Archives for December, 2003

Dipping the Night Away

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Jacob Sullum assails the public health establishment for lumping snuff and chaw in with cigarettes. Says Jacob:

Like chewing nicotine gum or wearing a nicotine patch, using smokeless tobacco does not involve inhaling combustion products, the main source of smoking-related hazards. Oral cancer is the only well-established life-threatening danger associated with smokeless tobacco, and even that disease is twice as common among cigarette smokers.

Thus, switching from smoking to dipping can reduce risk for the nicotine fan. (Though I’d prefer that my Mom, who smokes, not try this, and it occurs to me that only person I know who’s tried this method ended up dipping and smoking simultaneously and continuously and staying up for four days before finals. Pause here to once again thank Al Gore for the gift of the internet, a bottomless fount of hilarity. Clarification: I don’t know the guy at that link. Clarification II: despite its similarity to the mongoloid caricature that graces this site, the picture of the fat guy spitting is not a picture of me.).

If and when the paladins of public health have their way in D.C., and smoking is banned, it would cheer me up to no end if folks started dipping in bars. There’s no such thing as secondhand dip-spit after all (though one does have to be careful to keep an eye on his beer glass when certain dippers are around), and thus no public-health rationale for banning public dipping. “Eeew, it’s gross” is not a rational basis for public policy, though the argument for smoking bans rests on little more.

If some future version of the Smokefree Workplaces Act passes, I plan to spit out of spite. Look for me at local fern bars, teeth coated in yard mulch, hand clutching a warm cup of brown and frothy syrup like some hideous vision out of Deliverance. When the various Kirstens and Katelyns whinge about it, I’ll hack and spew, and say, “well, I didn’t want to subject you to secondhand smoke. That stuff’s lethal–and besides, it’s illegal. Thank Adrian Fenty. ”

Then they’ll be sorry.

Posted on Dec 26, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Ugh.

Operation Santa Claws“? Really?

Posted on Dec 22, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Individualist Group Blog

I’m happy to announce that I’m now a permanent member of Professor David Beito’s Liberty and Power group blog at the History News Network. So I’ll be posting there as well as here from now on. If you like your libertarianism straight-up, no chaser, (and you should) make L&P a daily stop.

Posted on Dec 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dean: An Echo, Not A Choice?

From Dean’s major foreign policy address on Monday: “I have supported U.S. military action to roll back Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, [and] to stop Milosevic’s campaign of terror in Kosovo….”

Now, I guess that’s not surprising. But Dean’s argument against the Iraq war has focused on the idea (I’d say, the fact) that Iraq was never a national security threat. Well, it wasn’t a national security threat in 1991 either, and Clinton’s half-hearted argument that we had national security interests in Serbia amounted to “well, World War One started over there somehow when somebody killed some archduke or something.” And if ethnic cleansing and terror argued for war over Kosovo, it’s pretty hard to see why they didn’t in the case of Hussein, who made Milosevic look like Niles Crain.

There’s nothing in the rest of the speech that provides any kind of bold new foreign policy vision either. Spend more on foreign aid. Do more to wipe out AIDS in Africa. Work with our allies and don’t piss them off gratuitously. Snore.

I’m rooting for Dean because he seems angry about something, and I’d like to see a fight, rather than a Clinton-Dole 1996-style lovefest in 2004. But the idea that he’d be a marked improvement over Bush is tough to credit. As somebody put it once, government’s a massive runaway freight train careening towards disaster. Every four years we have a big to-do over who gets to sit up in the front car and pretend they’re driving. It’s hard to get excited about that.

Posted on Dec 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“Free-Speech Zones”?

Must-read piece by James Bovard on the Secret Service’s pattern and practice of stationing anti-Bush protestors far far away from the sight of the Leader (and the news cameras):

A recent St. Petersburg Times editorial noted, “At a Bush rally at Legends Field in 2001, three demonstrators–two of whom were grandmothers–were arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated zone. And last year, seven protesters were arrested when Bush came to a rally at the USF Sun Dome. They had refused to be cordoned off into a protest zone hundreds of yards from the entrance to the Dome.” One of the arrested protesters was a 62-year-old man holding up a sign, “War is good business. Invest your sons.” The seven were charged with trespassing, “obstructing without violence and disorderly conduct.”

Much more in the article itself.

Posted on Dec 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

On to Cameroon!

A Journal columnist endorses a plan to rid the world of dictators by year 2025.

Posted on Dec 17, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Self-Promotion

I have a new Cato Policy Analysis paper out, “Deployed in the U.S.A.: the Creeping Militarization of the Home Front.” In it, I argue against looking to the military to solve domestic problems, such as illegal immigration, the threat of terrorism, and drug prohibition.

Posted on Dec 17, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“A Traditional Act of Merriment”?

Multiculturalism wars with hostility to guns in the mind of a Washington Post reporter. Multiculturalism wins:

In a traditional act of merriment, thousands of people fired automatic weapons into the air, sending many others scurrying for cover from stray bullets, which sparked at least three large explosions in the capital.

Posted on Dec 15, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ethics for Liberals

I never really read the New York Times’ Magazine’s “Ethicist” column before today. It’s hilarious. It’s like reading the diary of a 16th-century monk, chronicling his daily struggle with duty to God–except here duty to God is replaced with duty to State:

The other day I picked up two people who were otherwise going to ride the bus, and we sailed along in the carpool lane. Everybody was a winner. Then it occurred to me that the intent of the carpool lane is to decrease congestion, and my picking up those two didn’t decrease congestion at all.

