Monday, September 8, 2003

Monday, September 8, 2003

I am moving...

to this location.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Long of marriage.

Professor Roderick Long provides a few sound counterpoints to Joe Sobran's defense of marriage. Roderick is right to note that "marriage" without love is a sad, sick, sordid affair. An excerpt (in which he notes other things):

Among humans, the family still serves the original function of childrearing, but it has acquired a robust range of new functions as well, serving both the economic and the emotional needs of its members. The family has grown beyond its original biological basis, thus dramatically increasing the number of possible family structures.

A parallel can be made to language. Presumably, language first evolved in order to convey information vital for survival, such as "There's a sabretooth tiger behind that outcropping" or "Don't eat those, they're the mushrooms that made me sick before." And language still serves that function. But today language also serves a broad range of spiritual needs whose relation to physical survival is tenuous at best. To condemn (as many conservatives do) family relationships that are not for the purpose of childrearing is like condemning Shakespeare's Hamlet for not telling us where the sabretooth tiger is . . . .

[H]uman beings have managed to make out of the sexual pair-bond something superior to what nature originally provided. . . . [T]he nature of marriage is not inherently determined by the particular form it takes in a given society. Marriage and the family are historical phenomena, and cannot be defined in separation from the way they develop over time.

What homosexuals seek from legal unions is in no fundamental way different from what heterosexuals seek from them. If goods are defined by the needs they serve, then "marriage" is the appropriate name for such unions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Why Arnold has a chance.

Jon Kraushar is right to remind us that emotions rule politics. I am skeptical of self-proclaimed economists and political scientists who can't acknowledge the significant role played by the most mundane emotions in popular voting behavior.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Learn about the PATRIOT Act at a Forum not led by John Ashcroft.

The USA PATRIOT Act and similar new laws and edicts may radically change your Constitutional and civil rights. Join Congressman Jim Moran, Kit Gage from the National Coalition Against Repressive Legislation, Sherifah Rafiq from the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, Jeanne Herrick-Stare from Friends Committee on National Legislation, and a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union as they discuss these issues of vital interest to the community and give advice on actions we can take to preserve our rights and liberties.

Arlington’s local chapter of Amnesty International will host this forum to raise awareness about the dangerous new laws that threaten your freedoms. Cosponsors include the American Civil Liberties Union, Northern Virginians for Peace and Justice, and NOVAREPEAL. Local elected officials from Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church have been invited.

Arlington County Library
1015 N. Quincy Street
September 14, 2003, 1:30 to 4:30 PM.

Refreshments will be served. For additional information, contact Richard Bromberg, 202-835-0660,

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Time is the most scarce resource.

AEI released a comprehensive collection of surveys from major pollsters on Americans' attitudes about work and leisure today. Among the more eye-catching highlights is that the vast majority of workers are satisfied with their jobs and that people are placing more value on their leisure time.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Kors on socialism.

A thoroughly engaging lecture by Charles Alan Kors given at a Fund for American Studies seminar on socialism. Thanks to Damon Chetson for the link.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Watching the detectives.

Chris Hoffnagle, from EPIC, introduced me to Homeless Management Information Systems, thanks to Declan McCullagh's Politech newsletter. Chris writes:

HMIS are database systems intended to track recipients of benefits in order to assess the number of persons receiving care, and to improve efficiency of services to the poor. There are benefits to this tracking, but the proposed implementation is extremely privacy invasive. For instance, under the proposed guidelines, federally-funded care providers would have to collect SSNs, names, date of birth etc. This information would be linked to health (mental and physical) info, shared amongst care centers, and stored for seven years. National security and Secret Service Agents can get the information by merely asking for it.

Just imagine how this system could be used to retaliate against the homeless, say in advance of the a major public event such as the Olympics. Or imagine how you could become enrolled in the system--let's say you were in Manhattan last week during the power outage and you had nowhere to go, except for a homeless shelter. You'd be in the system for 7 years.

Public comment is open until September 22, 2003, but HUD is not providing any means for electronic submissions. While they are advanced enough to collect all this data electronically on the homeless, your comments must arrive in the mail for irradiation and then perhaps review by the agency.
I look forward to more from Chris on this as it unfolds.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Traffic cops might be a dying breed.

Beware lest we borrow the latest in traffic spy technology from our Atlantic Allies. The Automobile Association in the UK has given electronic in-car traffic cops the nod. The gory details:

A microchip embedded in each car's chassis would identify it to roadside sensors, enabling a range of motoring offences like speeding, jumping traffic lights or illegal parking to be logged.

