Northhampton (Mass.) police say a woman "has been cited for running down a man named Lord Jesus Christ as he crossed a street... on Tuesday."
According to the Associated Press: "The 50-year-old man is from Belchertown. Officers checked his ID and discovered that, indeed, his legal name is Lord Jesus Christ. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor facial injuries."
The woman is being charged with "failure to yield." Seems to me they might want to add "attempted deicide" to the indictment.
Joseph Wesley Postell, assistant director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for American Studies, has a pretty good piece in the Washington Times today on the decline of constitutionalism and the rise of the administrative state:
The Founders confronted a basic problem: How to vest government with sufficient power to get things done without giving it the instruments to exercise tyrannical control? To protect individual liberty and rights, they established (among others) two basic principles at the center of our constitutional order: representation and the separation of powers. To assure that government operated by consent, they provided that those responsible for making laws would be held accountable through elections. Moreover, legislative, executive and judicial power would be separated so those who made the laws were not in charge of executing and applying them.
Our modern administrative state violates these principles. That also is by design, courtesy of the progressives - the original architects of the administrative state. Progressives such as Woodrow Wilson disdained the idea of government "by the people" and sought to replace it with government by the experts. Wilson complained of America's "besetting error of ... trying to do too much by vote." "Self-government does not consist in having a hand in everything," he argued.
Postell argues, in brief, that conservatives need to do a better job explaining to the public the evils of the administrative state and develop a roadmap for restoring representative government and separation of powers, rightly understood.
"The question is not necessarily how to make government smaller," Postell writes, "but how to get it back under popular control and accountability."
(Hat tip: Julie Ponzi at No Left Turns.)
(Cross-posted at Freedom Pub.)
That 1,000-point drop on Wall Street today? Guess how it happened?
In one of the most dizzying half-hours in stock market history, the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points before paring those losses in what possibly could have been a trader error. According to multiple sources, a trader entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade possibly involving Procter & Gamble [PG 60.75 -1.41 (-2.27%) ], a component in the Dow.
That set off a chain-reaction panic on trading floors. As Daniel Foster at National Review noted:
P&G's 37 percent nosedive was only responsible for 172 points of the 992.60 the Dow lost in the slump. The rest was market reaction — and part of that was computerized and automated.
You know, capitalism and free trade generally make a lot of sense. But our current method of allocating capital -- Wall Street being the big mover in that process -- keeps finding new ways to make itself look dangerously insane. Terminator was about how computers and robots set off an apocalyptic attack on humanity; turns out they don't need nuclear weapons to do that, just mindless programming instructions to start selling if somebody else is selling -- even if that sale is the result of a "fat finger" typographical error. Holy crap.
That's the theory floated by Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein, in an interview with neuropsychologist Dr. Jordan Grafman -- Roethlisberger, after all, has suffered four concussions on the football field during his NFL career.
According to Grafman, two particular behaviors are endemic to people with moderate or severe frontal lobe injury, or to people with more mild but repetitive injury: 1) violating social rules by saying inappropriate things, and 2) saying appropriate or typical things in an inappropriate context.
"If you're married and you're flirting with another woman in an elevator with your wife next to you," Grafman says, "that's the kind of clearly inappropriate behavior." Roethlisberger is not married, but one man told me that Roethlisberger had asked out his wife while the man was present.
Granted, as Grafman notes, "we all say inappropriate things sometimes," but "it's the frequency with which it happens, and the unawareness. When you have a frontal lobe injury in particular, you often become unaware of your inappropriate behaviors. The observations usually come from wives or children." A typical situation in my reporting last week was something like this: I would hear that Roethlisberger had, for example, said inappropriate things to waitresses at a restaurant or walked out on a bill, so I would call the establishment. "I don't know if he walked out on a tab here," would be a typical response from whoever picked up the phone, "but he was really rude to my friend after he invited her over to his table." Tales of indecorous acts abounded.
Or it's possible that Roethlisberger is, you know, a colossal jerk. He wouldn't be the first multimillionaire athlete with dangerous delusions of entitlement, would he? Didn't we all kind of hate the jocks in high school?
And yet: If Epstein's onto something here, the morality of the NFL itself gets trickier and trickier to defend. There's already substantial evidence that playing professional football destroys the bodies and minds of the men who play it. If also it transforms them into moral monsters -- as a natural, organic byproduct of the game -- how could you possibly watch another game in good conscience? What redeeming value is left?
I'm going to start the discussion with religion and spirituality, not because it's the primary reason we homeschool (it isn't) but because it's the reason many (most?) people assume families homeschool their children.
