Thursday, June 30, 2005

R.I.P. Private Property

Kelo et al v. City of New London

Thursday, June 23rd will go down as the day the private property (which was already on life support thanks to the Supreme Court) finally bought the farm. Afterwich the farm was bulldozed by the state based on the expanded definition of eniment domain and is slated to become a Super WalMart.

I have disagreed with almost every Supreme Court ruling since, well, ever - but this one is truly mindboggling. Liberals and conservatives alike can be genually offended by this decision. The hiliarious side effect is that a group lead by Logan Clements has petitioned the Weare, New Hampshire Board of Selectman to seize David Souter's farmhouse and turn it into the "Lost Liberty Hotel".

The proposed hotel would feature a museum with exhibits detailing the loss of freedom in America. As part of the application, the parcel of land in question was selected because it is a 'unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans'.

While I'm highly sceptical that this proposal will succeed - it is interesting to note that Chip Meany, the town's code enforcement officer, is proceeding with the application process. Hah!

Religion: the new porn

From a commenter at Volokh:
The standard essentially is that the work, taken as a whole, appeal to the improper (prurient) interest in religion, and that it lack redeeming secular value. My advice to states wishing to erect 10 Commandments or similar monuments would be to hire pornography defense lawyers from the 1960s and 1970s for advice on how it's done, because their ouevre is now the state of the art in this area. [...] Go ahead and try it! Seriously! Read some of the old obscenity cases, cross out the word 'sex', write in the word 'religion' in crayon, and see if you don't get something astonishingly identical to the Supreme Court's current religious-monument jurisprudence!
For what it's worth, here's my take on the whole Establishment clause controversy: I don't see the clause as creating an individual right at all. Nobody has the right to the absence of an established religion. Suppose that Congress, in blatant defiance of the constitution, decided to establish Tibetan Buddhism as the state religion. Suppose it passed a law declaring the USA to be a Buddhist country, put the Dalai Lama's picture on all currency, put a mandala on the flag, adopted a mantra as the national anthem, and set up a voluntary tax from which priests would be paid. This would be absolutely unconstitutional, but I don't see how anyone's rights would be violated by it. The rest of the 1st amendment, including the Free Exercise clause, protect individual rights; the Establishment clause does not - it merely prohibits Congress from doing something that it would otherwise be allowed to do.

The reason why the Establishment clause is there in the first place is for the benefit of the states. At the time of federation, some of the states had established religions, and were quite happy with them, and saw no need to change them. Meanwhile, Virginia and the Carolinas had no established religion, and were against the whole idea. What all of these states did not want was the federal government establishing a religion over their heads, which would conflict with what they had decided to do at the state level.

The 14th amendment, for the first time, compelled the states to respect certain vaguely-defined individual rights, and eventually the Supreme Court decided that the Bill of Rights could serve as a guide to which rights the 14th amendment meant to impose on the states. And it decided that the whole of the 1st amendment should be read as if it were incorporated into the 14th, including the Establishment clause. Thus, suddenly the states were barred from establishing religion, and most of the cases we've seen since then stem from this decision. And that decision, I submit, was wrong.

Nobody has a right not to have an established religion, so long as he is free to ignore one if it is established. An establishment of religion neither compels anybody to do anything, nor forbids anyone from doing anything, so it makes no sense to regard the prohibition of establishment as a right. And if it's not a right of any person, then what phrase in the 14th amendment can possibly be read as forbidding it? Remember, the 14th amendment does not say "the 1st amendment is hereby extended to the states"; all it says is that the states have to give each person due process, that they can't infringe people's privileges and immunities, etc. The free exercise of religion is a right which, after the passage of the 14th amendment, the states could no longer infringe; if the absence of an established church is not a right then a state that establishes one can't be infringing it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hitchens Asks An Imprtant Question (In His Own Smarmy Way)

As always, Christopher Hitchens has written an excellent article on the ongoing campaign in Iraq, and, to a lesser extent, Arghanistan. In "Don't 'Son' Me - End this silly talk about sacrificing children" up on Slate Hitchens gets riled up about the repeated demands from anti-war types that if you support the war you'd better go yourself or send your kid, other wise you're a hypocrite. He's sort of taunting the hard core anti-war types, but his examples of why this demand is absurd are pretty strong. Also, he makes a point that I haven't heard pro-war people like myself making, but we should now. He wonders why we never hear calls for a timetable in Afghanistan. That is a good question. The funniest line though, is his response to a call for one of the President's daughters to enlist to "prove" the war is worth it:

"Do I know a single anti-war person who would be more persuaded if one of the Bush girls joined up? Do you? Can you imagine what would be said about such a cheap emotional stunt? Stalin's son was taken prisoner by the Nazi invaders (and never exchanged), and Mao's son was killed in the war that established the present state of North Korea. I am not sure how encouraging such precedents are supposed to be, but they have nothing at all to do with the definition of a just war."

