Archive for June, 2008

June 28, 2008

HEH:

Over at EU Referendum under the heading “Caught red-handed” there is an instructive YouTube video. It shows a bunch of MEPs showing up at their place of work at quarter to seven in the morning. Exemplary devotion to duty? Well, no. What they are actually doing, suitcases in hand, is signing the attendance register on a Friday morning before heading home for the weekend. Then they will be paid, most lavishly, for working that day.

The cat really lands among the pigeons around 2 minutes 30 seconds in. Watch the MEPs dodge back behind doors as they register the camera’s unwelcome presence. Listen to the cries and squeals. “It is not your business!” “Such impertinence!” I did not catch the name of the genial chap who claimed to be about to start work in his constituency before running for the door, but Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott (of, I am sorry to say, the EU-sceptic Independence and Democracy Group) said she had already been at work for seven hours, and Hiltrud Breyer of the German Green Party really ought to look at people when she talks to them.

We bloggers often criticise the mainstream media but I take my hat off to Thomas Meier, the intrepid journalist here. He represents a tradition of – literally – foot-in-the-door reporting that the “colleagues” would like to put an end to if they could. In this case, as soon as they could, they did. The fun ends with Herr Meier being escorted out by seven heavies.

Here’s the video.

UPDATE: Okay, actually, despite the praise above this is amateur hour, even if it’s being done by professionals. What you do is, you start staking out this space every week. And you have a second (concealed) camera covering what’s done to the guy with the open camera. Then — since the security guards threw out an accredited journalist with a right to be there — you sue everybody in sight; doesn’t matter if you win (though you should) because it’s more publicity. And you start tailing the MEPs on Friday to see where they actually are on Fridays after having signed in.

If you’re really serious, that is. Note that Big Media folks don’t do this much, because they fear the blowback. And bloggers, well . . . we’re just getting started at this kind of thing. Give us time.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Louisiana . . . .

June 28, 2008

GALLUP: “When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today’s consumer, Americans overwhelmingly — by 84% to 13% — prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans. . . . A separate question finds Americans more likely to believe government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses (50%) as opposed to saying government should do more to solve the country’s problems (43%).”

I note that some people think the country has drifted far to the left. This suggests that it hasn’t.

June 28, 2008

THE HELLER DECISION: A victory for gay rights.

June 28, 2008

CADILLAC TIGHT: How many voters will the Supreme Court’s decisions swing? I have to say that more pro-gun folks seem to have been energized by Heller and the follow-on litigation than I expected.

June 28, 2008

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: “Obama claims he believes the Second Amendment says you can own a gun but that local communities can still opt out of the Constitution. What will he say as his political hometown is sued by the NRA?” Plus, waffles.

June 28, 2008

M’UTAH FOR NOTHING and chicks for free?

June 28, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Jerry White’s I Will Not Be Broken: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis. It’s impressively blurbed.

June 28, 2008

engscibldg.jpg

Knoxville, Tennessee. The University’s Engineering and Science research building. I post this in response to reader Herschel Smith, who suggested that the beautiful Law School rotunda indicated that the University undervalued engineers relative to lawyers. His specific beef was with the (different) building housing the Nuclear Engineering department — which I’ll admit isn’t much of a building — but I’ll note that they have access to some pretty fancy facilities out at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where the University is the prime contractor.

June 28, 2008

MORE THOUGHTS ON HELLER FROM DAVE KOPEL, with an amusing beer-related title.

June 28, 2008

ANN ALTHOUSE on Obama’s flipflops: “Every single one of those flipflops has been an improvement, in my opinion, so am I supposed to reject Obama for flipflopping? I voted for Obama in the Wisconsin primary in part because I predicted he’d turn out to be flexible and pragmatic. I do agree with Krauthammer that it’s funny the way the people who fell for the Obama of the primaries — who, unlike me, actually liked those positions he was taking — are letting him get away with the flipflop. I suppose, just as I convinced myself that the real Obama was not the one I was seeing back then, they are convincing themselves that the real Obama is not the one they are seeing now.”

As always with Obama, it’s a question of who the rubes really are. It’s the power of glamour.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse responds. I wasn’t calling her a rube, particularly — the “who are the rubes?” line has been a running thing with Obama, going back to this post: “When it comes to things like NAFTA, there seem to be only two possibilities. Either Obama’s anti-NAFTA talk is a ruse to fool the rubes, or his coterie of distinguished economic experts is a ruse to fool a different batch of rubes.”

