Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, April 29, 2005


It turns out I'm a moderate.

Well, maybe not. If I understand correctly, I disagree with parts of number 7. Let's examine:

"Social security is just plain stupid."

Agreed. It's a tax on stupidity. If you can't reserve a portion of your own income and invest it better than the government can, you rely on a government safety net to protect you from your own stupidity. But as there is no social value in protecting people from the consequences of their mistakes, it follows that social security is just plain stupid.

"Moderates believe that the Federal Government should stick with the only thing at which they are good. Providing for our country's defense."

Here's where I start to disagree. True, our federal government provides for our defense in a way that could not be accomplished by individual states. If 49 states agree to go to war, the fiftieth state has no incentive to also go to war, because they can reap the benefits while incurring none of the costs. Only with supra-state control over this issue can war be conducted effectively. And please note that I agree completely with this concluding sentence:

"Our military should kill people and break things, not deliver food and supplies to other countries, they are not pack mules, they are warriors."

But that is not to say war is the only thing federal government is good at doing. Federal intervention is necessary any time the federal government can achieve something more efficiently than the states (i.e. not very freakin' often).

The Constitution gives Congress power to tax and spend for "the general welfare of the United States." If you stop reading after the word "welfare" you can use this clause to justify basically any federal spending program you could possibly want, up to and including HillaryCare, but the sentence doesn't end there. "...of the United States" is a technical phrase, meaning "federal." Any expenditure that benefits the United States as a whole, rather than individual states (or worse yet, private entities) violates this clause, in my opinion. But building an embassy in Poland is for the general welfare of the United States. Launching spy and communications satellites is for the general welfare. Funding the FBI is for the general welfare of the United States.

And there is another important aspect of federalism specifically spelled out in the Constitution. While my extremely purist version of federalism above may have accurately described the situation at the time of ratification, the Fourteenth Amendment dramatically alters the relationship between the federal and state governments. Section 5 of that Amendment grants Congress power to enforce the provisions of this article - i.e. by preventing states from violating Equal Protection and Due Process rights. And that was very necessary at the time of ratification, because if we left Civil Rights up to the states in 1880, no black person could have hoped to prevail in court, get fair local legislation, or enjoy impartial protection from the state's executive branches.

Again, this falls into my principle of only letting the federal government do what it can do more effectively than the states. If Alabama in 1930 couldn't effectively guarantee Equal Protection to all of its citizens, it was necessary for the federal government to step in and change that. But the principle has two corrollary points - the feds should never go any further than necessary to vindicate individual rights, and they should bow out when their role has been fulfilled. Neither, of course, is likely to happen.

Case in Point

As a follow-up to last night's post about Thurgood Marshall's thoughts on government entitlements, consider today's story that the LSU Associate Dean of Students for Judicial Affairs just got arrested on child pornography charges.

The story is pretty horrifying overall, but the following line is what illustrates my entitlements point:

"LSU spokeswoman Holly Houk said Welles has been suspended with pay and that an 'administrative review' has begun into the allegation. Welles could be fired as a result of the review, though Houk did not say how long the investigation might last."

According to Justice Marshall et al, the Due Process clause of our Constitution means if you get caught with child pornography, the state still has to send you a paycheck while you sit at home. Which, I'm sure, is just what James Madison had in mind.

And speaking of what James Madison had in mind...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ace v. Andy

Ace has a fun pair of quotes showing Andrew Sullivan is staunchly in favor of theocracy, unless he's against it.

Reminds me of a story my brother-in-law told me. I can steal his story, because he doesn't have a blog. At least, not that I know of. Come to think of it, he could be Ace, for all I know.

So he's talking to a girl at school who a) thinks it's morally acceptable to have an abortion, and b) thinks it's morally reprehensible to eat eggs. Why eggs? Because they're potential chickens, of course.

Apparently a vicious callousness towards human babies is can be accompanied by more generalized stupidity. Chickens lay eggs whether or not they are fertilized, and all those non-fertilized eggs are not, in fact, potential chickens. They will either be eaten or they will rot, and in the latter case they should be thrown at hippies. But whether or not I should be, I am amazed that this simpering moron can actually think it's okay to destroy a potential human being, and not okay to destroy a (not-really) potential chicken.

Supreme Court Adventures, Pt. 1

Pardon the slow posting; it's finals time, and I'm in a foul mood, even for a crocodile. But every once in a while I see something that cheers me up, like strong indications that Thurgood Marshall was the Liberal Larry of the Supreme Court. For example:

"In my view, every citizen who applies for a government job is entitled to it unless the government can establish some reason for denying the employment." (from Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 1972).

If you aren't paying attention, you can totally miss the satire.

Thurgood Marshall: The Black Jonathan Swift

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Adventures in Media Bias

Consider these two sentences:

"Khidawi is the first assembly member to be killed since the January 30 elections."

"Khidawi is the only assembly member to be killed since the January 30 elections."

Which version do you suppose used?

Rather stunningly, many Lefties complain about conservative bias in the news, including CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Unsurprisingly, many more complain about conservative bias at Fox News. A while back, Libertarian talk show host Neal Boortz made an interesting offer. If someone could point out to him an example of conservative bias during a news segment on Fox (and he distinguished commentaries, such as on Hannity & Colmes), he would pay some large amount of money (I think it was $10,000, but that seems a little high). He never paid out on that offer, even though he kept it open for several months.

It's a bit of a shame no prominent Lefty has made a similar offer concerning CNN.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Democrats v. Faith

My headline is seriously over-simplified, but hopefully provokes a little thought about a debate between Cathy Young and Stephen Bainbridge. To quickly sum up, Young says that Republicans who cry victimhood because Democrats oppose pro-life judges on religious grounds have a double-standard. Or at at least, they are guilty of playing the "religion card" just as Democrats play the "race card," "gender card," "gay card," or whatever.

Bainbridge counters with a "disparate impact" theory - that even if the Democrat motivation is purely secular and not religiously-motivated at all, the fact that most filibustered judges happen to be religious is enough to demonstrate Democratic dastardliness.

I find Bainbridge's analogy flawed in at least one respect. Disparate impact is a theory of evidence, not a cause of action. That is, I can't sue a potential employer because he hires 30 percent of white applicants but only 4 percent of black applicants. But I can show the disparate impact of his hiring policies as evidence of discriminatory intent. In Village of Arlington Heights v. Metro Housing Development Corp (1977), the Supreme Court held that:

"Determining whether invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor demands a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available. The impact of the official action [may] provide an important starting point. Somtimes a clear pattern, unexplainable on grounds other than race [or, here, religious bigotry], emerges from the effect of the state action even when the governing legislation appears neutral on its face. The evidentiary inquiry is then relatively easy. But such cases are rare. ...[I]mpact alone is not determinative..."

Granted, that was a race case, but the rules should be basically the same thing. Discrimination based on race is every bit as improper as discrimination based on religion, and for the same reasons. Bainbridge can't just point out disparate impact and declare he's made his case.

That nit being picked, it seems that Young is arguing that there is no such thing as religious discrimination against Christians, or that if there is, we aren't seeing it here. Assuming there is such a thing, I wonder what would convince Ms. Young that Senator Schumer et al have crossed (pardon the religious imagery) the line? Joe Biden reading from the Satanic Bible on the Senate floor? Hillary Clinton firebombing a Baptist church in Alabama? Harry Reid burning a copy of the Bible on Crossfire?