Exactly right. Hitchens also asks if the anti-war crowd doesn't like the idea of civilian military control. Good question. Read the piece, and use it on someone next time they demand you or your kid volunteer for Iraq.

Judicial Murder

The Schiavo case was neither the first, nor the worst. This story is absolutely appalling. I believe that all the people involved in this, from the judge down to the nurses who implemented the court order, ought to be tried for murder and locked up forever, or executed. This (if the case has been accurately described) is a true Nuremberg situation, where, no matter what the court said, the law was sufficiently obvious to all concerned, and they had a duty to obey it, and to defy the court order. Therefore, punishing them would not be ex post facto law.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jonah Goldberg, American Hero

You've got to read this.
I don't use the word "hero" lightly, but I am the greatest hero in American history. Except, maybe, for Al Gore.
(via Instapundit)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Karl Rove is Machiavelli Reborn

The other day Karl Rove said that the liberal response to 9/11 had been rather namby-pamby. This upset the Democrats who accidentally admitted that they think all Democrats are liberals(I know several Democrats who would disagree, some even in Congress!). They called on Rove to resign. Now, head over to Postwatch to compare and contrast the media response to a United States Senator, speaking on the floor of the Senate, essentially linking US Troops with Nazis and a political operative speeaking at a NY Conservative Party dinner who called liberals, a term which does not necessarily mean "Democrat", a little weak on terror. Looking at the coverage, you might think Rove called all Democrats anti-American fifth columnists. That he never mentioned the word "Democrat" says to me that Rove deliberately wanted this to happen, this storm that allows the rest of us to go back and look at what liberals(not always Democrats) said post-9/11. Scroll down the Postwatch article to the comments and a poster has already laid out MoveOn's position, which was no war on Afghanistan. Why, that is a bit crazy and weak-kneed. Why are Democrats defending that? Because that's what Rove wanted them to do. The man is freakishly intelligent, Machiavelli reborn. The Democrats always say he's an evil genius, but why do they keep falling for his traps? I think it's because they're idiots with no agenda save obstructionism, but I only have a graduate degree in Politics, what do I know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Save the Whalers

The International Whaling Commission has voted down, 29-23, Japan's motion to resume commercial whaling.

According to its web site, the IWC's purpose is to manage whale stocks, "and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry". It was formed in 1946, when the major whaling countries, alarmed at the depletion of whale stocks all over the world, got together to set limits in order to save the industry from committing suicide by driving its prey into extinction. This is a key point: the purpose was not so much to save the whales, as to save the whalers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The One Conservative at Huffington Post

My last posting, over a week ago, was about the total lack of Conservative (or REAL celebrity) voices over at HuffingpaintPost. Well, I'm a gluton for punishment, and I read the site every day, watching Arianna and her drooling admirers/lackeys get worked up over the Downing Street stuff and, lately, Gitmo. Today, I finally found an intellegent, Conservative poster at the blog, and his name is Michael Smerconish.

Apparently he's a tlak radio host/lawyer from Philadelphia. I've never heard of him before, though he's written for NRO and other Conservative outlets, as well as recently penning a book called "Flying Blind" about the holes that still exist in out airport security screening. He makes a case for a sort of profiling, based on the experieneces of the man who stopped the "20th Hijacker" from entering the US, Jose Melendez-Perez, a security officer at Orlando International Airport.

Today at HuffPost, Smerconish relates a radio interview with SecDef Rufsfeld. It's an interesting piece, especially for the HuffPost and is probably the only place a left-winger will read that poor "Detainee 063", whom Time wants to make into a symbol of National Shame(TM Dick Durbin) was the 20th Hijacker, Mohammed al-Qahtani, whom we caught fighting US Troops with the Taliban after he was deported in August of 2001. Reading Smerconish's piece, I'm reminded again that so many of those who hat Gitmo don't seem to realize exactly who we've got there. Many op-ed's and politicians are demanding we close down the prison and, essentially, do nothing with the prisoners. That these men, if released, would certainly go back to plotting against us is of no concern. Better Americans or innocent Iraqis be killed by Jihadists than to have the Jihadists locked away in a place that makes them feel bad about themselves and is occasionally uncomfortable. Smericonish is likely to be savaged by the idiots who hang on Arianna's every whim, so maybe a positive comment on his post might be in order.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"I used to laugh at Wickard"

Randy Barnett has posted his analysis of Gonzales v Raich, and why he lost. As he says, this was a left-liberal decision, and "I credit the four Lopez and Morrison dissenters with putting their vision of the Constitution above precedent", and with not making "an exception to their principled stance in favor of federal power".