There are a lot of religious reasons to homeschool your children, but the most compelling one for me is that I believe that all education is inherently religious/spiritual. Meaning: Apart from very few subjects (typing perhaps?) you always rely on presuppositions, and those presuppositions are usually tied in some way to one's metaphysics and beliefs about spiritual reality. The idea of delivering some kind of "neutral" secular education is laughable. When you approach subjects like history, language, and science presupposing that the material universe is all there is, you will teach those subjects quite differently than if you presuppose that there is a spiritual realm.
In many subjects, public education is hamstrung by the anti-establishment clause on the one hand, and the inherently religious nature of education on the other. As children grow and their education develops, the material constantly calls out for value judgments. History, for example, is unintelligible if you refuse to acknowledge the religious and political motivations of its actors. How does one teach children about the crusades, the Roman Empire, the Enlightenment, or the wars of the 20th century without expressing SOME kind of moral judgment? Forget ONE, how do you enforce a set of standards for neutrality among THOUSANDS of teachers, knowing that they all come from different backgrounds and carry different spiritual biases?
Some other religious/spiritual reasons we, or other homeschoolers, might choose to keep our children out of the school system:
Also note that spiritual concerns go both ways. If you're an atheist in a district that has decided to teach Intelligent Design in its science curriculum, you might decide to keep your child home. Likewise other faiths.
The parenthetical comment should probably read, "the first in a series that will likely be abandoned about one third of the way through, like everything else I start here," but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
CRywalt left a comment on one of Ben's education posts that included this drive-by piece of snark:
Bad enough we've got evangelical, conservative Christians homeschooling to avoid their kids' learning about evolution or sexual reproduction.
As an evangelical, conservative Christian (I'm an officer in my church, which is part of the Presbyterian Church in America, one of the more theologically conservative denominations) who, along with my wife, has chosen to homeschool our children, I find it disappointing and a bit offensive that this line is delivered without a twinge of recognition that it is simply repeating a convenient stereotype. It belongs on the trash-heap of stereotypes that include, "women who work are putting their careers before their families," and "people from the South are inbred racists."
In the interest of shedding light on the many reasons parents choose to homeschool these days, I will try to do individual posts on these topics:
Not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily exclusively.
Watch this space...
Here are Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan -- Iraq war boosters if there ever were -- reporting on current goings-on there. I'll skip to the important part, about the unresolved Iraqi election:
If upheld, these decisions would give Maliki's bloc more seats than Allawi's. If Maliki's list gained four seats, it could potentially form a government with the other major Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance, excluding both the Kurds and Sunnis. That result -- surely disastrous for U.S. interests -- would position Maliki as a potential authoritarian ruler, empower the anti-American Sadrists and their Iranian-backed militias and alienate Sunnis while marginalizing the Kurds. If Sunni seats are transferred to Maliki's Shiite list this way, Sunni Arabs would justifiably feel that Shiites had stolen the election.
No WMDs in Iraq, remember. But at least we planted the seeds of democracy in the Middle East!
I have an op-ed in Investor's Business Daily on Thursday making the case for tenure reform and merit pay. I argue that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of a sweeping and ambitious tenure reform bill in the Sunshine State two week's ago has national implications. But so does the bill currently being debated in Colorado.
I also suggest that tenure reform alone isn't enough. You need real choice and competition if you want lasting reform.
The former Panamanian leader, Manuel Noriega, has been extradited to France by the United States after spending more than 20 years in a prison there.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a "surrender warrant" after all judicial challenges were resolved.
French officials later confirmed he was on board an Air France flight to Paris.
A court in France convicted Noriega in his absence in 1999 for laundering money through French banks, though it says he will be granted a new trial.
The 76-year-old had wanted to be sent back to Panama after finishing his 17-year jail sentence in 2007.
I was very surprised last weekend when Bill Maher announce that Dr. Jack Kevorkian was his guest for that night's show. My thought process was very much the same as when I saw this story. "He's not dead???" No, both are still alive, and Kevorkian, besides being free, is being played by Al Pacino in an HBO film.
If the press had unified, as they do on so many other political and policy issues, and stood up to the ever-growing radical Islamist speech veto in the West, we could be well on our way toward a cultural victory in the war. Instead, we continue to cave. The last place I thought I'd see such caving was at Comedy Central — a channel dedicated to the iconoclasm of almost everything religious and everyone political. Now, even chief iconoclast Jon Stewart is defending the veto, or censorship, on his network.
