Former reason-er Matt Welch wonders at his blog how the Weekly Standard's McCainiacs William Kristol and David Brooks have managed to carry on a media talking heads career as if they are dispassionate political analysts, complete with some hilarious blasts from the 2000 election past showing how McCain love clouded their political vision.
Welch's anti-McCain feature from reason's April 2007 issue.
Cops in Panama Beach, Fla, say nay to Aztlan-symp naysayers (like me) who think that it is neither appropriate nor possible to arrest all illegal workers in the U.S. of A:
The sheriff's department has developed a remarkably effective — and controversial — way of catching illegal immigrants: Deputies in patrol cars pull up to a construction site in force, and watch and see who runs.
Those who take off are chased down and arrested on charges such as trespassing, for cutting through someone else's property, or loitering, for hiding out in someone's yard, or reckless driving, for speeding off in a car.
U.S. immigration authorities are then given the names of those believed to be in this country illegally.
"It's not wrong for them to run, but it's not wrong for us to chase them either," said Sheriff Frank McKeithen......Illegal immigrants are leaving town. And builders are worried the crackdown will deprive them of the labor they need to take part in a building boom in which Panama City's Beach cheap spring-break motels are being torn down and replaced with high-rise condos.
[Link via the incredibly valuable Rational Review .]
The would-be Democratic presidents are meeting for the third time tonight at Howard University for a forum on minority issues. The questioners: Michel Martin, DeWayne Wickham, Ruben Navarrette, Jr. The host: Tavis Smiley.
The video feed will be here at 9 p.m. but I have a prior engagement and won't be liveblogging. I may swing back for some post-debate spin and slander. Some predictions:
- Hillary will trumpet her endorsement by David
Dinkins, the greatest urban leader of the 20th Century.
- Barack Obama will talk more about his law school and community organizer days than his days (ok, months) in the Senate.
- John Edwards will try to talk about Ann Coulter before breaking down in tears.
- Bill Richardson will promise to appoint the most diverse cabinet ever-ever.
- Joe Biden will have to apologize for something around 20-25 minutes after the event.
- Dennis Kucinich will pledge to do something for minority Americans "on the first day of the Kucinich administration."
- Mike Gravel will break his vow of silence.
- Chris Dodd will be there, too.
Consider this an open thread.
Darwin Dating promises to weed out ugly people as unfit for meeting. To that end, Darwin Dating lists a number of disqualifying characteristics. These include, mullets, acne, out of proportion noses and ears, too long back hair, saggy boobs, hairy feet and mid-digital hair. Whole list here. According to the website:
Darwin Dating has been created to better the lives of attractive people and to encourage them to find other attractive people with whom they can breed.
Started as a joke in April 2006 by Michael Fox, a 26-year old advertising salesman from Sydney, Australia, Dawin Dating is not the first website that aims to winnow out ugly ducklings. The pioneer in this field is BeautifulPeople (turn down the volume before clicking).
As The Scientist reports:
Along with a head shot, profiles on Beautifulpeople give brief descriptions of the member, with stats like height, weight, and whether or not the person owns a car. There are no other criteria, such as Darwin Dating's list of no-nos, except a minimum age of 18, a 14.95 UK pounds ($30 US) per month fee, and a clean harassment record. (Applying to Darwin Dating is free.)
Only one in five make the cut at Beautifulpeople whereas half of applicants are deemed fit at Darwin Dating.
Just one question to the would-be Darwin Daters: If ugly people are so "unfit," why are there so many of us?
Via Josh Marshall's TPMpire, witness George W. Bush re-enacting
Sack's journey back to prison after his daughter's
You can understand where the man's head is at. Immigration reform was it: This was the last issue he could possibly hammer out a deal on with the Democratic majority. A massive citizenship program could have been his second-term legacy, a fat item in his Wikipedia entry between "narrowly defeated the worst Democratic presidential nominee since John W. Davis" and "got food poisoning from poorly-prepared seitan while awaiting trial in The Hague."
Trying to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, Home Depot has begun to classify some of the products it sells as greener than others. But as the chain discovered when it invited suppliers to suggest candidates for the new product category, greenness is in the eye of the beholder:
More than 60,000 products—far more than obvious candidates like organic gardening products and high-efficiency lightbulbs—suddenly developed environmental star power.
Plastic-handled paint brushes were touted as nature-friendly because they were not made of wood. Wood-handled paint brushes were promoted as better for the planet because they were not made of plastic.
An electric chainsaw? Green, because it was not gas-powered. A bug zapper? Ditto, because it was not a poisonous spray. Manufacturers of paint thinners, electrical screwdrivers and interior overhead lights claimed similar bragging rights simply because their plastic or cardboard packaging was recyclable.
Home Depot is in the process of vetting such claims, deciding which features should count when it comes to getting along better with Mother Nature. As The New York Times notes, this is no simple matter. A refrigerator, for example, might be considered environmentally superior because of its energy efficiency. But what about the energy and other resources used to make the refrigerator, the pollution generated by its production and transportation, or the waste generated by the packaging and the refrigerator itself when it's thrown out? Should a green stamp of approval be based on a product's entire life cycle, or just one or two easily measured features? Similar issues came up in the debates over paper vs. plastic bags and cloth vs. disposable diapers.
A Northwestern University study of 290 non-capital cases in four cities found that juries arrive at the wrong verdict in about one of six cases, and judges aren't much better. It also found that the errors are more likely to send an innocent person to jail than to let a guilty person go free.
The authors caution that the study's sample size isn't large enough to be extrapolated to the entire country, but they're looking for funding for a broader study.
In the New York Times, William Grimes reviews Günter Grass's newly translated memoir, Peeling the Onion. You might recall that upon its German release, the book caused a major furor (pun certainly not intended) in Berlin's Nazi-obsessed feuilletons: The former "conscience of a nation" admitted that he had, in fact, served in the Waffen-SS. The finger-wagger-in-chief, said historian Joachim Fest, could no longer be trusted: "I wouldn't buy a used car from this man now."
Grimes too is skeptical:
"Peeling the Onion" is a verbally dazzling but often infuriating piece of work, bristling with harsh self-criticism, murky evasions and coy revisions of a past that, Mr. Grass steadfastly insists, presents itself to his novelist's imagination as a parade of images and stories asking to be manipulated.
The irritating component of this debate is that it is only now, after revealing that he was conscripted as a 17-year-old, Grass's status as moral exemplar is being challenged. Fest might not buy a used car from Grass—and this best-selling, "conscious-clearing" book will further ensure that he will never be forced onto the used car lot—but one wonders why he would have done so in the past. This is, of course, not the first blot on his record.
As Bernard Henri-Levy wrote in The New Republic:
I remember-we all remember-[Grass's] Cuban indulgences, his Sovietophilia at a time when, as Francois Mitterrand put it, the pacifists were in the West and the missiles in the East. Recall the way this social democrat-this time like Mitterrand-clung with a mysterious determination to the fiction of a GDR that would save the Germans from "colonization" by Great Britain and the United States.
Or his celebration of the Sandinista justice system, which was apparently teeming with model prisons, not unlike those found in Scandinavia. Also writing in The New Republic, Ian Buruma commented that, in his book My Century, "Grass has contrived to smear NATO, Kohl, and worst of all, the East German people demonstrating for freedom, with the tar of extreme nationalism and mass violence, as though they were all neo-Nazis in waiting."
When Grass won the Nobel Prize in 1999, Slate's Judith Shulevitz said that the real question "is not whether Grass is a Soviet apologist. The question is, is he now or has he ever been a great novelist?" Maybe. But the second question necessitates the first, being that Grass is, more often than not, a political novelist, a Pinter-like political celebrity.
Take a look around-look at initial reviews of Peeling the Onion—and their exclusive focus on Grass's almost gimmicky Waffen-SS revelation. And yes, they almost all include a half-caveat: While one can't really blame the Günter the Boy, did he not, as he was brow-beating the German public, have an obligation to inform his quarry that he too wore the SS uniform? It's a fair point. But should we be shocked that Grass, who bleated on about the "Cuban model," in the end had a broken moral compass? How is it that a writer with a fondness for East Germany, or "Sovietophilia," as Henri-Levy says, was rendering moral judgments on his countrymen in the first place?
Forget about the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, this week marks a far more important milestone. In 1967, the first ATM was installed outside Barclay's near London. This marvelous invention freed us from teller lines, relieved the strain on many mattresses, and blessedly reduced the number of human interactions necessary in any given day. ATMs dispense $25 billion a day worldwide, so celebrate by grabbing some cash of your own.
If you prefer love to cold hard cash, check out this month's cover story about "how left-wing hippies and right-wing fundamentalists created a libertarian Ameria."
You can buy Karitiana Indian DNA from a New Jersey-based nonprofit for $85 a sample. What is the impoverished Amazon tribe getting out of the deal?
“We were duped, lied to and exploited,” Renato Karitiana, the leader of the tribal association, said in an interview here on the tribe’s reservation in the western Amazon, where 313 Karitiana eke out a living by farming, fishing and hunting.
“If anyone is ill, we will send medicine, lots of medicine,” is what Joaquina Karitiana, 56, remembers being told, which soothed her worries. “They drew blood from almost everyone, including the children. But once they had what they wanted, we never received any medicine at all.”
Why is it that we don't actually compensate blood, organ, or tissue donors? Oh right, to protect human dignity. Someone (Leon Kass?) needs to explain this to the Brazilians.
“This is sort of a balancing act,” said Judith Greenberg, director of genetics and developmental biology at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. “We don’t want to do something that makes a whole tribe or people unhappy or angry. On the other hand, the scientific community is using these samples, which were accepted and maintained under perfectly legitimate procedures, for the benefit of mankind,” she said.
The Karitiana Indians want medicine. The researchers want Karitiana Indian DNA. This needn't be a "balancing act" at all, thanks to the existence of a mutually agreed upon medium that can be exchanged for goods and services.
More on tissue and property here.
My piece in the Chicago Tribune posted below ran on Sunday.
Since then, a new judge has ruled that because Wilson's sentence is greater than five years, he isn't permitted bond, and must remain in prison while Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker appeals the other judge's commutation of Wilson's sentence. A group of private donors had previously raised $1 million to free Wilson pending the appeal.
Wilson will now remain in prison at least until October, when the Georgia Supreme Court will consider the state's appeal. That court has already denied Wilson once.
In the Chicago Tribune, Radley Balko keeps wondering why Genarlow Wilson is in prison.
Earlier this week the Supreme Court began dismantling the thoroughly odious John McCain-Russ Feingold "Don't Hurt Politicians' Feelings Censorship Law." What part of the First Amendment's "Congress shall make no law ...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people...to petition the Government for redress of grievances" doesn't McCain and his cowering cohorts on Capitol Hill not understand?
"It is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election."
Never mind that the actual case before the Supreme Court had nothing to do with unions or corporations, but involved a non-profit right-to-life group. But why shouldn't the UAW, GE, SEIU, or ADM be able to "target a federal candidate" and tell their fellow citizens why they think this or that glad-hander is a good public servant or an evil stooge? If the First Amendment doesn't protect political speech--especially criticism of politicians running for office--what does it protect?
Former reasoner Matt Welch's excellent dissection of McCain's authoritarian tendencies in the April 2007 issue is here.
And watch Robert Byrd give a long speech about the fact that he is old.
If this post doesn't make sense now, surely someone will upload a video later and I'll link to it. It's... beautiful. In response to articles about how old (88) he is, Byrd is lecturing senators on how age should be respected. There was a great section on how "we see white hair on TV but it is often made up" but I may have dreamt that in a haze of giddyness.
British scientists want to install human genomes in cow and rabbit eggs to produce stem cell lines for research purposes. Reuters reports :
Hybrid animal-human embryos created for medical research should be viewed as human and permitted to develop into children, Roman Catholic bishops have urged the British parliament...Catholic bishops of England and Wales want women to have the right to bear the chimeras, which would be more than 99 percent human, as their own children, they told a parliamentary committee examining the legislation on Tuesday.
The divines making the argument are apparently under the erroneous impression that human eggs are involved the research. If that were the case, then human genomes installed in human eggs might result in a fully human cloned baby who would clearly have all the rights that other human babies have. But that's not what is happening in this case. Whether or not human genomes transplanted into cow or rabbit eggs could produce a chimeric baby that was genetically more than 99 percent human (the mitochondrial genomes would be rabbit or cow) is not known.
Since Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that embryos are the moral equivalent of 30 year-olds, it not surprising that the Bishops are grappling with the question of how much human DNA must an entity--even an embryo--have before obtaining human moral standing?
