Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So, John Roberts it is...

... uh, OK. Anyone want to help me out here? I see little that tells me anything of use in evaluating this choice either way. I guess that's how Bush wanted it. Less meat to throw to the opposition in confirmation hearings.

Matt Welch at Reason has a great column suggest seven questions that ought to be asked at the confirmation hearing. I extract key ones here, but go read the whole column.

- What isn't interstate commerce?

- How much reverence should be given to precedence?

- Quick—Recite the Tenth Amendment.

- You're on a lifeboat, but it can only hold 8 of the original 10 amendments without sinking, killing your whole family. Which ones go?

- What is your working definition of "public use," as spelled out in the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment?

I expect none of these questions will be asked, three weeks will be devoted to any mention of abortion during a sophmore level philosophy class in Robert's undergraduate education, and two weeks on torture memos. Following this, lacking nay votes, dems will be forced to capitulate and Roberts will be confirmed with us being none the wiser as to anything substantial in his judicial record.

Daily News with a Rare Gem

Great editorial outta Jill Porter, writing for the paper that officially endorsed Mayor Street's corrupt regime in the mayoral election:

Baylson meant the 10-year-sentence to be a deterrent to other city officials who might be tempted to sell their offices.

But it also ought to be a stinging rebuke to everyone who has portrayed the city's pay-to-play culture as routine and harmless and the historical status quo.

Corey Kemp will have a long time behind bars to rethink the responsibilities he assumed when he took his job and the only people to whom he owed his allegiance: the city's taxpayers.

Right on.

10 Years for Corey Kemp

That's the bottom line for the former Philadelphia city treasurer for accepting "gifts, bribes, sporting tickets, a deck and $10,000 cash to steer municipal contracts to lawyer Ronald A. White, a Mayor Street confidant, and his allies." as well as "falsifying his income taxes, defrauding his church and a state welfare-to-work program."

The man took the police power of state and leveraged it to his advantage. The general opinion I have heard is that this is a particularly harsh penalty, and maybe too harsh. I disagree. Government figures need to be held to a higher standard. They are the only people legally entrusted with the use of force, be that to extract money or imprison. As such, when they abuse that power for personal gain, they deserve punishment commensurate with that betrayal of that trust.

Oh, and regarding your statement here, Mr. Kemp:

"I apologize to family, friends and the citizens of Philadelphia for having to endure this case," he said. "I'm not here to dispute facts, because I was convicted by a jury... . I'm asking for mercy. I made mistakes, but I did not have any criminal intent... . I gave my best effort to get the best deals for the city of Philadelphia."

BULLSHIT! Don't lie to us. You're only sorry you got caught. And best effort to get deals for the city? You really expect people to buy that load of crap? You gave your best effort to get deals for yourself and to hook up your boys. Period.

Enjoy your stay in the slammer.

Only part of the whole situation that I do regret is that, as his lawyer, L. George Parry, stated, "If this were a baseball team, Corey Kemp would be the bat boy." Well, maybe not bat boy, maybe more like a middle reliever. My hunch is the star starting pitcher is still comfortably in office.

But perhaps there's still hope more will come from all this. Asked if there were more corruption indictments on the way, the government's lead attorney stated "The probe continues."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ten Points for Effort

To the Institute for Justice for trying to get the Supreme Court to reverse its assanine ruling in Kelo v. New London, but I hold no hope for success.

Terrorism Succeeds

via Publius Pundit,

Barcepundit has translated a document found on the computer of a "key perpetrator" of the March 11 attacks in Madrid:

The document was recently found by police, according to the Cope radio network who has seen it. It says: "those who were suprised for our quick claim of responsibility in the battle of Madrid, let them know that there were other circumstances. In the case of Madrid, the time factor was very important in order to put an end to the government of Aznar the ignoble.

So there can be no doubt about the purpose of the bombing, and if you weren't quite sure:

when he was brought before a judge after the first 72 hours in isolation (permitted by Spanish anti-terror legislation), the first thing asked by Jamal Zougam, another of the key suspects of March 11, was: "Who won the election?".

