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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Our Two Americas: Actual Victims and Honorary Victims

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that girl's basketball coach Roderick Jackson may sue under the federal Civil Rights laws for sex discrimination. Johnson claims that he was fired from his coaching assignment because he complained to school district officials that the girls on his team were treated unfairly in comparison to the boys' basketball team.

As the court ruled, Johnson's complaints about discrimination against other people (in this case, the young girls who were short-changed) transformed his claim for unlawful retaliation into one of gender discrimination.

The Court says plainly: “[Title IX] is broadly worded; it does not require that the victim of the retaliation must also be the victim of the discrimination that is the subject of the original complaint.”

In this ruling we have the liberals' great triumph: Victimization by proxy.

If you are not an actual victim of invidious discrimination; that is no problem at all…. Speaking out about discrimination against others makes you an honorary victim.

Blogger Midwest Jay said...

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11:56 PM, April 01, 2005  

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Terri and Elian

John Fund at Opinion Journal compares the Schiavo case to the Elian Gonzalez event in 1999. In case you forgot, Clinton did not seek Congressional action to trump Florida law, instead he just defied Florida law by rationalizing away federalism via executive order.

Because Elian was underage, his fate would therefore be decided by local family courts. On Dec. 1, the INS issued a statement saying, "Although the INS has no role in the family custody decision process, we have discussed the case with the State of Florida officials who have confirmed that the issue of legal custody must be decided by its state court."


Then the Clinton administration reversed course after protests from the Castro regime reached a fever pitch. On Dec. 9, the INS declared its previous position "a mistake" and said that state courts would not have jurisdiction in Elian's case. They claimed that because Elain was taken directly to a hospital he was therefore never formally paroled into the U.S.--even though he was then turned over to his Miami relatives rather than the INS.



Clinton did not bother with judicial oversight legislation. He just took Elian and gave him back to the Communists:


The Reno Justice Department acted the next day to short-circuit a legal process that was clearly going against it. On Good Friday evening, after all courts had closed for the day, the department obtained a "search" warrant from a night-duty magistrate who was not familiar with the case, submitting a supporting affidavit that seriously distorted the facts. Armed with that dubious warrant, the INS's helmeted officers, assault rifles at the ready, burst into the home of Elian's relatives and snatched the screaming boy from a bedroom closet. Many local bystanders were tear-gassed even though they did nothing to block the raid. Elian was quickly returned to Cuba; because he was never able to meet with his lawyers a scheduled May 11 asylum hearing on his case in Atlanta became moot.


Perhaps Glenn Reynold's "Libertarian Republicans" should remember Elian and think twice about jumping ship and joining the Democrats (because they are supposedly fed up with Congress' support of federal judicial jurisdiction in the Schiavo case).

At least Democrats don't waste time with democracy and legislation.....

Blogger Craig Westover said...

A smart "libertarian-Republican" would never jump ship to the Democrats.

When Republicans are wrong, as they are in the Schiavo case, they are wrong because they don't trust their basic principles. Republicans have principles, they just aren't following them.

When Democrats are wrong, it is because they are following what they mistakenly believe to be basic principles, which aren't principles at all. What they believe in is generally wrong.

The former is the better position to push for libertarian change.

1:12 PM, April 05, 2005  

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Bernie Botts

bernie

While everyone else was celebrating their Easter weekend with good things to eat, I had the fortune of trying Bernie Botts flavored jelly beans. The beans are straight from Harry Potter and are available in many wild flavors including:

1. Dirt
2. Earwax
3. Sardine
4. Booger
5. Soap
6. Black Pepper
7. Earthworm
8. Spaghetti
9. Vomit
10. Sardine

I assumed that these were for fun and that Earthworm was really an interesting fruity flavor. So I tried Earthworm, and it didn’t rally taste like much at all. Then I tried Spaghetti and it actually tasted a little bit like Spaghetti - quite interesting. Then I tried Sardine and just about puked up my entire large intestine.

Sardine is definitely the grossest flavored item that has ever reached my palate. I do not recommend it for anyone. After Sardine, I decided to pass on the others such as Vomit and Booger. (However, my wife tried vomit and claims that Sardine is still worse. )

Perhaps you should go out and buy some yourself. They are available at any Target store.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Best Line This Week

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled yesterday that the “Foundations of American Law and Government” display outside of the Elkhart County Courthouse did not violate the Establishment Clause because the Ten Commandments were included among a display of nine historical texts and symbols.

While the majority's announcement that the fact that “some person or group might be uncomfortable with the presence of the Ten Commandments in this display is not enough to require their removal,” is helpful, the legal test they applied in the case is squishier. The Court continues: “In a pluralistic society, reasonable people can usually tell the difference between preaching religion and teaching about the role of religion in our history. We are satisfied that Elkhart County is trying to teach, not preach, something about the Ten Commandments. The theme of the "Foundations" display is historical, emphasizing the origins of the American legal order; the historical thesis that underlies the display is that belief in God and the existence of inherent, God-given rights has played an important role in the genesis of basic concepts in American law and government.”

The far, far better line was from Reagan appointee Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook. In Judge Easterbrook's view, an early dismissal of the case would have been better than the "reasonable man" inquiry -- because such displays do not establish any religion. Writes Judge Eaterbrook: “‘Endorsement' differs from ‘establishment.’ A government does not ‘establish’ milk as the national beverage when it endorses milk as part of a sound diet.”

Very funny and very true. We should all raise our milk glasses (or better yet, the Society's Green Cup) to Judge Easterbrook.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Federalist Absolutionists

Nothing has bugged me more about that Schiavo case then the so called federal absolutionists. These whiners are apparently so upset about Congress involving themselves in the debate that they are predicting the end of the world. Take this statement cited today by Glenn Reynolds:

I'm Republican voter, voted for Bush twice, with high enthusiasm both times... Today you asked: "In November 2006, voters across the country will turn against the GOP because they fear that Congress will pass individually-targeted laws that prevent patients from being deliberately starved to death?" This voter might. I am very, very unhappy right now. Use whatever language you like. This "law," using the word loosely, makes a mockery of federalism.
First, I think Reynolds is being fooled by this statement. It's hard to believe that any reasonable voter would jump ship because of a trivial private law. Reynolds, however, does not give up. He seems to think that we must ignore morality to maintain our principles:


Regardless of the merits, Congress's involvement in this case seems quite "unconservative" to me, at least if one believes in rules of general application. Florida has a general law, and it's been followed. That people don't like the result isn't a reason for unprecedented Congressional action, unless results are all that matter.
This is ludicrous. Does Reynolds believe that Congress should just ignore morality as it goes about the people's business. Martin Luther King, Jr. says it better:



there are two types of laws: just and unjust. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"


Under Reynolds view of the world, Congress is obliged to stick to procedure as if Congress is the Good Samaritan who refuses to help because to do so would violate procedure or worse yet, be hypoctritical.

A former law professor of mine, Ann Althouse, believes that Congress is behaving unprincipled in its passage of the private law:


Congress ought to have felt constrained, knowing that it would not routinely give special treatment to other persons like Terri Schiavo. Its unwillingness to write a general law betrays a lack of commitment to any principle -- principle demands general applicability and not favoritism. And don't tell me it was too much of an emergency for it to be possible to draft a generally applicable law. Terri Schiavo's case has been around for years.

Professor Althouse appears to believe that Congress is giving Terri Schiavo special rights and attention with the legislation. This view is understandable if you trust the state courts. But, Congress did not trust the Florida courts, thus they were trying to make sure Terri Schiavo had basic rights, not additional rights.

