July 31, 2005
Howard Dean made a statement the other day that just grates on anyone with a bit of knowledge about current events and politics:
He also said the president was partly responsible for a recent Supreme Court decision involving eminent domain.
“The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is ‘okay’ to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is,” Dean said, not mentioning that until he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court this week, Bush had not appointed anyone to the high court.
Dean’s reference to the “right-wing” court was also erroneous. The four justices who dissented in the Kelo vs. New London case included the three most conservative members of the court – Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the fourth dissenter.
The court’s liberal coalition of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to form the majority opinion, allowing the city of New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to seize private properties for commercial development.
“We think that eminent domain does not belong in the private sector. It is for public use only,” Dean said.
My first reaction? “What a moron!” But then I stepped back and thought about it. Could it be that maybe this is actually a big ploy? As I led into this post, talking about people who have some knowledge about current events and politics, is it possible that this comment wasn’t directed at them? Anyone with a brain sees right through this, which means the average American voter might now think that the “right-wing” court approves of stealing his house.
When I heard anything that Michael Moore did, I was not so much upset about his inaccuracies and blatant lies. What upset me the most was that those lies were taken as fact by a bunch of people who didn’t know any better. When I would send them to fifty-nine deceits link, they were shocked at just how much manipulation and massaging of the facts Moore needed to present his propaganda. But I know of all the people that I tried to get to read that link, a great many never did, and went on believing what Moore said.
Is this the same thing for Dean? Are we going to see the hordes of misinformed idjits now believing that it was the right-wing court at fault, regardless of the facts? I worry that might be the case. A huge portion of the Left think Bush is a blustering moron (for the record, I concede the “blustering” part, with regards to his speech), but he did manage to get himself elected to the most powerful office in the world. Could it be that Dean, who we all think is an unhinged, ridiculous caricature, is a “Rove-in-schizophrenic’s-clothing”? After all, he did manage to get himself a medical degree, elected Governor of Vermont, almost won the Democratic nomination for President, and now is head of the DNC. You don’t get there by blind luck.
Update: Over at dailykos, they’re having an internal debate over how to react. Pretty interesting, as several of them think it’s wrong to try to deliberately mislead people by pushing this, and many others thinking that if they can push this for political gain, they might as well do it.
Also, over at Liberal Avenger, they’re looking for a transcript of the speech, and not having much luck finding it. The original story comes from (right-wing?) CNSNews.com, but I’ve been unable to find a transcript or source. As such, based upon Dean’s past behavior, I don’t put this past him, but I reserve the right to be proved wrong if the transcript shows he didn’t say this or that this was pulled completely out of context.
…I might actually post about winning at poker. But not today.
Went down to the local Mexican restaurant, where they offer free tournaments every Sunday and Tuesday. Made a bluff early to take down a fair number of chips, followed by a loss on a small pocket pair (I hate playing those in NL Hold’em…)
Was down to 2600 (started at 5000) chips, as the blinds were at 200-400. With a small table, I knew those blinds were going to start coming around very fast. Since there was no actual money on the line, I decided to move all-in with As7s in the position immediately before the button. That’s a strong enough hand to attempt to double up (I’d normally have waited for something better if I had actually paid money to play), but I was just hoping to steal the blinds. Two people called, one with KJo, and another with pocket aces. Both beat me, but at least I can take solace in the fact that the guy with KJo also got knocked out on that hand…
Just once, if I would actually win when I was a favorite in a hand, I’d be very happy. But if that’s not going to happen, can’t I at least suck out when I’m the underdog?
I love America, but I don’t consider myself a “nationalist”. America, to me, is not simply a nation. America doesn’t start or end at our borders. America is an idea.
“The American Dream” is more than three little words. It is the idea that if you put your mind to something, the only thing that will cause your success or failure is the strength of your idea and your work. The government, ‘the man’, isn’t going to keep you down. The American Dream is an expression of the triumph of human potential. It is, in three little words, the idea that you can be all that you desire and more.
But it extends even farther. Not only is it your own right and prerogative to choose your own occupation, it is your prerogative to act, believe, vote, and behave in a way of your own choice. The distinction is made between economic and personal liberty, but they are simply two sides of the same coin. Just as the American Dream states that anyone can make it economically, the American thought of personal liberty gives each person the ability to act as they see fit. The government, the church, ’society’, though they may disagree with your actions, allow you to do what you like, so long as you do not infringe on others.
