Monday, July 31, 2006

American Naivete (err.. Foreign Policy)

In a recent speech to a CATO audience, George Will diagnosed our Iraq-miscalculations as the result of our naive and misplaced optimism about the region itself (e.g., the wavering willingness of the people to embrace American-styled freedom, democracy and tolerance). In a phrase, Will asserts that the fatal flaw of the U.S. policy in Iraq is the false assumption that "liberty is easy" or, even desirable:

The world is full of ordinary people who do not define freedom as we do, who do not value it as we do, who prefer piety, ethnic purity, religious solidarity, military gory, or the security of despotism.

Exactly. Ole George sounds like he has been reading thebokononist... I can only flatter myself, I know.
I tend to look at this way. There are people living in this country, this state even, that proudly wear jean shorts and white high-tops, drive camaro's, and listen to Toby Keith. Now, I don't pretend to understand the motivations of such people and I fully realize that I am never going to convince them that they might benefit ever so slightly from a night or two spent playing chess and listening to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli @ du Hote Club de France. That is fine. Despite my internal objections to denim shorts and new country, it is not my obligation or place to shape the choices or lifestyles of other people - within my own country or without. Particularly without. Of course we do not understand the appeal of fundamental Islam and the seeming backwardness that permeates throughout the Middle East; but, like all Dixie Chick fans must realize at some point, ignorance is, apparently, pure bliss.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Markets in Everything

Where there's a buyer, there will be a seller.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Supreme Clerks

Tom Smith does another impeccable Tom Robbins imitation (but better...) on the topic of SCOTUS clerks here.

Judicial Activism

Such a dirty word -- and I can't really understand why... Well, actually, I can - at least in the context of "judicial lawmaking" - e.g., "bad activism." I admit, Justice Scalia is often correct in his criticism of his colleagues when they create law by dictate - particularly when that law flies in the face of a constitutional and democratic mandate. Afterall, the court is politically unaccountable and thus has no lawmaking mandate. However, a court action should not be deemed "activist" in nature, or not in the negative sense, simply because it strikes down an act of Congress or the Executive. To be sure, a Congressional statute that bans flag burning or an Executive Order that suspends habeas corpus is just as unconstitutional as an act of positive judicial lawmaking. Perhaps I am biased. Could it be brainwashing via the University of San Diego?? Well, given that disclaimer - I tend to trust judges a hell of alot more to follow the Constitution or, at least, some consistent philosophical principle, over a democractically elected official any of day of the week. In my general estimation, judges should not be deemed big, bad, dirty "activists" simply because they choose not to bow down to the wishes of a majority. The Founders certainly believed this principle and structured the U.S Constitution around the concept. To state the obvious in caveman speak: defined, transparent, rock-solid rules - good, shifting will of a majority - bad. Comparing the liberal and conservative justices sitting on the SCOTUS, Professor Richard Epstein makes a nice point here:
The court's two wings share one trait: They defer only to the government officials they trust. Otherwise, they read a statute carefully to rein in the authority of officials they don't trust. The two factions don't differ in their philosophy of language, or in their on-again, off-again adherence to the rule of law. Rather, the court's liberal wing profoundly distrusts this president, but has great confidence in the domestic administrative agencies that regulate matters such as the environment. The conservative wing of the court flips over. It willingly defers to the president on national security issues while looking askance at expansionist tendencies of the administrative agencies.
Sometimes I wish that both sides were equal opportunists with respect to their reflexive distrust of the political branches and exercised a bit more "good" activism.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Neal on the Street

My favorite curmudgeon, Neal Boortz, seemingly disgusted by the elementary nature of a “patriotism” quiz found in the July 4 Asheville Citizen-Times, has taken it upon himself to draft a more-thought provoking list of questions. Many of the below "questions" are, in the not-so-subtle Boortz-style, rhetorical to be sure. Here are few of my favorites:
3. What does the Declaration of Independence say the people can do when a government becomes destructive to the ends of liberty?
4. What would happen to anyone who tried today to alter or abolish our government if it became destructive to idea that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed?
8. Do you believe people living in a free country ought to be compelled to recite a pledge of allegiance to that country? Why?
9. Was the Revolutionary War supported by a majority of the Colonists?
11. How did our original Constitution provide for the appointment of Senators?
14. Explain the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic.
21. How many times can the word "democracy" found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution?
25. Was the war between the northern and southern states in the mid-1800s a civil war?
34. Do Americans derive their basic rights from the Constitution?
50. What is the one exclusive power our government has that no individual or business can legally exercise?
Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm So Important

Is there anything more self-absorbed than a hunger-strike? Seriously. What kind of brain function must one possess to actually implement the thought, "If I don't get my way, I'm just going to stop eating and then you'll be sorry..."? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I am pretty sure that most of us recognized the faultiness of this line of logic in the third grade.