Interestingly, Leibsohn links to this New York Times blog post titled: "Jon Stewart Takes On Comedy Central’s Censorship of ‘South Park’." That doesn't sound like a defense.
And here's the video the NYT post is about:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|South Park Death Threats|
To me, it's clear that Stewart's not too happy with the censorship -- though he acknowledges that Comedy Central has the right to do so. But certainly somebody who was afraid of incurring militant Muslim wrath wouldn't bring their commentary to a culmination with a rousing gospel rendition of "Go F**k Yourself" aimed at the group in question. Would they?
At National Review, Rich Lowry is grumpy:
Over at PowerLine, John Hinderaker makes a great catch: CNN describes the Arizona immigration law as "polarizing." John asks why the health-care bill was never described that way, even though it too brought protestors into the streets and was actually, in contrast to the Arizona bill, opposed by most people? To ask the question is to answer it.
I sent Mr. Lowry a note:
A Google search for "health care bill polarizing" gets 476,000 results.
A GoogleNews search for the same term gets more than 600 results.
You say that "to ask the question is to answer it," but trying to answer it might've provided you a different result.
The Weekly Standard has a new piece out, shocked! that the Obama White House is using the office of "faith-based initiatives" to mount a campaign against climate change. It quotes Jim Towey, a former director of the office, decrying the efforts.
The use of churches and congregations to advance the administration’s climate-change agenda, Towey says, “looks a lot like this is simply a political outreach initiative.” He adds: “The faith-based office was supposed to be a common-ground effort with Republicans and Democrats working to assist the poor—and that’s just long gone.”
Oh yes, it's awful to use a government-church partnership to advance a political agenda!
I'm not going to defend this. I'm just amused that Republicans, who were warned and criticized during the Bush Administration about the problems inherent in establishing church-state partnerships, are suddenly on the side of critics now that Democrats are in charge.
It's not as if politicization of the office of faith-based initiatives is new. Remember David Kuo, who served in the office when Bush launched it? He wrote a book about the experience:
Kuo alleges that then-White House political affairsdirector Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a scheme to use the office, and taxpayer funds, to mount ostensibly “nonpartisan” events that were, in reality, designed with the intent of mobilizing religious voters in 20 targeted races.
Nineteen out of the 20 targeted races were won by Republicans, Kuo reports. The outreach was so extensive and so powerful in motivating not just conservative evangelicals, but also traditionally Democratic minorities, that Kuo attributes Bush’s 2004 Ohio victory “at least partially … to the conferences we had launched two years before.”
None of this, of course, is in the Weekly Standard story -- no hint that maybe the whole idea of a government office of "faith-based partnerships" is always problematic, prone to abuse by whoever holds the reins of power. Of course it is! But in the Standard's view, it's the Democrats who are really the bad guys. Of course.
I really can't get enough of stories like this:
An alleged ill-timed potty break has landed a man accused of robbing a Suffolk convenience store behind bars. Police said 43-year-old Sean Almond was found urinating behind a Kangaroo Mart minutes after a clerk reported the store had been robbed Thursday night. Police said Almond was carrying the stolen cash.
I don't want to give criminals any advice, but really, robberies as in road trips, you really should remember to go before you go.
An appellate court in New Jersey ruled today that "Shellee Hale’s writings about Too Much Media LLC . . . amounted to nothing more than a letter-to-the-editor in a newspaper" and thus were not protected by the journalist's Shield Law.
Hale, a former Microsoft employee and a mother of five from Washington state, contended she was acting as a journalist when she posted comments to a message board about a security breach at TMM and allegations that its owners had threatened her. She argued the postings were part of her research into a larger story about the online pornography industry.
TMM sued for damages, claiming Hale was not working as a journalist and was not covered by the shield law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources.
This case raises the question of how to deal with that gray area between private (non-journalist) citizens commenting on message boards, and professional journalists posting on a website backed by traditional media. I'm not sure where exactly the line should be drawn, and neither are the courts.
However, the fact of presenting information on a new, different medium, even if capable of reaching a wider audience more readily, does not make it "news," for purposes of qualifying for the newsperson's privilege. Simply put, new media should not be confused with news media. There is, of necessity, a distinction between, on the one hand, personal diaries, opinions, impressions and expressive writing and, on the other hand, news reporting. The transmission or dissemination of a "message" through the new medium of the Internet, or the display of one's content or comment thereon, does not necessarily entitle the author or writer to the same protection as a "newsperson." Although any attempt at defining "news" would ultimately prove illusory, some delimiting standards must pertain lest anyone with a webpage or who posts materials on the Internet would qualify.
