Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Alito and Abortion

Roger Pilon' s advice to Judge Alito in the Wall Street Journal is quite inciteful. Read it here. I am not very confident in the accuracy of his forecast however:

It would not be the end of the world, therefore, if the court were one day to overturn Roe, for the issue would simply return to the states. A conservative state like Utah might prohibit most abortions, but next door in Nevada we might see a liberal regime. On an issue about which reasonable people can have reasonable differences, that result should not surprise.

While I agree that the matter should be thrown back to the states (as the Constitution requires), I am fairly certain that Congress, dominated by Republicans, most of whom have been overly eager to display their utter disdain for the principles of federalism when their sanctimonious morals are invovled (see Terri Schiavo, Raich, MLB steroid hearings, etc, etc...), would waste little time in in making abortion a federal crime. Indeed, how many seconds do you suppose pass between the overturning of Roe and the inevitable announcement of a federal "War on Abortions?" It is a shame that our fair-weather-federalist friends only invoke Constitutional limitations on federal power when those limits coincide with their respective policy preferences. And that is the sole reason that so many people reluctantly support the Roe status quo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Senator Big Nose Defending TO??

Specter is a spectacle. How sad... Throwing around the anti-trust lingo, no less.

Brad Pitt - Free Trade Guru.... sort of

Angelina and her third world tendencies must be getting to his head.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Giving it Up - Red State Style

Very interesting. Tip to Prof. Heriot at Right Coast for the link. And as she points out, the cost of living in the blue states does tend to be higher thus resulting in less disposiable income. It is still quite interesting, nonetheless. No wonder the "blues" want the government to clear their conscience for them in the form of forcible charity...

HIV Exposure Criminalized

This is an interesting story and an even more interesting law:

Carriker, 26, was sent to prison for two years for having unprotected sex with two former partners without warning them he was infected with HIV.

I wonder, what is the fundamental basis for this crime? From a contractual standpoint, consensual relations between 2 adults, in the absence of fraud (e.g. lying about one's HIV status), should not (in my opinion) result in exposure to criminal penalties. Do you have to offer up your used car's faulty transmission if the unwary buyer does not inquire? I suppose one can assert an intentional tort theory somewhat similar to assault. Still, it seems to be reaching to me. Granted, HIV is deadly, but what is the policy goal here? It seems rather strange that a state (Georgia) that criminalized sodomy up until the Lawrence decision also passed and enforced a law that encouraged the very same act. Then again, we can't buy beer on Sunday either...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Our Constitution

Here is a nifty little Constitutional quiz posted by

Read The US Constitution, and the Amendments then take the quiz...

1. What clause, if any, of the Constitution permits Congress to establish an air force?

2. Could Congress constitutionally abolish the entire armed forces and the Pentagon, leaving the nation defenseless?

3. May Congress pass secret laws? If so, may (must?) the courts enforce them?

4. Can Congress pass valid laws which criminalize past conduct? Which impose taxes on past conduct? Which impose costs on the future results of past conduct?

5. Is there anything in the first seven articles of the Constitution that prevents the federal government from taking your house for $1?

6. Is there anything in the first seven articles of the Constitution that prevents the federal government from awarding you a $1 million personal bonus?

7. What is "corruption of blood," and why do we care? (you did look it up, didn't you?)

8. What is a "bill of attainder," and why do we care?

9. Can a person simultaneously be a Member of the House of Representatives and hold office in the Cabinet?

10. Can a person simultaneously be a Senator and hold office in the Cabinet?

11. Is there anything in the federal constitution that would prevent Congress from being chosen by a lottery among all registered voters?

12. Can Generals be impeached?

13. What is the minimum number of justices constitutionally required to form a Supreme Court?

14. Who decides how many justices actually sit on the Supreme Court?

15. Can a person simultaneously be a Supreme Court Justice and hold Cabinet office (e.g. be Secretary of State or Attorney General)?

16. Where, if anywhere, does the Constitution give the Supreme Court the authority to overrule itself?

17. Can Congress limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts to cases involving at least $ 200,000,000 ?

18. Could Congress validly give the Chief Justice the power to appoint the Attorney General?

19. What happens if the President signs a bill that, due to a typographical accident, lacks a sentence that was present in the versions passed by both houses of Congress?

20. What happens if the President neither signs nor vetoes a bill while Congress is not in session?

21. Can Congress vote the President a bonus if they feel the President is doing a particularly good job?

22. If Congress sets out to minimize the President's powers, what are the minimum powers guaranteed to him by the Constitution?