America is a land of equality. This isn’t to say that results will ever be equal, or that we expect everyone to achieve the same thing, but equality of opportunity. The idea of individualism incorporates the idea that “group identity” is a farce. In America, it doesn’t matter where you start, what you look like, what neighborhood (or even country) you are from. You are judged, and treated, on your individual merits. While “equality” is never intended to mean that people, de facto, are “equal”, it is to say that they are treated equally. They are evaluated, by their peers, by their society, and by their government, on an individual basis.
Last, America is not simply the individual, as each individual is part of a community. America is also charity. A system that is based upon freedom and liberty is bound to have winners and losers. We know that misfortune can hit our neighbors as easily as it can hit us, and Americans are always willing to lend a helping hand to those around us. It is a byproduct of the economic freedom, the personal liberty, and the hope that both create, that lead to a desire to spread that hope to those around you.
This isn’t to say that America: the nation always lives up to America: the idea. Nor is it to say that people in other countries don’t hold the American idea. The question of “anti-Americanism” in this country is one that is fired at the Right all day long. For me, being American includes only one thing: a belief in the American idea. Are there people in this country, on the Left and the Right, who don’t believe in the American idea? Of course. It is the Left, who believe it is their job to control and plan our economy, to punish the rich, to determine who we should hire, who we should fire, how and where people should be employed, and under what conditions, that are anti-American. And the Right, who push the protection not of opportunity, but of the businesses they are friendly to, who want to legislate all of our morality, who believe they should control who ingests what, who loves whom, and that our society should follow their Bible, that are anti-American.
America is a wonderful thing. But when I say this, it is the America that each person holds in their hearts of which I speak. This America is held in the heart of the trust-fund baby who believes that he needs to “earn” his right to that fund. It is held in the heart of the inner-city youth striving to be the first person in his family to make it to college. It is held in the heart of the immigrant, coming here with nothing but the shirt on his back, who is going to work his butt off to earn himself a living and send checks home to help his family. And it is in the heart of every liberty-loving member of an oppressed group, regardless of what country he’s in, that is striving to bring the idea of liberty and the American dream to his own shores.
When I say that I love America, I think of an idea. America, in my mind, is the country that has most closely followed that idea. But that is not cause for me to love my nation when it fails in that ideal, or to refrain from criticism when I think we move farther from it. It is my goal to do what I can to see America the nation become America the ideal. I think that the ideal on which America was founded is the best we, as humans, have yet discovered, and I look forward to seeing that ideal triumph on our shores and abroad.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with The Gadsden Flag
Below The Beltway linked with Libertarian Nationalism
Louisiana Libertarian linked with America The Ideal
Owlish Mutterings linked with Carnival of Liberty #5
July 28, 2005
Looks like Nicole Kidman is interested in having another child. And she’s looking for a “normal guy” to do it with:
But if she pursues a larger family, having a partner is very important to the actress. “I wouldn’t want to give birth to a child without a dad, though,” said Kidman. “But why would a man want to be with me? I can’t help but question people’s motives, particularly men’s.”
“I’d just like to meet a normal man who is not interested in those things [celebrity] at all,” said the actress. “That would be lovely. Then you can slip into a more anonymous life.”
Can’t figure out why a man would want to be with her? Wow, the Tom must have really messed with her head throughout their marriage. I’ve got a friend that would love to audition for that part (no pun intended). And his motives are only to do one thing; to worship the ground she walks on.
He’s a little young, though, so he should check out the Phat Phree’s guidance on dating in 38-year old Nicole’s age group:
36-40 Years Old
They’ve most likely given up on the hopes of child rearing by now. Or, maybe they’ve even done it already. But don’t worry, if she did pop out a couple, she’ll hide them at Grandma’s house for months as if they were lepers. You know, to keep from scaring you away like a frightened chipmunk. Either way, this age group can be fun times. For example: they can pick out the best wine on the menu without the aid of a sommelier. And she may even pay for it too.
Yeah, this is childish. But funny!
Hat Tip: MuD & PHuD
I’ve noticed something about France that’s really freaking me out: There are no fat people! It’s actually a bit disconcerting. Even the slightly overweight here are still about half of a Detroit resident. I think I might understand why, as I’ve spent a good portion of the last two days walking around, and it seems no places (even the customer we visited) have air conditioning, so you sweat it all out. But still, it does really make me want to hit the gym.