With one exception, state courts have yet to address the issue of whether bloggers are journalists. In O'Grady v. Superior Court, supra, 44 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 100, the California Court of Appeals interpreted the term "magazine, or other periodical publication" in the state's Shield Law, Cal. Evid. Code §1070(a) (Deering 2009); Cal. Const., art. 1, §2, subd. (b), to embrace the claimants' Internet publications. There, the defendant bloggers were the proprietors and authors of Internet-only publications — "O'Grady's PowerPage" and "Apple Insider" — to whom suspected Apple Computer insiders leaked confidential trade secrets about soon-to-be-released Apple products. Id. at 77-80. When this information was posted on the defendants' respective websites, Apple sued the two Internet publishers and sought, through subpoenas, the identity of their confidential, anonymous sources. Id. at 80-81. In response, the defendants moved for a protective order under California's Shield Law. Id. at 81. The trial court denied the motion, holding that the reporter's privilege did not apply to trade secrets. Id. at 82; see Apple Computers, Inc. v. Doe 1, No. 10-4-CV-032178, slip op. at 7-13 (Cal Sup. Ct. Mar. 11, 2005). The appellate court reversed, concluding that the activities of "O'Grady's PowerPage" and "Apple Insider" constituted the "gathering and dissemination of news," O'Grady, supra, 44 Cal. Rptr. at 97-98, that the publishers were "covered persons," Id. at 99-100, and their articles were "covered publications." Id. at 99-105.
Perhaps one criteria should be, "are you posting this on your own website, or on one where you are "official staff." But what if Mike Wallace (or some other, obvious, journalist) were to post something on another person's blog? And given the ease of starting your own blog, do we really want to extend the Shield Law to everyone on blogspot? How do we distinguish between people like Joel and Porn Hacks
What do you think? Who deserves protection under journalist shield laws?
Note to would-be fugitives: Turns out, a manure pit is not a good place to hide out from the cops:
Police said that officers searching for a man wanted on methamphetamine charges found him hiding neck-deep in a liquid manure pit at a northeastern Indiana farm. Noble County sheriff's deputies thought they'd lost the man until an officer spotted him in the tank beneath an outbuilding floor on the farm near Albion.
Chief Deputy Doug Harp said the man, 52, had been neck-deep in the combination of hog and dog feces for at least an hour Tuesday evening. He later became combative and had to be shocked twice with a stun gun.
Oh, and after all that, the moron had to be treated for hypothermia, too.
...crazy women blasted on wine, meth, pot and downers kill people:
An Australian woman who ran down and killed a man who threw cheese-flavoured snacks at her car was jailed Thursday for 25 years.
Sydney woman Sarah May Ward intended to injure Eli Westlake for throwing the snacks at her vehicle, judge Roderick Howie told the New South Wales Supreme Court, describing the 21-year-old's murder as "a senseless act of anger."
"She clearly wanted to teach the young men a lesson," the Australian Associated Press quoted judge Howie as saying as he sentenced Ward to jail for a minimum 18 years.
The jury was told Ward, 39, had drunk two bottles of wine and used cannabis, amphetamine drugs and anti-depressants before getting into her car in Sydney's northern suburbs on June 7, 2008.
She decided impulsively to use the vehicle as a weapon after Westlake threw the snacks at her car as a joke while walking home with his brother and a group of friends.
It's a horrifying story, and I'm glad the woman is going away. Yet I cannot help but think of this.
Greg Sargent reports that Democrats are amassing "bipartisan support" for legislation aimed at limiting the Supreme Court's small but vital affirmation of free speech in Citizen's United v. FEC. "The bill that Dems are planning will have more bipartisan support than expected, a Dem leadership aide confirms," Sargent writes at the Plum Line.
How much more support? "[A] Dem leadership aide says it will be introduced tomorrow with at least one more GOP sponsor in addition to Mike Castle, though the aide wouldn’t reveal who. This will allow Dems to push back by pointing out that the measure has GOP support." So at least two moderate-to-liberal Republicans will sign on. That's nice.
And what would this bill do? "The legislation seeks to increase transparency and disclosure of political spending, including provisions forcing heads of organizations spending big money on elections to reveal their personal involvement," Sargent writes. "It also seeks to prevent foreign money from influencing elections, and ensures that recipients of Federal money — contractors, TARP recipients — can’t spend cash in elections."
Foreigners are already barred from contributing to U.S. elections, not that they don't try. Prohibiting recipients of taxpayer largesse from spending on elections has visceral appeal, especially where I'm sitting.
