Friday, October 23, 2009

I think this is a portulaca

Flower in the driveway crack,
I leave you there, bravely blooming;—
Weed or no, I'll stay my hand,
Little flower — so small, and yet so grand
A show of color on the pavement black,
Steadfast and unassuming.

On drugs: dissecting Dalrymple

Possibly relevant to Obama's recent decision to allow state laws on medical marijuana to have some force. Adrian Gaty brought this essay, "Don't Legalize Drugs," by Theodore Dalrymple, to my attention a couple of years ago. I thought it needed to be taken apart in detail. It's much too long for the front page, so, after the jump …

Never mind. I can't bear the nagging feeling of copyright violation any more. Just go read Milton Friedman.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Has Steny Hoyer abjured his oath of office?

I caught a bit of Jim Vicevich's radio show this morning. He seemed perturbed by, among other things, this interview with the House Majority Leader. Here, Hoyer

said that the individual health insurance mandates included in every health reform bill, which require Americans to have insurance, were “like paying taxes.” He added that Congress has “broad authority” to force Americans to purchase other things as well, so long as it was trying to promote “the general welfare.”
This seems to me to be a willful misreading of the General Welfare clause. Vicevich's law prof contributor SoundOffSister thinks so too.

I am also concerned, and here's where the oath of office comes in, by this part of the interview: also asked Hoyer if there is a limit to what Congress can mandate that Americans purchase and whether there is anything that specifically could not be mandated to purchase. Hoyer said that eventually the Supreme Court would find a limit to Congress’ power, adding that mandates that unfairly favored one person or company over another would obviously be unconstitutional.

“I’m sure the [Supreme] Court will find a limit,” Hoyer said. “For instance, if we mandated that you buy General Motors’ automobiles, I believe that would be far beyond our constitutional responsibility and indeed would violate the Due Process Clause as well – in terms of equal treatment to automobile manufacturers.”
Do you see what he did there? He is assigning the Supreme Court to review the Constitutionality of all legislation. He is saying, in effect, that Congress can go ahead and pass anything at all, without concern about the Constitution, because the Supreme Court will find the limits. He is asking the Supreme Court to act as a review board.

The Representatives' Oath of Office:
"I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
It's not, "I'll write any laws I like, and if I go too far, the Supreme Court will stop me." Members of Congress have a duty to consider the Constitutionality of legislation before they propose it, never mind vote on it.

More from Monckton

Speaking at Bethel College in St. Paul, MN, on the upcoming Copenhagen conference. "Is Obama poised to cede US sovereignty?" Looks like it. To do so would fit right in with everything else, including Al Gore's call for "global governance."

Michelle Malkin has an excerpt from the speech, and a link to the PowerPoint.

The full speech is here, about an hour and a half.

Global Climate Scam has a draft copy of the proposed treaty. The most recent revision appears to be this one. I found it on this page, by searching for "framework convention." They don't make it easy.

Minnesota Majority has an interview with Monckton, Part 1, Part 2. These are bigger at YouTube, Part 1, Part 2.

Lord Monckton does not seem to know that a treaty needs Senate ratification before it becomes binding. (He's English, after all, and so can be given a pass on fine points of American law.) One man's signature does not make a treaty, which is how it happened that President Clinton was able to sign the Kyoto Protocol, yet it never had any force in the US. It would be like the current government, though, for Obama to sign the treaty, fail to get ratification, and then proceed as if it had been ratified.

Useful idiots of AGW to demonstrate on Saturday

Full details at 350 dot org.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't get comfortable in your own home, in Virginia

You never know who might be looking in the window.

Coffee-making naked guy rebuffed by exposure charge

It happened at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Channel 5 reports the woman and 7-year-old boy who saw him naked apparently had cut through Williamson's front yard from a nearby path.

Williamson, 29, says he didn't know anyone could see him.

"If I stood and seemed comfortable in my kitchen, it's natural. It's my kitchen," Williamson tells Channel 5.

Williamson says his roommates were not home when he came into the kitchen and made his coffee.

Fairfax County Police say they believed Williamson wanted to be seen naked by the public.