The Schiavo case is a unique situation and Congressional action (to order further review) did nothing more more than provide another look by the Federal Courts. Federalist tyrants like Reynolds should realize that Congress has other things to do besides threatening the right to die rights of libertarian America.

Update: Ann Althouse responds that I need to consider her overall argument on the Congressional action to fully understand her position.

Specifically she states:

One could say that the new federal statute embodies federalism values, because it attempts to restore the choice made by the democratic branches of state government and to remove the obstacle set up by the state court.


To expand on this point, perhaps Congress' real motive is outright distrust of Courts in general. It is clearly obvious to many that courts (both federal and state) are running amok these days on democratic rule. Eventually, the general mistrust of courts will start to show its weight in democratic action. If Congress views the Florida courts as being corrupt, they have a duty to investigate. If there is no time for proper investigation and no time to pass a well thought out and debated law that would apply to all terminal cases where courts are thought to be corrupt, then Congress should act on individual cases, which is precisely what they did in the Schiavo case.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

In effect, these law professors are objecting to "congressional review." Right now, the judicial branch asserts it gets the last word on every decision (judicial review) and they are appalled that the legislative branch is pushing back and they are fighting it tooth and nail.

7:37 AM, March 25, 2005  

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

CU and Churchill

Hindrocket at Powerline and Michele Malkin both report on the University of Colorado’s report on Ward Churchill. They basically said his idiotic speech is not a fireable offense, but some of the other things he has been accused of need further looking into.

It looks to me like CU did this just right. Usually, I get pretty dismissive of people who overextend the First Amendment. Churchill does not have a constitutional right to say whatever he wants and still keep his job. The First Amendment applies to the government punishing ordinary citizens for speech. Losing your job, even your government job, over speech is not what the First Amendment is about. It’s about the government not putting you in jail over your speech. (Yes, I know that CU is a public university and thus, under our current courts’ interpretation, they are under a heavier First Amendment burden than a private university. But this is beside the point I am making and just seems to be another reason not to have public universities, but instead find other ways to support education and research.)

So why am I defending CU? Because universities, public or private, should be special. They are supposed to be places of free inquiry. They are supposed to be places where you can say basically anything. Tenure means you can’t be fired for your opinions, no matter how repugnant, period. A university shouldn't fire a tenured professor for saying "little Eichmanns" not because everyone should be free to say whatever they want without fear of getting fired, but because that is basically what the university agreed to when granting him tenure. That’s also why you should be careful about who you grant tenure (something not done in Churchill’s case).

Academic fraud, plagiary, pretending you’re an Indian when you’re not, these are things which should get you fired at a university, and Churchill looks, on the surface, to be plenty guilty enough to get fired for these things. But a deal is a deal. Tenure means you can say “little Eichmann’s” and not get fired.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Feeding Tubes

I am appalled by this entire Terri Schiavo business. It seems pretty clear that the courts, especially the trial court, is bending over backwards to get their desired result, that the feeding tube be removed. Letting a husband who has all but in name remarried and started a new family make the decision? Come on. Basically, the courts and a whole bunch of others have decided her life simply isn’t worth living. The law doesn’t yet allow us to give her an overdose of morphine, so withholding food and water will have to do. It’s akin to partial birth abortion. Those that do it would not have a problem with taking the baby all the way out and then killing it, but that would be against the law, so they take it out halfway, kill it, and then take it the rest of the way out.

But I’m worried that the pro-life side is going to far. In effect, they are arguing that feeding tubes must never be removed and perhaps must, if necessary for nourishment, always be put in. That is, food and water must always be provided, no matter what you have to do to deliver it. A priest at Mass yesterday basically said that we have no right to make a living will that says not to insert a feeding tube in some cases.

I disagree. Suppose I’m, say, sixty and saving my life requires some ridiculously expensive therapy for the rest of my life. I certainly have the right to say, forget it. It’s not worth it. I’d rather my family have the money. Well, a feeding tube and twenty four hour care is ridiculously expensive. Saying I don’t want to have this done for me in certain circumstances is an entirely different matter from trying to withhold it for someone else.

But what about the argument that it's just food and water? Food and water isn't heroic care.

True. But a feeding tube requires surgery. The idea that we are morally obligated to have surgery seems preposterous.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think the "pro-lifers" are going to far. All the absolutism arguments in this case are straw men put up by the left. This case is exceptional because it involves a family dispute of two extremes. On one side you have the husband that appears uncompromising. He refuses to allow one last look before pulling the tube. On the other side you have Terri's family who may always be in pursuit of one last look.

The other absolutists in this argument are those who believe that Congress was somehow wrong to intervene with private legislation. I agree that federalism and states rights should be the general rule, but all rules have exceptions, otherwise they are bad rules. I can't think of a better exception to the general rule than a case like this. Congress was right to intervene. Terri deserves one last independent look at her case and the parents should accept the outcome of the last independent look.

12:35 AM, March 24, 2005  

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Only Two Brave Dissenters

Only two of the Eleventh Circuit’s twelve active judges were willing to issue an order directing reinsertion of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube, in the hopes that she might live long enough for the federal case not to be rendered moot. The two dissenters from the majority's rebuff of the Schindler family were Circuit Judges Gerald Bard Tjoflat and Charles R. Wilson.

Interestingly enough, President Bush's recess appointment to the Court, embattled Circuit Judge William H. Pryor Jr., voted with the majority against further review. Pryor, you may recall, was pilloried by liberals for remarks at a Christian Coalition rally in June 2003, in which he called the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of the history of constitutional law.” Pryor also remarked that the day the decision was handed down was “the day seven members of our high court ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of unborn children.”

Hmmm….. Perhaps Judge Pryor has "grown into the job" during his 13 months on the Court.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

According to NRO's The The Corner, we don't know how Pryor voted. The Eleventh Circuit does not release the vote count, only who wins. Only two of the no votes actually wrote a dissent, but that doesn't mean there were only two no votes. It could have been anywhere from 10-2 to 7-5 and Pryor could have been one of those five.

7:44 PM, March 23, 2005  
Blogger Lance Rimpi said...

Thanks for catch, Chris. Both the New York Times and the Associated Press have since corrected the 10-2 reference, because of the 11th Circuit special local rule. In addition to the other things in this case I am praying for, is that Pryor voted with Wilson and Tjoflat.

8:11 AM, March 24, 2005  
Blogger Lance Rimpi said...

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8:13 AM, March 24, 2005  

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hannibal Barca

hannibal

My latest read is Hannibal by Theodore Ayrault Dodge. So far an excellent book. Dodge wrote in the late 1800s and provides extensive detail on the men, materials, and strategy of Hannibal's campaign against Rome in the 3rd Century BC. Dodge argues that Hannibal is one of the 6 great captains in history; the others being Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, Gustavus, and Marlborough.

The subject may become more relevant in pop culture as Vin Diesel of XXX fame and the Fast and the Furious is set to star and direct in a big budget film version of Hannibal beginning this year.
vin
Apparently, Vin wants to be the next Mel Gibson (Braveheart). However, after the dismal Oliver Stone film about Alexander, we shall see if Hannibal gets made (there are no ugly rumors, however, that Hannibal hade a male lover).