Between the obvious case of a Democratic Senator saying outright, "I sure do hate those Christians" on tape and the insufficient case of mere disparate impact, does Young think there is some point in the middle where the Left has gone too far? If so, I haven't seen any indication of it. And that strikes me as odd. It may be that self-professed people of faith comprise the majority of Americans, but that does not preclude the possibility of discrimination by any means, especially when the purported discrimination is coming from a procedure - the filibuster - used by a minority against the majority.

Young responds to Bainbridge's critique with two main points. First, that there is an exception to the disparate impact rule where the allegedly discriminatory practice is job-related. Thus, in possibly the first disparate impact case, Washington v. Davis (1976), the fact that more blacks than whites failed a written test to become a D.C. police officer was tolerated because police officers need to know how to read and write, and they have to know the subjects tested.

But Young fleshes out this point by asking, "Is Prof. Bainbridge saying that a judge's views regarding the legality of abortion are not 'job-related'?" I don't mean to speak for Bainbridge, but it seems the point is not the judge's views of the legality of abortion that come into play, but how the judge came by those beliefs. I don't understand how a judge who says "murder should be illegal because the Bible condemns it" is any less qualified to be a judge than one who says "muder should be illegal even though I'm an atheist." Assuming, arguendo, that the disparate impact analogy is apt, it doesn't matter whether a judge thinks about the legality of abortion, only that 90% of Christian applicants are denied the job while 10% of atheists are denied the job (picking my numbers out of the air, of course).

The second point made in response is that hey, you conservatives aren't supposed to like disparate impact in the first place. Well, I'm a conservative, and I wouldn't totally chuck the doctrine based on conservativism alone. If you have stark numbers like the 90-10 example I gave, the employer has some serious explaining to do. It may be that the decision gets a lot harder near the margins, but then again, in what area of law is that not the case? It is no real solution to say "disparate impact has its problems, so we'll just ignore discrimination claims." If disparate impact is the best we have, it's the best we have.

The second problem with Young's point is that whether conservatives like the law or not, it is in fact the law. And if it is "liberal" law (although I doubt such a tidy categorization is apt), isn't that all the more reason for conservatives like Bainbridge to measure liberals against that law? That is, if liberals howl when blacks, for example, are disparately impacted, why shouldn't conservatives point out their awkward silence when Christians are disparately impacted?

Syria Out

You should already know this, but in Syria's continuing effort to disprove my prediction from about a month ago that the Hariri assassination, without more, wouldn't be enough to change Lebanon, they have withdrawn the last of their troops.

This is in spite of several reversals of fortune. First, the pro-Syrian Lebanese government stonewalled the Rafiq Hariri investigation. Then, when demonstrators forced Prime Minister Karami to resign, President Emile Lahoud undid that victory by re-nominating him. When anti-Syrian demonstrators filled the streets in record numbers, a Hezbollah-sponsored counter-demonstration broke that record. When Syrian President Bashar Assad finally gave up some ground, he did so by pulling troops only as far back as the Bekaa Valley, because a reduced presence in Beirut would defuse some of the anti-Syrian hostility, and the troops could conceivably continue and increase their policy of harassment while stretching out their stay.

And yet it seems these reversals of fortune have been themselves reversed as quickly. The Hariri investigation hasn't stopped basically everyone in Lebanon from assuming Syria was responsible. Karami resigned a second time. The record-breaking pro-Syrian demonstration was outdone days later by an even larger anti-Syrian demonstration. And now the Syrian troops are gone.

None of which would have happened, of course, without George W. Bush.

Now first, a bit of credit where credit is surprisingly due. Pressure on Syria came not only from the U.S., but also from Jacques Chirac of all people. There can be no doubt that Assad thought to himself at some point, "If even that pansy fruitcake Chirac is pressuring us, we're screwed." And Paris' historical ties to the Syria-Lebanon region lends additional weight to French pressure. Not that I believe for a second that Chirac would have done anything at all other than use strong language, but strong language probably contributed.

The Lebanon story isn't over yet. Emile Lahoud is still the president, and unlike Iraq, Lebanon hasn't had the chance to vote on new leaders yet. The Syrian-friendly government is still in power and doubtless wants to stay in power. And there is a possibility that Hezbollah will have more of an influence on those elections that America would like.


"The Syrian army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ali Habib, defended his country's nearly three decade stay, saying Lebanon was being left a stronger nation. 'It goes without saying that Syrian armed forces didn't enter Lebanon because they wanted to, but because of a call from the Lebanese government.'"

It may be true that Syria entered pursuant to a call from the Lebanese government, during the destructive Lebanese Civil War, and it is certainly true that Lebanon is now stronger than it was in the 1970s. But then again, it has been stronger than it was in the 1970s for a long time. Habib's statement is pure horsecrap - Syria has had designs on unification ever since European nations arbitrarily carved up the region in the first place (thanks, France).

"U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has dispatched a team to verify Syria's withdrawal."

Um, given the proclivity of UN troops to rape teen-agers wherever they go, we should all be nervous when Kofi Annan uses the word "withdrawal."

More: Syrian blogger Sasa has reports on the withdrawal here. Also of note, and I think I've been remiss if I haven't pointed this out before, is that some Lebanese civilians have resorted to violence against Syrian workers. Sasa notes that Assad gave a speech announcing the withdrawal a week ago, and you can find the text of that speech here, courtesy of Syria Times. Other than those links, I've found almost nothing from the Syrian papers or the other two Syrian bloggers I know of.

Update: Llama Butchers has a prediction for Bashar.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Conversation Outside of a Kinko's

A one-act play by Sobek Pundit.

Sobek drives into a Kinko's parking lot, where there is a Girl standing outside the front door. Sobek is wearing a suit, because he did an arbitration earlier that day and hasn't had time to change yet. Sobek gets out of the car and approaches the door.

Girl: (flirting, either oblivious or indifferent to Sobek's wedding ring) Hey there.

Sobek: Hello.

Girl: Nice suit.

Sobek: Thanks. I was just down at the court house.

Girl: Court house?

Sobek: Yeah. Man, feel up a couple of fourteen-year-old girls just one time and they never let you hear the end of it.

Girl: Uh...

Sobek: But get this, if it's on the same occasion, it turns out you can get the court to treat the girls as one 28-year-old, and you get off scot free. How great is that?

Exuent all.

The End of SobekPundit?

No, I'm not mulling retiring from blogging. I'm pondering my own mortality.

I live in New Orleans (Metairie, actually), but in a few weeks I will graduate and move to Las Vegas. That means, among other things, that I'm currently planning a road trip.

A 1,738.76 mile road trip.

With a two-year-old, and a three-week-old.

Over 28 hours of driving (according to Mapquest's usually conservative estimate), with two very small children and my wife.

So you can see why thoughts of mortality might be on my mind these days. If I stop posting for a while, it might be because I'm dead somewhere in the Arizona desert. But hey, I had a good run, right?

