The unexamined life is not worth living. Yet most people don't think too deeply about their opinions, their fundamental beliefs, or their votes. Ben and Joel are joined by Monkey Robb in the first of a series of podcasts exploring why we believe what we believe. In part one, Ben and Robb ask Joel what makes him a liberal.
Among the questions we discuss:
• Joel calls himself a liberal. What exactly does that mean?
• Why is Joel not a socialist?
• What does Joel think is the proper role of government?
• Where does Joel think rights come from?
• Under what circumstances does Joel think government coercion is legitimate?
• To what extent is Joel's political outlook shaped by his reaction to conservatism?
• Why is Joel disappointed with Barack Obama's administration?
• How would Joel reform health care?
• Who is the liberal politician Joel most admires?
• Is Joel far gone in utopian speculation?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "The Logical Song," Supertramp
• "Bloody Well Right," Supertramp
• "Tension," Ursula 1000
• "Hey Mr. President," The Electric Prunes
• "Peace Sells," Megadeth
The Ben and Joel Podcast makes its third (or is it fourth?) triumphant return for Constitution Day. Returning to the podcast is University of Chicago Law professor Geoffrey Stone, who will appear on a National Constitution Center panel on September 20 to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court term. Stone, who is the former dean of U. of Chicago's Law School, may have the distinction of being the man in United States history to have hired a future U.S. president and the future associate Supreme Court justice the same president appointed.
Among the questions we discuss:
• Could Elena Kagan move the Supreme Court to the right?
• What do Obama's judicial nominees tell us about his judicial philosophy?
• How ideological is Elena Kagan?
• Will the Supreme Court let states restrict minors' access to violent video games?
• What's wrong with an absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment?
• Does the "fighting words" doctrine apply to book burning?
• Does the "fighting words" doctrine apply to protests at military funerals?
• What do the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Fred Phelps have in common?
• If the Supreme Court found state sodomy laws unconstitutional, there is no way the justices would find bans on same-sex marriage constitutional? Right? Right?!?
• Could the government forbid preachers from condemning homosexuality?
• When are the courts "political" and when are they political?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Take the Time," Dream Theater
• "Mystery Boogie," Fleetwood Mac
• "The Fighting Side of Me," Merle Haggard
• "Burn the Flag," The Starkweathers
• "Ramble Tamble," Creedence Clearwater Revival
• "My Cup Runneth Over," Ed Ames
Monkey Joel has two good posts over at Cup O' Joel regarding Philadelphia's screwed-up priorities vis-a-vis constitutional rights versus the "safety" of police. Read them both, won't you?
UPDATE: Looks like he cross-posted here as well. Move along. Nothing to see here.
I’m not saying there should be federal intervention, but this Google-Verizon thing is EXACTLY what legislated Net Neutrality advocates warned about. Corporatists who opposed Net Neutrality regulations liked to ask, “Where’s the harm?” Well it’s right here.
So step-up, you so-called “libertarian” advocates of unrestricted freedom for the corporate beneficiaries of government largesse. Are you going to write scathing articles criticizing the behavior of Google and Verizon, urging consumers and businesses to “vote with their wallets” and support providers who stand up for the end-to-end principle? Or will you turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of giant corporations who made their billions on the back of that principle, and now wish to deny it to the next generation?
Thoughtful post by Tim B. Lee on the lack of libertarian presence at the "liberal CPAC" event.
Also, I never say this, but read the comments - some good stuff down there!
(HT: Monkey Ben's twitter feed)
I've been too busy with paying work to read everything on this kerfuffle. But I see now that the story line has shifted to even people on the right giving Andrew Breitbart blowback for supposedly taking Shirley Sherrod's comments — as the saying goes — "out of context."
According to a transcript of Sherrod's comments James Taranto dropped in his "Best of the Web" column at The Wall Street Journal Online the other day, the former Ag official said this:
The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help. What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.
I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he--I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.
So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer. So I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him.
That's when it was revealed to me that it's about the poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it's not — you know, it opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.
Now, Taranto thinks Sherrod got a raw deal. Fair enough. However, what's got me scratching my head about the flak Breitbart's getting from some on the right is the simple fact that an official in a Republican administration would have been vaporized for saying what Sherrod did. That it was "taken out of context" would not matter.*
Imagine for a minute that an official in the Bush administration at a CPAC convention said:
I'm pretty iffy on the principle of intellectual property already, but stories like this just persuade me that it's generally a bad idea:
Patent holding company NTP, which received a $612.5 million settlement from BlackBerry marker Research In Motion in a patent infringement case, has filed patent lawsuits against six makers of smartphones or related software, including Apple and Google.