Stolen cars, or cars being driven without road tax, MoT certificates, or insurance also could be picked up. In many cases, the first indication for the owner that they had been collared would be a penalty ticket arriving through the post.
The most exhaustive (though slightly dated) list of tech-traffic cops used in the US shows the different statutory law governing use in different states, counties, and localities. I've got five on it that the soul-less Mayor Bloomberg will be one of the first to push for British-style in-car traffic cops.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Iraq and Eugene Volokh, with no connection whatsoever.

According to a recent article in Al-Ahram, the Arab world is divided over the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). One thing seems likely-- the bombing of the UN building shows Iraq is descending into deeper chaos.

Also, the latest issue of Legal Affairs includes a short legal romance by Eugene Volokh entitled, "The Love Charm" which is particularly well-given to game-theoretic explanations.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Infanticide and abortion: How to treat the legal interstices?

Professor Jeffrey Rosen thinks the current situation is not as consistency-challenged as some are inclined to think. On Rosen's view, it makes perfect sense to permit abortions and punish those who kill fetuses.

Peterson case reinvigorated support for the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which had passed the House in 1999 but languished in the Senate because of opposition from pro-choice advocates. Renamed "Laci and Conner's Law" at the request of Laci Peterson's parents, the bill would not apply in state cases like Peterson's. Instead, it would create a federal crime allowing charges to be filed against those who kill or injure a fetus during the commission of another federal offense such as a drive-by shooting or resisting arrest, whether or not the assailant knew about the pregnancy or intended to harm the fetus.

Supporters of abortion rights fear that courts might construe a federal fetal protection statute to include a congressional declaration that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. This declaration, they suggest, could undermine the central premise of Roe v. Wade. "Any time I hear about giving rights to fetuses, I get concerned," Elaine Werner, the executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League told The Chicago Tribune. "That's a slippery slope toward eroding Roe v. Wade." In fact, the Peterson law doesn't cover abortions. It explicitly exempts the acts of "any woman with respect to her unborn child" and any person "for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman has been obtained." But it defines an "unborn child" or a "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." And opponents of abortion have only aggravated the fear that they would urge courts to interpret this language expansively.
Rosen concludes:
The variety of fetal homicide statutes suggest that legislatures are better than courts at providing answers to these highly contextual questions. The doctor's liability for destroying a fertilized embryo that the woman has abandoned may be very different from his liability for aborting a fertilized embryo with her consent. The debate over the Peterson law suggests that the Constitution provides no helpful answers to the question of fetal personhood and that courts should resist the impulse to preempt this complicated moral debate before it has unfolded. Still, those who fear that fetal homicide statutes will undermine Roe are too pessimistic. Far from threatening abortion rights, the fetal homicide statutes provide a model for a pluralistic approach to reproductive rights. That approach respects, rather than ruling out of bounds, the complexity of citizens' clashing viewpoints about fetal life.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Ladies, don't let your sons grow up to be Superior Court judges.

Retirement is all fun and child molestation for New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stephen Thompson.

Stephen Thompson, 57, of Haddon Township and Avalon, was charged with making the trip to have sex with a minor for the purpose of making a videotape. The charge carries a mandatory federal prison sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Authorities said they have a videotape that they say shows 40 minutes of footage of Thompson and a boy believed to be between 13 and 16 years old engaged in sex acts.

According to the criminal complaint, the tape was shot in September in St. Petersberg, Russia.
Hopefully, Judge Haddon will be spending the rest of his retirement in prison, where wardens will keep him away from the younger prison population.

Friday, August 22, 2003

And the bad news...

Violence in Kosovo continues to keep the region unstable. Peacekeeping operations have not fared well here. Stanley Kober reminds us that US policy in Balkans does not bode well for US plans in the Middle East.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Terrorism risks around the world.

According to Associated Press reports, it is "highly likely" that terrorists will attempt another Sept. 11-style attack in the US next year, but other countries are at even greater risk. This information comes from a study by London's World Markets Research Center, which assessed 186 countries for its latest Global Terrorism Index. Among the criteria: the motivation and capabilities of terrorist groups, their proximity to their probable targets, and the preventive measures in place against them. The nations rated likeliest targets in the next 12 months:

1. Colombia
2. Israel
3. Pakistan
4. US
5. Philippines
6. Afghanistan
7. Indonesia
8. Iraq
9. India
10. Britain (tie) Sri Lanka
Perhaps Ashcroft should push for an international PATRIOT Act as he tours the US with his horse-and-pony constitutional faux-pas.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The devil in the details.

American University professor R. S. Zaharna reminds readers that "Iraq Is Not A Modern-Day Germany", and what worked in the post-war carrot-and-stick Germany will not work in Iraq. Zaharna writes:

American officials say the need for America's continued presence is a security issue. Restoring law and order is a prerequisite to democracy. From the Iraqi perspective, however, continued foreign military presence is a political issue.