Williamson, a father of a 5-year old girl, said he plans to fight the charge.

Maybe a countercharge of trespassing or unlawful entry would be in order.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Update. Another update.

And the verdict: Convicted! Wrongly, IMHO, FWIW.

I hope the final update, April 7, 2010: Not guilty! Story, via Althouse. Looks like it cost him plenty, though: his lawyer "said Williamson's legal bills would probably wind up being between $10,000 and $15,000."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

O'Reilly has Stossel on the show, and won't let him speak

That was disappointing. I tuned in to hear what John Stossel had to say, and heard much more of Bill O'Reilly's bloviating and interruptions. It seemed like a waste of time for Stossel, and for me. When Stossel switched from ABC to Fox, the announcement was that he would do some one-hour specials on Fox Business, and some shorter segments on Fox News. I liked Stossel's one-hour shows on ABC, so I would watch those, but don't get Fox Business.

I would have more respect for Fox if they would replace Geraldo Rivera with Stossel. If all we are going to see of Stossel on Fox News is segments like this, then he is being wasted, or deliberately suppressed. Let the Libertarian speak!

ACORN connection to election fraud in New York

We keep hearing in defense of ACORN that the fraudulent registrations did not produce fraudulent votes. Here are some fraudulent votes, in Troy, N.Y., that look to have made the difference in a local election. Fraudulent registrations were not involved, just(!) identity theft.

Note that this alleged fraud has only come to light because of an internal dispute within the Working Families Party. If Republicans had the stomach to look more closely at elections nationwide, what might they find?

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bank failures were caused by government

Peter Wallison's piece in the WSJ has a snappier title:

Barney Frank, Predatory Lender

Almost two-thirds of all bad mortgages in our financial system were bought by government agencies or required by government regulations.

The left cannot have it both ways, blaming the private sector for subprime lending while absolving the government policies that created the demand for subprime loans. If the financial crisis was caused by subprime mortgages and predatory lending, the government's own policies made it happen.
Wanna bet they can't have it both ways? That's logic. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis don't use that old-fashioned stuff any more. They'll have it any way they want it.

Seriously, read the whole thing. And don't blame the banks, or "deregulation."

And speaking of Democrats and mortgages: here's a video that would be funny if it weren't so sick. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee left the room to avoid voting on a subpoena for Countrywide Mortage records.
Bank of America, which has acquired Countrywide, has said it will release the information about the “Friends of Angelo” program as soon as it receives a subpoena. But that would require a majority vote by the House Oversight Committee, something that is very hard to achieve when the majority party walks out on the vote, as Hodes and his colleagues did on Thursday.
No shame, no oversight. None so blind.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Early snowfall

3 pm in Connecticut, 38°, snow mixed with rain and freezing rain, all falling at once. It seems a little early for this.

4 pm and it's all snow now. The report at Weather Underground dot com from a nearby weather station says "Rain Mist," but I know snow when I see it.

Who is going to have the last laugh after the US bankrupts itself trying to cut CO2 emissions to 1875 levels? (England looks like taking a stab at this too.) What nations are paying the least attention to this pseudo-scientific power grab? Who benefits?

Since more than half the world (Russia, China, India, Africa, Muslim nations in general) are ignoring the panic that is making Al Gore rich and looks like making most Americans poorer, at least we need not worry about the possibility that taking radical measures to avoid warming, if there is an actual cooling trend going on, could lead to another Ice Age. The whole US could revert to the Paleolithic (without the fire, of course) and it would make no discernible difference to the climate or temperature if we were the only ones doing it.

More nukes now! Humanity needs energy! (That's a chant.) Repeat ad lib.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I've been searchin'

That new search widget is not working, now, either, so I've put in a home-brew version based on the Google site search. In the sidebar.

Sam Spade and Charlie Chan got nothin' on me. Oh, wait, if they got nothin' — does that mean they searched and got no results? I'm so confused.

Update, Oct. 13: "Search Blog" in the navbar is fixed, now. I'll leave the home-brew search in the sidebar for a while, in case it reverts. Oct 19: It's reverting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hey there, First Amendment!

How are you feeling this week? Weak, you say? Somewhat undermined?