Update: If I die, let it be with honor. You know, like a ninja.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Link Dump: Last Refuge For the Blogger With No Ideas

In case anyone cares, it took me about seven months to get my first 10,000 unique daily hits. Now, two months later and thanks to a strategically-placed Instalanche, I'm just over 500 hits away from 40,000. Shame on all of you. Don't you have anything better to do? Go read a book or something.

Hey liberal Catholics, here's a bumper sticker that might interest you. The update is funny - apparently Jack doesn't have an entrepreneurial bone in his body.

The newest Are You Conservative? lets you learn about whining, nonimal Catholics and teach your kid to read at the same time. It's all about the efficiency.

Dave from Garfield Ridge thinks Ace is making a terrible mistake. It's a lonely vigil you're fighting, Dave. I mean, how do you argue with this:

"Yes, we'll of course see a large number of gunshot-by-monkey tragedies. And for, admittedly, very little benefit at all. But seriously, isn't it worth paying that cost?"

Or the movie poster here? I'm sorry Dave, but you just can't argue with that.

Secret Message: Ave-day! Elp-hay e-may! Onkeys-may ave-hay idnapped-kay y-may amily-fay and-ay are-ay reatening-thay o-tay ill-kay e-may!

The Man has another photshop/caption contest. If I weren't so burned out and unoriginal, I might try to think of something for it.

China has a fabulous offer for the new Pope. And we're turning Hans' thread into a comment party to surprise him when he gets back from wherever.

Funny and disturbing at the same time. I'm betting she's a blogger. Florida Cracker lives in Tennessee, right? Wait, you mean Florida is its own state? Get outta here... (And my Six Meat Buffet link helps me fill my quota of one blog I've never linked before).

Two Dogs is an equal opportunity ass kicker. Can't say I blame him at all.

Goldstein is trashing on Neil Diamond. Nobody tell Dave.

Emily got a whole bunch of comments by ... asking for them? That works?

Hah! I bet Rusty Shackleford had no idea Dan Riehl was taking pictures at his wedding.

Because redneck Texans don't have pulses, of course. Silly question.

If this is all Rove has left in terms of sinister plots, he's more burned out than I am. He should leave the scheming up to Donald Rumsfeld for a while - that always results in some cool explosions.

The Unpopulist uses the phrase "final update" like Douglas Adams uses the word "trilogy."

This is ironic. Jay Tea does a good post on the irrational hope that the new Pope would be a liberal. But then he ends with this:

"If you still feel that strongly about it, might I recommend you convert to Catholicism and work from within to bring about those changes? Otherwise, butt out. It ain't nobody's business but theirs how they run their Church."

Ironic, for a guy who recently almost had a seizure about what those crazy Mormons are up to and then closed the comments sections on all related posts. But other than that, good post.

Wow, that John Bolton guy sure is evil, huh? Here's a chilling first-hand account.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Controversy

The Links
The Unpopulist
Balloon Juice (more)

The Quick Summary
Smalltown, U.S.A., a pharmacist doesn't want to fill prescriptions for morning after pills, because of moral objections to their use. The controversy is whether the pharmacist's conscience trumps some duty to dispense the drug regardless of his personal feelings. We've got conservative against different-kind-of-conservative in a no holds barred match-up.

The Best Line So Far
Goldstein: "Not to be outdone, The unPOPULIST straps on his Ayn Rand codpiece and sallies forth into the fray." The mental image involved there is simply beyond priceless. When reading that last sentence, try not to think about my recent declaration that Ann Coulter isn't that hot.

The Crocodile's Wisdom
The question turns on the use of force. The outcome depends on the types of force you think are tolerable, under what circumstances, and who is allowed to use that force. Assuming a deadlock of persuasion - wherein neither party can convince the other to yield - the pharmacist uses his property rights in the drug (assuming he stocks them, which according to the story he does not) to force the customer to go somewhere else. Under those circumstances, can the customer use a different kind of force - that of the government's police power - to overrule the pharmacist's decision? Balloon Juice's John Cole thinks so. He therefore favors government use of force to resolve this private dispute. The Unpopulist disagrees, and therefore favors private use of force by virtue of nothing more outrageous than control of private property.

Phrased that way, I think there's only one logical conclusion for a conservative. The use of government force to achieve supposedly egalitarian aims to override individual property rights or moral decisions is precisely what conservatives accuse liberals of doing to screw up the country. Remember last year when Hillary Clinton had the brazen balls to state in a public place that government needs to take our money for the general good? Remember how conservatives howled for blood? How much more so should we howl when one of "our own" calls for the use of government force to deprive an individual of private property rights for some greater good?

But Goldstein hits upon an important point: "Similarly, I’d say this was a nice place for a competing business to open its doors..." Indeed it is, and no conservative principle needs to be violated in the process - certainly not the principle of entrepreneurship.

Man, those Ayn Rand codpieces are snug, aren't they?

"I'm sorry the ointment didn't help your Cenobite problem, Mrs. Sanders, but I just don't know if I can fill this prescription for The Lament Configuration in good conscience..."

Update: I do have one caveat I should add. In some cases, not only does the pharmacist choose not to fill the prescription, he refuses to give the prescription back to the patient, so she can't take it to a different pharmacist. I can't countenance that behavior, again based on principles of property and the use of force. The pharmacist has no property right in the prescription, and just as he cannot be forced to violate his conscience, he cannot use force to deny others their legitimate property rights.

Two Brief Conversations With Fictional Liberals, Upon Hearing that the New Pope is Conservative

(wherein Sobek thinks he's Goldstein)

Number 1:

Liberal 1: I'm outraged that the Catholic Church picked a conservative, rather than liberalizing to better meet the needs of modern people!*

Sobek: What difference does it make to you? You're not even Catholic.

Liberal 1:


Liberal 1: Fascist!!!

Number 2:

Liberal 2: As a liberal Catholic, I'm outraged that the Church picked a conservative, rather than liberalizing to better meet the needs of modern people!*

Sobek: Since when have the Pope's opinions on homosexuality, abortion, contraception, or celibacy of the ministry changed your mind on anything?

Liberal 2:


Liberal 2:

Jeffords Is On the Way Out

I just heard on Neal Boortz, and it's being reported on this blog and National Review Online (so, you know, consider the sources) that Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) is going to announce his retirement. So far it looks like just rumor, but NR's Eric Pfeiffer says it comes from "a very reliable source."

Jeffords, who was up for re-election in '06, apparently has decided he's had a good enough run. He originally ran as a Republican, giving the Republicans a majority in the Senate, but then he dropped his party affiliation and started voting pretty much straight-ticket Democrat, so I have to wonder whether he could have been re-elected anyway.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Okay, Seriously Now

First Dave, now John from Wuzzadem.

What part of "I'm trying to stay anonymous" don't you people understand?!?

A Confession

Folks, I have a confession to make. It's something that's been burdening my conscience for a while now, and partly because my secret is so horrible that it could get me forever banned from the dextrosphere. But if permanent exclusion from all things conservative is the price I must pay to live my life with a clear conscience, then so be it.

I don't think Ann Coulter is all that hot.

And I'm not just talking about the recent Time cover that's got Ace (and many others) up in arms here and here. (Rebuttal here). I'm saying that even in her best shots, I don't think she's that hot.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Who Said It?