An earlier New York Times story notes that Democrats are indeed pushing for more disclosure: "One provision would require the chief executive of any company or group that is the main backer of a campaign advertisement to personally appear in television and radio spots to acknowledge the sponsorship, the officials said." Sounds like fun.
Disclosure is controversial, of course. I tend to favor more disclosure rather than less in conjunction with fewer limits on who can give what to whom. Politics is a public business, after all. Here's what I wrote in the Scripps-Howard column in September:
The cure for campaign finance reform is fewer rules, not more. There should be little or no restriction on money in politics. There should be no limits on what a candidate can raise and spend. Political parties, corporations, unions... let them all in. The only exception should be for foreign contributions.
Transparency and instant Internet disclosure make most of the old objections and warnings about quid pro quo corruption irrelevant. If a political candidate receives the financial aid of large corporations, and public knows about it, then the question of undue influence falls to the voters to resolve. As it should be.
I realize, of course, there are strong arguments against more government-mandated disclosure rules. As Bradley Smith, the former federal elections commissioner, argued recently in City Journal: "Disclosure has resulted in government-enabled invasions of privacy—and sometimes outright harassment—and it has added to a political climate in which candidates are judged by their funders rather than their ideas." Justice Thomas dissented from part of the majority in Citizens United on that very basis.
We'll see what other odious provisions appear in the new legislation. I'm sure there will be plenty of nasty surprises. Congress has a rather elastic reading of the First Amendment. It says "make no law," ladies and gentlemen. "Make NO law."
(Cross-posted at Freedom Pub.)
"Murrieta police spent hours Monday night searching for a man who lost his pants in a bizarre botched carjacking, but the half-naked fugitive escaped capture, authorities said," reports Sarah Burge in the mighty Press-Enterprise.
I know what you're thinking: Aren't pants-less carjackers a dime-a-dozen in Southern California? Believe it or not, no. But the story probably wouldn't be worth sharing if not for this glimmering nugget of detail:
About 8 p.m., a passer-by flagged down officers to report a pants-less man running through a field. A police bloodhound sniffed out a pair of bloody boxer shorts that officers suspect the would-be carjacker snagged scaling a fence.
Of hacks, the mainstream media has no shortage. Few journalists or pundits are as irresponsible or as partisan as Time's Joe Klein (although Paul Krugman would give Klein some serious competition). Klein over the weekend told Chris Matthews he believes Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are dabbling in the dark, unpatriotic arts of sedition.
"I did a little bit of research just before this show -- it's on this little napkin here," Klein said. "I looked up the definition of sedition, which is conduct of language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious."
Not to be outdone, New York Magazine's John Heilemann, appearing on the show with Klein, added Rush Limbaugh to the sedition list.
"Joe's right and I'll name another person, I'll name Rush Limbaugh who uses this phrase constantly and talks about the Obama administration as a regime," Heilemann said. "That phrase which has connotations of tyranny. And what's so interesting about it to me...what is the focus, what is the cause of this? You think back to 1994, there was Ruby Ridge. There was Waco. There were triggering incidents. There's been nothing like that. The only thing that's changed in the last 15 months is the election of Barack Obama. And as far as I can see, in terms of the policies that Obama has implemented, there's nothing."
But Klein has been singing this tuneless sedition song now for months. I first noted it in October. Back then, Klein wrote a column for Time.com criticizing the White House for attacking Fox News Channel that began: "Let me be precise here: Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap. Some of it borders on sedition. Much of it is flat out untrue." He hauled out the trope again in December.
Did it really take Klein six months to look up the dictionary definition of sedition? I doubt it. But I do not doubt for a moment that Klein is peddling some flat-out untruths of his own.
First, although Klein says he's worried about what Beck, Palin, et. al, say, the fact is that United States doesn't have a seditious libel law anymore... thank God. The federal sedition statute covers seditious acts--as the prosecution of the Michigan "Hutaree" reminds us.
As I noted back in October, Klein is much too careless with his casual if qualified use of the term "sedition" -- even if he now has the lofty authority of his desktop dictionary to fall back upon. In reality, of course, sedition is a notoriously subjective "crime" that has been wildly abused for partisan advantage in the United States. It could be that Klein doesn't know what he's talking about, or it could be that he genuinely wants to see the likes of Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh hauled away in leg irons. Or it could be some combination of the two. Either way, keep your reactionary "dissent" to yourself.
Klein's dumb commentary was why we had University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone on the podcast in December. Stone is a liberal, but his work on the history of the First Amendment during wartime is simply indispensable. The first question I asked Stone had to do with Klein and other lesser lights. What did he think about these left-leaning pundits cavalierly throwing around charges of sedition at their ideological opponents?