Three former leaders of Exodus—the faith-based group that helps lost souls pray the gay away—are crashing the group's annual conference by claiming the system doesn't work.
"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral part of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three, including Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, said in a joint written statement presented at the news conference. "Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss of faith that this message creates."
Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee left Exodus in 1979, after he fell in love with a man who was a fellow ex-gay counselor with the group. He speaks out frequently against ex-gay therapies.
"God's love and forgiveness does indeed change people," said Bussee, who remains an evangelical Christian. "It changed me. It just didn't make me straight."
In 2005 Ronald Bailey connected the dots between Exodus and (remember her?) Harriet Miers. UPDATE: My mistake. The dots didn't actually connect.
Mort Rosenblum, author of Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, is outraged that candy makers want the FDA to let them replace cocoa butter in chocolate with other vegetable fats:
The proposal would widen the gap between good and awful. Industrial food companies could sell their waxy cocholat for less. But purveyors of the real thing have no corners to cut. While discerning chocoholics will fork over whatever it takes, those who can't pay will never know chocolate....
Too much of what we eat is already ersatz-virtual, like "farm-fresh" Frankenstein produce or "home-baked" chemical cookies. No one who has savored real chocolate can be eager to see our beloved Theobroma cacao, the elixir of the gods, suffer this fate.
To sum up, the vast majority of consumers are perfectly happy to eat any old crap labeled "chocolate," but they don't know what they're missing because real chocolate, the kind "discerning chocoholics" like, is too expensive. And if chocolate makers save money by using cheaper substitutes instead of cocoa butter, will that make the good stuff any less affordable? Rather than demanding that the FDA keep chocolate real (a battle that surely was lost with the acceptance of "white chocolate," if not with the introduction of milk chocolate, the kind most people seem to prefer), shouldn't Rosenblum be calling for a chocolate subsidy program to uplift the taste buds of the masses? After all, as he puts it, "everyone has a right to the joy of chocolate." And if it turns out that most people still prefer Hershey bars, Snickers, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Rosenblum will just have to face the hard truth that only especially sensitive people like him (along with the gods, presumably) can discern the superiority of the real thing.
Clarification: The "ersatz-virtual" chocolate that Rosenblum decries would still be made with cocoa mass for the flavor, but the fat, which provides texture, would be different.
Evan Ratliff has a fascinating feature in Wired about the unfolding effects of Google Maps, Google Earth, and their user-generated add-ons. Here's the wrapup:
"Mapping has always been a tool of dominance," says Michael Goodchild, the UC Santa Barbara geographer. "There is no such thing as an objective map." It's no coincidence, he says, that the last golden age of mapmaking was the colonial era, when cartographers were dispatched to catalog western Europe's conquests around the world. James Rennell's maps weren't just an effort to understand India; they were a means to show, as he once said, "the advantages that may be derived from our territorial acquisitions."
Today the power still lies in the hands of the map makers. The only difference is that we're all mapmakers now, which means geography has entered the complex free-for-all of the information age, where ever-more-sophisticated technology is better able to reflect the world's rich, chaotic complexity. "Once you express location in human terms, you get multiple places with the same name, or political issues over where boundaries are, or local differences," says David Weinberger. "As soon as you leave the latitude/longitude substrate, you get lost in the ambiguous jumble of meaning. It's as close to Babel as we get."
[Via Lew Rockwell.]
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected public school assignment plans that take account of students' race.
The decision in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle could imperil similar plans in hundreds of districts nationwide, and it leaves public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.
The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's other three liberals.
UPDATE: Commenter Robc provides a link to the ruling (pdf) .
Earlier in the week it was
reported that Ron Paul praised Ed and Elaine Brown, the tax
evaders holed up in their New Hampshire home and refusing to meet
the authorities. Perfect: A reason for Fox News' Neil Cavuto to
book Paul and feebly ask him why he hates taxes so much.
Paul points out that he opposes the IRS and income tax. Cavuto asks: "So you're against taxes?" No, Paul says. He's against the income tax. Cavuto: "I want to stick on message here."
It's a little odd to hear Cavuto work over a Republican who want to abolish the current tax code. Contrast this with Chris Wallace interviewing Mike Huckabee about the Fair Tax, the implementation of which would mean the end of the IRS. Which candidate is getting grilled by the reporter, and which one's getting bored questions in the pursuit of a "gotcha"?
With the support of three Republicans, the Senate Judiciary Committee has followed through on its threat to subpoena DOJ documents that might illuminate the Bush administration's legal rationale for monitoring email and phone calls without the warrants required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In a sense, we already know the rationale: When it comes to fighting terrorism, the president can do whatever he wants. But the substance of the disagreements among administration officials about the surveillance program, including the standoff between John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales described in former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's recent congressional testimony, remains obscure. What aspects of the program did Ashcroft think rendered it illegal, and how were they fixed to his satisfaction? Did the safeguards the administration supposedly took to protect the privacy of innocent Americans vary over time?
Members of the Judiciary Committee may also want to know why it suddenly become possible, after the Democrats took control of Congress, to conduct the surveillance in conformance with FISA. How have the FISA procedures been tweaked to give the NSA the speed and flexibility the administration insisted could be obtained only by ignoring the law? And if everything is working OK now, why does the law still need to be changed?
Deep inside a Boston Globe profile of Mitt Romney and his "brood" we find this nugget:
At night, the family had a tradition of holding a freewheeling discussion while sitting together in a room, with the lights turned off. The practice was an outgrowth of the boys' habit of wandering into their parents' room in the middle of the night, climbing onto the couch at the foot of their bed, and wanting to talk. Over time, the discussion drifted to the evening hours before bed, with the darkened room somehow allowing the boys to feel more free to open up. ''It was just a time to totally be yourself,'' Tagg says.
What looked like a fluffy, fun story about the wacky Romney clan is actually chock-a-block with weirdness. See also the story of Father Mitt strapping a dog to the roof of the family car. I dunno—maybe a first family that mashes of the physical perfection of the Tyrell Corporation's spring line with the blood-curdling mania of the Duvalier dynasty is just what America needs right now.
(Hat tip: AMC)
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. gained 62,000 more jail and prison inmates last year, the biggest increase in six years. There are more than 2.2 million people behind bars in America, or one out of every 133 of us. We have 5 percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of its prison population. And we by far lead the world in incarcerations. That includes China, which has four times our total population.
Perhaps the most staggering figure on U.S. prison populations is one regularly cited by Jack Cole, head of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: At the height of apartheid in South Africa, 851 of every 100,000 black men in that country were behind bars. As of 2005 in the U.S., 4,419 of every 100,000 black men were.
Steve Chapman asks Americans why they're perpetually singing the blues.
Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury (William Morrow, 2006). I can sort of understand the point behind Thomas Disch's mean joke that Bradbury is "a lifelong child impersonator of a stature equal to that of Pee Wee Herman." Still, I loved 'im as a kid and find his emotionally high-strung tense, gosh-wow, superprecious outlook on the wonders of life, nature, the senses, and the Old Ways of the American Midwest as presented in science fictional and fantastic wrappings to be a valuable and unquenchable American authorial voice. Everyone--especially every young teen--should try reading him, just to see if they can find a place for themselves amongst his vivid scent-filled fields, his arid and maddening and marvelous Mars, his dark carnivals.
That said, this new novel, continuing the saga of youth and aging begun in his 1957 novel Dandelion Wine, is no place to start, or finish, or stop at in-between. Li'l Douglas Spaulding is getting a little older and forms an army of fellow boys--characterized pretty much throughout by nothing but their indistinguishable 40s kids gang flick version of boyishness--to fight against reifications of the mysterious aging that is screwing with their minds as they begin to skirt the borders of adolescence. First they aim at their hometown of Green Town, Illinois, scary old men themselves, who the boys are beginning to feel control them, like chess pieces on the board's they play "beneath the marble shadow of the courthouse, under the great clock tower's bulk." Then they decide the clock itself is to blame for aging.
Their mania results in the death of an old man (shot by a toy gun no less) some explosions, some theft, some disciplined pouring out of root beer, some feelings of first sexual love that mark the death of childhood summer, the realization that "Ice cream cones are always gettin' done with" and some wise lectures from grandpa. (Chapter 37 has a bit with an old man's final sexual awakening and a young man's first one coming in eerie, and utterly icky, synchronicity.)
It just all really doesn't work, and despite the occasional joys of dipping back into Bradbury's perhaps too imitable style of describing youthful emotions and sensory joys, it's a part of Bradbury's legacy that history will be kind to more or less forget when he is honored later--as he will be--as one of America's most distinctive and fascinating authors of 20th century short fiction.
Keep those cameras rollin'.
The Senate's immigration bill is unpopular, sure. But an Arizona poll suggests that the provisions that get the most kicks on cable news—the paths to citizenship for illegal workers—are popular in the state where the border debate rages the loudest.
Most Arizonans are willing to let those already in the country illegally stay, if they meet certain conditions, according to a new survey.In a statewide poll of 386 voters, conducted earlier this month, 68 percent of respondents said they would support a provision in the federal immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million people in the country who crossed the border illegally.Another 26 percent were opposed, with the balance undecided.
He said the questions are designed to help "the traitors (Sens. John) McCain and (Jon) Kyl and the rest of them so they can push what they want on the American people." Pearce said he would phrase the question another way."Do you believe those who have broken into our country should be given legal status to remain here?" Pearce said is how the query should be phrased. "Do you believe that people should be granted amnesty for breaking our laws?"
But pollster Bruce Merrill said he has asked this type of question many times, with different wording. In fact, Merrill said, he even pretested the latest question using the word "amnesty" in half the queries and "path to citizenship" in the other.
In both cases, Merrill said, the results were virtually identical.
"It doesn't matter in general how I've asked it," he said.
"People know what you're talking about," Merrill continued.
Back in February I sang hosannah for the demise of our borders, language and culture.
Maia Szalavitz discovers that Gitmo isn't the only prison camp Mitt Romney wants to double.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) wants to legislate away television violence:
"I fear that graphic violent programming has become so pervasive and has been shown to be so harmful, we are left with no choice but to have the government step in," Rockefeller said at a meeting of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
"To be blunt, the big media companies have placed a greater emphasis on their corporate short-term profits than on the long-term health and well-being of our children," Rockefeller said.
Full story here.
The legislation is, of course, supported by the Parents Television Council, the anti-fun pressure group headed by the red-bearded avenger, Mr. L. Brent Bozell. Head over to the PTC website and make your voice heard by filling in the 2007 Pat Boone TV Decency Survey. No, seriously. Sample "question":
2) I believe television content today is offensive and dangerous to children. There is too much sexual content, foul language, vulgarity and violence. The problem is getting worse! Agree? Disagree? Undecided?
Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas wonders why his fellow conservatives would support such government intrusion into the marketplace:
It might be worth it if other avenues were not available to parents to control what their children watch, but those avenues exist in abundance. Parents can turn off, or even get rid of the TV; they can make use of the V-chip, now a part of all newer TV sets; they don't have to subscribe to cable or satellite TV; they can make use of the imperfect ratings system or they can monitor what their children watch.
It amazes me that some conservatives who preach against "big government" control of our lives think nothing of rushing in to ask big government to control our entertainment choices.
The imminent British smoking ban has one thing going for it. It's fostering friendly relations between the people of Southampton and the tiny Caribbean island of Redonda.
The Wellington Arms in Southampton is set to transform itself from a public house into the official embassy for a tiny Caribbean island.
If it is successful, the pub would be classified as "foreign soil", allowing smokers a haven from the smoking laws covering the rest of the UK.
In theory it would then also be allowed to serve cheaper drinks because the pub would be exempt from VAT.
Earlier this month, the pub was named as the official consulate in Britain for the island of Redonda, which lies 35 miles south west of Antigua in the Caribbean.
The title of "King of Redonda" is hotly disputed, with at least nine known claimants, but the current ruler is King Robert the Bald, who was crowned in 1998 and lives on Antigua.
Now, there don't appear to be any actual Redondans. But that's no reason not to drink to Redondan liberty.
Apply to be part of the Redondan royal navy for just $35 here.
Via The Bitch Girls.
Uber bioethicist Arthur Caplan thinks that the time has come to regulate what happens to the sperm of dead men. In in his latest column, "Should kids be conceived after a parent dies?," Caplan writes:
There are no clear statistics, but a number of men — some married, some not — deposited their sperm before they were sent to war. This raises a number of questions: Who should be allowed to use that sperm? How many times? How long after the death of the donor? And how long should the sperm be kept frozen if no one claims it?
Right now, there are no laws or rules governing the use of sperm after a man has died. Children already have been born in the United States, Israel and other countries from sperm deposited in sperm banks before their fathers went off to war zones.
