Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


1. Congress is actually inquiring into how much U.S. companies can profit from the sales of their products?

When I took a course on European Union law, I was absolutely horrified to learn there's an article of the EU Treaty that forbids making too much of a profit, and I thought, first, that Europe's economy is inevitably doomed to eternal suckitude until they learn that socialism simply cannot work. Second, thank goodness I live in America.

Well, at least the first principle still holds true. We'll just have to wait and see, on that second one.

2. Speaking of officious meddling by government, the IRS is threatening to deny tax-exempt status to a California church for criticizing the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts.

I think the content of the sermons in question is total bunk. But that's hardly the point. Rev. Regas was preaching about morality in the context of the Iraq war and of Bush's tax cut, with the emphasis on the fact that his subject was morality. Voting, in the eyes of a religious person, can be a very moral act, and government encroachment on "moral" speech is extremely dangerous. Is it, to follow the assertions of the All Saints Episcopal Church, a politically-motivated crack-down because they dared criticize the Administration? The evidence is a too tenuous to embrace that particular conspiracy theory (I can't imagine Bush & Co. actually micro-manage the IRS to that extent, although you never know about that Rove fellow). But it doesn't matter. Even if the government's actions were demonstratively politically neutral, they went too far. Maybe it's a closer call in some cases, but not in this one.

3. Day 14 of French riots. Having read arguments both for and against the idea that this is an intifada, rather than social unrest that just happens to come from marginalized Muslims subject to institutionalized discrimination, I'm in the undecided column. Jack M. makes the common-sense observation that the tanking French economy affects Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists, yet only Muslims are rioting. True (as far as I can tell), but Muslims have the added burden of being black in a notoriously racist nation, and to a greater degree than others are effectively barred from getting jobs or a decent education. If Catholics aren't rioting, it's reasonable to point out that they have are more likely to be employed.

4. Bad news for Schwarzenegger's reform efforts. Obviously, celebrity can only get you so far, and a backlash against Gray Davis, while good enough to change the guard, will run out of energy eventually.

Remember when the recall election was gearing up, and conservatives were nervous that Schwarzenegger would be too liberal? Now seems like a decent time to observe that he's done a fine job so far. He even took the bold step of vetoing a bill that would repeal the voter initiative that banned gay marriage, in spite of his socially liberal-to-moderate views, and in spite of problems it created for him in the state legislature. It will be interesting to see what else the Governator has planned.

5. This is an oldie, but a goodie. I just read a 2004 federal case from Nevada about a fellow who sued the government. It seems he claimed he owned asteroid 433 "Eros." So when NASA launched a craft that landed on the asteroid on February 12, 2001, they infringed his property rights. So he claimed the government owed him 20 cents per year for parking or storage fees.

The federal judge laughed him out of court. The case is Nemitz v. U.S., 2004 WL 3167042 (D. Nev., Apr. 26, 2004).

6. President Bush met with the Dalai Lama, ignoring objections by China.

It's a darn good thing I'm not a speech-writer for the President. "Mr. President Hu, it is my intention to meet with the Dalai Lama, in spite of your concerns. And if you want me to start taking your objections seriously, I recommend you stop building up your military to invade the sovereign nation of Taiwan, pardon everyone you've ever arrested for criticizing your government, stop executing criminals for petty offenses, abolish your mandatory abortion laws, and basically quit acting like the blood-thirsty animals you are. And in the mean time, you can go %*&# off."

And great, now we've got a war on our hands. So yeah, it's a good thing I don't write the speeches.

7. As part of his on-going effort to take the coveted title of "the douchebag Senator," Harry Reid has formally instructed President Bush to pledge not to promise Scooter Libby (who was, incidentally, never charged with actually leaking anything).

I assume his letter criticizing Clinton's pardons will be forthcoming.

8. Finally, Dave at Garfield Ridge reports that the Japanese are still insane.

9. And on a personal note, I just finished a biography of Al Capone, which was fascinating.