"I'd prefer that they didn't," Stone said. "At present, there is really no meaningful legal concept of sedition or seditious libel." He went on to discuss how there are no seditious libel laws currently on the books, and we had a fascinating conversation about how those laws evolved over the centuries.
I don't think Joe Klein, John Heilemann, or Chris Matthews have read Stone's book, or much else useful. Shame on the preening, censorious, ignorant lot of them. They're a disgrace to their trade and embarrassment to their profession.
Update: Klein digs in:
Let me be clear: dissent isn't sedition. Questioning an Administration's policies isn't sedition. But questioning an Administration's legitimacy in a manner intended to undermine or overthrow it certainly is. A rally like this yesterday in South Carolina is a good example of seditious speech. It's not illegal--unless actions are taken to overthrow the government in question--but it is disgraceful and the precise opposite of patriotism in a democracy.
At least somebody seems to have clued him in to the law. But he's still wrong. Reason's Matt Welch gives Klein a nice thrashing at Hit and Run:
I am confident Klein's intellect is sufficiently razor-sharp to determine whether someone has crossed the legal threshold of sedition or not. And I would think that if you're a journalist playing the S-card–that is, if you're a free speech practitioner invoking one of the most notorious anti-free speech categories of law–you should at least have the basic stones to state definitively which of the people you disagree with should be locked up.
(Cross-posted at The Freedom Pub.)
As some of you no doubt noticed, Deregulator and I had an extended back and forth on Twitter about Obama, Socialism, Toyota and bailouts over the weekend. Below I have reconstructed the feed in chronological order. Obviously these topics are too complicated to discuss on Twitter, so I’ve brought the discussion over here so I (and hopefully he) can expand on my (his) points.
Deregulator:Lowry RE NY poll: 52% think Obama policies leading us toward socialism http://bit.ly/deXABH // yeah, but they're all racists #tcot 9:54 AM Apr 15th
KhabaLox:RT @deregulator Lowry RE NY poll: 52% think Obama policies leading us toward socialism //"Think" being the operative word.
This is what got the ball rolling. Lowry’s post links to an article (which didn’t even mention the socialism question) about the poll and not the poll itself, but Deregulator was able to track it down (see below). The point I was trying to make here is similar to my earlier point about polls showing a majority of Americans being against the Health Care Bill. In actuality, they are against what they think is in the bill, and when asked about individual provisions, they are generally in favor of them. Here, we have a poll telling us that in people’s opinion, Obama is moving us toward socialism. My contention is that their opinion is not very much in line with the facts.
Hundreds of Sunni men disappeared for months into a secret Baghdad prison under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's military office, where many were routinely tortured until the country's Human Rights Ministry gained access to the facility, Iraqi officials say.
The alleged brutal treatment of prisoners at the facility raised concerns that the country could drift back to its authoritarian past.
It increasingly looks like the United States traded one human-rights abusing no-WMD strongman for another in Iraq. Only this one is beholden to Iran. As bad as the war has been, it might be years or decades yet before we know the true magnitude of the disaster we unleashed.
Over at Freedom Pub, Dr. Zaius is once again trying to claim the great sci-fi flick Serenity for conservatism -- his vehicle this time is a video he made for that site. Nifty editing job on Z's part:
Z and I have a longstanding disagreement about the politics of Serenity. He obviously sees it in line with the Tea Party critique of Obama-style tyranny at home; I've made the case that given its release date -- 2005 -- that it might more properly be seen as a critique of U.S. "meddling" in Iraq, via our unprovoked invasion of that country.
I think, on reflection, that we're both right -- although I'm more right than Z. Whedon's politics definitely fall on the leftward side of the scale, though he doesn't seem to be all that active. There's also this interview Whedon gave in Europe when Serenity was released there. This is after George W. Bush's re-election, remember:
Well, you know, for me, the Alliance is what just got elected for a second term. But everybody can see it their own way – the Alliance, you know, wasn’t just supposed to be this terrible government, it was a good system which, like many good systems, became powerful, became arrogant and overreached. That’s what this is. ...
It isn’t that “Serenity” is saying… you know, some people could say: Gosh, it’s like Iraq. Well, some people are going to say: Iraq is going to be better off. Some people would say: No, it’s not. We can have that argument, but one thing’s for sure: A lot of people living in Iraq had their lives turned upside-down and will never be the same and were not asked. So in some senses the Alliance is America…
So there's that.