Bottom line? While it is possible that this may not have swung the election against Aznar, it is unquestionable that the terrorists acchieved the outcome that they desired. In their eyes (and mine) they killed innocents and were rewarded magnificently. I cannot see how this does anything other than to encourage further terrorism. There's a template out there that can be followed, with concrete results to point to as motivation. I would expect more and greater examples of this kind of action in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Dig Out Your Checkbooks

The prescription drug entitlement boondoggle is about to go BOOM!

The economics of the new program depend on the assumption that large numbers of relatively healthy people will enroll and pay premiums, to help defray the costs of those with high drug expenses. Insurers say the new program cannot survive if the only people who sign up are heavy users of prescription drugs.


People who said they were healthy said they saw no immediate need to buy the Medicare drug coverage. People who said they were ill said the benefit seemed meager. And local insurance counselors said they shuddered at the complexity of the program.

Imagine that! Only people who see immediate benefit are gonna sign up. Jeez, never could have seen that coming. And what's that you say? If no one agrees to carry the program on their backs, there's gonna be a huge shortfall? And if there's a huge shortfall, we have to take MORE money from the unestablished youth and transfer it to that population segment with the highest net worth - retirees? And all this in addition to a Social Security system that does the same? And there's a hell of a lot more retirees than young folks to carry them in the very near future?

So which party was I supposed to vote for in order to avoid this whole mess? Which one was committed to fiscal sanity and smaller government?

Well, I guess we will have to comfort ourselves in the knowledge that it's entirely possible that the legislation's purpose has been acchieved. It did indeed buy enough votes from the aging to get Bush back into office. Ain't democracy grand?

Friday, July 15, 2005

More Kelo Fallout

Maia at House of the Dog brings another local eminent domain seizure probability to our attention. This time, Ventnor, New Jersey - a shore community that wants those pesky working class folks OUT DAMMIT!! Especially if they happen to look different. Don't they know this is the damn shore? They can't live here next to my million dollar condo.

So, if you want a bunch of pesky poor folk out, what do you do? Well, thanks to the wisdom of Supreme Court justices Stevens, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer, you just invoke your right as a municipal government to seize property as you see fit and hand it over to whoever might bribe more, bribe their friends to vote for you, get you Stones tickets, or have access to really good pot. Of course there is that pesky thing about "just compensation", but really, if it was all that just, would we be taking it by force? You didn't fall for that bit, did you?

So, off go the poor minorities, their houses siezed for demolition, and lets bring in the rich folk. Upscale vacation condos.... now we're talking!

But... but... "what about the good of the community? What about bringing prsperity to all?", asks the
silly, naive Inquirer columnist:

As mayor, Kreischer had a number of options to solve Ventnor's so-called quality-of-life problems.
He could have sent in the cops and code-enforcement officers.
He could ride absentee landlords and offer programs to help renters buy and live the American dream.
Instead, he's bringing in bulldozers.

Mad props to Monica Yant Kinney for bringing this stuff to light. Welcome to the new America, Monica. Sure hope you don't live anywhere they could want to put up a WalMart.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

So hockey is back

I'm a hockey geek, so I'll be watching... and about 15 other people who still care. I'd like to personally thank Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow for being complete idiots and costing us a whole season simply in order to settle upon essentially what was on the table from the beginning. Special props go out to Goodenow, who won exactly NOTHING for his union members while screwing them out of a full year of their relatively short playing careers.

Oh, and now we're gonna end the games with shootouts? That's right. The NHL should go out of their way to emulate all the success that soccer has had here in North America.


Ah, hell. I bitch now, but I'll be as pumped as anybody in October.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Ukranian Reform Very Slow Going

Robert Meyer at Publius Pundit has a money post up summarizing the polical situation in the Ukraine, particularly the failure to pass economic reforms needed for accession into the WTO. He references a great article by Tammy Lynch which directly addresses the politics surrounding this vote and specifically prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's inability to push the vote through. And why? Meyer's conclusion is that Yushchenko is not getting his hands dirty enough:

Yuschenko’s biggest problem, however, has been his hands-off approach to government policy. This is unfortunate because he has a very pro-market and pro-investment philosophy. Because of this, instead of setting policy, he has served as a more corrective function to Yulia Tymoshenko’s mismanaged populist tendencies.
The biggest example of this was her response to rising gasoline prices. She blamed the rise on a Russian conspiracy due to their virtual monopoly. True, the Russians corner much of the market, but the Yushchenko response would have been to diversify sources of energy. The Yulia response was to input a price ceiling, which caused the oil companies to back off Ukraine altogether, resulting in kilometres of lines at the pumps. When meeting with the heads of the Russian oil companies, Yuschenko publicly scolded her in front of them, though she later said it was necessary so he could assert his authority.
A similar move was instituted on beef prices. The ceilings had to go.