But I was very happy to see that our pop culture has found its way over here. That and McDonald’s and we’ll have these folks pushing lard-asses around to rival our own. I’d love to know the literal translation of “Serial Noceurs”…
And I don’t know why, but this picture makes me look like a lard-ass. Maybe these thin people are turning me anorexic. Lord knows I could use it. Something tells me, though, that maybe America just grows our people bigger, because everyone here seems short… Not as short as when I went to Taiwan, but tiny nonetheless.
Which all reminds me of a joke (credit to JimmyJ, as he did tell me this one):
The Chinese eat a lot more vegetables, less fat, less meat, and live longer than Americans.
The French eat a lot more fat, cream, butter, and live longer than Americans.
So eat whatever the heck you want, it’s speaking English that kills you!
I’m a little busy at work right now, but I didn’t want anyone to miss this article.
July 27, 2005
Alas, the NFL season starts in 42 days. Really, February until mid-September is just a waste of time.
ESPN is airing “NFL Live” daily, covering basically everything you ever did/didn’t want to know about some 9th string cornerback from Southwest Alabama State. Admittedly, I love it. The biggest news for me this week is that starting next season, Al Michaels will be manning the Monday Night Football booth with Joe Theismann (pronounced “Teese-man” until his senior year at Notre Dame, when he changed it to rhyme with “Heisman”. No, he didn’t win.). First, Theismann is an upgrade over the aging John Madden, who sometimes isn’t really sure if he’s on foot or horseback. ESPN now has MNF, taking it from ABC after 145 years (plus or minus). But the news that bothered me, and I am sure bothered absolutely no one else, is that Paul Maguire will no longer be doing the Sunday night games. Hands-down the best analyst in football.
The real reason I started this post -
All the big name stars that are holding out and threatening to not show up for training camp. First and foremost, Terrell Owens. I have to admit, I despise Terrell Owens, so I am a bit biased. Terrell is unhappy with his $7M per year contract, claiming that he is worth far more than that. Based on his numbers last year, yes, he probably is worth more than $7M per year. Guys that put up 1/2 the numbers he did in 2004 are making more than he is. To me, that is irrelevant. The point is that he signed a contract. He should be expected to fulfill his obligation.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? If your contract is for $49m over 7 years, you play for $7M per year and shut your mouth. But in the NFL, contracts are not guaranteed (unlike NBA, NHL, MLB). A player can be cut at any time and the contract is voided (granted there is guaranteed money is most contracts, like signing bonuses, but certainly not all the money is guaranteed). So if a player UNDERachieves, a team can say “take a pay cut, restructure your contract – or we’ll waive you”. Now if a player OVERachieves, should he be entitled to the same logic? “I put up better numbers than exptected, I need to get paid more”. Should it work both ways?
In Terrell’s case, I say NO. Why? Because he is a jackass.
Well, I’ve begun my mission to reinforce negative American stereotypes in the land of cheese and wine. So far, I’ve done my best to not utter a single French word (barring talking to cute women, of course).
I’m trying to keep this quick, as internet access costs me 5 euro/hour, in my non-airconditioned room. Ugh.
Got to go to a Creperie, which is cool because crepes are one of the few things I know how to cook. But not like these guys do it! Wow, that’s some good stuff!
I also checked out the Palace at Versailles. While I might talk some game about the French, and about how I am not a big fan of monarchy in general, being the King of France was pretty impressive in his day. And I just walked through his apartment. That’s actually really cool. And I have to hand it to Versailles. My new house isn’t worthy of being an outhouse at this place.
And before you ask, no, they haven’t surrendered yet. But I’m working on it!
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Waste Management
I submitted my post on Natural Rights to this Carnival.
So check out Carnival of the Vanities #149!
July 26, 2005
(Note: I have not found a direct link to a news source on this. Take this information for what you will. It could be an elaborate joke, I haven’t done the research to vet this)…
Slovakia and Hungary are being served notice that the Commission is about to take them to the European Court of Justice for not complying with certain parts of EU legislation.
Apparently, neither country has implemented a number of directives on maritime safety. Slovakia is being warned about having no legislation to do with passenger ships and prevention of pollution.
Hungary has no “availability of port facilities for ship-generated waste”. Actually, Hungary has no ports or ships, being land-locked, as is Slovakia. That, apparently, is not the point.
This is why I like the ISO9000 framework. They give a general outline of certain things a company should do, and certain procedures that are expected. But they leave the details to the company itself, and just oversee that it meets the general framework. Likewise, in the US, we have a Constitution designed to be a general framework, and states, localities, and individuals are asked to follow the framework, with the Supreme Court overseeing whether that framework is followed.