But obviously, it isn't just that. If Serenity was just a narrow critique of the invasion of Iraq, probably nobody would care about it anymore. Farenheit 9/11 made tons more money at the box office when it was released a year before -- but Serenity is the movie we still watch today and will be for decades to come. Michael Moore's documentary is more a relic of its time and place. It's already the past, gathering dust and rotting slightly.
Why? Because the theme of Serenity at its core is one of freedom and rebellion and not letting those who know better run your life -- a theme that liberals and conservatives, in their differing ways, both do heartily embrace. Here's another Whedon interview.
And one of the things that strikes me about the show is that, in terms of both gender and personal politics, "Firefly" and "Serenity" have one of the more diverse fan bases I've ever seen. The show's been written up in progressive and conservative journals….
Yeah. I would say about the movie that it is very political, but it's not partisan. And I think the curse, right now, of the politics of our nation is that a line has been drawn down the middle of our country -- and that's not actually how the human mind works.
Well, the problems are hugely complicated infrastructural problems, and we're trying to solve them with bloodsport. David Foster Wallace said that.
Yeah. It's not useful. The political statement that "Serenity" makes is very blatant -- but it can be embraced by someone who's extremely conservative or someone who's extremely liberal. That's not the point. The point is: It's a personal statement.
What "Serenity" and "Firefly" were both about is how politics affect people personally. And the personal politics are the only politics that really interest me. I'm not going to make this big, didactic polemic -- I'm just going to say, "When there are shifts in a planet, those tiny little guys are the ones who are affected. So let's hang out with them -- not the Federation heads or the Jedi Council."
I doubt we'll see Joss Whedon at any tea parties today. I'm not sure what he'd make of his film being put to use in the tea party cause. But maybe that doesn't matter so much. I think most of us who engage these debates and the process are fighting for freedom in the best way we know how. And if that means we all embrace Serenity, but do so in varying ways ... well, that's OK.
From today's New York Times' poll on the Tea Party movement:
They do not want a third party and say they usually or almost always vote Republican. The percentage holding a favorable opinion of former President George W. Bush, at 57 percent, almost exactly matches the percentage in the general public that holds an unfavorable view of him.
When talking about the Tea Party movement, the largest number of respondents said that the movement’s goal should be reducing the size of government, more than cutting the budget deficit or lowering taxes.
But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”
There are undoubtedly many sincere small government conservatives among the Tea Partiers. But it appears that many hate Big Gubmint, except when it benefits them. And the fact that the majority still love George W. Bush -- he of the Medicare drug benefit, the original bank bailout and the early stages of the car company bailout -- suggests that (for the movement as a whole) what really makes them mad are not violations of principle, but the fact that a Democrat is president.
Apparently, this has been around for awhile. But I hadn't seen it until a moment ago -- I haven't seen Rush live in probably 15 years, come to think of it -- and I think it's the bee's knees...
(Hat tip: Mick Shrimpton on Twitter.)
Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — because of healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official scorekeeper for legislation.
The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.
Taxpayers can currently deduct medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Starting in 2013, most taxpayers will only be allowed to deducted expenses greater than 10 percent of AGI. Older taxpayers are hit by this threshold increase in 2017.
Once the law is fully implemented in 2019, the JCT estimates the deduction limitation will affect 14.8 million taxpayers — 14.7 million of them will earn less than $200,000 a year. These taxpayers are single and joint filers, as well as heads of households.
"Loss of this deduction will mean higher taxes for 14.7 million individuals and families making under $200,000 a year in 2019," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Hill. "The new subsidy for health insurance would not be available to offset this tax increase for most of these households."
A little more math here is helpful, though: 14.7 million taxpayers will lose the deduction; they'll get hit with a collective $3.9 billion in new taxes in 2019. That means each taxpayer (and taxpaying household) will see an average tax increase of ... $26.
Clearly, socialism is bringing confiscatory tax rates to America.
Funny, though, Foster's excerpt skipped The Hill's line right after the Grassley quote:
The healthcare law contains tax breaks for individuals purchasing health insurance, but the breaks phase out for those making $88,000 a year.
So: The average tax increase of $26 a year will apply to families making between $88,000 and $200,000 a year. Even if you're on the low end of that scale, that average $26 increase will consume roughly three-tenths of one percent of your income!
I suppose that technically, this violates Obama's promise not to raise taxes of people making less than $250,000 a year. In reality, I'm not sure they'll notice it all that much. Unless organizations like The Hill continue to force readers to do the math to put these things in context -- and let Republicans needlessly scare the middle class.