Let's see what Jeff Jarvis has to say about this idea that the FTC should start regulating what bloggers have to say.

The Federal Trade Commission just released rules to regulate product endorsements not just in advertisements but also on blogs. (PDF here; the regs don’t start until page 55.)

It is a monument to unintended consequence, hidden dangers, and dangerous assumptions.

Mind you, I hate one of its apparent targets: Pay Per Post and its ilk, which attempt to co-opt the voice of bloggers. But I hate government regulation of speech more.

And mind you, I am all in favor of transparency; I disclose to a comic fault here. I think that openness is the best fix for questions of trust and advise companies and politicians and certainly governments to become transparent by default as enlightened self-interest. But mandating this for anyone who dares speak online? Foolish.

There are so many bad assumptions inherent in the FTC’s rules.

First, Pay Per Post et al, as I realized late to the game, are not aimed at fooling consumers. Who would read the boring, sycophantic drivel its people write? No, they are aimed at fooling Google and its algorithms. It’s human spam. And it’s Google’s job to regulate that.

Second, the FTC assumes – as media people do – that the internet is a medium. It’s not. It’s a place where people talk. Most people who blog, as Pew found in a survey a few years ago, don’t think they are doing anything remotely connected to journalism. I imagine that virtually no one on Facebook thinks they’re making media. They’re connecting. They’re talking. So for the FTC to go after bloggers and social media – as they explicitly do – is the same as sending a government goon into Denny’s to listen to the conversations in the corner booth and demand that you disclose that your Uncle Vinnie owns the pizzeria whose product you just endorsed.

Insanity and inanity. And danger.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Hector Owen! Danger, Glenn Reynolds, and everybody else.

It's not just bloggers, either: This will also apply to Facebook pages and even Twitter.

All this unregulated speech is a danger to someone who would rather it were silenced. Didn't you ever think to yourself, "How long will 'they' let this go on? All this freedom of speech on the Internet?" Lefties have their hands on the levers of power in Washington, now. So hold on to your hats, and think about scrubbing your archives. Like this, see: Acorn Scrubs Its Website to Eliminate SEIU Links. <sarcasm>That worked really well for them.</sarcasm> So don't imagine it will work any better for you, Miss Blogger Grrl, Mister Blogman.

Here earlier: Federal Marshals will be coming in to clean up this town. Or, Yes we can stop the signal. A recent comment here.

The difference between conservatives and liberals

Or, Why there ought not to be a law about anything or everything that bothers someone.

The conservative takes the "tragic view" of the human condition. We are all just people, all imperfect, all incapable of achieving perfection, not because we're failures, but because we're human. The "New Soviet Man" is not in the house. The best of intentions never go far. Russell Kirk referrred to this notion as "the principle of imperfectability."

David Mamet wrote a long essay about this. Could it be expressed more concisely? Why, yes, and here it is in one of those emails that gets forwarded around. Bookworm posted it, and some of her commenters have additions. A sample:

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.
A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

More at the link.

For reference: Palin's Hong Kong speech

The speech is transcribed at Citizen Palin for President.

Most sites that mention this speech have only excerpts. This looks big enough that it might be the whole thing. A pity they didn't get the Q & A as well.

Looking more likely that Bill Ayers was Obama's ghostwriter

Start here, with a random airport encounter.

Go on to this, about a new book.

See if you have the stamina for this video, it's a little on the long side, about an hour. An interview with Jack Cashill, who has been looking into this for some time.

Do it while you can, while we still have some freedom of speech and reading, while this here Internet thing still works.

On tour of New England

Remember when Randy, the Internet Ronin, went on a tour of England, and posted all those great photos? He's doing it again, in New England this time. Some noteworthy leaf-peeping can be found at Rambling Around.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jack Vance has written a memoir

Steven Hart writes about Vance, and about this book, This Is Me, Jack Vance (Or, More Properly, This Is "I").

Too many favorite Jack Vance stories to name them all.

There is some more discussion here. The Vance Integral Edition has already become a rare item.

Musical prescience

IF Iran and North Korea are aligned on the Axis of Evil, AND they are working on nuclear weapons, THEN this old song takes on new relevance.

