Archives for July, 2004

Fair and Balanced

And while I’m bashing Kerry, check out this piece from Jon Berlau in Reason on Kerry’s monstrous record on civil liberties. Excerpt:

What was Kerry’s position? He thought U.S. asset forfeiture laws were working so well that he wanted to export them. “We absolutely must push for asset forfeiture laws all over the planet,” Kerry wrote in The New War. “In the words of one plainspoken lawman, ‘Get their ass and get their assets.'” There was, tellingly, no discussion at all of civil liberties issues.

Criticism of John Kerry should not be construed as implicit support for his opponent, the worst president since Richard Nixon.

Posted on Jul 30, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

He Loves the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

A friend who worked for an Arizona congressman some years ago told me the inside joke among Az. hill staffers was, after someone mentioned John McCain’s name, to pause, and solemnly intone “He’s a war hero, you know.” Applied to John Kerry, the joke is too subtle. I half expected them to lower the candidate to stage in a mock swift boat, blasting black-pajamaed Charlies popping up from fake rice paddies set up around the dias.

Posted on Jul 30, 2004 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New AFF Blog

Head on over to visit our new AFF blogger, Chris Roach. Those of you who are sick of my liberal peace-creep Bush-bashing will be happy to have another blogger here–to bash Bush from a completely different angle.

Chris is a Paleocon, but not a Peacenik. I disagree with much of what he’s written since 9/11, but his take on things is always well-informed and challenging. (I wonder though, he says “My politics are of the Old Right. The Right of Robert Taft, Albert Jay Nock, Ludwig von Mises, Burke, and Russell Kirk.” He has to have noticed that four of the five were pretty reliably antiwar. Maybe there’s hope for him yet.) I’d also like to thank him for giving me a chance to ditch that hideous mongoloid caricature on the site banner. My mother thanks you for that as well.

We have but to add a neoconservative to the lineup on this site and we’ll have all facets of the modern Right represented. And that will probably underscore for everyone how little sense it makes to talk about “the Right,” as if it’s a definable political space. Anyway, go visit the site.

Posted on Jul 27, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Barnett on War and Liberty

I admire Randy Barnett tremendously as a scholar. But I’m not finding any of his recent posts on Libertarians and War convincing. There’s a lot there to respond to, but to take one example:

But would the U.S. Army been acting unjustly on Libertarian grounds it it goes to the aid of innocent civilians in Somalia, the Sudan, or Iraq? I do not see why. If these people are indeed the victim of horrible rights violations a solder regardless of whether his uniform is American or Iraqi would be justified in going to the defense of the victim according to Libertarian first principles.

This is an odd way to frame the question–as if the soldiers simply happen to be in Somalia or Iraq on vacation or something and happen to witness a rights violation. But how did American soldiers get there? They got there as part of military operations funded by resources forcibly extracted from the American taxpayer. Properly framed, the question, then, is something like:

Does it violate libertarian principle for the U.S. government to wrest scores of billions of dollars from the American taxpayer (possibly as much as $3,000 per American family in the case of Iraq,) in order to address rights violations committed half a world away against people not under its protection?

I’d say it does. I have a right to come to the defense of others. I do not have the right to steal Randy Barnett’s car in order to do so.

Now, no one except perhaps Spooner has written more convincingly than Professor Barnett about how hard it is to justify the state. So he might say the argument above applies just as well to taxation for the defense of Americans–it says the U.S. government can’t come to the defense of Californians if it has to tax Kansans to do it. After all, none of us signed any kind of “social contract” or consented to a Constitution that pledges us to the “common defence” of Americans. But if even that limited justification of the state-as-common-defense-pact is problematic, how do you justify the state-as-world-liberator? Where does it get the authority to carry out these missions, however benevolent they might be?

In any event, I think it’s odd to proceed as if the only rights in question are the rights of those who are to be liberated.