UPDATE: The back of the envelope is no match for a calculator. I failed to carry a "zero" somewhere: Actual numbers are a $265 a year increase for those 14.7 million people. That's a bigger and more-noticeable number, to be sure. Still three-tenths of one percent of the $88,000-a-year income though. (How the hell did I make that mistake?)
So I was going through a drawer today where I absentmindedly tossed a bunch of old Zip disks and CD-Rs containing backed up Word files, e-mail and such. I made some delightful and unexpected discoveries. Among other things, I discovered an ancient cache of writings from my college days, including my senior honors thesis on H.L. Mencken and a journal I kept for about three years.
Anyhow, I also have thousands upon thousands of pieces of e-mail saved. The problem is, the vast majority of it is old, old AOL. The kind of AOL files that would have worked just fine with, say, Mac OS 9.2 or thereabouts. The kind that would be supported in Mac Classic... if Classic were still supported, that is.
Now, I suppose I could look this up, but I was hoping one of my dozen or so regular readers might have an idea of how to recover this material. I expect some trouble. I fear some expense. The question is: How much?
My friend and colleague, Zack Christenson, has produced a great video for The Heartland Institute about the Tea Party movement. Not only is it packed with historical references, it's also very well-produced.
I'm sure our libertarian Monkeys will be incensed (as I am) about this story of an entrepreneur being forcibly shut out of business by the government.
Here in San Francisco picking up a garbage costs about $37/can per week.
A contractor I know got fed up, canceled his service as did his neighbor. They simply loaded both houses garbage into his truck, took it to the dump and paid the $40 to get rid of it. He charged his friend $10.
As a contractor he had to go to the dump all the time anyway. Pretty soon he had a small business, neighbors paying him $10 instead of $37, a difference of over $1400 per year or the price of a vacation or plasma TV for the family.
When the local garbage company and its union found out about "Joe" they complained to the city. Within a year a law was passed stating that garbage service was now mandatory for all residents at the price the city's monopoly charged, which was shortly raised. And Joe? For a while he still took our recyclables until he was fined $4000, even though he had our permission. It appears our household recyclables are owned by the Garbage company, not us, as it subsidizes our low cost of garbage service!
This story came to the blogger via an email, and I did some quick searching to try to corroborate it (or at least date it), but all I found were reposts of the original blog post. Does anyone have other info on this story? As I read it, it sounds like the government is forcing residents to participate in an economic transaction. Is this the norm in other cities?
Some of my more thoughtful conservative friends have criticized President Obama's bigger initiatives -- like the health reform law -- from a "first principles" argument that economic liberty is the foundation of, well, liberty liberty. Any governmental act that interferes with the rights of individuals to their property or profit is a reduction of liberty and thus potentially a step down the slippery slope to tyranny. I think it's an insightful argument, but I also think it's got limits.
And I think those limits might be demonstrated by the Heritage Foundation's 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. What's notable is that the two "countries" ranked highest on the index -- Hong Kong and Singapore -- might be great places to make cash, but they're not what most Americans would think of as substantially "free." (The United States ranks ninth.) Hong Kong might be listed as a separate "country" for the purposes of the index, but it's ruled by Chinese Communists; it might be more free than the mainland, but there are still rather significant concerns about freedom of expression. And Singapore? It's the authoritarian government that gave us caning and ranks 133rd in the World Press Freedom Index.
Heritage's index, obviously, doesn't take those things into account. Instead it ranks each country on a list of 10 criteria, including property rights, business freedom, government spending and "labor freedom." Weirdly, Canada -- with its big socialistic health care system -- ranks ahead of the United States.
I don't think my thoughtful conservative friends would assert that countries with libertarian policies only for corporations and not for citizens are truly free. Nor would I want to suggest that the ability to express yourself freely is the only criterion for liberty; economic liberty is an important component. But it appears that low taxes and free trade are no guarantee of freedom; I suspect it probably follows that a more-regulated health system isn't the end of our Republic.
Cross-posted from Cup O' Joel.
Joel takes a momentary respite from politics to pen a nice little bit of reporting and analysis for Macworld on this weekend's second-most important event. If this were one of our Scripps-Howard columns, I wonder which way Joel would go?
Update: I won't have time today to follow all of the iPad coverage, but I did notice Cory Doctorow's dissenting post at Boing Boing. Doctorow links to another post likening the device to "the second coming of the CD-Rom," slams Marvel's comic app (fair cop), and concludes: "If you want to live in the creative universe where anyone with a cool idea can make it and give it to you to run on your hardware, the iPad isn't for you." Now who's naive? (Via Memeorandum.)