From 1947, the Golden Gate Quartet, "Atom and Evil:"

An encore at the Sunday free concert.

Obama on SNL

Not really him, but Fred Armisen playing him. Not worshipful, for a change (change!), but a properly disrespectful SNL bit.

More jokes, please!

Thanks to a correspondent of Rich Lowry at The Corner.

Free concert on a Sunday afternoon

Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin in "Every Sunday," from 1936. This short is Deanna Durbin's first movie. Judy Garland had previously appeared in a few shorts, "Bubbles" (1929), "A Holiday In Storyland" (1930), "The Wedding of Jack and Jill" (1930), and "La Fiesta de Santa Barbara" (1935), as one of The Three Gumm Sisters.

Let's not get into where the funding for the "free" concerts came from. It's just as likely, more likely, they were sponsored by a civic group or an individual wealthy music lover, with the money routed through the city council, as that the orchestra was paid for out of the city's general fund.

Thanks to Helen at Your Freedom and Ours.

Free concert, second set

"Hey There, Cthulhu" by Eben Brooks. An antidote to the wholesomeness above.

A little bit this, a little bit that. Fair and balanced.

Thanks to Lynn at Violins and Starships.

Free concert, third set

Do you remember September? It was just a few days ago.

That's Pomplamoose. They have much more.

Via ChordStrike, by way of Glenn Reynolds.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New search widget

"Search Blog" in the navbar, up top, is not working. So I have added a search widget in the sidebar. Results from this are unreliable, but I suppose it's better than no search at all. The best for now is to use Google directly, with followed by the search term, e.g., antikythera. FWIW. Other Blogspot sites are afflicted by this, as well. It's not just me.

Update: But see above.

Bats drinking

On the fly.

More here. From Jerry Pournelle's mail.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Garrison Keillor: old, grumpy, no longer charming

Or, Why I have not listened to "Prairie Home Companion" for years. I'm old and grumpy, and far from charming, but Keillor's got me beat all hollow. (Would they say "all hollow" in Lake Wobegon? I dunno.)

When an entire major party has excused itself from meaningful debate and a thoughtful U.S. senator like Orrin Hatch no longer finds it important to make sense and an up-and-comer like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacks the president for giving a speech telling schoolchildren to work hard in school and get good grades, one starts to wonder if the country wouldn't be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the health-care system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer. Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off health care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.

It's time to dump the dead-end issues that have wasted too much time already. Old men shouldn't be allowed to doze off at the switch and muck up the works for the young who will have to repair the damage. Get over yourselves. Your replacements have arrived, and you should think about them now and then. Enough with the shrieking. Pass health-care reform.
"If we cut off health care to them." We? Them? Cut off? Health care isn't run by the government yet. He's a little ahead of schedule with this wish-fulfillment fantasy.

He is five years older than I am. Check back with me five years from now, and see if I am advocating that 32% of the population be cut off from health care. So that there will be more left for me. Yet this old grump is trying to identify himself with "the young." "Your replacements have arrived …" What's this, but Bob Dylan from 1964.

I have to wonder how well he would have recovered from his recent stroke if it had occurred in some other country. One with government health care. How nice for him that he was able to be transferred from United Hospital in St. Paul to the Mayo Clinic's St. Mary's Hospital, "simply because they know so much more about me down there." <sarcasm>The fact that he is a wealthy celebrity could not have had anything to do with that</sarcasm>.

This gets a "humor" tag only because Keillor is widely regarded as a humorist. For a while, I thought he might be capable of taking up the mantle of Jean Shepherd as a humorous Midwest memoirist. But to be bittersweet, you need to use care in mixing the bitter with the sweet. Keillor's all bitter, now.

Via Surber, via Reynolds. Reynolds says, "with this gang in charge who would be surprised to find that under ObamaCare your chances of a liver transplant really will depend on your politics? Not me." It's the Chicago Way.

Climate money

By Joanne Nova. "The Climate Industry: $79 billion so far – trillions to come." (PDF)

As Jerry Pournelle says, "with that much money at stake, does science as science have a chance?"