To expand a bit: Either the people who believed the early-primary left-talk are the rubes, or the people who believe Obama now are the rubes . . . or anyone who thinks Obama has fixed principles at all is a rube. Your call.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From one of Ann’s commenters:

I think the meaning of “rube” is similar to a hustler’s mark — someone who believes things they shouldn’t because of some externally generated desire to believe. There’s an element of conscious deception, too — a rube is lied to, not misled.

I think the rube factor with Obama comes into play on two issues in particular: NAFTA and the war. On both issues, you get the impression that he’s making promises that he not only won’t keep, but that he can’t keep and shouldn’t keep.

Indeed.

Also, I originally read Althouse as calling my statement “gnomic,” and was going to protest that I am not, and never have been, an Aorist. But she actually said “gnomish.” That works, and demonstrates her deep learning, as Gnomish is a fairly loose language. Hence the need for me to post a clarification.

June 28, 2008

I LIKE ME! I REALLY LIKE ME!

June 28, 2008

A COLLECTION OF summer grilling recipes. But grilled Angel Food cake?

June 28, 2008

NUMBERS:

Question: Did the murder rate really triple under the Washington, DC, gun ban?

Answer: Yes. The murder rate was 26.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 1976, when the ban became law. That would be its lowest rate for the next 30 years. It peaked at 80.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 1991.

Question: What’s the highest the murder rate has been in gun happy West Virginia in that time?

Answer: 6.9 homicides per 100,000 people.

Question: So why did Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post write: “The practical benefits of effective gun control are obvious: If there are fewer guns, there are fewer shootings and fewer funerals. As everyone knows, in the District of Columbia — and in just about every city in the nation, big or small — there are far too many funerals. The handgun is the weapon of choice in keeping the U.S. homicide rate at a level that the rest of the civilized world finds incomprehensible and appalling.”

Answer: Ignorance.

Ouch. The rest of Robinson’s piece isn’t really so bad, though.

UPDATE: Scott Ott comments on the gun photo accompanying Eugene Robinson’s piece: “Whoever’s holding that gun needs to get his finger away from the trigger. Perhaps we need to offer handgun safety courses for reporters and photographers. I don’t want anyone to get hurt while covering this story. It’s funny that the price tag is still on it. I think they wanted their readers to know that the pic was snapped in the store…they didn’t actually purchase the weapon. It’s a nice looking 1911. WaPo has inspired me to head back to The Golden Trigger (my local shop) to have a look at one of those.”

June 28, 2008

GETTING TOUGH ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, in Europe.

June 28, 2008

BLUES, BREWS AND BARBECUE: A photo shoot from Rick Lee, plus some D300 advice.

June 28, 2008

BOSTON GLOBE: Grim proving ground for Obama’s housing policy. “The candidate endorsed subsidies for private entrepreneurs to build low-income units. But, while he garnered support from developers, many projects in his former district have fallen into disrepair.” And Rezko appears:

Antoin “Tony” Rezko, perhaps the most important fund-raiser for Obama’s early political campaigns and a friend who helped the Obamas buy a home in 2005. Rezko’s company used subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,000 apartments, mostly in and around Obama’s district, then refused to manage the units, leaving the buildings to decay to the point where many no longer were habitable.

Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers – including Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors. Rezko alone raised at least $200,000, by Obama’s own accounting.

One of those contributors, Cecil Butler, controlled Lawndale Restoration, the largest subsidized complex in Chicago, which was seized by the government in 2006 after city inspectors found more than 1,800 code violations.

Butler and Davis did not respond to messages. Rezko is in prison; his lawyer did not respond to inquiries.

Chicago politics = hope and change?

June 27, 2008

DICKIE SCRUGGS SENTENCED: Scruggs Gets 5 Years in Prison; Judge Calls Conduct “Reprehensible”.

June 27, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: “About that Mortgage, Senator . . .”

It turns out that the chieftain of Countrywide — which is smack in the middle of the mortgage mess — extended privileged borrowing status to two Senators, Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, and Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota. Both Senators deny any ethical violations.