One of these quotes is from a Harvard Law professor, and the other is from the Chinese government. Can you tell which is which?

"When poverty and lack of proper food are commonplace, and people's basic needs are not guaranteed, priority should be given to economic development... the major criteria for judging the human rights situation in a developing country should be whether its policies and measures help to promote economic and social progress."*


"What hope is there of effective participation in the political system without health and vigor, presentable attire, and shelter not only from the elements but from the physical and psychological onslaughts of social debilitation? Are not these interests the universal, rock-bottom pre-requisites of effective participation in democratic representation - even paramount in importance to the niceties of apportionment, districting and ballot access...?"**

When I read the Harvard guy I immediately remembered that the argument - that civil and political rights are subordinate to economic and social rights because Free Speech is meaningless when you're starving to death - was a favorite of communist China and eastern Europe from the Cold War era. Old Marxists never die, it seems, they just get tenure.

The argument is fundamentally deficient, of course, for two reasons. The first is that by depriving someone of civil and political rights (such as rights to associate with political parties, petition the government for redress of greivances, or vote in general elections) you deprive that person of the means of removing a government that impedes the remedy of economic and social rights. For example, maybe Chinese citizens wouldn't be starving to death and living in such squalid living conditions if they could vote out of power their oppressive government that puts ideology over a functioning economy.

The second problem is that if a country waits until all its citizens are well-educated, have good jobs, are free from all social inequity based on race, religion or class, and enjoy a minimum standard of sanitary conditions and medical care, you will never get to the point where you allow them to vote. China has been working in The Great Experiment how long now? If they haven't succeeded, it's not because Chinese people are dumb, it's because Maoism doesn't work. If Cuba is a squalid hell-hole, it's not because Cubans are morons or because JFK was a jerk, but because Cuban communism doesn't work. If the Soviet empire couldn't do it, it's not because the rodina can't produce some of the world's most talented minds and abundant natural resources - it's because Marxism-Leninism doesn't work. And in none of those three examples did the nations ever get around to granting basic civil and political rights.

In America, by contrast, where we have an (admittedly imperfect) well-developed history of civil and political rights, our citizens have been able to petition the government to increasingly satisfy the economic and social welfare goals of socialist-oriented theorists, while maintaining those same civil and political rights (leaving aside, for now, the question of whether it's a good thing that we've become a welfare state, the point is that we've done it). The lesson of history, then, is that using totalitarian tactics to force political stability for the sake of economic and social rights never ever leads to the development of civil and political rights. But then again, Harvard professors don't seem to intent on learning the lessons of history.

All that said, take a closer look at that second quote. It's one thing to argue that you need food and shelter before your free speech rights have any meaning, but our Harvard friend goes further than anything I've seen any Chinese communist claim. "What hope is there of effective participation in the political system without health..." Okay, we need universal health care. "...and vigor..." Check. I have a Constitutional right to a membership at Gold's Gym. "...presentable attire..." Constitutional right to a shopping spree at The Mens Wearhouse. "...and shelter not only from the elements..." I have a constitutional right to a house, on the government's dime. "...but from the physical and psychological onslaughts of social debilitation..." Whoa, the government needs to make sure I never get my feelings hurt before I can responsibly be allowed to cast a vote? That's hard core. Our Constitution must be a marvellous thing, if it allows Harvard professors to out-Stalin Stalin, or to out-Mao Chairman Mao.

* Quoted in 9 Touro International Law Review 1, 10, n. 23 (2001)(quoting Chinese delegate H. E. Mr. Liu Hiaqui).
** Michelman, Welfare Rights in a Constitutional Democracy, 1979 Wash.U.L.Q. 659, 677 (1979), quoted in Stone et al., Constitutional Law, 792 (2001).

Sunday, April 17, 2005

In Memoriam

Liberal Larry has a touching tribute to what is surely one of the most profound and influential feminist scholars this side of Amelia Bedelia, the renowned Andrea Dworkin.

But over at Florida Cracker, reader Janette asks, "Will she buried in a phallic shaped casket?" And frankly, I've been disturbed by that ever since. What an ironic twist it would be if a woman who felt violated every time she saw a fire hydrant or a lamp post had her physical remains forever sealed in one last symbol of male hegemony. And yet, what's an enlightened, empowered womyn to do?

Fortunately, I've been pondering the problem and I've come up with a solution at last.

Presenting the official SobekPundit brand Feminist Coffin. Don't worry, womyn, that's not real "wood," it's fake "wood," a concept with which I'm certain militant lesbians are more than familiar.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Have Nothing to Say

I'm a little mentally burned out from last week, so I have nothing to say.

This is a funny blog, assuming a) the "f" word doesn't offend you and b) you understand lawschool humor. Especially this post. Now I want a letter of Marque and Reprisal.

Incidentally, I'm working my way up the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem ladder, and as of today I'm 11 links away from graduating from Adorable Rodent to Marauding Marsupial. So watch your back, Yorkshire Ranter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pro-Syrian Prime Minister Resigns


And you know what that means, don't you?




Canadian ponce

Also: (Real Player Required)

Update: Not a fan of the ladies, are you Trebek?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Things the Mormons Want to Do That Will Offend Some People

10. Rename the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier the USS Nephi

9. Issue the Joseph Smith commemorative stamp

8. Re-name the capital of Belgium

7. Fill Lake Tahoe with green Jell-O.

6. Substitute President Gordon B. Hinckley for President Washington on Mt. Rushmore.

5. Convert Moses

4. A Very Special Episode(C) of Sesame Street entitled "We're Coming for Your Kids," featuring a duet with Elmo and Zoe singing "Never Mind What Your Parents Said About Letting the Missionaries In."

3. Force Starbucks to change its name

2. Put an angel statue on top of the Dome of the Rock.

1. Exist

West Virginia

I don't know what it is about West Virginia's elected representatives. Can they seriously not come up with anything better than Klansman Robert Byrd and a state legislature that doesn't read it's own bills?

"Two days after the end of the legislative session, state lawmakers are discovering something few were aware of: They voted to make English the official language of West Virginia."

See, now this is a problem. Not the English-language-only provision itself, although I'm not sure it's such a hot idea, but the fact that West Virginian lawmakers don't, you know, read the laws they are making. Although I guess if the text of the proposed bill were written in Serbo-Croatian, and those who signed it could only read English, that would add a deliciously ironic twist to the story...

Get Ready to Be Offended

I want you to go to heaven. Yes, you. Does that offend you?

It would if you were Jay Tea.

He thinks it's offensive that Mormons want people to be saved. I don't really follow that logic; maybe you can make more sense of his argument than I can. Incidentally, he states, "they have taken to baptizing dead people," implying this is something of a new development, instead of a part of the religion that's been around for coming up on 200 years. As the comments to that post show, as well as Rusty Shackleford's response, Jay gets a lot of his facts wrong.

But you know, don't let facts get in the way of you getting offended.

Two gems from Rusty:

"I'm flattered. I'm glad I have neighbors with such concern. Much more worrisome is a society which produces religious faith that not only condemns non-believers to hell, but which is willing to help them on their way."


"Just remember that South Park claims only Mormons go to heaven. Who are we to argue with that?"