Hannibals greatest achievement was reached at Cannae, (located on the east coast of Italy SE from Rome) where he defeated and destroyed a much larger Roman Army through pure strategic and tactical skill. At the time, the Romans were far superior in discipline and fighting ability while Hannibal's army was made up of mercenaries from Spain, Africa, and Gaul. Nevertheless, Hannibal's strategy led the Romans into a fatal trap killing nearly 60,000 and wiping out almost the entire Roman army. The picture below shows the fate of the Roman army is it succumbs to encirclement. The mistake made by the Romans is not engaging all of their troops in the battle. Instead, half the troops remained bottled up behind one another. Hannibal seized on this mistake and won the day.

cannae

The problem with the Romans (from Hannibal's point of view) is that they would not give up. Instead the Romans fought Hannibal for 15 years in Italy, losing almost every engagement until Scipio Africanus lured Hannibal back to Africa and defeated him at Zama near Carthage in 202 BC.

As historian Adrian Goldsworthy states:

By his own understanding, Hannibal won the Second Punic War at Cannae, but the Romans were following a different set of rules and when they did not admit defeat there was little more that he could do to force them. The Romans did not fight for limited gains that other states expected from victory...The Romans fought to destroy the enemy army and its capacity to ever fight again. This is quite different from the Greeks who sought to end wars by negotiation...The Roman negotiating position was always the same: a demand for the other side to concede total defeat.

This attitude and the use of a citizen army is what propelled Rome to the forefront of civilization and why Rome lasted for so long. Critics of such an unwavering strategy need only to look as far as the Greeks who were dominated for 2000 years by others or Carthage, which ceased to exist. By the time Rome fell, it no longer had a citizen army nor did it have the will to fight. Such is the fate of civilizations.

Blogger Sb said...

If you're intrested in hannibal can i recomend Hanibal:enemy of rome

5:22 PM, April 27, 2005  

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It is not about the children ....

In a column to the membership California Teacher's Association this month, union president Barbara Kerr blasts Governor Schwarzenegger for being so wrong “our public schools and the teachers who work hard every day to help their students learn and succeed.”

But is that true throughout the state?

CNN and National Public Radio each had stories this week about how teachers in Berkeley, California have undertaken a labor action in which they are refusing to assign or correct homework until the School District accedes to the union's demands for pay and benefit increases.

If the education system in California (and elsewhere) were about “the children,” the children would be getting homework assignments despite the negotiation impasse.

Blue State Math

In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne says out loud what many liberals are thinking: Even when Democrats lose elections for public office, they still are the majority party.

Asserting that a filibuster by 44 Democrat U.S. Senators is, in fact, a “majority vote,” Dionne declares: “According to the Census Bureau's July 2004 population estimates, the 44 Democratic senators represent 148,026,027 people; the 55 Republican senators 144,765,157. Vermont's Jim Jeffords, an independent who usually votes with the Democrats, represents 310,697.... What does majority rule really mean in this context?”

Apart from the silliness and shamefulness of the claim, isn't the obvious rejoinder that President Bush's majority tallies in both the popular vote and Electoral College should have the most relevance about who is appointed to the federal courts?

But then, Dionne knew the answer he wanted when he began his calculations. Clearly, he is willing to tabulate as long, hard and as foolishly as is required for Democrats to “win.”

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Agreed. The emerging power of the liberal judiciary is quashing any chance for the conservative majority to express its wishes. Democrats broke with tradition and filibustered judicial appointments. Returning to tradition through an end to the filibuster of judges is the only option.

D.J. Dionne further misleads by claiming only 10 of 204 judges have been filibusterd. But, all 10 are Federal Circuit appointees of which only 35 have been appointed. So its 10 to 35, not 10 to 204.

Republicans have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ending the filibuster on judges. Some say Republicans will be in the minority again in the future and that they will need this tool. However, we need to remember that the nature of liberalism is to disband tradition and go with the times. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that Democrats would honor the filibuster rules. At a minimum we are stupid.

Republicans should end this rule now and appoint the judges that the people want.

9:07 AM, March 22, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

Very interesting math. I'm sure if we think about it we can come up with equally interesting, and equally misleading, outcomes. As was once said, "There are Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics!"

Once again, we see the left attempting to change the rules after the fact when it benefits their case. There is no lower form of cheating, and they should be ashamed of themselves, if of course they had any concept of shame.

10:41 AM, March 22, 2005  

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Minnesota EBT Card

My wife and kids were out of town this weekend, and I had need of a proper bachelor meal (high quality ribeye, huge baked potato, sauteed onions and mushrooms, all washed down with a nice red), which is why I found myself at a local grocery store. As I was standing in line perusing the headlines from the rags, I found myself wondering what was taking the fellow in front of me so long, so I started paying attention.

He was attempting to use a strange looking credit/debit card, and the machine wasn't taking it. I noticed the card had "
Minnesota EBT" on it, and I thought that it might be high tech food stamps. It turned out I was correct. EBT stands for "Electronic Benefits Transfer".

The cashier ended up having to call a manager to get the situation straightened out, and I had more time to assess the situation. First, the shopper. Tall guy, clearly well fed, nice long black leather coat, nice shoes, flip-type cellular phone, on which he was chatting away during the whole transaction. Next, his purchases. Let's just say this guy is not a healthy eater. There were 3 cases of pop, a bunch of candy and snack chips, a few frozen pizzas, a bunch of ground beef, and a number of other miscellaneous items.

It was the pop that first made me wonder. I guess I was surprised that you can buy brand name pop on food stamps, and it got me thinking. After the manager came and took care of the problem, he checked out, bagged up and left.

After I got done, I walked up to the manager's desk and asked "Can one buy pop on food stamps?" She looked to make sure that the fellow had left and said "Yep. It's really sad. You can get cash on that card, and you can buy anything in the store we sell - toys, movies, cigarettes - anything. You should be lucky you don't work here and have to see the things that people buy with food stamps. It's really disgusting". I thanked her for the info and left.

Perhaps I've got the intent all wrong, but I was under the impression that food stamps were for people who needed government help to keep from staving or being malnourished. If this guy was typical, we're really getting ripped off, and it's high time we did something about it. I recall hearing about attempts at this in the past, even the recent past, but this is the first time I've see the travesty with my own eyes. I've got calls into my State Representatives - I'll post what I find out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Clubs for Outlaws

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that Members of the Georgia State Board of Education are wrestling with a proposed rule that would require high school students to obtain permission slips from their parents before joining “gay student support groups that are popping up in Georgia high schools.”

Abby Farrar, age 15, and one of the students who hopes to start such a group, says that requiring written permission could deter would-be club members from joining up.

My questions, of course, are more fundamental: How could the public schools even consider hosting such an organization when the underlying premise of the club is an affinity based upon sexual conduct; and in the case of the club's would-be founder, illegal conduct? Georgia’s child molestation laws would criminally punish anyone who engaged in the acts with Abby (who is age 15) that underlie club membership.

And if a club for students that are too young to consent to sexual conduct is permitted would Georgia schools likewise charter a Kamasutra Book Club in advance of the Prom?

It is a situation that is out of control.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Virtue of Hate

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, UCLA Law Professor Euguene Volokh has a courageous post on a recent execution of a serial killer in Iran

An Iranian serial killer who murdered at least 20 children has been executed in front a large crowd of spectators.

Mohammad Bijeh, 24, dubbed "the Tehran desert vampire" by Iran's press, was flogged 100 times before being hanged.

A brother of one of his young victims stabbed him as he was being punished. The mother of another victim was asked to put the noose around his neck.

The execution took place in Pakdasht south of Tehran, near where Bijeh's year-long killing spree took place.

The killer was hoisted about 10 metres into the air by a crane and slowly throttled to death in front of the baying crowd.

