Archives for May, 2002


WHATEVER YOU THINK OF PAT BUCHANAN read this column. He states the arguments for disengagement with the Middle East as succinctly and powerfully as I think can be done. He starts with the threat of a smuggled nuke, walks through the history of empire and terror, and concludes by asking, is it worth the price? As someone who lives about two miles from the target’s bullseye, I find that a pretty easy question to answer.

Posted on May 31, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


PLAIN LANGUAGE IS NO OBSTACLE: I just read Sandidge v. U.S., the 1987 case upholding the D.C. handgun ban. It says “the right to keep and bear arms is not a right conferred upon the people by the federal constitution.” Isn’t that kind of hard to square with the Second Amendment, which says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?

Posted on May 31, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


THE SECOND AMENDMENT COMES TO THE DISTRICT: No jurisdiction in the United States works as doggedly to disarm citizens as does the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital and on-again, off-again murder capital. Sure, the city council grudgingly legalized pepper spray in 1993 (provided, of course, that it’s properly registered), but that brief concession to self-defense hasn’t led to any revision of the District’s gun laws, which are still among the most restrictive in America.

All that may be about to change. The Washington Post reported today that D.C.’s federal public defender has filed motions challenging the District’s handgun ban, on behalf of two defendants charged with violating the ban. The motions apparently cite the Justice Department’s recent affirmation that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms that is unrelated to militia service. DOJ expressed the individual rights view in footnotes to two briefs filed with the Supreme Court this month, both of which contain the phrase “the Second Amendment… protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to possess and bear their own firearms.”

Are the District’s gun laws consistent with that view? Not even close. D.C. bans the possession of unregistered handguns, and prohibits, with very few exceptions, the registration of any handgun not validly registered in the District prior to 1976. And since the District isn’t a state, the two gun-ban violators are being prosecuted by the US Attorney, who, coincidentally works for John Ashcroft.

Is Ashcroft serious about the individual rights view? We’re about to find out. The Post article notes that “The government’s response in one of the cases is due today. Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said his agency was awaiting instructions from the Justice Department.”

On November 9, 2001, Ashcroft sent a memo to all U.S. Attorneys praising the Fifth Circuit’s affirmation of the individual-right-to-bear-arms view in Emerson v. United States, and noted the Justice Department’s “solemn obligation… to respect the constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans.” Quoting Justice Sutherland, Ashcroft noted that “the mission of the Department Ã?Â?Ã?¢Ã?¢?Ã?¬Ã?Â??in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.'” He ordered all U.S. Attorneys’ offices to promptly advise DOJ of all cases in which Second Amendment issues are raised.

If a blanket prescription of handguns doesn’t raise a Second Amendment issue, nothing does.

Posted on May 30, 2002 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


ALAS, PUNK IS DEADER THAN DISCO: Punkercize your way to a fitter, leaner you in a workout class offered at various Boston and NYC locations:

Welcome to Punk Rock Aerobics, you can skank and pogo the pounds away, and where the DJ may be smoking through the entire workout.

“We were trying to take moves that people would do in clubs — like pogo and skank — and put them into our workout, as well as having it be effective and actually have the heart rate go up, have this be a workout,” said Punk Rock Aerobics co-founder Hilken Mancini, who is also a singer and guitarist for Boston’s Fuzzy. “So it’s sort of this fine line between choreography and chaos.”

You may have thought that heroin addiction was the Punk slimness program, but that’s not the case, according to the Punk Rock Aerobics website. The article notes that “for the weight-training portion, they give spray-painted bricks to class members.” Wretched Bobos. Must they murder everything cool?

Posted on May 30, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Hey, I’ve been translated into

Hey, I’ve been translated into Spanish! Check out this piece on militarization of the border and the Posse Comitatus Act from El Cato. This will give me mucho street cred in the Mount Pleasant barrio…
(Here’s the English version.)

Posted on May 29, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


BLOGGER TO WATCH: Let me join Radley Balko and Tom G. Palmer in the chorus of appreciation for Cato’s Julian Sanchez. Julian’s blog is consistently interesting and wise. He’s a hard-core libertarian without being reflexive or dogmatic or abrasive–a combination of qualities that’s all-too-rare. Plus, he rents my basement apartment.

Posted on May 29, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


DC BLOGGER FEST: Hosted by Radley Balko, Brink Lindsey and myself. Eve Tushnet will also be there. It’s Thursday June 6, at the Rendezvous Lounge (18th and Kalorama), starting around 7 PM. Come meet your fellow area bloggers. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get Andrew Sullivan and beagle(s).

Posted on May 29, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

I’m up on Fox News,

I’m up on Fox News, critiquing the NRA for its support for President Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhoods. It’s not often you get to position yourself to the right of the NRA.