Caplan also notes that children have been born using sperm taken from the still warm bodies of men who died unexpectedly. With the advent of egg freezing, dead women may also be able to become posthumous parents in the future.
But why do we need regulation in this area? Have there been abuses? If so, Caplan cites none in his column. Men who freeze sperm might be presumed to want children and in fact, most of them have probably left written instructions on what do with their reproductive remains. If a man hasn't left any explicit instructions, the decision should be left up to the next of kin--wives or parents. The same thing goes for for taking sperm from men who suddenly drop dead.
Caplan fears that without further regulation of reproductive remains, children will be born without competent people to take care of them. Competence has never been a requirement for parenthood, but it seems very likely that the people who go to all the trouble involved in using posthumous sperm and eggs will love the children who result.
Whole Caplan column here.
This article's topic makes it somehow appropriate that I'm only getting around to noting it more than a month after it appeared in the Weekly Standard: Matt Labash contributes one of his typically entertaining features hanging around with Chicago millionaire John Cox, a truly ignored GOP candidate for president, who can catch a break from neither party nor media--until now.
For more than a decade reason has done considerable reporting on the drug warriors' campaign against pain doctors. In 1997, Jacob Sullum reported the story of David Covillion in "No Relief in Sight". Doctors spooked by Federal drug warriors refused to treat Covillion. He was so desperate that he eventually sought out Jack Kevorkian's help to end his life. Incredibly, it was Kevorkian who referred Covillion to Dr. William Hurwitz who agreed to treat him. But as Sullum reported Virginia pulled Hurwitz's license because he allegedly overprescribed pain meds.
In 2004, Sullum reported in "Trust Busters" that Hurwitz was eventually convicted by federal prosecutors on bogus charges of being "a major and deadly drug dealer."
In June, 2006, reason contributor Maia Szalavitz's article "The Doctor Wasn't Cruel Enough," told the relatively happy story in which one physician, Dr. Paul Heberle was found not guilty of drug running. During his prosecution, Dr. Heberle couldn't treat his patients. Unfortunately, one didn't wait for the verdict--she could no longer endure her pain, so she committed suicide.
In August, 2006, in "The Accidental Drug Trafficker," Jacob Sullum reported that a Federal Appeals Court had overturned Dr. Hurwitz's conviction. While Hurwitz's case was wending its way through the courts, two of his patients committed suicide. Despite Hurwitz's victory, Jacob Sullum argues in "Good Cop. Bad Doctor," that his travails with the drug warriors effectlively spread fear throughout the medical community such that most doctors are afraid to adequately treat pain.
Now the International Analgesia Research Society has published an op/ed in its professional journal arguing:
Pain management as a human right is a moral imperative that will help medicine return to its humanist roots. Acknowledging this right is a crucial step in reversing the public health crisis of under-treated pain... Ironically, despite widespread support for improved pain control, United States physicians are experiencing pressures that may drive them to under-treat pain.
The excellent reason articles cited above outline some of the "pressures." I am generally against the notion of positive human rights--that is "rights" that require that people must involuntarily provide some material benefit to other people. However, the article that accompanies the op/ed in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia makes a lot of sense when it notes:
Reasons for deficiencies in pain management include cultural, societal, religious, and political attitudes, including acceptance of torture. The biomedical model of disease, focused on pathophysiology rather than quality of life, reinforces entrenched attitudes that marginalize pain management as a priority. Strategies currently applied for improvement include framing pain management as an ethical issue; promoting pain management as a legal right, providing constitutional guarantees and statutory regulations that span negligence law, criminal law, and elder abuse; defining pain management as a fundamental human right, categorizing failure to provide pain management as professional misconduct, and issuing guidelines and standards of practice by professional bodies.
A good first step would be for states and Congress to pass legislation that allows professional medical societies to set standards and guidelines for using pain meds rather than let the DEA make those decisions. Whether or not adequate pain management is a human right, it is certainly right for doctors to relieve the suffering of their patients.
Addendum: Just to be clear: Of course, you should be allowed to put whatever substance you want in your body and to enjoy and/or suffer the consequences thereof.
Jonah Goldberg's much-delayed Liberal Fascism used to be subtitled "The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton." It's got a new subtitle:
Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods
Whole Foods was co-founded by current Chairman and CEO John Mackey, who in a 2005 reason forum described himself as "a businessman and a free market libertarian." (Full disclosure: He is a donor to the Reason Foundation.) The forum was on Milton Friedman's argument that corporations don't have any ulterior social responsibilities. Mackey disagreed.
The Wealth of Nations was a tremendous achievement, but economists would be well served to read Smith's other great book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. There he explains that human nature isn't just about self-interest. It also includes sympathy, empathy, friendship, love, and the desire for social approval. As motives for human behavior, these are at least as important as self-interest. For many people, they are more important.
The business model that Whole Foods has embraced could represent a new form of capitalism, one that more consciously works for the common good instead of depending solely on the "invisible hand" to generate positive results for society. The "brand" of capitalism is in terrible shape throughout the world, and corporations are widely seen as selfish, greedy, and uncaring.This is both unfortunate and unnecessary...
And liberals often attack Mackey and Whole Foods for not letting workers unionize.
So, any suggestions for Goldberg's new new subtitle?
UPDATE: Ezra Klein noticed this, too. Coming soon: Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Ezra Klein.
UPDATE THE SECOND: Goldberg responds to Brad Plumer, who also made the "Whole Foods not actually liberal or fascist" point:
He doesn't really seem to know what he's talking about (oh, and it's not like it's news to me that the owner of Whole Foods is a self-described libertarian but maybe the German obsession with organic food and environmentalism, for two examples, is news to Plumer). But that's okay, it's what I expected. To be continued, when the book comes out.
In the cover story from reason's July issue, Brink Lindsey re-examines the 1960s for evidence of how the decade created two absolutely divergent cultural movements.
Intellectual property has always been pretty dodgy when it comes to recipes and cookery--they've traditionally joined dress designs and mathematical algorithms on the list of non-protected property. Now Rebecca Charles, the chef of Pearl's Oyster Bar, a ten-year old restaurant in the West Village that made lobster rolls chic, is suing her former sous chef Ed McFarland, claiming that his restaurant, Ed's Lobster Bar, copies "each and every element" of her restaurant.
The detail that seems to gnaw at her most is a $7 appetizer on Mr. McFarland’s menu: “Ed’s Caesar.”
She has never eaten it, but she and her lawyers claim it is made from her own Caesar salad recipe, which calls for a coddled egg and English muffin croutons.
She learned it from her mother, who extracted it decades ago from the chef at a long-gone Los Angeles restaurant. It became a kind of signature at Pearl. And although she taught Mr. McFarland how to make it, she said she had guarded the recipe more closely than some restaurateurs watch their wine cellars.
[Charles] acknowledged that Pearl was itself inspired by another narrow, unassuming place, Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco. But she said she had spent many months making hundreds of small decisions about her restaurant’s look, feel and menu.
Everyone steals from everyone until someone has the bright idea to sue. Some chefs are using contracts: Chef Homaro Cantu "makes his cooks sign a nondisclosure agreement before they so much as boil water at Moto, his restaurant in Chicago."
An interesting two-part story New York Times on Rupert Murdoch, which digs into the Australian media mogul's history of shady political dealings in both Washington and China. It's bad enough that News Corp signs Sean Hannity's paycheck, but can be true that Fox News isn't letting freedom ring in the Hunan Province? Is Murdoch the second son of Angela Lansbury? The Times investigates:
Mr. Murdoch has flattered [China's] Communist Party leaders and done business with their children. His Fox News network helped China's leading state broadcaster develop a news Web site. He joined hands with the Communist Youth League, a power base in the ruling party, in a risky television venture, his China managers and advisers say.
Meanwhile, Murdoch's money-losing New York Post serves up its typically prolix Paris Hilton coverage today :
"Sources said the celebrity skank was a jailhouse pig during her time in the pokey - racking up a $145 commissary bill for assorted snacks and beauty aides."
They've started adding a category to the GOP primary results labeled, "WITHOUT McCAIN." (See question 2.) Now, to those of you who don't spend all your days reading polls like this, the "without" breakdowns are usually reserved for candidates who probably won't be in the race, such as "without Gingrich," "without Rice," etc. This, as far as I know, is the first instance of a major polling organization starting to look publicly at a race without John McCain.
Matt Welch's article that started the cart speeding downhill is here.
The "crazy people in room doing crazy things" article is a hackneyed one, sure, and I already linked a classic of the genre yesterday, but this Orange County Weekly write-up of a Tom Tancredo rally at the Nixon Library contains some high-grade kookery.
Not to be outdone, the African-American community turns out two speakers of its own, Ted Hayes and Terry Anderson. Anderson warms up the crowd with a joke that involves killing Hillary Clinton, sending hat-wearing older ladies into red-faced spasms of laughter.
Hayes says illegal immigrants are actually responsible for black poverty. “Illegal immigration is the greatest threat to black people since slavery,” he says, prompting a standing ovation. Then he starts a chant of “These colors don’t run! These colors don’t run!”
Alright, Ted Hayes! You might remember Hayes, the surly operator of the "Dome Village" homeless shelter, from Peter Bagge's cartoon on the "brown peril." Hayes' entry into the anti-immigration movement seemed to portend a coming white-black alliance against Mexican immigration, but it only portended this if you were really stupid.
Tancredo closes out the emotional night by reminding the audience that hunting down all illegal immigrants, sending them home, and building a 2,000-mile wall between us and Mexico is our calling, much like a previous generation “saved the world” during World War II. “Next, we build a wall along the Canadian border,” he proposes to thunderous applause.
Wow. I thought he was making a gaffe when he originally proposed that in the pages of Marie Claire. He wasn't.
Here's something that came up researching yesterday's piece—Michael Bloomberg has given an insane amount of money to politicians. Almost $700,000 for federal races (House, Senate, President) over three decades, and a lot of it before he actually entered politics. And until he maxed out for Joe Lieberman in 2006, he never donated to an independent. The hit lists:
Democrats: Daniel Patrick Moynihan ($200, 1979), Jimmy Carter ($1000 in 1979, long before the primary), Bill Bradley ($1000, twice, in 1983 and 1999), Bob Torricelli (pre-resignation in disgrace), Al Gore, Bill Clinton.
Republicans: Bob Dole (when he was riding high for the 1988 presidential nomination), Pete Du Pont (!), Steve Forbes (in the 1996 campaign) and both George Bushes.
Bloomberg has also donated to four of his prospective 2008 opponents: John McCain (in 2003), Chris Dodd (multiple times), Fred Thompson ($1000 in 1994) and Mitt Romney ($1000 for his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy). He probably donated to Giuliani in 1989, 1993 or 1997, but those weren't federal filings and they don't show up here.
What does this mean? Well, map out the connections between Pete "Tax cuts for all!" Du Pont and Elizabeth "Impeach Bush yesterday!" Holtzman and report back to me. At the very least it gives him some credibility when he lectures about his independence.
The Internet ethnographer danah boyd takes a look at class divisions in the online world. A pattern emerges: The "good" kids tend to go to Facebook, the "bad" ones to MySpace.
Facebook was framed as being about college. This was what was in the press. This was what college students said. Facebook is what the college kids did. Not surprisingly, college-bound high schoolers desperately wanted in.
In addition to the college framing, the press coverage of MySpace as dangerous and sketchy alienated "good" kids. Facebook seemed to provide an ideal alternative. Parents weren't nearly as terrified of Facebook because it seemed "safe" thanks to the network-driven structure. (Of course, I've seen more half-naked, drink-carrying high school students on Facebook than on MySpace, but we won't go there.)
Jacob Sullum inhales yesterday's Supreme Court decisions and comes away a little bit disoriented and confused.
From Wired, the makers of the grim videogames Fatworld, Airport Security, and Bacteria Salad (among others) make a bid for artistic growth for the video game by claiming for it the same right as other art forms: to challenge and annoy us in a decidedly unfun manner:
"The question of fun hangs like a cloud over this medium," [Ian] Bogost [leader of Persuasive Games] says, pointing out that "fun" would hardly be accepted as the highest possible praise for a song, novel, or movie. In his new book, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Bogost describes how games can engage us through irony, luring us into a pattern of actions that we recognize as reprehensible, or at least dismaying, while at the same time exciting our competitive drive and allowing us to inhabit an unfamiliar point of view....Bogost brings to gaming something that fiction writers have always known: Moral discomfort is the root of comedy, and pain can be a source of pleasure, too.
Kevin Parker in our April 2004 on the higher meaning and potential of video gaming.