Hanging by a crane - a common form of execution in Iran - does not involve a swift death as the condemned prisoner's neck is not broken.
Says Volokh

I particularly like the involvement of the victims' relatives in the killing of the monster; I think that if he'd killed one of my relatives, I would have wanted to play a role in killing him. Also, though for many instances I would prefer less painful forms of execution, I am especially pleased that the killing — and, yes, I am happy to call it a killing, a perfectly proper term for a perfectly proper act — was a slow throttling, and was preceded by a flogging. The one thing that troubles me (besides the fact that the murderer could only be killed once) is that the accomplice was sentenced to only 15 years in prison, but perhaps there's a good explanation.

I am being perfectly serious, by the way. I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness. I think it slights the burning injustice of the murders, and the pain of the families, to react in any other way.

And, yes, I know this aligns me in this instance with the Iranian government — but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and in this instance the Iranians are quite correct.

As one might suspect, he is getting quite a few irate emails.

This reminds me of an article I read in First Things by Meir Y. Soloveichik in 2003 called The Virture of Hate. In it, Soloveichik describes an experience of Simon Wiesenthal when, as a concentration camp worker, a dying Nazi asks him for forgiveness. Wiesenthal refuses. The question of whether he should have is given to a symposiam of religious types of all stripes. Commenting on the commentators, Dennis Prager writes, ``I was intrigued by the fact that all the Jewish respondents thought Simon Wiesenthal was right in not forgiving the repentant Nazi mass murderer, and that the Christians thought he was wrong.'' The article then goes on to examine the theological differences between Judaism and Christianity when it comes to hate and forgiveness and the author is very clear: Judaism (as I suspect Islam) simply does not take forgiving ones enemies to be a virtue. In fact, hating them them is a virtue. It ends with

Those Israeli parents whose boys and girls did not come home will pray for the destiny of his soul at the conclusion of their holiest day, but their prayer will be rather different from the rosary:
Let the terrorist die unshriven.
Let him go to hell.
Sooner a fly to God than he.

So what does this have to do with Iran and Volokh? I agree with Volokh that there is nothing unjust about painfully killing such a monster. In fact, it is probably more just than giving him a painless death. But that doesn't mean it is wise. I think Christianity may be on to something here. I wonder if the families of the slain children feel that much better now. Maybe revenge is a like a meal which doesn't satisfy. I'm pretty sure I would have a huge difficulty ever forgiving someone who harmed one of my children. But forgiving them may be good practical advise.

In any event, the First Things article cuts to the essence of the issues Volokh brings up. As Instapundit says, read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Over at Mirror of Justice, (a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory) they are blogging up a storm on the theological implications of this. Read especially this post, as well as the ones above it.

Blogger Craig Westover said...

Volokh's response is the reason I'm willing to endure the injustice of NOT having a death penalty. I agree that some crimes are so heinous that to reestablish moral balance capital punishment is the only justified response. But at the same time, the power to avenge -- especially when uncategorically righteous -- is not easily constrained. It is not a power I want government to have, whether a government of one, government of a few or a government of a citizenry united in liberte, equalite and fraternate. There is less danger for free people in resolving themselves to the injustice of a deserved punishment undelivered than providing government the authority to act impulse.

5:39 PM, March 17, 2005  

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

With friends like these ....

A gleeful and dancing San Francisco Chronicle today reports a two-for: Not only did California Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer declare that state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Judge Kramer, the Chronicle notes, is a Republican, a Catholic, and an appointee of former Governor Pete Wilson (R-California).

Moving quickly to reassure its readers, however, the Chronicle is quick to point out that despite reports that Judge Kramer is a Republican and a Catholic, the Judge has a local reputation for being “brilliant,” “compassionate, respectful and unbiased.”

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Where is this judge's bishop? He has basically said thre is no rational way to oppose same sex "marriage". That's cause for excommunication.

4:03 PM, March 16, 2005  

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Monday, March 14, 2005

DEBATE MARCH 16

The Antient and Honorable

John Adams Society


March 16, 2005
University Club, Saint Paul
Click Here for an interative map to the location.

The decay of society is praised by artists as the decay of a corpse is praised by worms. - G. K. Chesterton

IN GALLERIES ACROSS THE WESTERN WORLD there has been an increasing problem with the janitorial staff. They mistake the art for trash and throw it out. In 2001, a cleaner at a London's Eyestorm Gallery cleared away an installation by artist Damien Hirst, having mistaken it for a pile of rubbish. (The collection of beer bottles, coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays was said to represent the chaos of an artist's studio.) And in the 1980s the work of Joseph Beuys, which featured a very dirty bath, was scrubbed clean by a gallery worker in Germany.

In fact, there is indeed something deeper going on. The janitors are to be forgiven. Like the little boy in Anderson’s the Emperor’s New Clothes, only they see (or are willing to admit) today’s art for what it is: sometimes literally, but almost always figuratively, garbage. From “The Gates” in Central Park to the atonal discord called modern orchestral ``music’’ (not to mention popular music), we must admit we live in a wasteland.

ON THE OTHER HAND, complaints about ``today’s art’’ are timeless. Monet, Renoir, and Degas were barred from the Salon in Paris for violating the artistic norms of the time. Puccini’s La Boheme was savaged for its focus on the ordinary. As a prophet has honor save in his own town, an artist is appreciated save in his own time. Wait fifty years and today’s trash becomes tomorrow’s treasure.

THE CHAIRMAN, hoping to resolve the question in slightly less time, has called for a debate to settle the question:

RESOLVED: TODAY'S ART IS TRASH

The Debate will be held on Wednesday, March 16, 2004 at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, in Saint Paul. The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m. The debate will begin at half past seven. While there is no dress code for attendance, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies should adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen who arrive tieless yet wish to speak, fret not: the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand at least one of his quite remarkable ties for just such an eventuality. Questions about debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at 612-709-1168 or the Secretary at (612) 204-5615

If you would like to receive email announcements of upcoming debates, email the John Adams Society with your name, email address, and a simple statement requesting future "Whip Sheets" via email.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

This comment was emailed by a member:

What the great Christian apologist and philosopher, G. K. Chesterton wrote and was copied at the top of the whip sheet should end the debate right there.

Art may well be a sign, or should I say symptom, of the times. Oswald Spengler wrote at length in his magnum opus Untergang des Abenlandes (most popularly, if incorrectly, translated to Decline of the West) as to how our own Faustian culture peaked with Mozart, reached its plateau soon after that and began its decline with the fratricide of the Great War in 1914.

In his book about how cultures are organic, he pointed to the Apollonian culture of Greece which was adopted by the civilization of Rome and declined into a miasma of liberal decadence that was no longer recognizable from the well-disciplined, patriotic and idealistic folk of the days of the Roman Republic.

Zur zeit von Hannibal, Rome war ein Volk, aber zur zeit von Hadrian, Rome war nur ein Befolkurung.

At the time of Hannibal, Rome was a folk, but at the time of Hadrian, Rome was merely a population.

For an example of the ‘art’ of the gladiator games, the M.C. would be reading the story of Icarus from a high platform next to a slave and demonstrated how his wings melted and fell to earth “Like this.” As he pushed the slave off the platform to fall to his death.

The art of the mind-bogglingly popular sensationalists such as Maplethorpe and Madonna is no less of an attempt to overwhelm and shock a callous, caustic and de-sensitized public than were the attempts to show off the brutal deaths of the martyrs in the Empire’s coliseum... the parallels are provoking, are they not?

Of course modern ‘art’ is trash. The fact so many women swooned at the passion of a Puccini sonata or German officers were banned from dancing the Tango while in uniform shows how sensitized the public was to real passions with subtleties devoid of a drum machine and synthesizer.