Posted on May 29, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Here’s a link to my new Cato Policy Analysis, critiquing the centerpiece of the Bush crime-control agenda, Project Safe Neighborhoods. It’s featured today on the Cato website. PSN is fair-weather federalism at its worst. It flies in the face of U.S. v. Lopez, federalizing gun crimes and illegitimately extending federal influence over state prosecutorial priorities. Worse, it’s likely to lead to a mindless zero-tolerance policy for technical infractions of gun laws, which should be particularly galling to the NRA, which has wholeheartedly supported the program. Wayne LaPierre recently gave a speech where he said “the Constitution is pristine and inviolate…. The Bill of Rights doesn’t care about opinion polls. It doesn’t tolerate cherry-picking some parts but not others.” If that’s the case, he shouldn’t support undermining the Tenth Amendment in the hopes of saving the Second.

Posted on May 28, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


THE DOWD FILES, CONTINUED… I’ve been taking a little bit of grief recently from various quarters about a piece I published in Liberty magazine taking issue with a recent Maureen Dowd column. The Dowd column complained about men being scared of high-achieving women. My response was that it’s not so much that men are intimidated by high-status women as it is that status, achievement, and ambition are not qualities that men place much emphasis at all on in seeking a mate. Men emphasize beauty and charm; women, power, status and potential for commitment (which seems, often, to be less prevalent among high-status men).

Well this is just obvious. And in fact it’s backed up by scientific–or at least social-scientific–data. Robert Wright writes in his primer on evolutionary psychology, the Moral Animal that:

In 1989 the evolutionary psychologist David Buss published a pioneering study of mate preferences in 37 cultures around the world. He found that in every culture, females placed more emphasis than males on a potential mate’s financial prospects.

That doesn’t mean women have a specific, evolved preference for wealthy men… women may be innately attuned not so much to a man’s wealth as to is social status; among hunter-gatherers, status often translates into power–influence over the divvying up of resources…. In modern societies, wealth, status, and power often go hand in hand, and seem to make an attractive package in the eyes of the average woman.

I can’t find the original David Buss study online, but I did find this account of the results:

Although there were wide-ranging individual responses, the averaged responses were consistent with four out of five of Buss’s hypotheses. Thirty-six of the thirty-seven samples show females valuing “earning potential” more than males. Thirty-four out of thirty-seven samples demonstrate females placing more importance on “ambition-industriousness” than males. All thirty-seven samples show males preferring mates younger than themselves and females preferring mates older than themselves. All thirty-seven samples show males preferring “good looks” more than females.

In terms of shocking conclusions, this is right up there with the revelation that professional wrestling is fake. But it shows that high status is not the path to romantic success for women that Ms. Dowd seems to feel it should be.

Posted on May 26, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Why do I get the

Why do I get the feeling that a Yale degree is no longer the mark of class and refinement it once was?

Posted on May 26, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


A COUPLE OF THINGS I should have linked to Friday:

Radley Balko writes on “Straight, Inc.,” a coercive drug rehab program endorsed by Republicans. If you’ve ever read the Stephen King horror story “Quitter’s Inc.,” about a program that will make you quit smoking, or else–you’ll have some idea of the tactics that apparently have been used to get kids in these program to renounce drugs. I don’t know if we can take all the Straight alumni stories as gospel truth, but if even half of them are true, it’s pretty damning. Check Radley’s blogsite for other accounts that didn’t make it into the column.

And Myles Kantor writes on Cuba’s Varela Project, pointing up the tragic irony of ordinary Cubans being forced to ask for a vote on the question of whether or not they have rights.

Posted on May 24, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


PROTECT YOURSELF FROM A DIRTY NUKE with bargain-priced potassium iodide tablets. Even cheaper than the ones I linked to before. I was talking, sort of tongue-in-cheek, to a friend of a friend about the little apocalypse care package I’m putting together (antibiotics, gas mask, potassium iodide, etc.). She said, sort of self-righteously, “if we change our behavior, the terrorists win.” Funny, I thought that if the terrorists kill us, they win.

By the way, could anything be sillier than the government’s color-coded terror alert system? Today we’re at yellow. That’s an “elevated” risk of terror attacks. My prediction is they’ll never set the panic meter at green, for low risk of attacks, or even at blue for “guarded” risk. They’d look like they were asleep at the switch if anything actually happened. So here you’ve got a five-level advisory system, that’s really only three levels, and really doesn’t advise you of anything. Plus, they even got one of the colors wrong on the website. Boy I feel safe.

Posted on May 24, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


OBJECTIFICATION IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: Dawn Olsen is running a poll for sexiest male blogger. Sort of like “best complexion at the leper colony,” huh? But maybe that’s just sour grapes because I’m not included, even though I’m clearly better looking than all the contestants, even the ones I’ve never seen. Nice lookin’ template though, Dawn.

Posted on May 23, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off


TICKLE ME BONO: Your tax dollars at work, as Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and washed up pop star Paul Hewson play dress-up for the camera.

Posted on May 23, 2002 in Uncategorized | Comments Off