A great deal of my optimism and excitement surrounding the Orange Revolution was based on Yushchenko's background in economics and his reputation as a western-style free marketeer. While I stand by
my earlier assessment of some of the early pessimism regarding Yushchenko's presidency, if Yushchenko abandons economic reform, Ukraine will be no better off than it was under Kuchma, and a frustrated populace is likely to cry out for a centralized economy once again - a proven recipe for failure. Change can be slow in coming, but abandoning the fight ensures failure.

If I still lived in DC

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Correct Response

As outlined by Tim Worstall, via Andrew Sullivan:

tomorrow we’ll find out whether Britons are, still, in fact, Britons. Many years ago I was working in The City and there were two events that made travel into work almost impossible.

The first was a series of storms that brought down power lines, blocked train routes and so on. Not surprisingly, the place was empty the next day. Why bother to struggle through?

The other event was an IRA bomb which caused massive damage and loss of life. Trains were disrupted, travel to work the next day was horribly difficult and yet there were more people at work than on a normal day. There was no co-ordination to this, no instructions went out, but it appeared that people were crawling off their sick beds in order to be there at work the next day, thrusting their mewling and pewling infants into the arms of anyone at all so that they could be there.

Yes, we’ll take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us?

Fuck you, sunshine.

We’ll not be having that.

No grand demonstrations, few warlike chants, a desire for revenge, of course, but the reaction of the average man and woman in the street? Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off.

Well, whatever the reponse, I certainly believe it to be imperative that it contain the sentence "Fuck you, sunshine." In fact, if Tony Blair could work that into a speech, I believe he could remain prime minister indefinitely.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I Don't Stand Alone

In decrying the misguided call for foreign aid for Africa:

Andrew Sullivan:

I'm relatively dismayed by the way in which some of the most paleo-liberal notions of aid to developing countries have gained traction with the antics of Live-8 and other lame pop-star posturing. There's something actually racist, I think, in arguing that Africans somehow cannot work and trade their own way to prosperity.

(and while you're there, check out the email of the day from the "tolerant" left

Michael Stastny:

Adam Smith noted that "what is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom." This he applied to trade, but surely it holds for credit policy too. Think about your financially troubled friends and relatives. It is usually the case that the last thing they need is more money or pity, but rather bourgeois virtues that create prosperity.

Andrew Mwenda:

Taxation is a politically explosive exercise - why should any government alienate political allies in the name of tax collection when international donors are willing to pick up its bills? By acting as a subsidy to government corruption and incompetence, foreign aid creates disincentives to fiscal reform.

...good governance is less a moral aspiration and more a product of enlightened self-interest. If international donors began to cut off the aid taps, governments in Africa would be forced to reform their fiscal policies or stare regime collapse in the eye.

Mark Steyn:

Two decades ago, Sir Bob was at least demanding we give him our own fokkin' money. This time round, all he was asking was that we join him into bullying the G8 blokes to give us their taxpayers' fokkin' money.

The system that enriched them could enrich Africa. But capitalism's the one cause the poseurs never speak up for. The rockers demand we give our fokkin' money to African dictators to manage, while they give their fokkin' money to Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts to manage. Which of those models makes more sense?

Okay, I'm done with this for now. It's clear where I stand.

But did anyone hear the rumor that 50 Cent backed out cause he disagreed with the premise? Apparently he read some Milton Friedman and had an epiphany. Someone wanna give me odds on that one?

Battlestar Gallactica?

Not a science fiction type on any level, but if Virginia Postrel is convinced it may "very well be the best show on TV" I may have to Tivo it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

JRB - Anti-Statist Super Heroine?

I have decided to come out full force in lobbying for the appointment of Janice Rogers Brown to the position of Supreme Court Justice recently vacated by Sandra Day O' Connor. This will come as a great relief to our president, George W. Bush, who has clearly been seeking my direction on the issue.

