, Robber Barrons - the early 20th Century treatise that demonized the great American industrialists and ultimately laid the populous seed that begot two subsequent generations of Howard Zinn's and similar economic ignoramuses:

Josephson was at heart "a moralist who cared less about the accuracy of the story than about the ideological message he saw in it." In shaping his facts to backup his ideology, Josephson completely missed one elemental truth: The leading entrepreneurs of the Gilded Age were to the modern American economy what the founding fathers were to the Bill of Rights. These men built the infrastructure upon which the whole of their country's 20th century prosperity was based. The Carnegies, Goulds, Rockefellers and Morgans created -- and that is a key word here, created -- capacity and jobs, thus enabling the rise of that most radical and democratic of things: a strong, stable, educated middle class. By being visionaries and taking business risks that served their own ends, the Gilded Age industrialists generated new wealth not only for themselves, but for their emerging nation-state.

During the forty years that followed the Civil War, the United States amazed European investors and observers with the speed at which it morphed from a relatively backward agricultural republic to the most powerful industrial nation on the face of the planet. During the "robber baron" years, the United States outstripped other nations by far when it came to growth in per capita income, industrial production, and rising values generally. As well, the Gilded Age saw, for the first time, full economic participation by numerous previously disenfranchised constituencies. But one has a hard time gleaning these facts from Josephson's book, or from any of its numerous descendants.

Good stuff. Class warfare has always seemed to be less about justice and morality and more a vehicle to power for it appeals to the most base of human emotions: envy. Progressives (from Josephson and FDR to our very own Johnny Edwards) have thus exploited that emotion among the masses to persecute, slander and tax, tax, tax those evil rich guys. How dare you achieve?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Sky Was Yellow and the Sun Was Blue

Via Nick Gillespie, the following is a breakdown of the percentage change in real discretionary spending during each listed President's first 5 years in office:

LBJ: 25.2%
Nixon: -16.5%
Reagan: 11.9%
Clinton: -8.2%
G.W. Bush: 35.2%

Sigh, ever think you would long for the good ole days of BC?? Proof positive that the Republicans are great in opposition and extremely dangerous when in control.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bush and Miers

Radley Balko, my favorite libertarian-anarchist, nails it:
The Miers nomination stands in direct contrast to everything conservatives are supposed to believe in. Merit, opposition to identity politics, accountability in government. The list goes on....
...President Bush makes a big fuss about accumulating the "political capital" he needs to push his agenda, which is supposed to be when all the conservative values kick in -- when all the political compromises and capitulations bear fruit. Ten months into his second term, one can't help but ask, "where the hell is it? Where's the fruit?" Judicial nominations, especially to the Supreme Court, were supposed to be the fruit, the reward to President Bush's supporters for biting down and bearing the spending, the entitlements, and the growth of government. This should have been the bold pick, the Janice Rogers Brown, the pick that makes Democrats cringe, and that sets the court off on a new course...
The right is now facing the harsh reality that President Bush never was the conservative they believed him to be. He's a fightless opportunist. Not even a pragmatist. An opportunist. It's all about having a list of "things we got done" to pointto at the end of the day, even if it means doing them the wrong way. Turns out, taking the easy road on steel tariffs, campaign finance reform, the prescription drug benefit, federal spending, the highway bill, and farm subsidies was never about giving a little to Congress so he could reap big returns on the important stuff. President Bush took the easy road on those issues because, frankly, he's the kind of guy who always takes the easy road. In life, and in politics. If ever there were proof of that, it's Harriet Miers.
President Bush is a political coward. He shirks from fight, as evidenced by his record-setting streak of refusing to use his veto, and his capitulation on big, legacy-making issues like the tax code and Social Security reform, and his refusal to take a stand even on the more mundane, everyday issues like the federal budget and regulatory policy. Yes, he went to war. Going to war is easy. It's about the easiest "hard decision" a president makes. It almost invariably spikes his poll numbers. It's rare that the public turns on the war. It takes a long time, and a lot of ineptitude for that to happen, and the real mess generally falls on the next guy in office. We'll probably see that, too.
[Italics mine]. Way to go, Radley.