I thought this was a bad sign:
[On Sunday] two Sunni Arab blocs boycotted a Parliament session, demanding the reinstatement of the speaker.
The speaker, Mahmoud Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, was put on leave at the request of a broad coalition of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, after incidents in which he lost his temper at other members and struck them or allowed his guards to rough them up.
Then I saw this:
Iraqi forces raided the home of Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi today [Tuesday] after an arrest warrant accused him of masterminding the 2005 assassination attempt of a secular Sunni politician who was once a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi.
And these guys are both Sunnis. If America's influence has not persuaded members of the Iraqi Parliament to stop trying to kill each other, what hope is there for peace among the rest of the population?
In a speech on Saturday to the American Library Association, Royce C. Lamberth, former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, criticized the Bush administration for bypassing the court by unilaterally monitoring international email and phone calls involving people on U.S. soil. Lamberth, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court in D.C. by Ronald Reagan, said FISC was capable of speedily approving surveillance requests when circumstances demanded it, so there was no need for the administration to evade the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And while he declined to pass judgment on the constitutionality of the administration's warrantless surveillance (now officially suspended because of public criticism, despite the fact that it was supposedly essential to national security), Lamberth suggested that President Bush has little respect for the role judges play in protecting civil liberties:
We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war....The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges understand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs. We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgment to more than the executive.
This is obviously self-serving, but in a good way: We want judges to jealously protect their prerogatives, to insist on reviewing the executive branch's decisions affecting the privacy of Americans' communications. Still, there is reason to doubt that FISC is as tough as it should be. As evidence of the court's eagerness to cooperate with the administration, Lamberth noted that its approval rate for surveillance requests is 99 percent. He also bragged that the court further streamlined its fast-track procedures after 9/11, which makes the Bush administration's insistence that it had no choice but to break the law even more puzzling, especially since FISA allows retroactive approval of surveillance in emergencies up to 72 hours after the fact.
However minimal FISC's demands may be, the knowledge that their applications will be reviewed by officials outside the executive branch presumably discourages DOJ lawyers from making completely unfounded requests. Even cursory judicial review is better than no review at all.
Cultural detritus item one: John Edwards is whimpering about Ann Coulter, leading Ben Smith to ask:
Is Ann Coulter good for anything other than Democratic fundraising any more? It's the only context in which I ever see her name.
Here's what's harshing Edwards: A video in which it sounds
like Coulter is ululating for his murder by terrorists.
Look, Edwards is being unfair to Coulter. She was making a joke about her "faggot" gaffe. Here's the whole bit:
Oh yeah, I wouldn't insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards. That would be mean, but about the same time—you know—Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished [Vice President] Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he has been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.
If John Edwards was still running for president this would look really bad for his... wait, he's still in it? Nevermind.
UPDATE: On Hardball just now, Elizabeth Edwards called in to challenge Ann Coulter not to use any more "personal attacks" against her husband. Yes, that's the way to rebut charges of wimpery: Send your wife to beg people to stop hitting you.
Item two: Video of Michael Savage doing stand-up. Your brain
By no means watch all of it, but check out the bit at the end when Savage asks "Does anybody in this crowd give a shit about the Iraqis?"
In my review of Sicko, I argued that while in the past Michael Moore has had an easy time winning converts in Europe, it's going to be a harder slog with this film. Denouncing the Iraq War and calling Americans, which he clearly doesn't count himself among, stupid ("They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet," he told the Daily Mirror) is easy; convincing Brits that the NHS provides flawless, wait-free medical care—for free!—strains credulity. The New Yorker's David Denby thinks Moore will have difficulty convincing Americans too (Hat tip to Alan Vanneman):
Michael Moore has teased and bullied his way to some brilliant highs in his career as a political entertainer, but he scrapes bottom in his new documentary, "Sicko."
Moore winds up treating the audience the same way that, he says, powerful people treat the weak in America-as dopes easily satisfied with fairy tales and bland reassurances. And since he doesn't interview any of the countless Americans who have been mulling over ways to reform our system, we're supposed to come away from "Sicko" believing that sane thinking on these issues is unknown here. In the actual political world, the major Democratic Presidential candidates have already offered, or will soon offer, plans for reform. A shift to the left, or, at least, to the center, has overtaken Michael Moore, yielding an irony more striking than any he turns up: the changes in political consciousness that Moore himself has helped produce have rendered his latest film almost superfluous.
Speaking with my friend in Dublin today, I inquired about his level of satisfaction with Irish health services. He replied with an anecdote: The last time he required medical attention was for a broken arm, for which he was fitted with a standard plaster cast. After a few days the cast, which was apparently constructed from recycled copies of the Irish Sun, began to fall apart. He returned to the hospital for a replacement but, after waiting in the emergency room for nine hours, decided instead to head home and piece it together with DIY tape. The Irish system, he said, was "a mess."
Andrew Sullivan's Canadian readers chime in here.
There is, of course, much to say in response to Moore's deification of the Cuban system, though I think these pictures, published in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, will suffice for now. They were taken at a nursing home in the Cuban province of Pinar del Río in June 2004:
More photos here.
Dave Weigel takes a critical look at would-be President Bloomberg.
Lost in the news of the day was the GOP Senate minority's victory on card check:
Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes needed to force consideration of the Employee Free Choice Act, ending organized labor's chance to win its top legislative priority from Congress.
The final vote was 51-48.
The outcome was not a surprise, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying for months that he would stop the legislation in the Senate. The White House also made it clear that if the bill passed Congress it would be vetoed.The House passed the bill in March. Democrats and labor unions pressed for a vote in the Senate in hopes of rallying their voters in the 2008 elections, where they hope to win the White House and increase their majorities in the House and Senate.
"We will keep coming back year after year after year," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
If you were one of those voters who pulled the blue "D" lever hoping that a Democratic Congress wouldn't get anything done as long as George W. Bush was president, good call.
Some rich guy with nice hair is angry about this.
According to the Wall Street Journal ($), some Israelis are blaming the country's lackluster performance in last year's war with Lebanon on the dissipation of socialist solidarity and the rapid expansion of an "entrepreneurial economy":
The makeover shows how Israel has flourished beyond the wildest dreams of the ardent socialists who founded the Jewish state. Powered by high-tech exports, the Israeli economy grew 6.3% in the first quarter this year, with a 28% jump in personal consumption of durable goods, such as cars and refrigerators. Sales ofPorsches doubled in 2006 from 2004, and last year Lexus opened shop in the Jewish state.
Yet prosperity has not brought security. As Israelis begin another summer fraught with regional instability, some are pondering a troubling question: Is the idea of an advanced consumer society, with its attendant individualism, compatible with the solidarity and focus required to defend a small state bordered by hostile neighbors? And could the growing gap between poor and wealthy Israelis undermine its national drive to protect itself?
In recent years, the socialist ideals of the founding Zionists have given way to one of the most successful entrepreneurial economies on earth. In place of solidarity, some Israelis argue, there is a growing gap between haves and have-nots. Rates of poverty are high among the country's 20% Arab population, but are also growing among Israeli Jews. Though the average Israeli salary has risen steadily, to more than $22,000 a year currently, one in four families live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate among children is 35%.
There are many reasonable explanations for the outcome of last summer's war in Lebanon, though "materialism" is likely low on the list. For an interesting dissection of the IDF's manifold military failures during last summer's (as of yet unnamed) war, check out Efraim Inbar's post-mortem here.
And it's easy to forget, but Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the soldier whose capture precipitated the IDF invasion, is still being held by Hamas. Yesterday, his captors released an audiotape of Shalit calling on the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners. Story here.
Why is Wendy Shalit, author of Girls Gone Mild, “in a good position” to talk about the dire state of American modesty? Well, explains Pia Catton at The Wall Street Journal, “as an undergraduate at Williams College, she caused an uproar by objecting to the school's coed bathrooms.” This would seem to be Shalit’s modus operandi: Choose an unusually sexually progressive pocket of American culture, declare it indicative rather than exceptional, and launch a heroically irrelevant crusade for change.
And the most modest among us, apparently, will rope in others. It is not enough to not fornicate in your dorm room; Shalit offers strategies for frustrating the lustful intentions of your roommates. (Wouldn't the modest thing to do be to feign ignorance and gracefully leave the room?) Thus, the massively ineffectual missionaries of modesty attempt cultural rollback. Imposing your bathroom preferences on others doesn't strike me as modest, exactly, but here's an idea that should please libertines and good girls alike:
A box called "A Recipe for Pleasing With Integrity" asks: "Is there a way for a young woman to impress others, without having to be mean or compromise her value system?" Why, yes: Bake an apple pie!
I would almost certainly be more impressed with scolds if they stuck to baking pies.
Brian Seasholes loves bald eagles and wishes the Endanged Species Act would stop making victims out of them.
Move over, Jaws. A darker danger lurks on the beach:
The US bucket and spade brigade went on full alert [last Thursday] after research by a top physician revealed that people falling into holes dug in the sand had accounted for more fatalities in the US since 1990 than shark attacks - 16 as opposed to 12.
The article, written by Dr Bradley Maron in the New England Journal of Medicine, said sand holes and tunnels, the byproduct of building sand castles and other juvenile beach fortifications, could turn into deathtraps with horrifying speed.
Although such incidents were extremely rare, Dennis Arnold, who runs a beach patrol at Martha's Vineyard, off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, said lifeguards were under orders to stop children digging deep holes. Occasionally some parents protest, he said. "They'll say 'You're ruining my kid's day!' and I say 'I don't care!'," Mr Arnold was quoted as saying.
Maron's article -- more of a letter, really -- is available to New England Journal subscribers here.
Say you renamed states for the countries which share the same GDP. This is what you'd get (click the map for a larger image):
A topsy turvy world where Alaska is Belarus and Algeria is West Virginia. California becomes France, but that's not really so crazy.
The Strange Maps blog writes:
The creator of this map had the interesting idea to break down that US GDP into the GDPs of individual states, and compare those to other countries GDPs. What follows is this slightly misleading map, because the economies of the US states and of the countries they are compared with are not weighted for their respective populations.
Pakistan, for example, has a GDP that’s slightly higher than Israel’s but Pakistan has a population of about 170 million, while Israel is only 7 million people strong. The US states that those economies are compared with (Arkansas and Oregon, respectively) are much closer to each other in population: 2,7 million and 3,4 million.
The original source is The York Group.
Another example of legal prosecutorial misconduct:
Mychal Bell, 16, a former Jena High School football star, and five other black students had been facing the potential of up to 100 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy and other charges for the December beating of the white student, who was knocked unconscious but not hospitalized. The incident capped months of escalating racial tensions at the high school that began after several white youths hung nooses from a tree in the school courtyard in a taunt aimed at blacks.
But as jury selection was about to begin in Bell's case Monday, District Atty. Reed Walters reduced the charges to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery, which together carry a maximum of 22 years in prison. Walters, who is prosecuting Bell as an adult, also offered the teenager a plea agreement including a suspended sentence, which Bell's father said the youth rejected.
Plea-bargaining tactics like this have become commonplace in American jurisprudence. Some may view the reduced charges as more reasonable -- but anything less reasonable would be hard to imagine.
Some more info on the new charges:
Aggravated second-degree battery involves use of a dangerous weapon, according to state statutes. Parents of the accused say they had heard no previous mention of a weapon.
"Well, anything is better than murder and a lifetime in prison," said John Jenkins, whose son, Carwin Jones, is among the charged. "But it's still strange. All of a sudden they're talking about a weapon. What weapon? We never heard anything about a weapon before."
Hanging a ridiculous sentence over defendants' heads and then offering a reduced plea (which, in this case, is still absurd) to avoid a jury trial is nothing less than an abuse of the judicial process.
More from reason on plea bargaining here.
you're in D.C. you can mosey down to the Capitol grounds and hoot
the Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice.
These events have been getting more and more ideologically diverse lately, which makes it surprising that the most prominent—and only—conservative scheduled to speak is David Keene of the American Conservative Union. No Bob Barr, no Grover Norquist, no Ron Paul. Not on the itinerary. But accompanying the group of liberal Democrats and civil libertarian activists will be Greg Proops of Whose Line is it Anyway?
The whole thing's viewable on the ACLU's site.
Johann Hari's travelogue of the National Review cruise is a fantastic read and it's hard to pick the standout section. Andrew Sullivan focuses on a tiff between Norman Podhoretz and William Buckley. The running theme of total panic about Muslim birthrates might be even weirder.