The talent, discipline, craftsmanship and the unfulfilled longing so obvious in the works of Mozart, Bach, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, who in actually were the very mediums God himself used to glorify Him cannot be compared to any bestseller whether it’s on the New York Times or Billboard list in an age when our most highly praised messengers of the Truth are Castro apologists such as Oliver Stone and idealists such as Mel Gibson are lambasted for producing a work of such true (albeit not original) depth and passion (no pun intended) prove that there really is nothing new under the sun and any truly worthy works of art already exist and the chances are very good the Prince of this World is the true sponsor of modern ‘art.’

11:20 PM, March 14, 2005  
Blogger Craig Westover said...

At the debate, Mr. Augustine asked the question -- “If a great painting were in a room in which everyone were blind, would it still be great art?” I didn’t do a good job with the answer to that one, but with a little thinking time, perhaps this is better.

Perhaps an analogous question will get us to an answer. “If a copy of ‘Hamlet’ were in a room in which everyone only spoke Klingon, would it still be art?”

I think in both cases the answer is yes; however, it takes an intermediary artist to translate it the work in terms the audience understands. The translation takes on an artistic life of its own. Anyone reading multiple versions of the Bible understands the subtle distinctions of translation.

So, indeed, the painting remains what it is, waiting to be discovered, like Hemmingway’s “one-legged prostitute standing in the rain” and its art revealed.

9:32 AM, March 21, 2005  

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Most Interesting Press Conference This Month

For interested web-surfers, C-SPAN has archived the press conference that occurred outside of the U.S. Supreme Court following the arguments in the Ten Commandments cases.

While the competition is probably pretty thin in this category, to my mind it has to be the most interesting media availability this month.

David Friedman, General Counsel of Kentucky ACLU, asserted that the state and federal governments violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution when they “take a position about what religious belief or religious practice is right or wrong.” While that sounds moderately plausible, Mr. Friedman and the ACLU go on to explain that the State of Texas “takes a position on what religious belief is right” when it permits a replica of the Ten Commandments to be placed on the grounds of the State Capitol.

But that cannot be the law.

By the very same logic, government posting of the Declaration of Independence would be likewise forbidden. The Declaration expresses the Founders' belief that we were “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights;” asserts that the “laws of nature and of nature's God” entitle Americans to live independently; includes the Continental Congress' appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions;” and concludes with the signers announcing their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” when mutually pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Frankly, we're in quite a pickle if government may not lawfully repeat (or suggest approval of) the premises upon which our Nation was founded – because someone might be offended by the Founders’ views. The rule urged by the ACLU would be devastating.

Likewise interesting, although on another point, were the remarks of Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice. Sekulow declared that it “was very clear, with the Court’s repeated references to their own frieze, which has Moses holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments – a depiction with the words in Hebrew – that this Court is not going to order the sandblasting or removal of these Ten Commandment monuments.”

To my mind, the remark is true, but chilling. It is chilling because it again raises the “politics of I,” of which the High Court is so very fond. The remarks suggest that the Court will fashion a rule that is broad enough to have it avoid redecorating its own Courthouse, but still so narrow that it cabins out important parts of the Nation’s culture, history, traditions and architecture. For that reason, Sekulow's comments left me afraid that even if the state governments “win” their respective battles, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce a reading of the Establishment Clause that would have all of us “losing” the overall war.

Believe me, I share the Founders' “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” But we could really, really use His intervention now….

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Taking Aim at the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny at the Gardens of Palm Beaches Shopping Mall has undergone a name change: This year he is known as the "Garden Bunny."

As shopping mall General Manager Sam Hosen explained to the Palm Beach Post, "[b]ecause we're such a multicultural community, it's good just to remain neutral."

Neutral, yes .... And idiotic ....

Battlestar Galactica

battle

For those Sci Fi fans out there, I highly recommend the new Series Battlestar Galactica, which plays on Friday evenings on the Sci Fi channel. It is far superior to the original series, and, in my opinion, is so far the best Sci Fi series ever on television. You can actually see an uncut episode on the internet here. The series creater, Ron Moore also has a blog on the show.

One of the problems with recent Sci Fi television is the tendency to be too principled. There are countless episodes of Star Trek where the crew manages to save a giant amoeba life form even at the cost of themselves. Battlestar, however, is a complete wildcard. For example, in one showLt. Starbuck spends the whole episode torturing a human Cylon to find information on where the Cylon planted a nuclear bomb. She is later confronted by the President (played by Mary McDonnel), who stops the the torture and manages to elicit the information by being "nice" to the prisoner. At this juncture I just about puked, and grumbled how once again Sci Fi stoops to political correctness. To my surprise, however, after elicitating the information, the President sends the Human Cylon out the airlock for instant execution. Quite a surprising turn of events.......

The last episode of this season airs April 1. Moreover, due to increased popularity, the show has now been renewed for the next season and 20 new episodes. Check it out!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Instapundit, Bankruptcy, and Freedom

Glenn Reynolds hates the bankruptcy bill since, as far as I can tell, he believes it helps credit card companies commit fraud and exploit poor people.

Now fraud is fraud. If the credit card companies are misrepresenting whatever deals they are making with people, this can and should be taken care of with existing anti-fraud laws.

But as for exploitation, Reynolds writes,

… if people are supposed to live with the consequences of their actions, then why shouldn't credit-card companies live with the consequences of extending credit to poor risks?

At any rate, if [current, easy to get out of debts] bankruptcy law is "anti-freedom." then what's pro-freedom? Debtor's prison?

By definition, a slave is less free than a free man. But now who is more free: someone who has the option of selling himself into slavery one years hence (in return for a lot of money to spend in the next year) or someone who has this option precluded from him? Here, the one with more options is more free.

Of course, we have purposely limited our freedoms by outlawing selling ourselves into slavery, and I agree with this. We have also outlawed loans which send the borrower to debtor's prison if he doesn't pay. But there are other less extreme examples. I am more free if I get to keep my house whether or not I pay my mortgage than I am if only get to keep it if I pay my mortgage. (The former simply has more options than the latter.) But, stepping back in time as in the slavery example, I am less free if I am precluded from contracting that the mortgage company can take my house if I don’t pay up.

Adults are usually given great latitude in their freedom to write binding contracts. Everyone believes there should be some restrictions on the contracts we will enforce, but these are basically for paternalistic reasons: people will foolishly sign contracts they shouldn't and we wish to protect them from that. But this is anything but a libertarian impluse. It's modern liberals who want to protect everyone from their stupid selves. Like his critics, I thought a libertarian like Reynolds would be more on the freedom side.

Show us the money ... And just the money...

The Minnesota Daily has two stories this week about the efforts of University of Minnesota Law School students and faculty to bar military recruiters from campus. The Daily reports that the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School has decided to join the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights -- a plaintiff challenging the federal rule that ties educational funds to a willingness to permit military recruiters.

Further, the Daily reports that more than 40 percent of the Law School's students signed a petition urging the faculty to join the Forum.

In November of last year, the Forum won an injunction against the enforcement of the federal funds ban.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Where are the Human Shields?

shields

With the struggle for democracy in Lebanon and the daily slaughter of innocents in Iraq, where are the human shields? They were out in full force defending Saddam from America; where are they to defend Shia children from Al Queda suicide bombers? Where are human shields to stop the advance of Hezbollah or the Syrian army?

The Human Shields claim they were not supporting Saddam, they were only trying to save lives and promote peace. If this is so, why are there no human shields protesting against the death dealer Zarqawi. Where were the human shields protecting Iraqis as they went to the polls on January 30. (actually there were human shields...they were Iraqi and American Soldiers.)

The answer is simple. There are some groups in the world that actually see tyrannical regimes such as Saddam or Al Queda as a good force in the world. These leftists see tyranny as necessary in bringing the world into more equality by bringing down the United States. These groups are the embodiment of evil.