Posted on Jul 27, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Structure of Oppression

So a friend sends me this, this morning, the story of a sperm donor forced to pay child support, despite the fact that the court apparently concluded that there was an agreement to the contrary between Mom and donor. That reminded me of this piece from Reason by Cathy Young, describing cases where men who prove they’re not the child’s father are still forced to continue child support payments:

Subsequent genetic tests showed that of the four children born to Wise’s former wife during their 13-year marriage, only the eldest was his. “I never experienced a heart attack, and I can tell you, I had one that day;’ Wise told Dateline. “I mean…a part of me died.”

When Wise went to court asking to be relieved of the child support payments that consumed a third of his take-home pay, he was turned down. Wise was later barred from contact with all four children because he had discussed the issue of their parentage with them in violation of the judge’s order, but he still had to keep the checks coming. In January the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Wise’s appeal.

Finally, later in the day, another friend sent me this, where a woman guilty of statutory rape was nonetheless able to wring child support payments from the guy, who was 13 at the time of conception. (And no, I don’t know what my friend was doing on either).

I really wanted to take family law in law school, but they had some nut teaching it from a critical legal studies perspective where they weren’t really reading a lot of cases and were just doing the law-as-a-structure-of-oppression-of-females schtick. Looks like that’s a valid approach if you just reverse the genders.

Posted on Jul 26, 2004 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Lighten Up

Sometimes the tightassed earnest liberalism of the Sunday New York Times is a little much to take with your morning coffee. Bad enough to agonize over Schwarzenegger’s “girlie men” remark, as John M. Broder does.


Worse still is this bit of sanctimony, re Jenna’s sticking her tongue out at the cameras:

her off-message gesture may also have reminded voters of her father’s reputation as a frat-boy prankster, which may not be the image that his campaign wants to rekindle in a time of the war on terror.

If they had a sense of humor, I’d think they were kidding.

Posted on Jul 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Seven Minutes

I knew if I waited a week or two, any urge I had to see Fahrenheit 911 would pass–and it did. But I’d still like to see that sequence of excerpts from the seven minutes where President Bush continues reading (and listening to children read) the story “The Pet Goat” to second graders after he learns that the second plane hit.

It’s not that I think: “oh how different things would have been, if only the president had sprung into action seven minutes earlier!” I don’t have that exalted a view of the presidency or the president. God knows I’d be happy if all the president ever did was read to second graders.

But for God’s sake, the original Al Qaeda plan was for ten planes. After the second plane hit, nobody knew what the hell was going on. I remember that at around 11 AM on 9/11, I was about to leave my law firm’s building (four blocks from the White House) with a friend and we paused at the entrance after she said, in all seriousness, “what if they’re lined up to shoot everybody leaving downtown?” (In sharp contrast to Bush, my firm’s managing partner had sprung into action soon after the plane hit, sending a firm-wide email urging everyone to stay in the building. And continue billing, I think the subtext was.).

Anyhow, it would seem, given that level of uncertainty, that the president might have wanted to start processing information, you know, as soon as possible. Rather than sit there, perplexed, for fear of–God forbid–disturbing the children.

And would it have been that awkward for him to get out of the room right away? “Hey kids, sorry: important President business to take care of. Principal Flutie is gonna read the rest of the story to you.”

I’ve had a number of friends and acquaintances defend Bush’s reaction, not as excusable or understandable, but as perfectly appropriate–even presidential. I think it’s fine to say, “hey, he lost it for a couple of minutes there. He’s human. Maybe you’d have lost it too.” I don’t think the fact that Bush froze up like a rabbit in the headlights for a few minutes disqualifies him from the presidency. But what’s completely bizarre is that anyone would defend his reaction as the right thing to do under the circumstances.

Update: Having some trouble with the comments section. I can see them in movable type, but they aren’t appearing on the site. Bear with me.

Posted on Jul 23, 2004 in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Going Wobbly

You know, if this really is a clash of civilizations, then, looking at American culture, sometimes I wonder if we’ve got the sauce to win this war.

Posted on Jul 22, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Fly Bottle

Will has had some excellent posts lately. I’d just retitle them. I’d call this one “Now There’s a Mel Gibson Movie I’d Pay Nine Bucks to See!” I’d call this one “If You Vote, You Have No Right to Complain.” And I’d call this one “Bring Back the Blue Guy!”