This is the Muslims Are Coming cruise. Everyone thinks it. Everyone knows it. And the man most responsible for this insight is sitting only a few tables down: Mark Steyn. He is wearing sunglasses on top of his head and a bright shirt. Steyn's thesis in his new book, America Alone, is simple: The "European races"--i.e., white people--"are too self-absorbed to breed," but the Muslims are multiplying quickly. The inevitable result will be "large-scale evacuation operations circa 2015" as Europe is ceded to Al Qaeda and "Greater France remorselessly evolve[s] into Greater Bosnia." He offers a light smearing of dubious demographic figures--he needs to turn 20 million European Muslims into more than 150 million in nine years, which is a lot of humping--to "prove" his case.
But facts, figures, and doubt are not on the itinerary of this cruise. With one or two exceptions, the passengers discuss "the Muslims" as a homogenous, sharia-seeking block--already with near-total control of Europe. Over the week, I am asked nine times--I counted--when I am fleeing Europe's encroaching Muslim population for the safety of the United States.
At one of the seminars, a panelist says anti-Americanism comes from both directions in a grasping pincer movement--"The Muslims condemn us for being decadent; the Europeans condemn us for not being decadent enough." Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz's wife, yells, "The Muslims are right, the Europeans are wrong!" And, instantly, Jay Nordlinger, National Review's managing editor and the panel's chair, says, "I'm afraid a lot of the Europeans are Muslim, Midge." The audience cheers. Somebody shouts, "You tell 'em, Jay!"
It's unclear how much this phobia was building among NR's high-toned audience before Steyn's book came out. If his work is responsible, well, then, damn. At one point he claims that the population of Yemen will outstrip Russia's in the not-too-distant future.
I'm not quite as pessimistic as Jacob and some drug reform activists about the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case (pdf).
All nine justices would have exempted the principal of the school from damages, and maybe I'll have to give up my libertarian library card, here, but I find it difficult to get too upset about that. The kid flat-out admitted he wasn't making a political statement. Rather, he held up the banner in an effort to do something outlandish that might get him on television. In other words, he was being disruptive. And he was punished for it.
Justice Thomas' opinion was most harsh, and frankly read rather school-marmish. Thomas argued he'd revisit the whole idea that students in public schools have any free speech rights at all, suggesting he'd overturn the 1969 Tinker case, which allowed two students to wear black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. I'm not even sure this is all that unlibertarian an opinion. Thomas feels that kids in public schools don't enjoy the rights they have outside the school, or that adults enjoy. You can agree or disagree with that as far as it goes, but Thomas has been a fairly reliable supporter of free speech by adults, outside the school yard.
To me the most objectionable opinion was the opinion of the Court, written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justice Scalia, which broadly interpreted the nonsensical bong hits sign to be condoning the use of illegal drugs. I'd probably have agreed with their opinion if they'd have ignored the drug issue, and simply argued that the sign was disruptive, not that there's some special evil that comes with advocating illicit drug use, or that this silly sign represents the gateway to lawlessness. The danger is that school districts will interpret Roberts' opinion too broadly, and behave as if Supreme Court has given its okay to step on drug-related political speech, too—for example, an essay condoning the legalization of marijuana.
But I'm not sure Roberts' opinion says that. And even if Roberts would were okay with such censorship, it's clear that at most only Scalia and Thomas would agree with him. If a school district were to ban advocacy of reforming the drug laws, it's clear that there are at least five and probably six justices ready to smack them down.
Justice Stevens (joined by Ginsburg and Souter) in fact wrote a pretty amazing opinion, one that could have been written by any activist for reforming the drug laws. He even recognized the similarities between drug and alcohol prohibition, writing:
But just as prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies, today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana,9 and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product,10 lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs.
Surely our national experience with alcohol should make us wary of dampening speech suggesting—however inarticulately—that it would be better to tax and regulate marijuana than to persevere in a futile effort to ban its use entirely.
I think this is heartening language to hear from three Supreme Court justices. And I would guess that Breyer generally agrees with the sentiment, as well (his opinion in the Bong Hits case dispensed with much of this discussion, and merely stated that the principal was covered by qualified immunity, and therefore shielded from damages).
Justice Alito (joined by Justice Kennedy) then wrote a concurring opinion quoting parts of the passage above from Stevens, specifically for the purpose of announcing that he would not uphold a public school's decision to censor student speech related to the drug war that was political in nature.
I join the opinion of the Court on the understanding that (a) it goes no further than to hold that a public school may restrict speech that a reasonable observer would interpret as advocating illegal drug use and (b) it provides no support for any restriction of speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue, including speech on issues such as “the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.”
This case always seemed to me like an odd one for the drug reform movement to rally around. This was not an essay calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. It was a lame stunt to get noticed.
The fear was that the Bong Hits case would give the Supreme Court the opportunity give its okay for public schools to censor student political speech in favor of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs. While I'd have been more comfortable had the ruling come down the other way, it seems to me that there's much to take comfort in, here. Five justices have expressly announced that public school censorship of political speech related to the war on drugs won't stand. And it's likely that a sixth (Breyer) would join them.
That was the real issue of concern, here. To that end, you could make a pretty good case that yesterday's opinion was actually a victory for drug reform advocates, not a setback.
Kerry Howley visits the magical militaristic world of Prince Pickles.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) files an amicus brief in a case, U.S. v. Arnold (being considered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) of a man caught on child porn charges because of a search of his laptop by customs agents at Los Angeles airport. From the EFF press release:
Over the past several years, U.S. customs agents have been searching and even seizing travelers' laptops when they are entering or leaving the country if the traveler fits a profile, appears to be on a government watch list, or is chosen for a random inspection. The Supreme Court has ruled that customs and border agents may perform "routine" searches at the border without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion, but EFF and ACTE argue that inspections of computers are far more invasive than flipping through a briefcase.
"Our laptop computers contain vast amounts of personal information about our lives. You may do your banking on your computer, for example, or send email to your doctor about health concerns," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Travelers should not be subjected to unconstitutionally invasive searches of their laptops and other electronic devices just because they are crossing the border."
Full EFF amicus brief.
The Daily Mail reports:
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is investigating whether invertebrates - the family of animals that includes insects, spiders and molluscs - should get the same protection under the law enjoyed by dogs, cats and horses if they are kept in captivity.
The current state of the law is manifestly unjust--I triple-dog-dare you to read the next sentence with a straight face:
"While it is illegal to mistreat a goldfish, there is nothing to stop people mistreating pet tarantulas or lobsters kept in restaurant aquariums."
But don't worry, some things with eight arms will still be beyond the long arm of the law:
While [restaurant owners] would still be able to boil the crustaceans alive to kill them, they would have to make sure they are kept in clean, warm uncrowded tanks up to that point.
Similarly, while little boys will not be punished for pulling the legs off a back-garden spider, people with pet tarantulas will have to ensure they are kept warm and well-fed.
More on animal rights here.
Update: The original image expired, so I replaced it with something that demonstrates the appropriate human love for our invertebrate friends.
Amicus, Britain's second-largest trade union, boasting 1.3
million members, has voted to throw its support behind the
increasingly authoritarian government of Hugo Chavez, proclaiming
that "International solidarity with the people of Venezuela is
vital if the revolution is to survive."
This Conference notes that the government of Hugo Chavez since its was first elected in 1998 has brought health care to the sick, education to the illiterate, housed the homeless and redistributed millions of acres of land. The constitution guarantees the public ownership of the oil industry and the distribution of wealth to all citizens.
This Conference congratulates and supports the colossal advances being made by the Venezuelan Revolution under President Hugo Chavez in carrying out policies, which benefit working people, the poor and the landless.
[This] conference views with alarm the bellicose threats from the US Administration and its imperialist puppets, including the Venezuelan oligarchy and the Colombian Government, which pose a real threat to the life of Chavez as well as the Revolution itself. Conference therefore opposes all outside interference in the affairs of Venezuela.
That the "Bolivarian" government has dramatically reduced illiteracy is not supported by any independent data (pdf link), and the success of Hugo's vaunted "health care revolution" is based on dubious government statistics. Besides, the doctors imported into Caracas's barrios have a tendency to get lost on their way to the clinic, often winding up, by pure chance, at the American embassy in Colombia. According to the Los Angeles Times, "The desertion rate among the estimated 26,000 Cubans in Venezuela may be the highest of any [overseas] mission."
Amicus General Secretary Derek Simpson has previously said that his union was "horrified by the atrocities being carried out in Zimbabwe," and urged the European Union to keep Mugabe from attending a summit in France. So perhaps it is worth reminding him that Chavez recently called Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe a "freedom fighter," adding that "He is my friend. I think he has been demonized too much."
Looking down the blog posts at H&R today, a free speech theme has emerged. In the Sunday Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will discussed how "progressive" fundamentalists use "hate speech" regulations to shut up people they "hate"-- uh, I mean, with whom they disagree. In Oakland, Ca., Will reports:
Some African American Christian women working for Oakland's government organized the Good News Employee Association (GNEA), which they announced with a flier describing their group as "a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values."
The flier was distributed after other employees' groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and activities on the city's e-mail system and bulletin board. When the GNEA asked for equal opportunity to communicate by that system and that board, it was denied. Furthermore, the flier they posted was taken down and destroyed by city officials, who declared it "homophobic" and disruptive.
The city government said the flier was "determined" to promote harassment based on sexual orientation. The city warned that the flier and communications like it could result in disciplinary action "up to and including termination."
Effectively, the city has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a "hostile" environment. This, even though gay rights advocates used the city's communication system to advertise "Happy Coming Out Day." Yet the terms "natural family," "marriage" and "family values" are considered intolerably inflammatory.
The treatment of the GNEA illustrates one technique by which America's growing ranks of self-appointed speech police expand their reach: They wait until groups they disagree with, such as the GNEA, are provoked to respond to them in public debates, then they persecute them for annoying those to whom they are responding. In Oakland, this dialectic of censorship proceeded on a reasonable premise joined to a preposterous theory.
The premise is that city officials are entitled to maintain workplace order and decorum. The theory is that government supervisors have such unbridled power of prior restraint on speech in the name of protecting order and decorum that they can nullify the First Amendment by declaring that even the mild text of the GNEA flier is inherently disruptive.
The flier supposedly violated the city regulation prohibiting "discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation." The only cited disruption was one lesbian's complaint that the flier made her feel "targeted" and "excluded." So anyone has the power to be a censor just by saying someone's speech has hurt his or her feelings.
Sigh. Why can't we all just get along? You can say any damned thing that you want and I can say any damned thing I want in response. Just so long as it doesn't disturb our cubicle mates as they type on their computer keyboards. Or better yet, we can agree to stop talking to each other and maintain a mutually disapproving social silence.
One of the best books on the progressives' war against free speech is reason contributor Jonathan Rauch's Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. Reviewed here in reason.
The whole Will column is here.
Disclosure: My wife and I are members of Equality Virginia and contributed somewhere between $500 and $1000 to EV's campaign to defeat a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Even though I disagree with them, those Oakland ladies should be allowed to say what they think.
One year after Congress created school vouchers in the District of Columbia, parents are happy to have a choice, although an academic advantage for students who transfer to private schools is not yet apparent. Even if none materializes, the private alternative looks like a bargain: Students who use vouchers each get a scholarship worth $7,500, only half of what D.C. schools spend for each student. Two-thirds of the schools accepting vouchers are run by the Catholic Church, so tuition is presumably subsidized by the church and by teachers who are willing to work for lower pay than the public schools offer. But it's hard to believe this voluntary subsidy (which, regardless of its size, is morally preferable to forcibly extracted taxes) amounts to anything like $7,500 per student.
Cathy Young re-investigates the Norman Finkelstein tenure controversy and ponders whether it will have any other impact.
Humor columnist Dave Barry (read his interview in reason) is making a third consecutive run for president and the Miami Herald has set up a forum where readers can pepper him with questions. This seems to be the extent of the Barry campaign, but it's more fun than a barrel of Mini-Mitts.
Q: 54-40 or fight. Still operative?
A: This is the cornerstone of my foreign policy.
In the less-frantic days before his presidential bid, Barry contributed to
reason's Person of the Year
Beijing officials are ripping down billboards ($):
The campaign appears to have started with a crackdown on the advertising of luxury homes popular among China's nouveaux riches. Now, as part of what city officials are calling a massive "urban reorganization exercise," the advertising ban has been extended across much of this vast city. The push has sent the advertising industry reeling, in a country where millions of dollars are spent cultivating brand consciousness among new consumers.
Banners and posters atop office towers, along highways and construction sites are coming down. Nothing is being spared -- not even ads for next year's Olympics.