The straw that broke the camel's back as it were. It is certainly no secret that I have been less than a fan of GWB for quite sometime now. Nonetheless, I, like many libertarians, have continued to refrain from outright opposition to the administration because of one issue: judicial appointments. I mean, surely GW was preferred to Kerry in this respect, right? Afterall, prior to the last election, he promised us that he would appoint "strict constructionists" (see my discussion of "strict constructionism" below) in the mold of Thomas/Scalia and, moreover, the subsequent appointments of jurists like Janice Roger Brown (a REAL libertarian) proved that GW was inclined to deliver judges dedicated to limiting the state's reach into BOTH our wallets AND our bedrooms. So it goes. Many of us continued to support Bush for the simple (and only) reason that he was most inclined to shape the courts to our liking. Call me single-issue minded if you must.
But, here we are: Harriet Miers. Reality is kicking me harder than the morning sun through the window after a night-long, open-bar-fueled, double-Dewars/rocks-binge-wedding reception. I am now waking up to the realization that I have spent the past 5 years passively flirting with the enemy and all for naught. And I can now see that this Harriet Miers hangover is going to sting for a while; for it so brightly highlights my own personal blindness. I feel like I have been duped and it royally sucks. Face it. GWB is a BIG Government, free-spending, entitlement-creating, favor-doling, police-state-cheering, federalism-crashing, war-mongering, crony-placing, moralist who has almost single-handedly destroyed my once-held belief that Republicans, by and large, were the better of 2 bad options. Well, I had to wake-up sometime, I suppose.
As for Ms. Miers - there is really not much that I can contribute on the subject. I like George Will's take, Randy Barnett's take, and, my ex-professor, Tom Smith's rant is perfect. In a word, she is a lightweight. Scratch that. She's a featherweight. But for her status as buddy-to-the-Prez, whom she deems, "the most brilliant man that she has ever known...,"Ms. Miers would have most likely spent the balance of her professional life in a corner office as a big firm commercial lawyer in Texas. Indeed, nothing in her background suggests a future destined for the federal bench, let alone the high court. This is pure crap. While, I do not subscribe to belief that Supremes must fit a certain pre-ordained, Ivy-laden pedigree; I do think that a Supreme Court justiceship should be an award based on paramount meritocracy. Consider, unlike the other two branches of government, where I prefer lower IQs and fewer three-name-names, the court requires a certain intellectual capacity capable of meeting the rigors of detail and forethought that accompany the cases before it and an established and hardened judicial philosophy capable of withstanding the inevitable condemnations of the MSM and law review articles. This is not a learn-on-the-job sort of gig. You just don't appoint your old Texas chum because you like the way she strokes your ego at the Billy Graham Backyard Bar-B-Q. Apparently, this fact, like far too many others, is just beyond the comprehension of Mr. Bush.
UPDATE: 10/10/05, 3:58pm: Tom Smith knocks it around again:
I am really going to try to stop ranting on this, but before I do: Look, anyone who has been around since RR and the founding of Fed Soc as I have, knows all about the difference between real conservatives or libertarians, and the various me-too Republican sorts who, it must be said, have long had a way of gathering around the Bushes. So here is W just frankly screwing the conservatives, and now we are beingchided by Hugh Hewitt, who is not exactly the most steely-eyed guy on the planet, for complaining about the abuse. We supposed to say, oh, George, you're so wonderful. Well, I'm not in the mood. I have a headache. I have a headache from profligate spending, hacks at FEMA, and a God-help-us policy in Iraq, among other things, like, oh, I don't know, steel tariffs. People who care about the rule of law and the Supreme Court enough to write and read blogs about it should face the facts and see this for what it is: a betrayal, and one of a pretty profound sort. I will give W thebenefit of the doubt by thinking he has done it more out of cluelessness than political amorality. I suspect he has been manipulated by aides and has not been clever and strong enough to appreciate the disastrousness of his choice, but that is not much of a defense of a president. No doubt someone like Rove has calculated that conservatives have nowhere to go, so W will be in the clear. And he may be right. But I prefer to think you win in the long run by sticking to what you believe in and not meekly accepting it when somebody says they agree with you, and turn out not to in the end. That's not 'winning'. That's being used.

Strict Constuctionism - Libertarians vs. Conservatives

It occurs to me that strict constructionism is a term that "conservatives" and "libertarians" both tend to toss around as an indispensible requirement for potential judicial appointments. However, I think that the 2 camps emphasize the importance of the concept for different and somewhat conflicting reasons. Conservatives, generally, endorse the doctrine of "strict construction" out of a somewhat reflexive tendency to protect tradition for the sake of tradition; whereas libertarians, who generally welcome liberal changes that expand liberty, view the structural limitations established and enumerated in the federal Constitution as the best way to limit the power of the state. In essence, conservatives value the literal constitution as the protectorate of tradition and custom while libertarians view it as a readily available shield of liberty. At the risk of over simplification, the issue of flag burning demonstrates this interpretive dichotomy. While libertarian "strict constructionists" are quick to protect such acts (and thus limit government power) as "speech" which "Congress shall make no law abridging," many conservatives do not equate "expression" with traditional notions of "speech" and thus welcome restrictions. As such, liberty and traditionalism are not necessarily one and the same.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bokononist Thoughts -- Snack Machine Windfall

So, suppose you deposit the requisite amount of money for a single candy bar into a snack machine and said machine erroneously delivers 2 candy bars instead of one. If you then take both candy bars without depositing more money, does such an act constitute theft? It is certainly no different than skimping on the self-scanning checkout devices at The Home Depot. I think that this is karma's way of testing us. I am enabling comments on this one - go.