What the US sees as steps to freedom and independence, most Iraqis may view as the denial of just that. When America's security concerns are pitted against Iraqi nationalist political concerns, the stage is set for self-perpetuating violence: Iraqis carry out attacks against US troops because of the occupation, and the US prolongs the occupation because of the attacks. One seeks to restore national sovereignty, the other, law and order.
The cookie-cutter foreign policy style of the Bush administration must be replaced by a thoughtful, context-specific and particularistic approach which takes into account local knowledge, existing social and cultural institutions, as well as history.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

On the ground in Iraq.

The situation for troops and residents of Tikrit does not look so good, as James Brandon reports.

"The Americans say that they came to liberate us, but what have I gained from them? Two bullets in my leg and one in my stomach," Rahim said.

The US-appointed governor of Salahuddin Province, which includes Tikrit, said that, "the treatment by Americans of the people is as in any other province." He paused. However, the Americans can be very forceful."

Far from the airconditioned hallways of power, ordinary Iraqis are increasingly employing a familiar language of oppression and resistance to describe their condition.

“The US here are an occupation force," said Jameel, who would only give his first name. "Their tanks are doing the same as the Israelis’ in Palestine. They will never persuade us that they are liberation forces. When they kill or destroy anything, the resistance will multiply. We are a Muslim people and our religion and tradition will never allow us to be slaves."
As the rhetoric changes from "liberation" to "occupation", the reconstruction of Iraq will only get more complex, as cooperation from locals remains essential to regime-change or nation-building (pick your term, reveal your party affiliation).

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Cleaning up a little postcommunist history.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, described by the Washington Times as the "highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc", also happens to the be the scummiest and most horrible intel officer to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. So when a friend told me about his article on WMD in Iraq, I wasn’t too surprised to find Pacepa active in the policy world. Pacepa contends that the US won’t find WMD in Iraq because the Soviets taught the Iraqis how to get rid of them. Regardless of the truth, this is precisely the sort of tale that Pacepa knows how to tell. And he knows how to tell it well.

Let’s take a look at Pacepa’s post-defection career. Pacepa has also penned a piece on the roots of current "anti-Americanism" for NRO. He makes no qualms about "seeing Red" where anti-war protests are concerned. No doubt the eminent Cold War historian and scholar, Ann Coulter, would agree with Pacepa's diagnosis. Perhaps Pacepa should consider how sickening his comments about "seeing red" might be to the families of his thousands of victims under communist Romania.

I see red when I see Pacepa-- I see the Red of his communism and the red blood that stains his statements. Should we disregard this and take his views seriously? Absolutely not—once an opportunist, always an opportunist. A man does not grow character and integrity overnight. He is playing to whatever the powers that be want to hear. Don’t forget that is how he got to the top of the intelligence community in communist Romania.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Mencken day.

A Mencken event worth attending. On Saturday, September 13th, the Enoch Pratt Free Library will be exhibiting a collection of Mencken letters, portraits, and ephemera from the Mencken Collection. Also, Terry Teachout, author of The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, will deliver a lecture entitled, "The Mencken That Matters".




"My friend, every sorceress is a pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can't face limitation."
From Circe's Power by Louise Gluck


9/10-9/15, 9/15-9/21, 9/22, 9/23-9/24, 9/25-9/27, 9/28/02, 9/29, 9/30, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3-10/7, 10/8, 10/9-10/10, 10/11-10/14, 10/15-10/18, 10/20-10/23, 10/24-11/02, 11/03-11/05, 11/06-11/11, 11/12-11/17, 11/18-11/24, 11/25-12/3, 12/4-12/5, 12/6-12/7, 12/8-12/10, 12/11, 12/12, 12/13, 12/14-12/17, 12/18-12/20, 12/21-12/22, 12/23-12/25, 12/26-12-29, 12/30, 12/31-1/1, 1/2, 1/3-1/5, 1/6-1/8, 1/9-1/11, 1/12-1/17, 1/18-1/23, 1/24-1/28, 1/29-1/31, 2/1-2/5, 2/6-2/7, 2/8-2/10, 2/11, 2/12-2/14, 2/15-2/17, 2/18-2/19, 2/20-2/24, 2/25-2/27, 2/28-3/1, 3/2-3/3, 3/4-3/5, 3/6-3/7, 3/8-3/9, 3/10, 3/11-3/20, 3/21-4/12, 4/13-4/21, 4/22-5/29, 5/30-7/1, 7/2-7/20, 7/21-8/3, 8/4-8/20


Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatised Military Industry by Peter Singer

The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society, edited by David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok



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