I'm Sorry, Wasn't the Huffingpaint Post supposed to have SOME Conservative Commentators? Or real movies stars?

I read the The HuffingPaint Post everyday, because I'm always looking for a new Jim Lampley post to laugh at or I want to guess how many cocktails Arianna's had before she writes something. I used to look because I was convinced that actual famous people would blog about something because wasn't that what Arianna promised? Something like Cameron Diaz equating not voting with endorsing rape or something about how great Coldplay is from Gweneth Paltrow. Also, in the first week, their was some hope that their would be an exchange of ideas between different points of view. When Byron York took on the ravings of Lampley and beat him bloody, I thought that the FluffPost might be a worthwhile endeavour. How wrong I was.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Parents' Day

Edward Whelan at Bench Memos wrote a few weeks ago about what a radical out-of-the-mainstream leftist Ruth Bader Ginsburg was when President Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court, and how the Republican-controlled Senate nevertheless confirmed her, 96-3, within 6 weeks of being nominated. Ken Starr (who should also be on the Supreme Court) recently also used her as an example of how a judicial nominee's political beliefs shouldn't be used to block her, and how the recent policy of doing so, especially by the Democrats, is a "radical, radical change".

Kerry Wasn't a Smarty Pants

The tedium of Washington in 90-degree weather means that the news is going to slow to a crawl. So why not go back to an issue that the blogosphere debated months and months ago when the electio hadn't happened yet and people still cared-the intellegence of John Kerry compared to George W. Bush. Instapundit has a round up of a Boston Globe story that shows Kerry got four D's his first year at Yale, and that his culmulative average was a paltry 76. Bush graduated with a 77. Hardly daunting numbers for either, and I know if I did that poorly I wouldn't be allowed to go home at the end of the year. Still, just to beat a dead horse because Kerry deserves everything he gets, it's funny that his nonsensical "nuanaced" positions on issues considered to be "too complex" for Bush were from a guy who might actually BE dumb enough to say "I voted for it before I voted against it". Plus, we know that Bush was hardly a heavy-duty student. Kerry must have been duller than we thought! I guess grim really doesn't equal smart!

PS: Check out the class photos of Dubya and Kerry right here. Lord, Kerry was ugly. Bush actually looks smarter in his photo. Kerry looks like he took the short bus.

Monday, June 06, 2005

So much for the "new federalism"

It is a sad day for liberty.

Then again, it was a sad day for liberty back in the 1930s, when the Supreme Court set the precedent for this decision in Wickard. It was always going to be tough to persuade the court that Congress has the right to tell you not to grow wheat on your own land for your own consumption, but it doesn't have the right to tell you the same thing for marijuana.

I think Randy Barnett successfully distinguished the two cases, because there is a legal interstate market for wheat, and the reason people weren't allowed to grow their own was to force them to buy, and therefore raise the price; that was a terrible decision, but had at least a certain perverse logic to it. In this case, though, the interstate market is illegal, and Congress isn't interested in controlling the price, it's interested in eliminating it altogether. Congress isn't telling Raich to buy her pot instead of growing it, it's telling her not to use it at all, which is very far from "regulating interstate commerce".

I'm glad and not at all surprised that Thomas saw things this way, and dissented from the decision; I'd love to see him as the next Chief. And I'm not at all surprised to see Stevens write the majority decision, joined by Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg. But I'm mightily disappointed at Scalia and Kennedy, who've been champions of the "new federalism", for stepping back from this opportunity to roll back just a little of the New Deal.

And while we're on anniversaries...

It's the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation. Though stories like this remind us that it isn't nearly as liberated as we thought. Still, happy Jerusalem Day.

D-Day Anniversary

Just to keep the whole blog thing here from going stale, I just wanted to pause and remind everyone that today is the 61st Anniversary of D-Day, the day the liberation of Europe began and the greatest amphibious assault in history began. If you've got relatives who are vets or know anybody who is one, thank them today. Then watch "Saving Private Ryan". It's the least you could do for these men.