The EU, however, went the opposite direction. If everything is decided, legislated, and uniform, from the top down, what do you do when something doesn’t meet the model? It sounds to me like they’re trying to fit a square peg in an round hole. Follows along the lines of their 448-page Constitution, doesn’t it?
TriggerFinger linked with Heh.
Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave linked with I knew I was a geek, but ....
Need some help here… From an interview I caught on O’Reilly last night (Hat Tip to Powerpundit for the transcript), something didn’t sit right. Now, I’m no expert on guns, or explosives, but I think Judge Andrew Napolitano and Bill O’Reilly are even more deluded by Hollywood than I am.
Napolitano: “I didn’t say you couldn’t shoot him. In England and America, the law is shoot to stop, shoot to maim, shoot to protect yourself, but not low his brains out, as these police did.”
O’Reilly: “Where would you shoot?”
Napolitano: “Listen, I’m not an expert in guns. I would have shot them in his knees, or his arms, or some other part of his body to stop him.”
O’Reilly: “If you aim above the waist, alright, you might hit the bomb, and everybody dies.”
Napolitano: “The British police were aiming for his head. They put bullets into his head and his torso. He was as innocent is you and I. We don’t kill innocent people to protect other innocent people.”
So, for my readers who are experts in guns and explosives, can you answer a few questions for me?
1) If you were going to take someone down, your goal would be to aim at center mass, correct? Trying to hit a fleeing target in the arms or legs would be very difficult, right?
2) Just what types of explosives will or will not be set off if they are hit with a bullet? I suspect something like C4, being as stable as it is, will not detonate. But I’m not as sure about things like dynamite, etc. And since I think all these guys used explosives with electrical detonation, not a fuse, the police can be reasonably sure that their bullets will not detonate the bomb.
I don’t know enough about the situation to determine whether this was a clean shooting or not, and don’t want to debate that. But assuming that they’re in a situation where they need to shoot the suspect, is it feasible to expect them to aim for arms and legs? And is it dangerous for them to aim at his torso, due to the possibility of detonating a bomb?
Some from the Carnival, some from elsewhere. All worth reading…
First, the worries about an “American Hiroshima”. Story here and here from WorldnetDaily. (Hat tip to Man in the Middle and this commentor at Wizbang.) Needless to say that this is a little bit freaky. The only thing I can offer here is that maybe Tancredo’s threat that we extend the policy of mutually assured destruction to Mecca might be the right option. You can’t have MAD against stateless terrorists, but if you suggest that the site most important to them will go bye-bye, maybe there might be some leverage.
Steve Pavlina tells us about The Right to be Wrong. It struck a nerve because it reminded me of my AP US History teacher, who was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. That was the guy who said at the beginning of the year, “I’m going to give you so much work you can’t possibly handle it, so that you can learn time management skills.” He wasn’t easy on us, but we all learned a hell of a lot, and about more than just US History.
Angry in the Great White North tells us of attempts to criminalize smoking while driving… I had to respond with this comment (which extended further to explain why I don’t agree with it):
I have actually crashed a car due to smoking. I was cruising along a fairly crowded road, lit my cigarette, put the lighter away, and looked up to find traffic in front of me at a dead stop. It turns out that three cars in front of me, an unmarked car driven by a postal carrier stopped unexpectedly to deliver mail. The people directly ahead of me responded in time; because I was putting my lighter away, I did not.
Willisms reminds us, with help from Hayek, on why criticizing speech isn’t censorship.
Rhymes with Right tells us why efforts to restrict Southwest Airlines from flying out of Love Field is crony capitalism, and local government is more than willing to participate.
Quincy tells us why “nuance” and “understanding of the Constitution” are not to be used in the same sentence.
Last, Eminent Domain and other government malfeasance, here and overseas:
Hold the Mayo with A Real-Live Worst Case Scenario
Mr. Completely with Venezuela to sieze ‘idle’ firms
INCITE with Kelo Repercussions
Eric with It Would Seem…
Check them out. Good stuff, all around.
July 25, 2005
The post I made on natural rights stirred up some serious opposition, and from a very worthy adversary. Unlike past bouts, I’m not willing to cede defeat here. Below is a response to a post he wrote, in response to my post, and my counter was too long to relegate to a comment on either mine or his blogs. I suggest before you read below, you read my post again, as well as his response.