Already, ads promoting luxury cars and cellphones have disappeared. Five billboards advertising Soho China Ltd., which builds premium condominiums and retail space, have been toppled, the company's spokeswoman says.
Beijing's mayor explains that ads promoting luxury goods not everyone can afford "are not conducive to harmony." The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph interpret the billboard ban as a straightforward attempt to quell social unrest over intrastate inequality, but that doesn't explain why China's state media has done so much to hype inequality as a problem (and encourage status anxiety). There really wouldn't be much point in heavily censoring your media if journalists were permitted to publish politically threatening economic indicators--unless officials were planning on using the threat of instability to their advantage.
"The plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever," Judge Judith Bartnoff has ruled in response to Roy Pearson's notorious $54 million lawsuit over a pair of temporarily misplaced suit pants. Pearson will have to pay his dry cleaners' court costs, may have to pay their legal fees, and could be out of his job as a D.C. administrative law judge. Unlike Pearson's transaction with the cleaners, the outcome of this case is pretty satisfying.
You heard today's good news regarding freedom of speech. Now for the bad news: The Supreme Court has ruled that Joseph Frederick, then a high school senior in Juneau, Alaska, did not have a First Amendment right to hold up a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner at an off-campus Olympic torch rally in 2002. Since students were let out of class to attend the rally (although Frederick himself came directly from home), the Court ruled, it was in effect a school event and they were still under school supervision. Because the banner sent a pro-drug message, the Court ruled, Principal Deborah Morris was within her rights when she crumpled it up and suspended Frederick for 10 days.
As I feared, the Court seems to be opening up a "drug exception" to the First Amendment, albeit limited (so far) to students in school. It's true that high school students do not have the same free speech rights as adults, but the Court has held that they do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." They have a right, for instance, to wear anti-war armbands. In that case, the Court held that student speech may be suppressed only if it will "materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school." A "mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint" or "an urgent wish to avoid the controversy which might result from the expression" is not enough to justify censorship. But fear of drugs apparently is.
"Schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use," the Court ruled. So where does that leave a student who wears a "Legalize It" T-shirt, who points out the problems caused by prohibition during a class discussion of drugs, or who shares accurate information about the hazards of marijuana with his fellow students? I suspect principals like Deborah Morris would view all of these student expressions as "encouraging illegal drug use," even though they are also indisputably political speech. If expressing opposition to the Vietnam War is protected even in school, how can expressing opposition to the War on Drugs not be? I have a feeling we're going to find out.
Seymour Hersh's latest dispatch on the torture scandal includes extensive comments from Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, author of the first major report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib. For a long time Taguba refused to talk to the press. Now that he's speaking, he's scathing. Here's one excerpt:
Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld's testimony was simply not true. "The photographs were available to him--if he wanted to see them," Taguba said. Rumsfeld's lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There's no way he's suffering from C.R.S.--Can't Remember Shit. He's trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves." It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.
"The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects--'We're here to protect the nation from terrorism'--is an oxymoron," Taguba said. "He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they've dragged a lot of officers with them."
One of the 20th century's stranger odysseys was that of Hans Sennholz--who went from (drafted) Luftwaffe pilot in his German youth to leading exponent of Austrian-style free-market economics in America. He served as chair of the economics department at Grove City College (where he taught from 1956-92) and later as president of the Foundation for Economic Education from 1992-97. Sennholz died Saturday at age 85.
Current FEE president Richard Ebeling writes of Sennholz, giving the biographical details and some intimate and amusing insights into what the Sennholz experience was like.
Some samples from Sennholz's appearances in my new book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, will give you some insights on the man in full:
Sennholz on his relationship with Ludwig Von Mises, from whom he studied economics at New York University:
"We developed family relations. I married a classmate [Mary Homan, a secretary at FEE], introduced to me by Mrs. Mises. She claimed credit when we had a boy, and became godmother. Mrs. Mises and Dr. Mises went to baptism classes, and from then on he was always considerate and nice and fatherly. We had such an excellent relationship that whenever he went on a speaking tour to Central America, if they invited someone else to accompany him it would be me....When Mises was ninety or ninty-one, I was giving a speech at FEE. This was 1972. Mises came out with his wife. I was honored that the old man would come when I would speak. And he would go to sleep. That was our relationship on some level."
Sennholz's academic career in the U.S.:
While Sennholz made no great theoretical or scholarly contributions to the Austrian cause, he was the teacher who directly influenced the largest number of students toward a passion for the Austrian economics and libertarianism, and the connection between the two....Most who dealt with him have a Hans Sennholz story to tell, often with a head-shaking combination of admiration and exasperation. One former student....recalls how his students often asked Sennholz why, with his strongly held political views and obvious love of expounding upon them, he never chose to run for office. "Oh sure," he would say in his thick German accent, "I can see some United States veteran with an injured or missing arm come to me at a speech crying, 'Did you do this? Did you do this?!'"
Peter Boettke, an economics professor at George Mason University and a scholar on Soviet economics, on his teacher Sennholz, who turned a kid who only cared about basketball into an economist:
"Sennholz could get you hyped up on your ability to walk through fire for the truth. He doesn't reach you with the technical aspects, but with the ideological aspects. Sennholz explained the welfare state as this giant circle with all of our hands in our neighbors' pockets. This lecture was 15 years ago and I can still remember it. How many people with one lecture 15 years ago can make you still remember that lecture? That's the kind of guy Sennholz is."
The New York Times runs through the "fair housing protections" that are forcing Manhattan real estate agents to purge their listings of "offensive" descriptors:
"What kind of people live in this building?”
That is often the first question brokers are asked by apartment hunters — be they couples with children, retirees seeking peace and quiet or 20-somethings prone to the occasional raucous party.
But in recent months, thousands of brokers have learned that in answering that question, they might just be breaking the law. Many real estate ads, for instance, use “family friendly” to describe large apartments. But according to a strict interpretation of federal, state and local fair-housing laws, that is illegal.
The State Legislature last week passed legislation that will require all brokers seeking to renew their licenses to undergo at least three hours of fair-housing training as part of their 22 ½ hours of continuing education. (Similar training is already required for initial licensing.)
The real estate board joined with the New York State Association of Realtors in March to sponsor the amendment. After Mr. Garfinkel’s recent seminar at Gumley Haft Kleier, Ms. Kleier said she had her staff comb through the agency’s advertisements and remove wording that suggested a building might be “great for families.”
Katherine Mangu-Ward discussed the Fair Housing Act here.
Katherine Mangu-Ward asks whether Congress knows enough to tell Americans how to invest.
No, not oulaw the the creation of biotech combinations of felines and canines, but crossbreeds of Siamese with Persians and Poodles with Golden Retrievers. Earlier this month, members of the California State Assembly voted 41-38 to outlaw the existence of mixed-breed dogs and cats in the Golden State.
According to a PetPac:
Assembly Bill 1634, authored by Los Angeles Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, will allow only select purebred dogs and cats to breed. Pet owners who don't sterilize their mixed breed pets by four months of age will face a $500 fine and possible criminal penalties.
Kudos for long time reason reader Mark Lambert.
Addendum: AB 1634 is even more ridiculously draconian than I thought. See the text here.
Depending on which account is correct, the Supreme Court has either struck down the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act's restrictions on independent ads that mention federal candidates or ruled that the restrictions cannot be applied to three ads sponsored by Wisconsin Right to Life without violating the First Amendment. (The decision is not available online yet.) Either way, it's good news, since the attempt to squelch "sham" issue ads by prohibiting interest groups from running spots that refer to politicians close to elections had a clear impact on their ability to speak their minds on the issues that matter most to them at the times when people are paying the most attention.
Update: A PDF of the decision is here. The main holding is that BCRA's ad restrictions are constitutional only insofar as they apply to "express advocacy" or its "functional equivalent." The Court concluded that Wisconsin Right to Life's ads, which urged people to contact their senators (including one who was up for re-election) about the confirmation of judicial nominees, did not constitute either. The majority said "a court should find that an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate." To put it another way, BCRA's pre-election blackout cannot be constitutionally applied to a spot that reasonably can be viewed as an issue ad, which means interest groups are once again free to engage in public policy debates on the air, no matter what time of year it is.
The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives has survived a legal challenge from atheists*:
The Supreme Court on Monday said ordinary taxpayers don't have the legal standing to challenge a White House initiative helping religious charities get a share of federal money.
The 5-4 decision dealt with a suit by a group of atheists and agnostics against Bush administration officials including the head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The taxpayers' group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., objected to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.
reason has been on the faith-based initiatives
beat since the getgo. In 2001 Cathy Young took
the temperature of the debate. In 2003, Kerry Howley
explored how Chuck Colson was trolling for funds.
*I pledge to keep spelling "atheist" wrong until those mooks bow down to Allah, like Jesus would want them to.
As I type, multi-chinned apparatchik Dan Glickman of the Motion Picture Association of America is declaiming the overabundance of fatty foods on TV, especially kids TV. To his credit, Glickman says censorship isn't the answer, but that "we" all need to do our parts to prevent images of smoking and especially eating from warping kids.
And now a woman from a group funded by the tobacco company lawsuits is attacking smoking in movies.
And now a doctor is inveighing against advertisements for fatty foods.
Let's be clear: Whatever legislative rules do or do not come out such hearings, they are a waste of time, at least in a place prides itself on being the land of the free.
Btw, does movie smoking cause real-world smoking? No.
Does violence in movies cause real-world violence? No.
The upside of all this? If Congress is wasting its time on this sort of crap, they can't be pushing idiotic, unenforceable, and counterproductive immigration laws.
These hearings are brought to you by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who often appears in pandering publicity shots with his longtime, and equally annoying, companion, Clifford the Big Red Dog, whose BMI can't be healthy. Is it just me, or are these guys the J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson of media killjoys?
The latest hint that the Dems might try to revive the odious Fairness Doctrine:
Feinstein, speaking on "Fox News Sunday" with Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said talk radio in particular has presented a one-sided view of immigration reform legislation being considered by the Senate....
Asked if she would revive the fairness doctrine, which used to require broadcasters to present competing sides of controversial issues, Feinstein said she was "looking at it."
"I remember when there was a fairness doctrine," she said, "and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people."
In a better world, this woman's political career would have been derailed 28 years ago by a surprise upset victory for the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys. In the world we're stuck in, you can read about the Fairness Doctrine's speech-squashing effects here.
As the baby boom generation of teachers retires, schools are facing shortages of qualified teachers:
"It's not that you don't have some terrifically talented people going into teaching. You do," said Richard J. Murnane, an economist at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. "The issue is that you don't have enough. And many are the most likely to leave teaching, because they have lots of other opportunities."...
To offset a shortfall of 280,000 qualified math and science teachers projected by 2015, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics advocates more competitive pay -- a controversial move away from a fixed salary structure that some teacher advocates say reflects a mentality that teaching is a second income.
Only in government-run schools can people believe that paying someone on the bases of aptitude and performance is "controversial."
US actress Cameron Diaz has apologised for wearing a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.
The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated Shrek films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes wearing an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People", perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan, printed in Chinese.
The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some cities around the world, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.
"I sincerely apologise to anyone I may have inadvertently offended," Diaz said in a statement. "The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China andI did not realise the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it."
One prominent Peruvian human rights activist said Diaz should have been a little more aware of local sensitivities when picking her accessories.
At least she can return the bag. Iron Mike Tyson may have a tougher time with his exchange, especially if he's lost the receipt. More here.
Meanwhile, sales of Che Guevara tattoos are a bit flat these days too.
The University of Nevada system is going to let teachers carry firearms:
The tragedy of Virginia Tech is still fresh in the minds of many in the collegiate world and campus police departments from Reno to Las Vegas are trying to find a better solution. But students are dumbfounded by the plan to arm teachers.
"So there would be no reason for a teachers to run around, just try to play hero with a gun," said Chris James, junior.
Still the Board of Regents plan would allow faculty take a 21-week course in Carson City. That class would cost more than $3,000 per person and the universities would pick up the tab. But it would use a legal loophole to essentially deputize the employee. That way they wouldn't break the law.
It's a brief article, but note how all the fears about the new plan involve teachers going all Travis Bickle and not any likely problems.
Read more reason on gun rights here.
I interviewed Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker last May, shortly before he won an easy election and took over the city. He's had a rough first year in office with murder rates climbing even as other crimes taper off. The reason, he thinks, is idiotic law enforcement spurred by the war on drugs.
"I'm going to battle on this," the mayor says. "We're going to start doing it the gentlemanly way. And then we're going to do the civil disobedience way. Because this is absurd.
"I'm talking about marches. I'm talking about sit-ins at the state capitol. I'm talking about whatever it takes."