At a restaurant, I was seated next to two young ladies who ordered beers. As soon as they produced their I.D.’s, I knew they were fake. Having worked in the bar-nightclub business for 15 years, I am adept at spotting fake I.D.’s. Should I have informed the waiter or, as I was not working, minded my own beeswax?

Such are the moral dilemmas of the modern red-state denizen.

Posted on Dec 14, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Nabbed

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It’s about time this war saw a good day, and it’s always a good day when you see a murderous, once-mighty tyrant looking like a bedraggled drunk rousted from the bus station. I hope we turn him over to the Iraqis and they hang him high. And I hope this improves our chances for a rapid and dignified exit. Maybe now we can work on capturing that other guy.

Posted on Dec 14, 2003 in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Still Smokin’

I have yet another piece on the D.C. smoking ban in today’s Washington Times.

Posted on Dec 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Things Never Work Out Quite As You Hope”

I’m informed by James Markels that in the foreward to The Essential Neo-Conservative Reader, James Q. Wilson defines the neoconservative persuasion as follows:

“Neoconservatism is an … attitude that holds social reality to be complex and change difficult. If there is any article of faith common to almost every adherent, it is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Things never work out quite as you hope; in particular, government programs often do not achieve their objectives or do achieve them but with high or unexpected costs. … [A] neoconservative questions change because, though present circumstances are bad and something ought to be done, it is necessary to do that something cautiously, experimentally, and with a minimum of bureaucratic authority.”

Given our current plight in Iraq, the irony is painful. That appreciation of social complexity and human fallibility certainly seemed to desert the neoconservatives in the run-up to war. But now that we’re stuck trying to engineer the Iraqi Great Leap Forward from a backward tribal despotism to a modern liberal democracy, we’re learning a lot about “high [and] unexpected costs.”

Posted on Dec 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Liberty and Power

I’m guest-blogging on Liberty and Power this week, by gracious invitation of Professor David Beito. They run a great site. It’s like the Volokh Conspiracy, only libertarian! Here’s my first post, and I’ll cross-post my second here:

CONGRESSIONAL COWARDICE: David Broder had an interesting column in Sunday’s Washington Post (did I really just type that?). In it, he explores who should get the blame for the post-9/11 growth of the Imperial Presidency. Through much of the 20th century, from Truman’s “police action” in Korea, through Bill Clinton’s “bimbo bombings,” executive aggrandizement was the main cause. Presidential power in foreign policy grew as a result of unilateral action by the president, sometimes–as in the case of the 1999 Kosovo war–in defiance of Congress’s refusal to authorize military action.

Broder cites constitutional scholar Louis Fisher, who says that over the last 2+ years, much of the blame for our current foreign policy dilemma can be placed on the legislative branch. He’s right. Since 9/11, Congress has shirked its constitutional power over war and peace in a disgraceful orgy of buck-passing and ass-covering. When it comes to the war power, Congress has said to the president, in essence, “hey, it’s your call!”

The use-of-force resolution Congress passed immediately after September 11, 2001, is a blanket delegation of authority to the president, authorizing him to make war on Ã?Â?Ã?¢Ã?¢?Ã?¬Ã?Â??Ã?Â?Ã?¢Ã?¢?Ã?¬Ã?Â??those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” [emphasis added]. By its plain terms, the resolution leaves it to the president to decide when the evidence that a target nation has cooperated with al-Qaeda justifies war. It’s an invitation to abuse, and it’s amazing that it hasn’t been abused thus far, to justify war with other nations on the neocon hit list.

Similarly, after voting for the Iraq war resolution, which gave the president all the authority he needed to attack, prominent members of Congress insisted that they hadn’t really voted to use force. To this day, John Kerry justifies his vote for the Iraq war by saying he wanted to empower the president to end the impasse peacefully–even though the resolution authorized military action and would be used by the president as the equivalent of a declaration of war. Luckily, Kerry seems to be paying a political price for his gutlessness.

There’s been executive aggrandizement aplenty in the last two years–this is, after all, a president who claims the right to summarily declare American citizens “enemy combatants” and lock them up forever. But as Fisher notes, much of our current predicament can be blamed on congressional cowardice and dereliction of duty.

UPDATE: Hey, David B.: I love the Volokh Conspiracy. It’s probably my favorite site, especially on days when Jim Henley’s blogging about comic books. Just ribbing you guys a bit for your hawkishness.

Posted on Dec 10, 2003 in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

My Current Obsession

I have another piece on the D.C. smoking ban on the Spectator site today. Check it out.

Posted on Dec 10, 2003 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Renaissance Men

Employ brains and brawn in the ultimate test of physical and mental prowess:

World Chess Boxing Organization

The basic idea in chessboxing is the connection of the number one thinking sport with the number one fighting sport. This sport demands the most of its competitors ���¢�¢?�¬�¢?? both mentally and physically.

In a chessboxing fight two opponents play alternating rounds of chess and boxing.The fight goes over a maximum of 11 rounds, 6 rounds of chess and 5 rounds of boxing. The fight is either decided by checkmate or ko.

And apparently, it’s for real. Check out the pictures. Link courtesy of James Wilson.

Posted on Dec 10, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off