A company that doesn't produce anything, but simply buys up patents in order to extort money from any company trying to produce an interesting product that meets a customer need? Only a lawyer could come up with an idea like that.
I'm not sure if this should be filed under "refreshing honesty from the jackboots" or simply "more evidence that government is a band of robbers writ large" but here you go:
Mayor Michael Nutter: "We want our damn money, you owe it, we want it, and I plan to collect it."
It's nice when the "gun in the room" draws attention to itself.
Lyle Denniston has been covering the Supreme Court for a half-century -- first as a newspaperman in Baltimore and Boston, and now for the invaluable SCOTUSblog. He joins the podcast this week to give an overview of the Supreme Court's term, a look at the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings, and a preview of what hot topics the court will be wrestling with next.
Topics covered in this podcast:
* Is this the year Chief Justice John Roberts put his stamp on the court?
* How has President Obama done with his first two Supreme Court picks?
* Have the big Constitutional questions already been settled?
* Has there ever been a nominee confirmation hearing that was substantive?
* How does the court change when one justice replaces another?
* Should Supreme Court oral arguments be televised?
* What's it like to make the jump to cyberspace reporting after a half-century in journalism?
* What topics will the Supreme Court use to make us angry next year and in coming years?
Music heard in this podcast:
* "Stop, In The Name of Love," The Supremes.
* "Breakin' The Law," Hayseed Dixie.
* "Supreme," Robbie Williams.
* "I Fought the Law," The Clash.
At 6:30 pm Thursday, July 8, Denniston will moderate a forum on the Supreme Court at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Check constitutioncenter.org for details.
Byron York prints plenty of disturbing details from the police complaint against Al Gore, but this is the one I find most infuriating:
Finally she got away. Later, she talked to friends, liberals like herself, who advised against telling police. One asked her "to just suck it up; otherwise, the world's going to be destroyed from global warming."
To that "friend" let me offer up a piece of advice: Go to hell.
Snarky folks at The Corner are treating this revelation as being run-of-the-mill Democratic politics, but honestly the problem here -- as is often the case -- is of power generally. You can see an almost carbon-copy dynamic at play when people angrily defend the Catholic Church against accusations of widespread child molestation. Victims are urged to hush up, to go away, because their truth threatens The Mission of whichever person or movement or institution is involved.
And while it's often true that sacrifices must be made in order to advance a worthy cause, you can easily tell the difference in the worthiness of those sacrifices by asking one simple question: Is the dignity of the individual who made the sacrifice enhanced by that sacrifice? Or is it diminished?
If the answer is the latter -- if a woman is obliged to be silent about a sexual assault -- than the person, or movement, or institution is almost certainly unworthy of the sacrifice. I don't want the allegations against Al Gore to be true -- but that's mostly because I don't want the woman in question to have been victimized. Shame on her supposed friends for valuing her dignity so cheaply.
If I hadn't deleted my Twitter account, I'd give Zaius 140 characters of what-for. Instead, I'll point you to this tweet of his:
RT @HeartlandInst: Northwestern U. study: raising the min wage doesn't help low income workers. Who wld have thought? http://bit.ly/c6KfZH
Who indeed? But somebody might as well point out that it's not a study -- but a theoretical model. That model might well be correct. But if you read all the way to the last couple of paragraphs of the link...
So far, the model remains a theoretical pursuit. “It screams for empirical testing,” Swinkels says. “We hope that it will excite empirical activity by people better qualified at that than ourselves.”
Well, uh, I'm going to go ahead and wait for some of that empirical testing before I draw much in the way of conclusions. Besides, it's worth noting that the model doesn't really account for the "minimum wage" writ large -- it instead looks at those jobs where employees receive some combination of minimum wage and "incentive pay" -- tips and commissions. There are lots of minimum wage jobs that don't fit those conditions. So even if the model proves correct, its application is limited.
Jon Stewart reminds us that "change" ain't all it's cracked up to be:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Respect My Authoritah|
(Hat tip: Boing Boing)
What can we say? How about: Thanks.
Ok. I'll admit it. That headline isn't very accurate. But whenever a politician has the cajones to tell a government worker that the gravy train is over and they gotta suck it up in tough times like the rest of us in the private sector, this former newspaperman always thinks of my all-time favorite headline from the New York Daily News:
The sentiment of Chris Christie's response to a New Jersey public school teacher was pretty much the same, and it was heartening to hear. Christie, who is among the few politicians brave enough to take on his state's powerful teachers union, held a town hall meeting the other day. A public school teacher, Rita Wilson, rose to object to Christie's suggestion that tough economic times require teacher pay to be frozen for one year. Christie also insists that teachers contribute a measly 1.5 percent of their salary toward benefits — which were previously picked up entirely by the taxpayers of the Garden State. Ms. Wilson didn't take those suggestions well.