First, (and this is probably going to make you shake your head in disgust), I’m not following pure Hobbesian, Lockean, arguments. And the flat truth is because I haven’t read them. I actually read The Leviathan a long time ago, and thought Hobbes was full of it, because I believe that individuals and markets are much more efficient at solving the problems he brings up than central planning. But considering the times he lived in, before the great American experiment, I can see where he fit. I do, of course, need to read some Locke, to get a better sense of him.
As such, I specifically did not want to try to quote something like Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and thus I think my use of the term “natural rights” might be a bit deceptive. For me, this post was my definition of natural rights, and the use of a “state of nature” was used as an illustration of man, as opposed to a literal idea of how wonderful things were before society formed.
My use of the term “state of nature” is one where there is unfettered liberty. That state is one where the right to life, liberty, and property ownership exist, but are limited to your own ability to protect those rights. In essence, by our current understanding of “rights”, there’s not much to them. Unfortunately, that liberty also includes the liberty to kill, steal, rape, pillage, etc etc. In reality, a true state of nature would be that Darwinian hellhole of “eat or be eaten”, or Hobbes view of life as “nasty, brutish, and short.” As you bring up, however, a “state of nature” doesn’t exist. From the earliest cavemen, there has been always some sort of cooperation/collusion, at least within a family or tribe. In addition, there were some sort of rules and customs by which disputes were settled. This wouldn’t necessarily be considered “government” by modern standards, but served that purpose. I certainly don’t see the “natural law” in the Lockean sense, although I do understand that reason and an understanding of human nature should result in government’s laws approaching what Locke would consider to be “natural law”. As it is said in the Declaration of Independence, men institute governments to protect these rights in a socialized manner, to ensure that the people unable to protect them on their own are not trampled.
In your post, you summarize my argument as such:
a) Humans fare best with natural rights
b) natural rights exist in the State of Nature, and so,
c) the best government is that which is closest to the State of Nature, i.e., the government which governs least governs best.
Where my argument differs is this:
a) Humans fare best in a condition where the rules of society is consistent with human nature.
b) Natural rights do not exist *on their own*, but are a construct used to understand human behavior.
c) The best government is the one that most closely balances the needs of society (protection of the weak and infirm, etc) with human nature, i.e. that work to protect natural rights
I don’t believe, a priori, that the government that governs best governs least. It is my understanding from what I have seen of human nature, from what I have seen of collectivism, that leads me to this point. It is my study of human history which reveals that freedom in both personal matters and markets tend to lead to both amazing growth in the standard of living as well as increased personal liberty and civil rights.
By natural rights, I talk of life, liberty, and property rights. I do so for several reasons. Life is self-explanatory, as a government that does not respect (and protect) your right to life is a government shirking its primary responsibility. The other two, however, are less simple. A government that doesn’t respect the rights of property is also not respecting the right of liberty. A simple part of liberty is the right to do what you will with what is yours. A government that controls your means of obtaining and using income, likewise controls the primary method of liberty that an individual has, his own pocketbook. The only check on the liberty of what you do with your own personal property is when what you choose to do with your property harms the life, liberty, or property rights of others.
FYI, the right of property is not limited to, or contingent upon, the right to own land. Property rights, in the sense I support, certainly include property ownership. But a general reading of “property rights” is not constrained as such. You mention hunter-gatherer societies, where much more thought is given to “shared territory” than land ownership. But I would say that in that society, if another member steals your teepee, you’re going to get pissed. If you’re both threatened by a bear, and your cohort has no spear and you have only one, you aren’t necessarily going to give yours to him. There is a natural human desire for ownership, regardless of the society in which one lives. That may not be land ownership, but I would say that the concept of ownership is as old as humanity itself. I think that land ownership, in a modern society (last time I checked, we’re not hunter-gatherers), is highly important.
Natural rights doctrine, at least to me, is not the firm philosophical construct that it might be to a Locke or Rousseau. For me, natural rights is a way of explaining what I see around me, as the theory of natural selection was Darwin’s explanation of the wonders he saw in the Galapagos. Natural rights is a way of looking at societies across the world that have succeeded and failed, and asking what the common threads have been. And I’d say that government being a protector of live, liberty, and property rights is crucial. In some cases (such as current Europe), they are pushing a third way, democratic socialism. I personally believe that this will end up biting them in the ass, as they acheive a wonderful equality while watching investment and jobs flee their countries. The question of laissez-faire capitalism versus democratic socialism may not be completely settled as of yet, but we’re getting there. And democratic socialism typically occurs in countries that were built on strong foundations of life, liberty, and property rights, and still hold mild foundations of private property rights. As opposed to places like Zimbabwe, anyway.
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