Update: INFDL has some more information, especially as regards the Jewish part of the story. In case you didn't follow the links, part of the Wizbang story is that Mormons are baptizing Jews who died in the Holocaust, thus "stealing them of their identity." But at the INFDL link you find this cogent point:

"Plus, is it just assumed that mormon church members are stealing the names of jews, with no relation to themselves? Right down the street from my folks' house there lives a jewish convert to the mormon church. Yup, him and his whole side of the family were jews who converted to the mormon faith. They're very devout, and like most devout mormons they will do their own geneology and perform this particular practice for them. So if ancestor rights are presumably owned by descendants, then the whole argument concerning 'leave my ancestors alone' becomes much more complicated."


Dan has a good line: "this is little more than expressing outrage because you heard the crazy guy down the street said a bad thing about you to his family in his living room."
Illuminaria sets out some helpful ground rules.
The Colossus thinks the practice harms no one.
Sortapundit backs up Jay Tea.
Bogus Gold agrees with Rusty, but in the comments, Kathy takes it a little more personally.
Dean Esmay doesn't see the harm.
Aaron's cc has an interesting angle. Is turnabout fair play?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mystery Post


Dems Seek to Block UN Ambassador Nominee

I think it was actually a pretty shrewd move for the President to nominate Michael Bolton. For my money, it doesn't get any better than when he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Oops, that's John Bolton.

Joe Biden: "There is -- to state this bluntly Mr. Bolton -- a concern that your ideological predisposition relating to some of these issues have clouded your judgment. That is what we're talking about."

Emphasis in original, because Joe Biden speaks in bold font. It really helps him emphasize the important points which is, like, a total time-saver.

So ideology is a bad thing, Mr. Biden? Interesting. In case anyone is interested, it seems Mr. Biden was just fine voting to approve Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, back in a day when the Senate wasn't used to partisanly obstruct the President's judicial nomiations. Is that significant? I should think so. Ginsburg was an ACLU lawyer arguing gender discrimination cases before she went up to the court and - surprise, surprise - all of her judicial opinions sound exactly like her arguments from before she became a judge. It seems that Ms. Ginsburg's ideological predisposition has colored her approach to the law, but I somehow doubt that Joe Biden cares. It's not that Bolton has an ideology, it's the content of the ideology.

The disturbing practice of Senate Democrats using the filibuster to block Bush's judicial nominations (and to far less important courts than the one behind which Ginsburg sits) is that they lament the possibility that these judges will be biased. But Senate Democrats are okay with Ginsburg. Democrats are blocking William Myers because as a lawyer he has defended mining companies and liberals complain that he is, therefore, anti-environment. But that doesn't stop Dems from heaping praises on SCOTUS Justice Stephen Bryer, who, to be fair, is not as liberal as Josef Stalin.

As an aside, the Myers case is especially frustrating because it is usually screaming liberals who champion the duty of lawyers to defend the rights of criminals, for example Guantanamo Bay detainees, but woe, woe, woe unto the conservative who suggests the lawyer identifies with the terrorists! To the extent that liberals have a valid point - that representation doesn't suggest commonality of viewpoint - it should apply across the board, right? Yes, that was intended as a joke. If a lawyer represents a party who is not lionized by the Left, that lawyer is forever branded an extremist, "outside the mainstream."

So frankly, I'm having a hard time taking Mr. Biden seriously [says Sobek as his reading audience is stunned into silence]. To argue that Bush's nominees mustn't have a conservative ideology, after voting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is to take hypocrisy to a whole new level.

I say all this in spite of the fact that Biden, had he tried, might have made a valid point rather than a vapid one. When Condi Rice was nominated to be SecState, I thought perhaps that wasn't such a great idea. Not because I don't like Condi - because honestly, how could I not like Condi? - but because SecState is the nation's top diplomat, a post for which one would expect some measure of diplomacy, and those conservatives who admire her most admire her for her directness, her refusal to mince words - i.e. her lack of diplomacy. The same principle holds true with UN Ambassador. If you think the institution important enough to merit sending someone there as an ambassador (I don't), then at the very least you should send someone who doesn't think the UN is a joke at best (it is).

On the other hand, I do see the appeal in sending someone to the UN just to screw with them. I recommend this guy.

In summary, Joe Biden is a douchebag.

Going for the Throat

Going for the throat

Well, not really, but that's what it looks like. #1 is actually very gentle with #2, but it looks like he's trying to eliminate the competition. In this rare photo, my second child, who sleeps approximately 23 and a half hours per day, is actually awake.

Light Posting Ahead

Probably no posting ahead, actually. I have two big deadlines I'm working on, so you'll just have to look elsewhere for your amusement. I recommend this. It keeps my 2-year-old happy, at any rate. Here's another option.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Tonight's Menu

The mother-in-law is in town to help with the kid, so in order to maintain my good husband credentials in her eyes, I'm making dinner tonight. The theme is Moroccan:

Chicken with Almonds, Apricots & Raisins
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a tagine. Brown four pieces of chicken evenly, then move them to a plate. Put a chopped onion and two crushed cloves of garlic in the tagine, cook until softened, add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Add a large pinch of crushed saffron threads, 1/3 cup of blanched almonds, 2/3 cup dried apricots, 3 tablespoons of raisins and 2 1/2 cups chicken stock. Heat until the chicken stock starts to bubble, put the chicken back in, and cover tightly. Cook on low heat for an about an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rice with Tomatoes, Avocado & Black Olives
In a saucepan, saute a chopped onion and two crushed garlic cloves with two tablespoons olive oil, about one minute. Add 1 1/8 cup basmati rice and stir for two minutes. Add two cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently about 12 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

In a separate frying pan, heat two tablespoons olive oil. Add one tomato, seeded and diced, 2 large green onions, chopped, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/3 cup pitted black olives and one diced avocado.

Fluff up the rice with a fork and stir in the tomato mixture.

Carrot Salad with Cinnamon, Lemon & Honey
Put one pound of grated carrots and 1/3 cup raisins in a serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together 6 tablespoons olive oil, juice from one lemon, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the carrots and raisins. Scatter lightly toasted, sliced almonds over the carrots as a garnish, and serve.


For Christmas the wife got me a tagine and a Moroccan recipe book. I've been having fun experimenting with it since, and it turns out Moroccan food is stunningly easy. My one complaint is that the recipe book seems to think my tagine is about twice as big as it really is, so I've spilled quite a bit. I either need a bigger tagine, or a crock pot with the tagine just as a decorative serving dish.

Ask Sobek Sunday

Jack at All Along the Blogtower seems to be getting some mileage out of his Ask Jack Thursday posts, so I'm going to rip off his idea. But I will add two variations on the theme, to "make it my own," as it were. First, unlike Jack, I will allow questions on any day of the week, rather than insisting they be asked on a certain day.

The second difference is that, unlike Jack, I won't answer your questions. You think I have nothing better to do than answer a bunch of inane questions from people who apparently don't know how to use Google?

But you're free to ask.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Legend of Jonnybutter

Back in the old days, when the nation was young and untamed, and the western frontier was a wild place, ripe for exploration, there lived a lad named Jonnybutter. From his youth, little Jonnybutter was distressed at the fact that everywhere he went, he could not find any butter trees. His parents patiently tried to explain to him that butter comes from cows, not trees, but Jonnybutter wasn’t about to let their narrow world-view and conformist attitudes prevent him from one day traveling the land, planting sticks of butter so that future generations might enjoy the soft, yellow goodness of fresh-picked butter.