He wants to reserve prison cells for those who do violence and divert the nonviolent drug offenders into treatment programs and halfway houses.
He wants to change the New Jersey laws that bar many ex-cons from getting a driver's license. He wants a black kid from Newark who sells marijuana to clear his record as easily as the white kid from the suburbs who buys it.
He wants to stop banning ex-cons from such a long list of jobs, including warehouse jobs at the nearby airport.
The scale of the problem is staggering: About 1,500 convicts are released from state prison to Newark each year, and 1,000 of them will likely be arrested again within three years -- mostly for drug crimes.
"The drug war is causing crime," Booker says. "It is just chewing up young black men. And it's killing Newark."
Democrats run everything in New Jersey now but they're not helping out Booker. A 2005 proposal (by a Booker-friendly judge) to reduce the size of "drug free" school zones from 1000 to 200 square yards was ignored by Booker's party but inspired a Republican measure to increase penalties. Just as predictably Booker's stirred up frenzied opposition in his city, but a "Recall Booker" rally last week was mostly incoherent and the machine politicians who oppose him are out of gas. Check out Reasonoid Damien Cave's interview with Booker's 2006 opponent Ron Rice from the run-up to election day. Cave: "What are the top three policy differences between you and Mr. Booker?" Rice: "Well, I have more experience."
Steve Chapman ponders apologizing to Tony Blair for all the nightmares he's given him.
Interesting piece from yesterday's LA Times on the creeping canonization of science fiction, via a history and profile of the University of California at Riverside's "Eaton Collection" of SF and fantasy literature. The piece stars the collection's redoubtable warrior-prince George Slusser, who fought for decades to earn the genre, and the collection, a respectable place in academia.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's telecommunications subcommittee, held a hearing today at which he defended the V-chip, which he pushed to require in 1996, against the FCC's suggestion that it's an inadequate means of protecting children from sex and violence on TV. "I believe 'Big Mother' and 'Big Father' are better able to decide what is appropriate for their kids to watch, rather than 'Big Brother,'" he said. But not when it comes to food ads. Fornication and murder are one thing, commercials for Froot Loops quite another. Markey bemoaned the fact that the V-chip does not screen out food ads, saying the FCC should step in if food manufacturers don't stop making tasty treats look so appealing.
I'll be staffing the reason desk at Red Eye tonight at 2am ET on Fox News.
In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag said spending on Medicare and Medicaid will represent one-fifth of the gross domestic product in 2050 if it continues to grow at the same rate it has during the last four decades. That's "roughly the share of the economy now accounted for by the entire federal budget." While the aging of the population and the imminent retirement of the baby boomers will contribute to this dramatic increase, Orszag said, "the rate at which health care costs grow relative to income"—i.e., the fact that medical spending per patient has been rising about 2.5 percentage points faster than per capita GDP each year—"is the most important determinant of the long-term fiscal balance."
For this Orszag blamed, among other things, spending on new, more expensive treatments that are not always cost-effective, partly because doctors have a strong incentive to sell more services and patients have little reason to be cost-conscious. He also mentioned the various ways in which Americans fail to be as healthy as they could be, including smoking and overeating. But he implicitly conceded that the government would not necessarily save money if everyone were thin and smoke-free. "Although proposals that encourage more prevention and healthy living can help to promote better health outcomes," he said, "their effects on federal and total health spending are uncertain."
Why? Partly because living longer means more health care in old age (not to mention more demands on Social Security), so the net effect might actually be higher government spending. That appears to be the case with smoking, and it may be true of obesity as well. I have yet to see an analysis that looks at the total fiscal impact of eliminating obesity, as opposed to toting up the costs of treating diseases associated with high BMIs (many of which may actually be due to poor diet and/or lack of exercise, as opposed to excessive weight per se). I don't agree that every American has a duty to the state to eschew all risky habits because of their possible impact on the public treasury. But those who make this argument should at least be able to show that eliminating a particular risk factor would in fact improve the fiscal situation.
Columnist Ron Hart recently attended the Bonnaroo Music Festival and filed an amusing report on the rampant capitalism on display there among lefty hippie-types:
The entrepreneurial spirit abounded, a shining example of the same capitalism they seem to detest on a larger scale.
Vendors offered a wide array of pot, coke and acid for a reasonable market-driven price. Ironically, drugs were sold at a more competitive price than the Prescription Drug Benefit Congress "gave us" because at Bonnaroo, at least, the drug dealers are forced to compete.
The way dealers at Bonnaroo operate is that when they walk past someone they say their product. So I hear the word "pot" said by a passerby. If you wanted to buy said product, then, unlike our government's drug purchases, you would engage a vendor in price negotiations. And like most all of my purchases, they would begin with: "You ain't no cop, are you?"
Being one of the oldest dudes there, I really did not get many offers to "Rock the Vote" or buy drugs. In fact, I am not sure that when I walked by one dealer he didn't say "Geritol."
They register voters there because they know that they are going to vote for Democrats since they get most of their political views from the drummer for Third Eye Blind. This is the same drummer who rails against oil companies' 10 cent a gallon profit, yet has no problem selling his band's T-shirts at his concert for $35.
reason on the hippie menace here.
A new Norwegian study suggests that first-borns average a whole 3 IQ points higher than their later born siblings.
On average, firstborn males had an IQ of roughly 103.2, whereas the second-born child scored about 100.4 and third-borns 99. When the duo accounted for social rank, however, it turned out actual birth order may not be the key to intelligence.
On the other hand, first-borns may be retarded in other areas of life. In his op/ed today (hidden behind the TimeSelect veil of secrecy), David Brooks cites a New Zealand study (which I couldn't scare up) that finds:
"First borns are twice as likely to be virgins at 21 than later-born children."
Proving once again that babes don't necessarily find brains all that attractive.
A Washington Times editorial comes out in support of Adam Kokesh, the Iraq War veteran whose honorable discharge was downgraded to a general discharge for wearing his uniform, stripped of insignia, to an anti-war protest.
We're likely to see more cases like Mr. Kokesh's in the future, so it's worth considering whether this treatment was justified. Indeed it would be wholly fitting punishment for an active-duty soldier, Marine or drilling reservist, who should never be seen moving around Washington in uniform at political demonstrations. Mr. Kokesh's case is not so clear. We think the Corps should have erred on the side of leniency
Mr. Kokesh is, for all practical purposes, no longer in the service. When the protest episode occurred, he had mere weeks remaining as member of the Individual Ready Reserve, which at any given time consists of about 112,000 veterans returning to civilian life. A member's only duties are to keep a uniform, keep an I.D. card, notify authorities when changing addresses and, crucially, respond to the president's call in cases of national emergency. The Marine Corps had told Mr. Kokesh that it did not want him back. And the stripping-down of the uniform blurs things. Military lawyers can wrangle over how much this matters, but it's clear that Mr. Kokesh was simply a guy at a protest in camouflage pants. People listened to him because he's an Iraq veteran with fiery antiwar views.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars recently and rightly criticized the treatment of Mr. Kokesh. "Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic rights we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," says VFW chief Gary Kurplus. "Someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus."
“How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?” This is the provocative question asked by a new study published in the Du Bois Review. According the the press release, the researchers found:
When white Americans were asked to imagine how much they would have to be paid to live the rest of their lives as a black person, most requested relatively low amounts, generally less than $10,000.
In contrast, study participants said they would have to be paid about $1 million to give up television for the rest of their lives.
The answer was different when the contemporary black/white context was stripped away. Some participants...
...were asked to imagine they were born into the fictional country of Atria, and were born either into the “majority” or “minority” population. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria (which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America). In this case, white participants in the study said they should be paid an average of $1 million to be born as a minority member in Atria.
The study results jibe with my own informal surveys over the years. The researchers also probed attitudes toward reparations for wrongs committed against ancestors. Whole press release here.
Michael Moynihan files a review of Michael Moore's SiCKO—shortly before being rushed to the hospital.
Bryan Caplan, author of the fantabulous new book The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, says boo to applause --for politicians:
You can say "it's only human" to clap for our spokesmen, but consider the consequences. Audiences are giving speakers powerful psychological incentives to conceal any information that challenges their beliefs. Why not just hold up big signs that say: "TELL US WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR"?
Intrepid journalist that I am, I ventured to Rustico for lunch today to give the "hopsicle" a try (it's a tough job...).
Sadly, they're no longer serving them. At least until the state alcohol control tyrants give them the okay. The bar tender told me the owner is trying to cook the beer and add a few ingredients before freezing—just enough to let the idea fit under the exemption the Alcohol Control Board grants for cooking with alcohol. I did try the St. Louis Framboise that inspired the idea, though, and it's quite good, though my inner frat guy won't quite let me call it a "beer." But I'd imagine it'd make a delicious frozen treat.
Rustico's battle with the ABC over the hopsicle idea apparently made CNN earlier today.
Also, try the soups.
Could British niqabs be going the way of the French headscarves? A New York Times article suggests as much:
There have been numerous examples in the past year. A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was dismissed from her school. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In reaction, the British educational authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether. …
David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that the niqab was an affront and that Britain had been "too deferential."
"It says that all men are such brutes that if exposed to any more normally clothed women, they cannot be trusted to behave — and that all women who dress any more scantily like that are indecent," Mr. Sexton wrote. "It's abusive, a walking rejection of all our freedoms."
I can see why people find a full-face covering unnerving even if they don't support a legislative solution, but maybe we should be wary of assuming that all hijab or niqab-wearing individuals are hapless victims of self-delusion or misogynist oppression. Only a fraction of British Muslims wear them, after all, and the custom is no longer limited just to older, foreign-born women.
Nick Gillespie discusses Salman Rushdie on veils here.
The reason this comes up--besides a slow news day--is a scooplet by the Politico's Roger Simon. I don't know whether this is a testament to Roger's finely honed skills or that he was the only one who bothered to ask.
As one of those un-honed, un-skilled reporters, my reasons were 1)Nader has already said he might run and 2)he won't get any votes this time. In 2004 he got 4,479 votes in New Hampshire—almost 2,000 votes fewer than he got when he ran as a write-in candidate in the 1992 New Hampshire primary. He's a great interview, but his presidential days have passed.
Someone whose presidential days might still be coming: Cynthia
McKinney. At a June 9 speech in Harlem (available
on Google Video), McKinney made strong, winking references to a
possible 2008 Green run.
Near the end of the speech McKinney started riffing on the nations who'd elected left-wing leaders.
The world can't wait for us any longer. And the world did not wait! Because starting in Cuba, but then in Venezuela and Chile and Argentina and Bolivia and Brazil, they did not wait for us! So if I do something in 2008, and I really do want to do something in 2008, it will be the fullest expression that I know of revolutionary love. Because we will make revolution and it will only be about love.
One of the event organizers takes the mic and says "I can't hardly wait for 2008. Ms. McKinney, in 2008, what color is your parachute?" Off mic, she answers: "It's not red and it's not blue!" When she gets up to close out the event, McKinney makes a few more references to a possible run:
Y'all have also helped me make a little dent in next month's bills that have to be paid for the 2006 campaign, but I can tell you that we're well on our way, with the well-wishes that I have from all of you, for what we have in store for 2008.
If the election was held tomorrow and everyone who's dropped hints ended up on the ballot, your WinVote touchscreen would look like this.
Democratic Party - Some Democrat
Republican Party - Some Republican
Independent - Michael Bloomberg
Unity08 Party - Chuck Hagel
Green Party - Cynthia McKinney
Libertarian Party - Wayne Allyn Root
Constitution Party - Jerome Corsi
Monster Raving Loony Party - Ralph Nader
(Apologies to Alan Auguston, a current Green candidate and Hit and Run comment thread denizen who will be blown away if McKinney decides she wants their nomination.)
Two North Dakota farmers, one of them a state legislator, filed a federal lawsuit this week asking for a judgment declaring that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not prohibit their cultivation of industrial hemp. In 2005 North Dakota legalized hemp farming, but the necessary state licenses initially required approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This year, after it became clear that the DEA would not give its blessing to hemp cultivation, the state legislature amended the law to waive that requirement. But now would-be hemp farmers are worried that if they proceed with their plans they could face federal prosecution.
The DEA refuses to distinguish between nonpsychoactive hemp, which by definition contains less than 0.3 percent THC, and marijuana, which has a THC concentration at least 10 times as high. Hemp is legally grown in many countries around the world where marijuana is prohibited, and products made from hemp fiber, seed, and oil are legally sold in the United States. But because of the DEA's intransigence, the raw material for these products cannot be grown in this country without fear of arrest.