The human shield concept is why conservatives must continue to stay at the front of the action and continue to bear arms, especially intellectual arms. As long as man is temporal, so goes the war of good vs. evil.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Episode III

episode3

Besides Kingdom of Heaven, the other big Hollywood movie this year is Starwars - Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The film opens May 19, 2005.

After Episode II, the expectations are low for Sith. I am sure most Starwars fans on this board agree with me that Episode II was the worst of the Starwars films in all categories. It had the worst acting, the worst script, and was the least creative and most boring of the series. Unlike Episode I there was no redeeming scene in the film that made it worth seeing. (For example, Episode I is also a crappy movie except for the fight with Darth Maul, which is one of the best, if not the best, segment of all the films). The letdown of Episode II can only be compared to the letdown Kerry supporters had on November 3, 2004. How horrible it would be to be a Starwars fan and a Kerry supporter.

Rumor has it that Episode III is the "darkest" of the series. Hopefully this means they will not interject Jar Jar in between scenes of Darth Vader being thrown into a lava pit.

In all some of the Starwars series may last through the ages to become perhaps the beowolf of the golden age of film...or is it today's trash!

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Don't forget the pod race from Episode I. I watch that a few times a year.

Overall, however, Lucas destroyed the franchise. As Lileks has said, in the end, this is a series of movies which, chronologically, starts with Jar Jar Binks and ends with dancing teddy bears. Bah, bah, dah ba do! Ya YA! Bah, Bah, dah ba do! Ya YA!

"Chris"

7:07 AM, March 09, 2005  

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

$8 million from the Commies to the Terrorists

According to this news report from the BBC, $8 million was paid to terrorists to free Italian Newspaper Journalist Giuliana Sgrena, a writer for the Communist Newspaper Il Manifesto. Obviously knowing that the payment would be used to kill more Iraqis and Americans, the Italians decided not to inform the U.S. military about the situation, which eventually lead to the injury of Sgrena and the death of her guard after they tried to run a checkpoint manned by American forces. Sgrena, however, has implied that American forces targeted her deliberately (she has recently bactracked from this claim).

Paying this amount of ransom is ludicrous and moronic. In addition to directly to leading to the deaths of more Americans and Iraqis, the ransom guarantees more kidnappings.

The BBC article trys to rationalize the Ransom:

Had Ms Sgrena's captivity ended with her death, and possibly a gruesome video, the opposition, backed by public opinion, would have had a powerful political weapon to call for an immediate withdrawal.

It is hard to believe that public opinion would collapse because a communist journalist got her head cut off by murderous terrorists. One would think such an act would embolden public opinion to action for fighting terrorists rather than cause the populace to demand more appeasment.

Of course, the Spanish people threw out their reasonable government for chronic appeasers.

Perhaps the BBC knows its European brethren well.

Holier Than Thou

The New York Times reports today that celebrated campaign finance reformer U.S. Senator John McCain apparently has no trouble asking well-healed donors for contributions in excess of $50,000 for his Reform Institute -- helping him to amass more than $1.3 million for the group last year.

Senator McCain “defended the large donations as a necessary part of advocacy work, and drew a distinction between the progressive agenda of the Reform Institute and political efforts to which campaign finance laws apply. 'The institute is different, he said, 'because it is nonpartisan and issue-oriented.'”

Oh…. “Issue oriented” work..... That explains it.

But wasn’t it Senator McCain who complained that by “[h]iding behind the guise of 'issue advocacy' ... nameless benefactors with thick bankrolls can donate unlimited sums ... beyond the reach of the campaign-reporting laws designed to curb such abuses”?

Washington Post Acknowledges Momentum for Democracy in Middle East

This morning the Washington Post reported:

Bush Sees Progress, But Challenges Remain. Recent events in the Middle East have infused President Bush's drive to spread democracy, and now he must figure out how to capitalize on the momentum in the region.

The people of the Middle East are awakening. They want better government. They are willing to work for it. We are in a historic period here -- perhaps as significant as the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe in the late 1980's.

Filibustering Staff

Manuel Miranda, who had served as a Counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, claims that the Senate Democrats have moved from filibustering judicial nominees to blocking GOP staff from obtaining new and better work. Miranda has sent a sworn affidavit to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia accusing Senate Democrats of threatening to hold up legislation important to clients of McDermott, Will & Emery, if that firm hired him. Miranda argues that these threats violate federal extortion statutes.

Miranda, you may recall, resigned his staff post under pressure from Majority Leader Bill Frist’s office last year after an investigation concluded that he had read documents meant for Senate Democrats. The documents were stored on a computer server that was shared by both Republicans and Democrats. The memoranda detailed meetings between liberal interest groups and staff for Senators Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin.

Interestingly enough, apparently unmoved by the flap, the Heritage Foundation was willing to take Miranda on as a Visiting Fellow on Legal Policy. Miranda’s first day of work there was yesterday.

hagel

Chuck Hagel today proposed cuts to Social Security benefits as a means to solve the impending shortfall. Specifically Hagels plan would raise the retirement age to 68 and lower the amount available for early claims. Hagel's plan also includes Private Accounts, which brought an objection from Democrats:


some leading Democrats said they could not support Hagel's plan because he would pay for private accounts by borrowing and increasing the nation's deficit. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, told ABC's "This Week" that would be "a great threat to seniors" because it would raise interest rates.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I always thought Seniors desired higher interest rates because they were on fixed incomes (and were not the borrowers of the economy). But, lets not get into a debate on whether interest rates would really rise at all if we borrwed an additional $5 trillion. I would argue no.

Nevertheless, Hagel's idea is a good start. Raising the age is fair because people generally live longer than they used to. Further, raising the age should not be considered a benefit cut. Instead it should be considered an adjustment from productivity gains (i.e. living longer).

In the end Social Security Reform will pass and it will include some of everything, i.e. benefit cuts, tax increases, and private accounts. I believe that it will be politically difficult for Democrats to oppose a reform plan with all three elements. The tax increase could be a slight raise to the Social Security Cap (a tax on the rich!) But the increase should be gradual (i.e. only a 1-3% tax on the next $50,000 of income). Finally, private accounts should be optional and include an additional saving component. For example, if a person contributes 1-2% of their own money to a private account (pre tax), then the government would match it by privatizing 1-2% of their own Social Security Contribution. This would create additional private savings, slightly lower front ended borrowing, and reach the 4% ownership component demanded by President Bush.

The Administration is already hinting at a compromise solution:

Treasury Secretary John Snow, appearing on ABC, maintained the personal accounts still must be part of the solution.

"They don't in and of themselves bring those lines together," he said. "But we'll never get a fair and equitable solution to the Social Security problem unless personal accounts are an integral part of the solution."
Next Year, Bush should reform Medicare.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Privacy for the Plurally Married

Remember how the sophisticated set gasped in disgust when U.S. Senator Rick Santorum predicted that as soon as the Federal Courts recognized a constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy, claims for recognition of polygamy were not far behind?

Remember how Scalia thundered a similar prediction in Lawrence v. Texas? “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of [a] validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.... This [decision] effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation ...”

Well, now we have it....

The Utah Judicial Conduct Commission has recommended that Judge Walter Steed be removed from the local bench because he is a polygamist. Judge Steed, who serves in the border town of Hildale, is legally married to one woman but considers himself spiritually married to two others.

Relying upon the sweeping language of Lawrence v. Texas, Judge Steed contends that the law allowing prosecutors to pursue people who are “plurally married,” is unconstitutional.