Wilson told the governor she was one of the educators he criticized as having a "me, first" attitude, but she's making a smaller salary than she would as a baby-sitter. [Editor's note: Does anyone really believe that? C'mon.]
"I'm not a rabble-rouser. I'm a simple English teacher," whose students perform well, Wilson said. "I work really hard."
Wilson said she used the babysitter example to make a point ... She and Christie then testily talked over each other for several questions and answers.
"You know what, you don't have to do it," Christie said.
"Teachers do it because they love it," Wilson told him.
The governor said in a time of "economic crisis," teachers and their main union — the powerful New Jersey Education Association — should be willing to take the freeze.
After the 90-minute session, Christie said he welcomed the "spirited exchange."
I welcome it, too. It's getting a little tiresome hearing sob stories from members of all-powerful teachers unions about their taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits — and it's even more grating from those in New Jersey. According to The New Jersey Star-Ledger, the average salary for public school teachers in the state is "$63,154, with more than half of the teachers earning from $40,000 to $60,000." Furthermore, the paper says, the public school teachers in New Jersey are the fourth highest-paid in the nation, behind only California, New York and Connecticut.
That is not a princely sum, but with benefits (and more tenure) it's quite comfortable — and higher than the median annual income in the United States. Good on Christie for informing Ms. Wilson of the reality of the situation in New Jersey: The state's broke. Belt-tightening is required. And if you don't like it, there is an enormous private sector out there in which one can take their chances.
Not exactly "Drop Dead" ... but, to my delight, close enough.
Appearance-related bias... exacerbates disadvantages based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and class. Prevailing beauty standards penalize people who lack the time and money to invest in their appearance. And weight discrimination, in particular, imposes special costs on people who live in communities with shortages of healthy food options and exercise facilities.
So why not simply ban discrimination based on appearance?
Yes, why not? A beautiful idea. What could possibly go wrong?
(Via John Miller at The Corner.)
As ABC's "Lost" hurdles toward its thrilling Sunday night series finale, Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis discuss the show and its meaning. But...something is missing. It's almost as if this podcast was recorded in a parallel timeline. (Or maybe Jason Snell forgot what time we were scheduled to record...) The podcast was recorded over the weekend, before Tuesday's episode, "What They Died For."
Among the questions we explore:
• Are the Others really the good guys?
• What do "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" have in common?
• Are showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof giving their fans the finger?
• Is Ben Linus a metaphor for George W. Bush?
• Is the music in "Lost" like another character in the show?
• How should "The End" end?
Music heard in this podcast:
• Selections from Michael Giacchino's scores to "Lost," seasons 2 through 5.
Arlen Specter is OUT.
Your politics are finished. You will not be missed.
Rand "Son of Ron" Paul is CRUSHING incumbent Republican party-whore Trey Grayson in the Senate primary for Kentucky.
UPDATE: The AP has called the race for Paul. Grayson lost 2-1 in his home district. David Weigel's take is here.
This Ralph Reed -- remember him? -- post at The Corner, about Elena Kagan's radical tendencies, deserves a thorough fisking. But there's one point in particular that I found interesting. And by "interesting" I mean "dishonest."
In response to questions during her confirmation as solicitor general, Kagan argued the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, like freedom of speech, enjoys “strong but not unlimited protection.” This is a dangerous view of the law when it leads to the creeping erosion of the Bill of Rights.
Why is this dishonest? Because if you check what Kagan said at her solicitor general hearings, it's clear that she was citing DC vs. Heller, the 2008 case that upheld gun rights. This is a fuller and untruncated quote of what she said:
Once again, there is no question, after Heller, that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms and that this right, like others in the Constitution, provides strong although not unlimited protection against governmental regulation.
Is that really "a dangerous view of the law?" Consider this: Kagan was basically echoing the Heller decision in making her statement about the limits of the Second Amendment -- a decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia wrote:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to castdoubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms byfelons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Is Ralph Reed really going to say that Antonin Scalia -- about as solid a Second Amendment absolutist as you'll find on the court -- has a "dangerous view of the law?" Of course not. So if he's saying the same view of the law is dangerous when held by Elena Kagan, well, you can be sure he's doing so in the service of dishonest hackery. Ralph Reed isn't telling the truth.