In their lawsuit, state Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrook) and Wayne Hauge, who has a farm in Ray, North Dakota, argue that the DEA is misreading the CSA, which specifically excludes the stalks, oil, and sterilized seeds of cannabis plants from the definition of marijuana. This definition, carried over the the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, reflects Congress' intent to allow the continued cultivation of hemp. Monson and Hauge argue that it's unreasonable to claim that Congress meant to ban industrial hemp:
The CSA does not prohibit the Plaintiffs' planned cultivation of industrial hemp on their farms in North Dakota because Congress's own findings in the CSA, read together with the legislative history of the Act, suggest that Congress did not intend to preclude a state regulated regime in which only the non-regulated parts of the plant would enter commerce at all and there is absolutely no risk of diversion of drug marijuana by reason of the cultivation of the hemp plants themselves, which are useless as drug marijuana and the mere cultivation of which cannot in any way affect commerce, whether intrastate or interstate, in drug marijuana.
The CSA does not prohibit the Plaintiffs' planned cultivation of industrial hemp on their farms in North Dakota because Congress could not, in the absence of any risk of diversion, logically have intended to allow someone in Canada to grow Cannabis and export the non-regulated parts of the plant into North Dakota but not allow someone in North Dakota to grow a form of Cannabis useless as drug marijuana and sell or distribute the same non-regulated parts of the plant in the same state, North Dakota. And since Congress would not have logically intended to prohibit such sale or distribution, it could not logically have intended to prohibit intrastate commerce in viable hemp planting seed useless for the cultivation of drug marijuana and useful only for cultivation of industrial hemp for processing the non-regulated parts of the plant for commercial use.
The DEA's interpretation of the CSA vis-à-vis hemp already has been rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which blocked the agency's attempt to ban edible hemp products. In this case, however, there is the added complication that the hemp plants raised by U.S. farmers would include leaves and flowers, albeit with so little THC that they're worthless for getting high. Monson and Hauge emphasize that the leaves and flowers would stay on the farm. There is also the issue of the nonsterilized seeds that would be necessary to grow hemp, which they address by saying that the seeds cannot be used to grow psychoactive cannabis and would in any case stay in North Dakota, where their use would be regulated by the state.
But here is my favorite part of the suit: Even if Congress did mean to ban the sort of hemp farming authorized by North Dakota law, Monson and Hauge suggest, it does not have the constitutional authority to do so:
The CSA cannot be interpreted to prohibit the Plaintiffs' planned cultivation of industrial hemp on their farms in North Dakota because regulation of such cultivation, in the absence of any affect on commerce of any kind in the commodities which Congress has chosen to regulate under the CSA, would exceed congressional power under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Although Congress could regulate interstate commerce, and thus intrastate cultivation and production, of industrial hemp fiber and seed products, Congress has chosen not to do so. By applying the CSA to the Plaintiffs' proposed cultivation of industrial hemp, DEA would be extending its authority under the CSA into areas of interstate commerce Congress has expressly chosen not to regulate under the CSA. In-state industrial hemp plants themselves are in no way fungible with drug marijuana, whether moving in intrastate or interstate commerce, as no part of the industrial hemp plant has utility as a drug. The regulated parts of industrial hemp plants could not possibly be diverted into and "swell" or increase the supply of drug marijuana. Therefore, there is no potential for any effect on interstate commerce in drug marijuana. Intrastate cultivation of industrial hemp thus has no connection or effect whatsoever on the interstate commerce in drug marijuana that Congress has determined to regulate.
For those of us who were wondering, in the wake of the Supreme Court's determination that a pot plant on a California patient's windowsill is "interstate commerce," whether anything could be considered beyond congressional authority under the Commerce Clause, this sounds like a plausible prospect. Since industrial hemp is not a drug, it is even further removed from the interstate cannabis market than medical marijuana is. But note that Monson and Hauge's argument seems to hinge on the fact that Congress has not chosen to regulate the hemp market. If it did decide to do so, presumably it could control (or forbid) production in North Dakota, just as it does with other agricultural commodities.
Trent Lott is not proposing that we build an electrified goat fence around Mexico:
Sen. Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., was talking to reporters Wednesday about the immigration bill, when he said, "If the answer is 'build a fence' I've got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain't no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence."
"Now people are at least as smart as goats," Lott continued. "Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it."
"I'm not proposing an electrified goat fence," Lott added quickly, "I'm just trying, there's an analogy there."
Translation: It's Apt. Apt!!
Rustico is a fantastic little restaurant just a short distance from where I live. It's where I watch most the Colts games in the fall. It has a massive-but-thoughtful beer menu, and really innovative, tasty lunch and dinner menus. Even the bar food is interesting (and delicious).
A few weeks ago, Rustico owner Greg Engert put a St. Louis Framboise in the freezer to chill and forgot all about it. A few hours later, he went back to retrieve the beer and noticed it had frozen solid. He chipped out a chunk, tasted it, and an idea was born: the hopsicle. He quickly moved to put a variety of frozen beer treats on the menu.
Enter the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. We can't have people innovating, you know. And we certainly can't have people making alcohol fun or interesting. As it turns out, beer must be sold in its original container, or poured immediately into a glass (though I'm not sure how this accounts for deserts or savory foods made with beer). So the state agency is sending an appropriately official sounding "special agent" to investigate.
Engert was on the Washington Post's local radio station yesterday, sounding appropriately deferential to his regulators, promising to work with them to make the idea legal. Though it's unfortunate he can't call them out for the petty tyrants they are, his sucking up is probably a wise move. Virginia's ABC is pretty notoriously authoritative. Would hate to see Rustico get the Rack 'n' Roll Pool Hall treatment.
Not really new news to CIA watchers, but it's always good to have an excuse to be reminded. From USA Today:
Little-known documents made public Thursday detail illegal and scandalous activities by the CIA more than 30 years ago — wiretappings of journalists, kidnappings, warrantless searches and more.
The documents provide a glimpse of nearly 700 pages of materials that the agency has declassified and plans to release next week.
A six-page summary memo declassified in 2000 and released by The National Security Archive at George Washington University outlines 18 activities by the CIA that "presented legal questions" and were discussed with President Ford in 1975.
•The "two-year physical confinement" in the mid-1960s of a Soviet defector.
•CIA wiretapping in 1963 of two columnists, Robert Allen and Paul Scott, following a newspaper column in which national security information was disclosed. The wiretapping revealed calls from 12 senators and six congressmen but did not indicate the source of the leak.
•The "personal surveillances" in 1972 of Pulitzer Prize-winning muckraking columnist Jack Anderson and staff members including Les Whitten and Britt Hume. The surveillance involved watching the targets but no wiretapping.....
•The personal surveillance of Washington Post reporter Mike Getler over three months beginning in late 1971. No specific stories are mentioned in the memo............
CIA Director Michael Hayden called the documents being released next week unflattering, but he added that "it is CIA's history."
Jesse Walker on why it shouldn't be against the law to reveal a CIA agent's identity.
Ronald Bailey explains why the ethanol craze might be folly, but it isn't funny.
The veep's office explains why it is not, in fact, subject to mandatory security inspections for offices within the executive branch:
A frequent critic of the Bush administration, [Rep. Henry] Waxman also asked Cheney how the vice president's office could claim, as it has in correspondence he cited in his letter, that it was not "an entity within the executive branch."
One Cheney staffer familiar with the matter said Thursday that the vice president has not complied with the order because his office has dual functions: It is part of the executive branch — the Bush administration — but also part of the legislative branch, given Cheney's position as president of the Senate.
As such, the vice president's office has no legal obligation to abide by the order because it only applies to the executive branch, said the Cheney staffer, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the office and requested anonymity.
Got that? The office is part of the legislative branch when the Information Security Office is performing executive inspections, but--lo!--will shapeshift into executive branch mode come time to invoke executive privilege.
Last year, I explored the link between Cheney's aversion to disclosure and his taxpayer-funded (man) hunting expeditions.
A couple of nights ago, I appeared on Fox News Channel's Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld to talk about the most pressing issues of the day: Whether New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg could win the presidency, whether Rudy Giuliani could win the presidency, whether Iron Eyes Cody was really an Amerindian, and, most important, whether Scott Baio would ever find true love as his Joanie-loving days as TV's Chachi. Here's one YouTube-friendly snippet:
And if you want to sample the whole show please check out reason's YouTube page, where many of the staff's other TV appearances are available for viewing.
Bonus weekend edition: On Saturday, June 23, my interview of Amity Shlaes about her book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, will air at 9 P.M. Eastern Time (and a couple of more times over the weekend). Details here.
Good news for fans of neighborhood radio: Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) introduced a bill yesterday to loosen the government's restrictions on starting independent, low-power stations in urban areas. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) sponsored the Senate's version of the legislation. (Yes, McCain. Initially a vocal opponent of low-power radio, he did an about-face several years ago; these days he's pretty good on the issue.)
Here's what the bill does:
* It repeals the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000. This misnamed law, pushed by the National Association of Broadcasters, hobbled the FCC's plan to license new low-power stations by effectively limiting the available slots to the countryside. (Fun fact: In the House, every Republican except Ron Paul and Ed Royce backed the bill.)
* Within carefully defined limits, it allows stations to transmit closer to each other on the FM band, thus making room for more broadcasters.
* It asks the FCC, when issuing licenses, to give low-power projects that offer their own programming the same consideration given to "translator" stations that retransmit signals originating elsewhere.
Update: McCain isn't the only presidential candidate backing the bill. I just got an email from Ron Paul's legislative director letting me know his boss is signing onto it as well.
Matt Yglesias, here's a slide of Mitt
Romney's PowerPoint on Islamic fundamentalist terror
This doesn't recall John Edwards–its intended target—as much as it does the surrealist art of René Magritte.
So the question has changed; it is no longer Hugh Hewitt's question. Is America ready for a Belgian president? Is there at least a "Belgian Sarkozy" neoconservatives could glom onto in making the case for Romney Presidente?
Canada is on a roll, with slightly less coercive policies than one might expect! (Hey, I'm trying for a positive outlook, ok?)
Health Canada will delay regulation of trans fats in Canadian food products for at least two years, calling instead for industry to voluntarily limit use of the heart-clogging compounds.
Critics blame the delay on opposition from the U.S. government, whose food industry would face complications exporting to Canada if Ottawa introduced binding limits.
Could the whole country wind up following in Ottawa's footsteps?
Of course, voluntary limits aren't all that impressive if, as the Star forecasts, "regulations will be introduced in two years if the industry doesn't meet the targets." But for now, the Canadian people will remain as round as the "O" in their national anthem, "O Canada!"
If you ever get the urge to expose yourself in Arizona—and really, who doesn't?—be ready to give a DNA sample upon your arrest. And be ready for the sample to stay in the state's database.
Oh, and be ready for the sampling even if you're merely accused of the crime, and booked. No conviction necessary.
Supporters say the move provides an expanded crime-solving tool for law enforcement and compared taking a DNA sample to taking a mug shot or fingerprints at the time of arrest. Current law requires DNA samples only after a person is convicted of certain felonies.
"As we build that database, more people will be caught before police have to stake out a hotel room and wait for a second victim," said Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, a former police officer who is the measure's key backer.
The provision, part of the state budget package, is now waiting action by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who is expected to sign the overarching bill as part of the agreed-upon state budget.
The idea has opposition from the Democratic left and the GOP right, but not enough to slow it down.
Here's some good news for modern man: According to the Gallup Poll, which has been tracking this stuff since the 1970s, approval of Congress has never been lower. And the president ain't doing so well, either, posting Nixonian percentages. The poll was done via telephone with 1,007 adults in mid-June.
- Folks saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the Supreme Court: 34 percent; "the presidency": 25 percent; in Congress: 14 percent. All are down since 2002.
- Folks saying they have a great deal/a lot of confidence in the military: 69 percent (down from a high of 82 percent in June 2003).
- Folks saying that have a great deal/a lot of confidence in TV news: 23 percent. In newspapers: 22 percent....
In fact, it's pretty much a clean sweep across the board, says Gallup:
Americans are currently in a very sour mood; a state of affairs that is reflected in the relatively low confidence ratings given many Americans institutions [including business, religion, the police, banks, and more] in Gallup's latest survey....
We assume that the low confidence ratings measured this year are connected to Americans' broader malaise with the state of the country. It is not entirely clear what is behind the currently bad mood on the part of Americans, but Gallup analyses show that the Iraq war and the economy are certainly perceived as major problems at this point in time. The very low ratings for Congress suggest that Americans may be upset that their elected representatives have not been able to rectify these concerns as well.
In this week's Friday Funnies, Chip Bok portrays a heated argument about immigration.