So, as Santorum and Scalia forecasted, the pluralism ushered in by Lawrence v. Texas is two or three wives.

Properly Framing the Argument

In an editorial in The Weekly Standard, Terry Eastland cheekily observes that the placement of monuments containing the Ten Commandments on government property, could easily be justified by the current Supreme Court on the grounds that the “Decalogue is foreign law …. [It] was received on Mt. Sinai by one Moses, an Israelite from Egypt, and that it was originally written in Hebrew and that it has been translated the world over . . .”

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

It could, but from the Left's perspective "foreign" means those who are vitcimized by the United States (meaning everyone else in the world but Israel). Thus, Moses being a Jew, would not qualify as foreign.

8:09 AM, March 07, 2005  

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sistani for Nobel Peace Prize?

sistani

According to this article at CNN, some groups are pushing for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to receive the next Nobel Peace Prize.

Al-Sistani, 75, is Iraq's most-revered Shiite cleric and also a symbol of Shiite political power. He has spoken out repeatedly since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, opposing anti-American violence and calling for an end to conflict, including a bloody summer uprising by rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

If Carter and Yassir Arafat deserve the prize why not Sistani. After all, Sistani has managed to keep the peace in a difficult situation and is not known to have approved bogus elections or sent $billions meant for his own people to fund his wife's lifestyle in Paris.

Selecting Sistani, however, would not display the Bush bashing sentiment that lead the Lefty Jew hating Nobel Committee to select Carter in 2002. As such, I beleive that his selection is unlikely. Instead look for Hugo Chavez to win the next prize for his unwavering pursuit of "social justice" and anti-Americanism.

Looking Ahead to the Crusades

As a reminder the last debate question for the society in May is RESOLVED: The Crusades Should be Celebrated.

This debate is appropriately timed with the release of Ridley Scott's (of Gladiator fame) new movie about the Crusades titled Kingdom of Heaven.

kingdomThe film is based on real characters of the three-century Crusades, including Balian of Ibelin, a Crusader knight who led the defense of Jerusalem in 1187, and the Muslim leader Saladin, who defeated him. Apart from history, you may remember Saladin as the great Muslim hero who Saddam wanted to emulate (Saladin was also from Tikrit...although Saladin was also a Kurd).

The film is destined to be controversial because as this NY Times Column comments, the great Muslim hero and merciful Salidin is depicted in some places as an unmerciful warmonger:

Near the end of the film the script describes the Muslim army as advancing on Jerusalem. Saladin says: "Not one alive. Not one," as the advancing soldiers cry, "Allah!"

The Times resident Isamic commentator did not like the script either:

Mr. Fadl argued that the movie would reinforce negative attitudes toward Muslims in America. "In this climate how are people going to react to these images of Muslims attacking churches and tearing down the cross and mocking it?" he asked.

Of course this is just the script. Who knows what will make the final cut.

Nevertheless, the film should be a must see for all JAS members attending the May debate.

Publius out, Sloanasaurus in.

To all John Adams Bloggers,

I am announcing the end of the name Publius and reinstating my original blogging name Sloanasaurus.

1. There are too many Publius' blogging on the net.
2. My very best day barely equals the worst for the original Publius (same goes to all the other Publius' on the net).

Sloanasaurus was my original college all-star wrestling name. Sloanasaurus was known as a vile and terrible creature, whose victories are legend at the Mustard Mansion......

Regardless, no matter how you cut it, Sloanasaurus is a much better blogging name than Publius or "Chris."

(Please ignore the gregariousness of this post).

Blogger festivus said...

Praise God in Heaven. Now I can sleep peacefully knowing that your struggle for self-identity has ended successfully.

10:52 AM, March 07, 2005  

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The World is Not as Static as we think.

Re: SSC and Publius.

In 1984, I took a course in college on Soviet Economics from a Russian émigré economics professor named Vladimir Treml.. The basic thrust of the course was that the Soviet Union was in trouble. The idea that they could spend whatever was necessary to compete with us and equip their military was false. I, of course, thought he was nuts. If you had asked me to bet $100 that the Soviet Union would be around in 2025 more or less in its 1984 form, I would have taken the bet. In fact, I would have given much better than 50/50 odds.

My point? Some people really do know what’s going on, while the rest of think they’re nuts. Everyone has been scoffing at Wolfowitz (and Bush). Now history is making me a believer in them, just as it did with Treml.

Remember 1989

SSC's post below should not be scoffed at as wishful thinking. It is often forgotten how quickly events unfolded in Eastern Europe in 1989:

On August 23, 1989 Hungary opened the iron curtain to Austria.Months before East German tourists used their chance to escape to Austria from Hungary and in September 1989 more than 13 000 East German escaped via Hungary within three days. It was the first mass exodus of East Germans after the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961.Mass demonstrations against the government and the system in East Germany begun at the end of September and took until November 1989. Erich Honecker, East Germany's head of state, had to resign on October 18, 1989.The new governement prepared a new law to lift the travel restrictions for East German citizen.At 06.53 pm on November 9, 1989 a member of the new East German government was asked at a press conference when the new East German travel law comes into force.He answered: "Well, as far as I can see, ... straightaway, immediately."Thousands of East Berliners went to the border crossings. At Bornholmer Strasse the people demanded to open the border and at 10.30 pm the border was opened there.That moment meant the end of the Berlin Wall.Soon other border crossing points opened the gates to the WestIn that night the deadly border was opened by East Germans peacefully. Read more here.

Of course we should also remember that Hungary 1956 and Prague 1968 were put down by the Soviets delaying the collapse for many years.

Could we be witnessing another 1989.... Imagine this, if Demos control Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria by the time we roll into 2006, the rest will fall soon enough. We shall see.

Can People Power Prevail in Middle East?

NBC News tonight cross-sold Newsweek's article located herehttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7103524/site/newsweek/ on People Power Prevailing in the Middle East. It appears that when given a choice like in Iraq the people prefer ruling themselves -- no matter how badly -- over a King, an Ayatollah, bully, dictator or tyrant. Similarly, Thomas Friedman had an article published in the Star Tribune noting a similar phenomenon. It appears the events of the Middle East are accellerating at a rate that the press will have a difficult time keeping up with. There is tremendous potential for democracy and peace here. We are living in historic times. Thank you, President Bush.

We Don’t Want Him, You Can Have Him

In an Editorial entitled “Wrong on All Counts,” George F. Will declares in today's Washington Post that Justice Kennedy’s opinions in the juvenile death penalty cases are an “intellectual train wreck, but useful as a timely warning about what happens when judicial offices are filled with injudicious people.”

Meanwhile, on the other coast, the Los Angeles Times extends a warm embrace to the outcast Kennedy, characterizing him as a legatee of the Warren Court. (Being like Earl Warren is, of course, the nicest thing that the Los Angeles Times can say about a judge.) And just to be sure that their newest friend can't easily double-back, and return to the conservative fold, the article also includes the following assessment -- from one of Justice Kennedy's own former law clerks, no less: He is “a judicial imperialist. He has a deep faith in the judiciary's ability to solve our society's problems, and that runs counter to traditional conservative principles.”

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Blogs vs. the FEC

The Blogosphere is a-twitter over recent comments by the FEC related to blogs, in-kind campaign contributions and general campaign finance issues. To get a good sense of the silliness, check out the comments from LearnedFoot over at the Kool-Aid Report (tip o' the fedora to Doug at Bogus Gold)

This truly shows the utter absurdity of the McCain-Feingold bill and any other attempts to regulate campaigns. I've always thought that the way to solve the whole campaign finance problem is two simple concepts:
  • Allow anyone to contribute any quantity of money to any campaign
  • All donations must be publicly disclosed within (say) 48 hours of the donation

That's it! No freedom of speech issues, no limitations, just good clean political fun.