As evidence of her superb qualification for this position I present a series of quotes posted on the website of a group vacuously named "People for the American Way" evidently in order to frighten good statists as to her real agenda. Rather than being frightened into climbing under the covers and sucking my thumb in the fetal position, I found myself cheering out loud. Here are some choice samples:

- We no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.

- I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country’s founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document...1937...marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution...

- We are heirs to a mind-numbing bureaucracy; subject to a level of legalization that cannot avoid being arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory. What other outcome is possible in a society in which no adult can wake up, go about their business, and return to their homes without breaking several laws?

- At its founding and throughout its early history, this regime revered private property. The American philosophy of the Rights of Man relied heavily on the indissoluble connection between rationality, property, freedom and justice. The Founders viewed the right of property as “the guardian of every other right”…

Unfortunately, nothing I care about on any level will determine who will be appointed to the Supreme Court. It is an unfortunate consequence of Roe v. Wade that Supreme Court appointments will be single issue turf wars for some indefinite time period going forward. And we are all worse off for it.

I've Pulled Punches

in deference to what I percieve as good intentions. Boortz doesn't:

Lets give thanks that Live 8 is over. What a bunch of sanctimonious, self-righteous, narcissistic jerk-offs. They top off their great multi-venue circle jerk Sunday with a demand that the United States cough up some more money for something they refer to as "aid and justice for Africa." These rock stars have a goal. They are demanding that the evil United States cough up 0.7% of its gross domestic product and send it to Africa. What these footstools don't grasp is that the 0.7% isn't theirs to demand or theirs to distribute as they see fit. That money belongs to the men and women of the United States who got up every morning and went out and damned well earned it. Personally, I don't give a flying fornication just how much of our money they think should be sent to Africa.


Sure, they like want to fight like poverty and like all that .. but that doesn't mean that they're ever going to like say one like negative word about any of the like dictators who like steal so much of the aid money and like keep their own people in poverty.


The problems faced by Africa are largely cultural. Though our illustrious rock stars wouldn't touch this, the dominant African culture is one of irresponsible reproduction, tribal warfare, submission to dictatorial despots, anti-capitalistic governments and unprotected sex leading to rampant disease. Live 8 isn't going to change this, and either is confiscating more American wealth to be poured into this mess.

Yikes! But he's spot on. Every word of it. As I would have put it if I were sufficiently insensitive.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Real Progress

Was made this week with the adoption of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Yes, I know it's not truly free trade. Yes, I know that it subjects us to added bureaucracy. And no, I'm not happy with giving the UN added power in arbitrating disputes. That being said, the great benefits of FREER trade with lower trade barriers and reduced tariffs and subsidies outweigh the negatives that some portion of that trade will be subject to supergovernmental bodies and additional regulation. In short, we are better off with expanded trade under excessive regulation than we are in the absence of an agreement to make that trade possible at all.

Of course, in the ideal world, this agreement would be a page or two rather than the 1000+ pages that it is. Regardless, this agreement represents a profound step in the right direction for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic as well as for ourselves.

A.M. Mora y Leon has the roll call of Pride and Shame over at Publius Pundit.

The True Result of Foreign Aid and Debt Relief

At the risk of having less anally retentive locals tell me to lighten the hell up, I present this post from Don Boudreaux, letting us know that the misguided call for debt relief as the cure all for poverty is not a recent development. The truth is that debt relief as called for by the well-intentioned organizers of Live 8 serves mainly to line the pockets of and perpetuate the rule of despotic governments. Ultimately counterproductive. There's no amount of money that can eradicate poverty in Africa without serious reform. From Boudreaux's post:

Prosperity is goods and services to consume; not money -- not even `resources,`for resources must be transformed into desirable goods and services. And transforming resources into desirable goods and services requires productive creativity and productive effort. These, in turn, are unleashed (and properly channeled) only by a system of secure and exchangable private property rights defined and enforced under a strong rule of law. (And a strong rule of law is not necessarily the product of strong government.)

All that being said... nationwide, and indeed international exposure for Philly is always good, and getting Pink Floyd back together, even if it's just for the day, is pretty wicked cool. And it's such an awesome day out...

Maybe I should just grab a beer and lighten the hell up.