23. If Congress sets out to minimize the President's powers, can it abolish his entire staff? Evict him from the White House?

24. Is there anything in the federal Constitution that would prevent a state from choosing its legislature by a lottery among all registered voters?

25. What if anything happens at the federal level if due to allegations of voting irregularities, a state has two different groups purporting to be the legitimate state government?

There are no answers posted so you will have to look them up yourself if you really want to know. I am guessing that less than 1% of the American people can answer more than 20% of these correctly. How about you??? It is just our governing document, no biggie...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Weathermen

What's the deal with weather reporting?? The lead story on CNN this morning dealt with 2 tornados in central Tennessee that injured 15 people. Excuse me, but BFD. It's just a storm. I cannot begin to understand the fascination. Surely there is somehting else out there to talk about... At the risk of exposing my kookiness, I have a feeling this trend in weather scare reporting is somehow connected to some larger imbecilic, "The Day After Tomorrow," link between hurricanes, global warming, big-oil, and an SUV driven by GWB while he AWOL from Air National Guard. Watch.

Treaty of Tripoli, 1796

Interesting language approved by a unanimous U.S. Senate and signed by President Adams:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Tip to Marginal Revolution.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush Lied..., but Clinton Lied First

Via TechCentral - go ahead, Google, "Clinton Iraq 1998." It's all politics.

Stephanie Says...'s so cold in Alaska... and Ted Stevens continues to be the crookedest jerk in Washington (via Radley Balko).

Oh Ma Gawd

Cynthia McKinney apparently has nothing better to do...

I am so embarassed to live in the 4th.

To Torture or Not to Torture

I mostly agree with Alex Tabarrok's take:
President Bush, Dick Cheney and others who support the use of torture by the United States and its agents usually rely on the ticking time bomb argument. Sometimes torture is necessary to prevent a greater evil. I accept this argument. If my kid were kidnapped and the suspect was refusing to talk, I'd want Vic Mackey to do the questioning.
But it does not follow from the "ticking time bomb" argument that torture should be legal. The problem with making torture legal is that the government will abuse its powers. I do not trust the government, any government, to use this power responsibly. Leviathan must be heavily restrained, especially when it comes to torture.
Here is where economics can make a contribution. By making torture illegal we are raising the price of torture but we are not raising the price to infinity. If the President or the head of the CIA thinks that torture is required to stop the ticking time bomb then they ought to approve it knowing full well that they face possible prosecution. Only if the price of torture is very high can we expect that it will be used only in the most absolutely urgent of circumstances.
The torture victim faces incredible pain and perhaps death at the hands of his torturer. If these costs are to be born by the victim then we had better make damn sure that the benefits are also high and the only way we can do that is to make the torturer also bear some of the costs. Torture must not be cheap.
I think that this analysis fits nicely within the libertarian/natural rights theory of government. We tolerate the existence of a limited government because we recognize that there are a few functions that an organized state-entity can perform more efficiently than individuals (I stress, a very few), such as national defense. That being said, since the extent of state power is strictly defined by the scope of delegated authority granted from individuals, the state can only legitimately pursue objectives that would also be legitimate if pursued by me or you in the Lockean State of Nature or on the street corner. Accorordingly, the state has no more right to torture a person than I.

Alito the Libertarian?

While he is obviously no Doug Ginsburg, Ilya Somin suggests that libertarians have some reason to be optimistic:

Most debate about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has focused on his propensity to vote to overrule Roe v. Wade and the similarity between him and conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. But despite the superficial parallels between the two conservative, Italian-American Catholic jurists, it is important to recognize that Alito has a substantial libertarian dimension to his jurisprudence as well as a conservative one. In several key fields of law, he is more likely than Scalia and other conservatives to be skeptical of assertions of government power. More important, there is much in his record that should appeal to libertarians and -- to a lesser extent -- even left-wing liberals.

Obviously, Alito is far from being an across-the-board libertarian. But there is much for libertarians to like in his record, more than in the case of Scalia. Liberals understandably have less reason to support Alito than libertarians do. But they should think seriously about whether they would rather have a conservative with a significant libertarian streak like Alito or a pro-government conservative who will be just as likely to overturn Roe, but less likely to vote to restrict government power over religious freedom, free speech, or immigration.