The founders would be rolling in their graves if they were able to see the lengths that our government has gone to restrict political speech.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I heard on the Northern Alliance Radio Network yesterday that Captain Ed had linked more often to the Kerry campaign than Bush....I guess someone will be charged with valuing each specific link. (Does anyone want to get into business with me on this...)

I totally agree with your comments and idea. To further the public disclosure rule, the amount of the donation should be correlated to the pro-action of the disclosure. For example, if someone donates $100 their name should appear on a public list accessible by anyone over the internet (the way it is currently). If someone contributes $10 million their names should be included at the bottom of every campaign ad or a totally separate ad should be run stating that that person contributed and how much was contributed, just to make sure that as many people as possible know about the influence. There should be a sliding scale for every amount of contribution in between.

8:37 PM, March 06, 2005  

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Video Worth Streaming ( ... or Another Reason to Hug the Cable Guy)

The thin bandwidth line between pundit shout-a-thons on commercial television and the wider and longer discourse that we really need in this country is, of course, C-SPAN.

It is a national treasure.

Not fragmented by the need for commercial breaks, but ubiquitous enough to be available everywhere that there is co-axial cable, C-SPAN accomplishes something that is truly rare in today's culture: the opportunity to reach millions of Americans with important messages and the time to actually develop an idea or two.

And the man who (alongside Minnesota's Vin Weber and Pennsylvania's Bob Walker) made the channel so interesting to watch in the first place, Newt Gingrich, returned late last month for a tour-de-force.

In a speech before the American Enterprise Institute, the former Speaker details his views on Winning the Future -- also the title of his new best-selling book.

And while an hour or so is a lot to ask of folks in our over-booked, high-velocity culture, this is video that is worth streaming. Tune in. You will be glad that you did.

Nuclear Rhetoric

U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D - West Virginia) linked Senate Republicans to the Nazis for their efforts to end filibusters on judicial nominees.

“We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men,” Byrd said on Tuesday. “But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends.”

Byrd then quoted historian Alan Bullock when asserting that Hitler “turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.... That is what the nuclear option seeks to do….”

Blogger ssc said...

It is time for the sensible citizens of West Virginia to turn out this Senator Byrd who has outlived his usefulness. Senator Byrd's rhetoric is over the top.

6:35 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:29 PM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

"It is time for the sensible citizens of West Virginia to turn out this Senator Byrd". Unfortunately, the sensible citizens are quite incapable since it this would require a majority.

7:30 PM, March 03, 2005  

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Taiwanese workers protest/riot over Explotation

Taiwanese workers protest/riot because western capitalists aren't exploiting them enough:

The main cause for the riot was the limitation on working hours at the factory. The shorter hours have been requested by US companies so as to avoid criticism from various groups on long working hours. However, the mainly migrant workforce want to work longer hours so they can earn more. Consensus had been reached by the US companies, the Taiwanese-invested factory and local government that the maximum working hours per week should be set at 60 hours [which is still a breach of Chinese Labour Law, but less than other manufacturing plants]. However, this reduction in hours was unsatisfactory for the workers and the resulting riot was serious.

I guess the elitest would argue that the Taiwanese worker does not realize he or she is being exploited.

The Vision is looking sound

Indications so far are that President Bush's strategy for the Middle East is working. The final decision of the judges not come for some time, but with each passing day, we see further evidence that big change is a-brewin' over there. For the (admittedly substantial) cost of the invasion of Iraq, we ALSO get positive changes in:

1) Libya
2) Saudi Arabia
3) Egypt
4) Lebanon
5) Syria

A harbinger of things to come? Time will tell, but it's certainly looking good. I expect the Democrats to credit Clinton and Arafat with the successes in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: Even comedian Jon Stewart is starting to see the light, as expressed here in this transcript of an interview with Nancy Soderberg from James Taranto's Best of the Web for today. Read it, and you'll begin to realize that if this thing really suceeds, it could not only be the catalyst for change in the world, but also a tipping point for further extention of the Republican majority.

I'm AGAIN thankful that Kerry didn't win. With the economy booming and changes like this happening, he'd be getting all the credit, and that's something I just couldn't take. It's GWBs to take credit for, and he's well deserving of it.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I partially disagree. If Kerry would have gotten elected, the war would have gone quite differently after November 2. A Kerry victory would have given the terrorist forces in Iraq and around the world hope that the America's Iraq policy would change. Thus, they would have been able to raise more recruits, more money, and more morale. The Bush victory sealed their fate in that nothing would change. The U.S. election devestated the terrorists as much as the Jan 30 elections.

11:14 PM, March 02, 2005  

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The Sole Arbiter of Nation's Moral Standards

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that due to the "general differences between juveniles under 18 and adults," juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified "among the worst offenders." Accordingly, the death penalty may not constitutionally be applied to minors.

Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Thomas make the following point in dissent: "[T]he Court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: In the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment. The Court thus proclaims itself the sole arbiter of Nation's moral standards - and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because [we] do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective view of five members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, [we] dissent."

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

We should all puke in unison to mark the disaster that this decision represents. My favorite is the "general consensus" reached regarding the death penalty. Apparently the Court's majorty took a silent straw poll of the Nation before writing the opinion (a scientific poll of course!)

11:21 PM, March 02, 2005  

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Memo from Counsel

In a blistering memorandum that was sent to reporters in the national media, former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray, rails against the tactics Senate Democrats use on judicial nominees. Says Gray, President Bush has had the lowest number of Circuit Court judges confirmed of any modern President, because of tactics which represent "a repudiation of a settled pre-constitution understanding."

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I support the "Nuclear" option. In fact its not really a nuclear option at all, that is just a term made up by opponents to make the option sound destructive.

Democrats wouldn't think twice about breaking these filibusters. Senator Bryd used such procedural methods all the time during the 1980s. Republicans should be smart and bust the filibuster over judges now....long before a Supreme Court nominee comes up so it is not an issue when the Supreme Court nominee comes up.

8:48 AM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

Perhaps one of the many attorneys in the Society can educate me on why we talk about a filibuster without the old "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" talk-til-you-drop filibuster. My understanding is that the Senate dropped that some time ago.

Seems to me that there is an easy way to solve this short of the nuclear option. I'm worried that the 'nuculur' [sic] will come back to bite us at some point if we're ever in the minority again.

Why not go back to the REAL filibuster. If Senate Dems want to go to the mat, go through the physical and emotional pain of a talkathon and in doing so, stop all other Senate business, let's have at it. That would focus the nation on the issue. Are the Democrats really willing to stop all business in order to prevent an up or down VOTE? Aren't these the guys that want every vote to count? Bring it on....

2:03 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

As far as I understand it the Senate Rules require 60 votes to bring a vote. Thus, you no longer need to do the old filibuster.

We should not worry about the Nuclear option being used against us because we should assume that it WILL be used against us. Thus, what difference does it make.

9:29 PM, March 01, 2005  

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Magazine Poll Results In!

My small, unscientific poll of JAS bloggers' magazine preferences is complete. Two-thirds of those sampled read National Review, First Things and Reader's Digest. One-third read National Geographic. I am surprised that National Geographic did not reach a broader audience. Why don't conservatives read National Geographic?

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Let's see those standard errors!

2:51 AM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

Probably too much 'sneak reading' of National Geographic as young boys, for, well, you know....

1:53 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger ssc said...

Yes, I know.

3:45 PM, March 01, 2005  

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