So one day, without telling his parents (who surely would have tried to stop him), little Jonnybutter took his hat, his walking stick, and a leather satchel full of sticks of butter, and he set out to make a difference in the world. From the eastern seaboard to the deep South, from the Great Lakes in the Midwest to the wild frontiers, Jonnybutter walked the earth, casting sticks of butter to the wind in the hopes that some of them would take root and grow into mighty trees that would eventually raise the cholesterol of his fellow Americans. Sure, he met with people who mocked at him, laughed at his idealism, or pointed out that sticks of butter do not, technically, "take root." But little Jonnybutter ignored their criticism and resolutely continued on his quest, leaving behind him a trail of wax paper wrappers and glistening, golden pools of rich, creamy, melted butter.

After many months, and many thousands of sticks of butter, Jonnybutter came at last to the frontier: the mighty Mississippi. While gazing at the grandeur of the river, he saw a most unusual sight. An enormous block of ice came floating along, with a Canadian stereotype riding on top of it. You see, in those days there were no refrigerators, and so people in warmer parts of the country, like New Orleans, would keep things cool with ice. People in the frigid north would put on their touques and their Toronto Maple Leafs sweaters, cut a chunk of ice out of Canada’s vast, magical Ice Mountain, and float them down the river while drinking cheap beer, to sell piece by piece to Louisianans who didn’t have the common sense to just move somewhere else. And Jonnybutter had just come across one of these almost mythical figures, who, seeing little Jonnybutter, invited him to jump aboard and sail down the river a while. Jonnybutter quickly did so.

"I’m Doug, eh?" said the stereotype with a friendly, socialistic smile. "Want some cheap beer?"

Little Johnnybutter declined, but the two floated along for hours while Doug told Jonnybutter all about New Orleans.

"What happens if we float past New Orleans? What city comes next?"

"There are no cities, eh? You just go right out into the Gulf of Mexico," said the stereotype.

"I’d like to see the Gulf of Mexico, and maybe plant some butter there."

"Take off! You can’t plant butter, let alone in the Gulf of Mexico. Hoser."

Quite understandably, Jonnybutter didn’t like being called a hoser, but he didn’t realize that the Canadian stereotype was genetically programed to use that and other nonsense words in every other sentence, at the very least. So he tried to change the subject to politics.

"Tell me about the King of Canada, and his magical palace in Toronto."

"Hey, we have a Prime Minister, eh? And he doesn’t have a palace, and the capital city is in Ottawa, not Toronto, eh?"

At this point, little Jonnybutter realized he was talking to either a fool or a madman, so he excused himself and got off the block of ice at St. Louis.

But he never did forget his dream of one day planting sticks of butter in the Gulf of Mexico.

The End

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Fisking

Can a song be fisked? I'm not sure; maybe that word only applies to dismantling news reports and opinion pieces and such. Well, if fisking isn't the right word for songs, then pretend I used the right one.

Green Day writes some great hooks. So what if their politics demonstrate their fundamental ignorance, and demonstrate Alice Cooper's observation that rock stars are not to be taken seriously? They have a song on the radio now called "Holiday," which sounds mildly antagonistic to the current administration.

"Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
The shame
The ones who died without a name"

Hey, maybe I was wrong about them - they seem to be genuinely concerned about fetuses getting chopped to little bits ... oh, wait, I don't think "the ones who died without a name" refers to abortion, here. Oh, well, I guess it's only a shame if you've exited the womb. Whatever.

"Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called "Faith and Misery" (Hey!)
And bleed, the company lost the war today"

Heh. Green Day is unhappy about someone being out of key? That's rich. I also like the bit about a company losing a war. The last time America lost a war, it was in Somalia. I wonder if Billy Joe knows where Somalia is. I wonder if he knows anything about why we lost that war, and who was the Commander in Chief at the time. I suspect not.

A riddle: what's the difference between right-wing war-mongers and left-wing war-mongers? The right-wingers win their wars.

"I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday"

You know what's great about America? You don't have to beg to differ, you can just differ. Apparently "difference," in the eyes of Green Day, means coloring your hair and blaming the deaths of innocents on Halliburton. Exactly like all the "different" people at Democratic Underground. But Green Day will take issue with my views on American freedoms in just a second, so stay tuned.

"Hear the drum pounding out of time
Another protestor has crossed the line (Hey!)
To find, the money's on the other side"

I wonder if Billy Joe knows how much money John Kerry (or, more properly, his wife) has. I wonder if he's ever heard of George Soros, and the inordinate amount of spectacularly wasted money he spent in an unsuccesful attempt to defeat GWB. I wonder if Billy Joe knows how many millions of dollars the Democratic Party spent on trying to get Kerry Elected, or how much it spends on re-electing Robert KKK Byrd and Ted "Chapaquiddick" Kennedy.

And on a separate note, I wonder how many albums Green Day has sold, and what percentage of those sales end up in Billy Joe's bank account.

"Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There's a flag wrapped around a score of men (Hey!)
A gag, A plastic bag on a monument"

So, Green Day opposes defacing monuments, now? Like the granite ten commandments monument, or the cross that the ACLU is trying to get removed from a mountaintop in California? Glad to know you're on board, Billy Joe.

"The representative from California has the floor"

Oh, this is going to be good. The scary thing is that Green Day could feasibly be elected to public office in that state. I mean, they can't be any dumber than their two Senators, right?

"Zieg Heil to the president gasman"

Let's see, which world leader, recently deposed, was well known for gassing his own people to death? Think Billy Joe knows the answer?

"Bombs away is your punishment"

Maybe Green Day prefers UN punishments, which involve the biggest theft in human history, and hundreds of thousands of starving Iraqis, and France, Germany and Russia illegally selling arms to a mass murderer. Wait, how exactly is any of that "punishment"?

"Pulverize the Eiffel towers"

War-mongering neocons like myself certainly can't deny that we'd like to see the Eiffel Tower pulverized. But, um, do you really not know where the Eiffel Tower is, compared to Iraq? I guess that's par for the course for a band that is unaware that flag burning is constitutionally protected.

Also, for the record, there's only one Eiffel Tower. Unless you count the cheap metal trinket replicas you can buy from street vendors in Paris, but I sort of doubt even Chimpy McSmirky-burton would drop a MOAB on one of those.

"Who criticize your government"

Huh? The Eiffel towers criticize our government?

Still, it makes more sense than anything I've heard from Barbara Boxer.

"Bang bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all the fags that don't agree"

Uh huh. Because conservatives don't want judges to impose a radically new definition of "marriage" on a society that overwhelmingly opposes such a thing, we must want to murder homosexuals. Makes perfect sense, right?

"Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that's meant for me"

I hope for your sake you're not a Democrat. They can get pretty violent.

"Just cause, just cause, because we're outlaws yeah!"