Christopher Hitchens almost makes sense with his defense of the French burqa ban:
The French legislators who seek to repudiate the wearing of the veil or the burqa—whether the garment covers "only" the face or the entire female body—are often described as seeking to impose a "ban." To the contrary, they are attempting to lift a ban: a ban on the right of women to choose their own dress, a ban on the right of women to disagree with male and clerical authority, and a ban on the right of all citizens to look one another in the face. The proposed law is in the best traditions of the French republic, which declares all citizens equal before the law and—no less important—equal in the face of one another.
Hitchens appeals to my humanist-slash-libertarian side here, briefly, by casting the proposed burqa ban as a blow for women, letting them cast off their subjugation by forcing them to remove the veil from their faces. But that's not what the proposal does -- at least, not entirely.
Instead, the proposed burqa ban substitutes one set of restrictive authority -- you will always hide your face! -- for another -- you will never hide your face! Women who are forced by husbands or male family members (or, more or less indirectly, by their co-religionists) to cover their faces are given no more choice in how they express themselves through dress than women who are forced by the state to make a precisely opposite decision. Either way, women are treated almost like playthings in the broader Culture Wars/Clash of Civilizations/War on Terror or what have you. It's not about letting them make their own choices; it's about deciding their choices for them in advance.
That's still not any kind of meaningful freedom.
Indeed, the New York Times story that serves as the basis of Hitchens' column hints at this a little bit:
Fewer than 2,000 women in France wear a version of the full veil, and many of them are French women who have converted to Islam. The full veil is seen here as a sign of a more fundamentalist Islam, known as Salafism, which the government is trying to undercut.
It is impossible to know the story of every French woman who converted to Islam and started wearing the veil, but it certainly seems as though many of those women freely made their choices. It's not a choice I would've made, nor would I have made it for them -- but that's not really the point point, isn't it?
There are, of course, separate questions about the veil and the public's right to safety in public places -- and that is a debate that deserves to be hashed out: It's certainly not a debate contained to France. But the feminist argument advanced by Hitchens -- and French President Nicholas Sarkozy -- rings hollow. You don't free women by making choices for them.
But a couple of data points interested me more than the others:
Empowered Iran in Iraq and region. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the primary strategic beneficiary of the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. The end of Saddam Hussein’s regime removed Iran’s most-hated enemy (with whom it fought a hugely destructive war in the 1980s) and removed the most significant check on Iran’s regional hegemonic aspirations. Many of Iraq’s key Iraqi Shia Islamist and Kurdish leaders enjoy close ties to Iran, facilitating considerable influence for Iran in the new Iraq.
Stifled democracy reform. A recent RAND study concluded that, rather than becoming a beacon of democracy, the Iraq war has hobbled the cause of political reform in the Middle East. The report stated that “Iraq’s instability has become a convenient scarecrow neighboring regimes can use to delay political reform by asserting that democratization inevitably leads to insecurity.”
In the absence of WMD, of course, creating US-friendly democracies in the Middle East became the backup rationale for the American invasion. Turns out there were no WMDs ... and that our invasion might've throttled whatever nascent democratic spirit existed in that region. The Iraq War, simply put, is never not going to be a disaster for us.
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.)
Ben and Joel are joined by Joyce Lee Malcolm to discuss McDonald v. Chicago, a Second Amendment case before the Supreme Court, and the history of the right to bear arms.
Malcolm is a professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. She is a historian and constitutional scholar. She is the author of seven books including To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right and Guns and Violence: The English Experience. Her work on the Second Amendment and the right to be armed has been widely cited in court opinions and legal literature including the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 opinion, District of Columbia v. Heller
This coming week -- on May 5 -- she'll appear in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center for a discussion about "RETHINKING THE SECOND AMENDMENT: THE CHICAGO GUN CASE AND THE FUTURE OF GUN RIGHTS." The event is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and is free, but reservations required. Check constitutioncenter.org for details.
Questions discussed in this podcast:
* Didn't Heller settle the Second Amendment debate once and for all?
* How did the right to bear arms evolve, anyway?
* What happened when England withdrew the right?
* Does the Second Amendment make sense in an urbanized society?
* What mischief might legislators make through backdoor regulations to keep guns out of the hands of Americans?
Music heard in this podcast:
* "Happiness is a Warm Gun," Beatles.
* "Battle of New Orleans," Johnny Horton.
* "Bang Bang," Nancy Sinatra.
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.
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.
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.