Friday, November 11, 2005

NPR Syndrome

Man, those collectivist chumps can get me going in the morning. While I only heard two stories during my 16 minute pleasure cruise into the office today, both of them offer quite a bit of insight into the ideological slant of our tax-subsidized buddies at National Propaganda Radio.
The first was a touching little biological-sociological-business piece concerning humans, our links to chimpanzees and what we can learn about human-social organization and business productivity from our distant relatives in evolution. Well, to sum up the piece, please allow me to loosely quote the journalist: (in that airy tone of a Harvard biologist with a fake British accent) "like the chimpanzee, rather than rugged individualists, we [humans] are actually social animals who depend upon one another tremendously to produce, progress and survive." Well thank you, sir. Yes, I agree, the division of labor is pretty freakin great, but don't jump to such hasty conclusions simply because you prefer Rousseau over Rand. Being a vegetarian, I can look at the eating habits of gorillas and suggest that we should not eat meat. That being said, in pursuit of intellectual integrity, I think we should all strive to be conscientious enough not to read our personal ideology and policy preferences into our test subjects and studies. Furthermore, before we start modeling our behavior after our jungle-cousins, consider this: as someone who has personally observed our relatives-in-order in the African bush picking feces out of one another's butt-holes, I feel confident in stating that chimps and the like clearly possess sub-human cognitive abilities. As such, I am certain that we humans are more capable individualists based on the mere fact that we use Charmin.
The second story was about the newly-formed (Conservative and Social Democrat) coalition government in Germany and that government's likelihood of implementing economic reforms. The NPR reporter insisted that although the reforms are vitally important to Germany [read in, Germany's collective future], the promises of de-regulation, tax-cuts and social welfare roll-backs are, "unlikely to occur if they hit voter's pocketbooks." Must I ask, why the initial appeal to Germany's well-being? Why is this guy's first instinct to assert the collectivist good of an entity? Are you really so afraid to invoke individual freedom and liberty? That entity you cite is made up free individuals that are inherently entitled to those reforms because they are individuals. C'mon, man. I suppose it was hard enough to admit that free market policies work? I should never expect him to admit why.
Anyway, who needs coffee when you can just listen to these hucksters in the morn?

Economics of Gas

Senators (and Bill O'Reiley), please pay attention. Alan Reynolds has something to teach you about inventory profits and the macro-world. Now shut up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Vinick in '08

Apparently I am the only one on the Vinick-wagon. Well, I can't help but be excited about a secular, free market, anti-tax, anti-war, did I say, "secular," Republican Presidential candidate. Obviously this man is a work of fiction.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Seeing the Light

In the October issue of Harper's, Joshua Kurlantzick seems to have stumbled upon a disturbing revelation pertaining to property seizures in the name of the public good. Speaking to the Kelo decision, Kurlantzick writes:

This support [of Democrats] only confirms many voters' fears (and the Republicans' incessantly pushed portrayal) of the minority party as haughtily paternalistic, unresponsive to individual rights, uncaring about the needs of the little guy. In a pending Senate bill that would prevent all seizures for economic development, only two of the twenty-five co-sponsors were Democrats; this summer, 157 Democrats in the House voted against a successful amendment to a bill that restricts transportation funds from being used for eminent domain takings. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the country's most prominent and admittedly liberal Democrats, supported the New London decision, even saying, strangely, that the Court's ruling was "as if God had spoken."

Do I sense some disappointment in Mr. Kurlantzick's voice? It sounds to me like this is a guy who suddenly realized that his boys are on the wrong side. Welcome to reality. I surmise that Kurlantzick is only upset because his beloved "little guy" tends to be disproportionately hurt by the use of eminent domain. I would guess he's less likely to care if a city council decided to seize the home of a Bill Gates to build a Walmart. Nonetheless, this is a step. Once statists and "public-good"-cheering liberals (like Joshua Kurlantzick) realize that power granted is power that will one day, inevitably, be abused and directed towards you and your interests, we will all be better off. C'mon, Josh, look into the light.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Democrats Against Free Speech

Go figure. I guess it is sort of redundant. We all know that statists have never been fans of unregulated speech. Ask anyone in Cuba. And in keeping with their aversion to freedom and fear of criticism, the House Democrats voted yesterday to kill the "Online Freedom of Speech Act." This piece of legislation was designed to specfically exempt internet blogs and the like from the ill-advised, incumbent protecting, anti-speech McCain-Feingold fiasco that our ever-constitutionally-faithful President signed into law all the while admitting that the law was/is contrary to the First Amendment.

Capitalism and Freedom

Milton Friedman surely had something like this in mind.

Gotta love it!

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