No, you're not outlaws. Did you notice that? You just wrote an entire song making our President out to be a fascist killer, and you're not in jail. You're not being pursued by the FBI or CIA. You're not being tortured to executed or deported. You're allowed to be as "different" as you want to be, say virtually anything you want to say, go where you want to go, believe what you want to believe. You are free to have no clue about the First Amendment laws, to think there's more than one Eiffel Tower and that at least one of them is in the Middle East. All of that, and you aren't in jail. Is the significance really lost on you? If so, I recommend laying off on the hair dye - it seems to be seeping into your brains.

One more line from Green Day:

"Don't want to be an American idiot"

It's a little late for that, pal. But I guess you could move to Manitoba and be a Canadian idiot, if that's what you prefer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Independence of the Judiciary

Listening to the radio tonight, I heard an interesting - and by "interesting" I mean "really dumb" - argument about the Terry Schiavo case. It was the Tammy Bruce show, but it was a guest host, and I didn't catch the name. The mystery speaker made the following claim:

It's bad that Congress tried to influence the Schiavo decision, because our system is tripartite, with independent legislative, executive and judicial branches. The judges are supposed to interpret the law, and Congress improperly tried to tell a judge how to do his job, so blah blah blah.

I never heard him try to justify his "independence" argument, however. It was more assertion than argument, really. If, as he correctly stated, the function of the judiciary is to interpret the law, pray tell what is the source of that law? The legislature, of course, and that answer right away should tell us something about how independent the judiciary really is. When a court is interpreting a statute (as opposed to deciding whether a statute is constitutional), the court is bound by what the legislature says. It has no ability to simply ignore or discard that law, simply because it doesn't like the outcome. And if the legislature reads the court's opinion and decides the court screwed up, the legislature is free to re-write the statute to get the intended result. This sort of thing happens all the time, and is never commented on at any length, because that is the way things have been working for more than 200 years now.

In that sense, then, it is patently false to claim that the judiciary is independent of the other two branches. And if the branches really were independent, then the President would be free to decline to enforce acts of Congress, and the judiciary would have no business whatsoever in deciding the constitutionality of a statute. Congress, in fact, is given express power over judicial power in our Constitution, in plain language. In order to get federal jurisdiction over any case, you need to find a source of that jurisdiction in the United States Code (generally 28 U.S.C. 1331 or 1332), a book of statutes passed by Congress. And if the substance of Terri's Bill was nothing more than Congress altering jurisdictional rules, then there was nothing at all out of the ordinary or improper in Congress' action.

The host, incidentally, then went on to ask, wouldn't Jesus want the Catholic Church to pass out condoms in Africa, and answered that of course he would.

Um, if you're going to try the "What would Jesus do" approach to political persuasion, keep in mind that your audience is composed of people who a) believe the Bible, b) want some sort of Biblical foundation for the "What would Jesus do" argument, and c) know that Jesus never condoned sin or soft-pedalled his rigid "don't break my commandments" stance. It was a little surreal to hear this guy saying the next Pope should allow married priests, women priests, and condoms, all with the "What would Jesus do" argument, all without even a passing reference to anything Jesus said.

In conclusion, I was unimpressed with Tammy's guest.

The Pinnacle of Fatherhood

John from Wuzzadem seems unimpressed with the man's role in the whole "becoming a father" thing. Maybe he'll be more impressed with Dave Barry's experience with fatherhood:

"So my daughter was telling my wife what was going on at preschool, and the big news was that one of my daughter's classmates, Ian, showed everybody that he could put his hand under his arm and make a farting noise. My daughter was deeply impressed by this. So my wife told her: 'Daddy can do that.' And my daugher, eyes wide, said: 'He CAN?' So now I am a hero."

So it seems I haven't yet filled the measure of my existence as a dad. That's good; it's nice to have a goal.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Politics and/or Following Your Heart

The quote has been attributed to, among other, Otto von Bismark (whose last name invariably reminds me of a funny scene from the Simpsons in which Homer thinks the capital of North Dakota is "Hitler"): If you're not a liberal by the time you're twenty, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're thirty, you have no brain.

That, among conservatives at least, is the received wisdom. But the received wisdom has been challenged in this post. And for the record, fellow New Orleans resident Oyster has two very cute pictures of his daughter, a heartless Reagan Republican in training. Cute as a button.

"It's a subtle but fundamental change. A citizen is active and makes judgments; a consumer is passive, and has only to have an opinion."

I'd like to this thought developed a little more, but unfortunately that's about all you get on the difference between a citizen and a consumer, and the distinction is central to the author's claim that conservatives (and more specifically, Reagan Republicans) are primarily motivated by their feelings (and it's implied that liberals are motivated by enlightened reason alone). But without some better definitions, it's hard to evaluate the logic, let alone attack it.

"This change is a basic fault deep in the heart of the Reagan Cultural Revolution. It's usually euphemized as 'individualism', but it's really fetish-individualism, ie desperate. In practice it means a set of extremely rotten values:"

Care to guess what those values might be? First one on the list is "greed," and that reminds me of an observation made by Ace, I think, that during the Reagan economic boom, the liberals bashed our growing economy as indicative of a horrible era of greed. The Clinton boom, on the other hand, was nothing short of miraculous, a godsend, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and so forth. Perhaps "greed" is in the eye of the beholder?

Anyway, I'm too physically and emotionally exhausted for a full-fledged fisking, but I'd like to see some comments, hopefully from Oyster as well, either shoring up or attacking the assertion that Reagan Republicans are improperly motivated. One last snippet:

"The Reagan ethos was/is: Don't think, just feel; believe what you want to believe; there is no price to be paid for anything; if it feels good, do it; you can always have your cake and eat it too - and with extra frosting, if that's what your 'heart' tells you you ought to have."

Update: Follow the link for the comments over at Your Right Hand Thief. The discussion so far has been admirably level-headed. That kind of cross-party dialogue is what I like to see, even if the likelihood of anyone fundamentally changing their minds is probably nil.

Top Ten Poor Choices for a Movie to Watch While My Wife Was in Labor

(As measured by how hard she hit me when I made the suggestion)

10. Children of the Corn

9. The Ring

8. Seed of Chucky

7. Gigli

6. Alien

5. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

4. Kill Bill, vol. 1

3. That movie with Carrot Top in it

2. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

And the numer one poor choice for a movie to watch while my wife was in labor:

1. The Omen

Top Ten Thoughts a Baby Thinks in His First Hour

10. Wow, I thought the womb was small. What's this crazy new place?

9. Stop poking the top of my head.

8. Holy crap, it's cold out here!

7. What are all those lights?

6. Dan Rather really is a douchebag, you know?

5. What are all those loud noises?

4. Oh that's great. Put me next to the thumb-sucking kid. That'll do wonders for my social life.

3. What are you cramming into my rectum? Do you need to know my temperature that badly?

2. Now I'm glad I peed all over you.

And the number one Thought a Baby Thinks in His First Hour:

1. Get that thing away from my winky! You crazy freak, what's wrong with you? AAAAAGGGHHH!!!

He assures me his purple fingers are to show solidarity with the free Iraqis.

Timothy John SobekPundit. 8 lbs. 10oz., 21.5 inches long, born after a mere 13 minutes of pushing, at 4:13 a.m.