Posted on Jul 19, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Every Man Pharaoh

There’s this pejorative phrase, “market worship.” Well, having just visited Wegman’s, the temple of the great god Market, sign me up for the cult. As Tyler Cowen put it, Wegman’s “makes Whole Foods look like a 7-11.” The first 15 minutes in the store, I couldn’t buy anything, my circuits were so fried by the obscene abundance around me. I wanted to jump through bins of sausage and bruschetta cackling madly like Scrooge McDuck. I wanted to make myself a hidey-hole behind some cereal boxes, and stay burrowed away until the store closed, and then eat myself sick all night like a dog.

And this being America, someone is going to outdo Wegman’s soon enough, make it look like a 7-11. I picture a big box retailer so large that everyone gets an indoor RV with a GPS locator and a big cart at the back. There are indoor clouds, and you can see the curvature of the earth as you look down aisle after aisle of foreign delicacies as far as the eye can see. God willing, I’ll live to see it.

Posted on Jul 18, 2004 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Make It Stop

In the hallway outside my office, somebody has the TV on and John Kerry’s giving a speech. I can’t make out what he’s saying, but Gahd, that voice. Pompous, monotonous, dripping with feigned sincerity and condescension, conveying all the electricity and joie de vivre of a constipated schoolmarm. That voice is going to be tough to listen to for four years.

Posted on Jul 15, 2004 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Bush LIED!!!!

Will you give me this one, at least?

“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States.”

–George W. Bush, October 7, 2002.

I’m not talking about the fact that the dread Iraqi fleet turned out to be a few ancient Czech training drones. Put that aside. Focus on what he said.

Was he, or anyone else in the administration, really “concerned” that Iraq might unleash a fleet of chem-armed UAVs on the US mainland (after, I guess, ferrying them most of the way across the Atlantic so they were in range)? How low an opinion of President Bush’s intelligence do you have to have to believe that he believed that statement? How low an opinion does President Bush have of the public’s intelligence to make that statement? Oh well, no one ever went broke, like Mencken said.

The point is, that was a lie. Right?

Posted on Jul 14, 2004 in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Galt’s Gulch Online

Oh Lord, this is funny: an online community for libertarian singles. Near as I can tell, there are ten people on the service, and the guy/gal ratio is 9 to 1, which is about what you’d expect. However, given that the one gal is suspiciously good-looking, I doubt she’s for real.

via Wonkette.

To clarify, yes, there are many good-looking libertarian women. But given that this is an small, insular ideological community dominated by guys, news of libertarian babes circulates faster than a Mark Steyn column among warbloggers. Thus, any libertarian who has achieved babehood has her pick of intense, socially awkward men, and thus does not need a dating service in order to meet them.

Posted on Jul 14, 2004 in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

$200 Billion Here, $200 Billion There…

Getting angry when politicos lie is kind of like getting despondent when celebrity marriages break up. It’s either a sign of stupidity or latent idealism. I’m going to go with choice B, because, like Pat Lynch, I find this story appalling.

Posted on Jul 14, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


The Senate Intelligence Committee report isn’t too kind to the CIA. But I’m not sure why anybody thinks it exculpates the administration for its near-total indifference to truth when the truth might get in the way of a useful justification for war. With regard to the Powell speech before the UN, the New York Times reports:

a Defense Department analyst warned the agency against relying on some of the most significant informants, like an Iraqi defector code named Curveball, whom Mr. Powell planned to cite….

But the deputy chief of the [CIA]‘s Iraqi Task Force, who said “we can hash this out in a quick meeting,” rejected the worries as irrelevant. “Let’s keep in mind the fact that this war’s going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn’t say, and that the Powers That Be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he’s talking about,” the deputy chief wrote in an e-mail message obtained by the committee.

But this part of the article’s a little odd. It seems that “Another source was deemed a ‘fabricator,’ which in intelligence circles is tantamount to a designation as untrustworthy.” Ah, so that’s what that means. It’s good to learn a little CIA-insider lingo.

Posted on Jul 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off