My wife's extremely pregnant belly, as seen by her. Note that pregnancy turns her "innie" into an "outie."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Gay Marriage: A Certain Bad Argument

In First Amendment law, the Supreme Court is willing to strike down a statute that impinges on free speech although the State offers some justification, if the Court thinks there's a much better way of achieving the stated justification. For example, if a city wants to ban handing out leaflets on a busy city street, on the ground that it wants to avoid litter (because everyone knows the vast majority of the leaflets will never get read), the Court will say no, you can't do that, because you can make a law against littering instead of a law againt leafletting, and that way you achieve the desired goal without invading the First Amendment.

So in Sunday's Times-Picayune there is a letter to the editor that complains about discrimination against gays because of hospital visitation rights:

"What I am concerned about is having the legal right to sit by my partner's bedside should he become seriously ill without some 'caring professional' having the gall to say to me, 'I'm sorry, sir, family only."

The writer's proposed remedy - forcing the government to sanction gay marriage - is like banning leafletters instead of insisting upon anti-littering laws. The simple and non-confrontational approach, if that is the genuine concern, is to ask hospitals to relax their visitation policies. The argument is more easily made, will create little or none of the lashback that gay marriage advocacy is known to create, and remedies the problem with precision - neither cutting too broadly nor too narrowly.

Of course, in the Free Speech example and this case, asserted justifications are often deceiving. I didn't invent that First Amendment hypothetical - cities have tried to ban leafletting in response to unpopular groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, who want to distribute their literature in residential areas. And the Court saw through the city's ploy and shot down the law. In the gay marriage context, the singularly bad reasoning of the "I don't want to be kept out of the hosptial" crowd belies the real goal - using the judiciary to force a change in social mores on a far broader scale than could ever be achieved by simply eliminating the asserted complaints. Letting more people in during hospital visiting hours solves the stated problem, but not the real problem. Hence, we get the flawed kind of complaint printed in yesterday's Times-Picayune.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Dinner went well. We invited three other couples and their children, for a total of eight adults and ten extremely hyperactive children in our not terribly large house. But other than leaving the pate in the oven too long, things turned out well.

Now it's time to kick back and listen to Devastatin' Dave (especially the seminal "Zip Zap Rap"), and others of my favorite albums.

Important SobekPundit Update

Baby crocodile #2 is on the way. The wife is getting induced this Wednesday, so unless the kid decides to come before then, his birthday will be April 6.

On an unrelated topic, tonight's menu is as follows:
"Tandoori" bread
Fish pate baked in pastry, with a mint and cilantro chutney dip
Samosa (spiced potatoes and peas, fried in pastry)
Dum Aloo (parboiled and fried potatoes in a yogurt and onion sauce)
Mild chicken curry

I put the word "tandoori" in quotes because I do not, strictly speaking, own a tandoori oven, so it's really just flat bread with nigella seeds baked into it, if I had a tandoori oven, it would be tandoori bread, so just use your imaginations. Dinner isn't until 6:00 pm, but I expect I'll be using most of the time between now and then in the kitchen. So don't expect much more from me today.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Failed Soft-Drink Product Names

You know who has some funny lists? McSweeney's has some funny lists. Such as this one.

This one provides 927% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Sodium.

The joke is funnier if you know what the word means.

I don't know why this one failed. I'd drink it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Fourth in a Conceptual Series

The fourth in a conceptual series. Find the first three here, here and here. More to come? Stay tuned to find out.

Another Caption/Photoshop Contest

Over at GOP and the City. Go check it out.

Glenn Reynolds: On Crack

I guess you can only post 70 times a day for so long before you go completely insane. On the plus side, it looks he's blogrolled me without my even asking. That's just more proof that he's insane, of course...

Heh. Indeed. Read the whole thing.

New Orleans Reacts to Eddie Jordan Verdict

By Minister Willie Muhammad, from the Times-Picayune letters to the editor:

"The trial of the city's district attorney, Eddie Jordan, validates a belief that many black citizens have: that in this 'game of life,' there are rules that can be used by white people but are forbidden to those of a different skin tone. Eddie Jordan is being persecuted for doing what the white officials of this city have always done: Rewarding supporters."

Patronage hiring and firing has come before the Supreme Court on a number of occasions. Arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia argues that all patronage hiring and firing is acceptable, but he's never gotten the Court to agree with him on that. The rule is, you can pick your top advisors, people in an actual decision-making capacity, without whose cooperation you can't reasonably be expected to get anything done. For an excellent recent example of why that might be a good idea, consider this story, about a diplomat who decided to interfere with the hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist because of partisan disagreements with the administration. But you cannot dismiss the low-level types, the non-decision-makers, the janitors and receptionists and paralegals, the kinds of people who don't make major policy decisions, for purely political reasons. White or black, Republican or Democrat, that's the rule, and if you don't like it, complain to the liberal side of the United States Supreme Court.

"Last year prominent black preachers questioned how many city contracts go to companies that don't reflect the majority of the city's population. A trial like Eddie Jordan's would put fear into any person who may desire to change that pattern. He or she could be charged with reverse racism!"

This is a complex 14th Amendment issue, rather than (as above) a less complex 1st Amendment issue, governed by a different line of cases, and with different interests involved. In the First Amendment context, the rule is you can't be fired for what you think or believe, or for your political party. In the 14th Amendment context, the rule under Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena and City of Richmond v. Croson is that so-called "benign" racial classifications, those designed to benefit racial minorities, will be strictly scrutinized by the Court. That means a plan to distribute city contracting work according to race must be narrowly tailored measures that further compelling governmental interests. Part of that narrow tailoring means taking into account race-neutral alternatives, and you have to limit the plan so it won't last longer than the discrimination it's designed to eliminate.

All of that, as you can imagine, is enormously complex. It can't be adequately resolved in a three-paragraph letter to the editor. But the summary is that you can't flat-out discriminate in favor of any racial group, regardless of whether your motives are good or bad, unless you have a detailed plan to do it justly, and a darn good reason.

"This trial is part of an overall conspiracy to make black people, who are No. 1 victims of racism, look like the new racists."

Are you denying that black people may be racists? Because such a sweeping generalization about people, based on their skin color, would certainly be ironic at the very least, no?

I see that Supernatural Rabbit Scribe sticks to his belief that working to actively remedy past discrimination should be permissible. I agree with that point of view, but I want to attach an important caveat. Fixing past discrimination cannot, in my opinion, be accomplished through either reparations or quota-based affirmative action programs alone. The problem of race is primarily psychological. And if the victims of racism are given financial benefits but retain a state of mind that they are perpetual victims, that they cannot or should not try to solve their own problems, that the world or any external party owes them a living - then no financial benefit will outlast the first generation of beneficiaries, because the beneficiaries won't pass on to their children the important values that lead to wealth-retention: the importance of education, hard work, persistence, avoiding crime and drugs, respecting women and life in general, the consequences of hard work of refusal to work.

For that reason, any steps taken to remedy the effects of past discrimination (the severity of which I do not deny) must, in order to be actual solutions to the problem, must involve a culture-wide shift of attitude, rather than simple hand-outs. Let's fix the problems, sure, but let's do it in a reasonable manner. I don't think Minister Willie Muhammad's attitude reflects one that is serious about genuine remedies that can survive more than a generation.