The disclosure of the V.I.P. arrangments by the political website Politico.com left constituents angry and suspicious — particularly because the revelations came just as Congress was rousing itself to do something about the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

It would be nice to think that members of Congress did not go into the process with any undue friendships with the mortgage companies.

The Senate ethics committee, normally known for profound silence in the face of members’ scandals, has proposed having more stringent disclosure rules as a part of the chamber’s standing regulations. Currently, home mortgages are exempt from loan disclosure rules. (Why? we’d like to know. Is there something about graft given in the form of a home mortgage that is less corrupting than other forms of graft?)

Indeed. Plus this: Mortgages: Sleaze-o-rama:

More sleaze oozed out of the subprime mortgage mess this month with news that two U.S. senators got sweetheart loans from a giant mortgage company.

One of them, Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., heads the Senate Banking Committee, which gives him heavy clout over mortgage lenders. The other is Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Angelo Mozilo, the controversial chairman of Countrywide Financial, gave both of them loans at low fees and reduced interest rates. . . .

It’s difficult to say what is more remarkable about the senators’ behavior: the petty venality or the stupidity.

Mr. Conrad was the more crass of the two. While shopping for a loan, he called James Johnson, the former chairman of mortgage giant Fannie Mae and a former top adviser to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Mr. Johnson happened to be with Mr. Mozilo when Mr. Conrad’s call came through. Mr. Mozilo got on the line and got the senator’s loan application rolling.

Mr. Dodd says he didn’t ask for favors from Mr. Mozillo. Maybe so, but the senator knew that Countrywide had placed him in a special program for VIPs. It got him special treatment and an interest rate available only to special customers. Mr. Conrad borrowed more than $1 million, Mr. Dodd more than $775,000.

It also turned out that Mr. Johnson himself got a sweetheart loan from Countrywide. When that fact surfaced, he resigned his position heading Mr. Obama’s vice presidential search committee.

Sleaze-o-rama, indeed. And as I’ve noted before, the real problem isn’t so much the mortgages, as the culture of entitlement that made the mortgages seem no big deal.

Heck, even The Socialist Worker sees the problem:

BUT WHILE millions grapple with rising mortgage payments or see their wealth evaporate with falling house prices, members of Congress continue to benefit from favorable treatment by mortgage lenders–the very same lenders who will get a bailout if proposed legislation passes.

The housing bill’s key backers in the Senate–Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), head of the Senate Banking Committee, and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee–both got special deals from the nation’s biggest mortgage lender, Countrywide, thanks to their connections with the company’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo.

“Dodd, the lead sponsor of the bill, secured no-closing-cost mortgages at interest rates of 4 percent and 4.25 percent, and continues to insist he got no special favors,” the Rocky Mountain News reported. Conrad admitted calling Mozilo for help with a discount on a $1 million mortgage for a beach house, but also claims that it was legitimate.

Now Dodd and Conrad are in position to return the favor to the mortgage industry. If the current bill passes the House, Countrywide and other lenders will see U.S. taxpayers assume responsibility for mortgage defaults.

Do tell. Plus, from the Hartford Courant: “Come Clean, Senators.”

June 27, 2008

SHOWING CONTEMPT FOR CONGRESS? I was tryin’ to conceal it.

June 27, 2008

THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, PEOPLE WOULD BE ARRESTED FOR “OFFENSIVE” YOUTUBE VIDEOS: And they were right! “After seeing a YouTube video made by Andre Moore, Philadelphia police broke down Moore’s front door at 6 a.m. yesterday and arrested him for assault. Unlike the case of eight Florida girls who assaulted another girl, however, Moore’s video didn’t contain evidence of any criminal wrongdoing—unless verbally advocating violence against police constitutes a crime.”

June 27, 2008

HEY, HERE’S A LICENSED GUN DEALER IN D.C.

June 27, 2008

JAMES TARANTO: “We hope they both lose. But actually, Greenwald has a good point at Olbermann’s expense. . . . In our view, Greenwald is wrong. But he is consistent. Olbermann, on the other hand, rails against ‘fascism,’ then yields to it in the name of political expediency. Obama does the same thing in a more soothing manner.”

Plus this: “The Keith Olbermanns of the media world outnumber the Glenn Greenwalds, so when an Obama administration curtails civil liberties (justifiably or not), the outcry will be far more muted than it is now. If civil liberties are your top concern, then, you better vote for John McCain.”

June 27, 2008

BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of Apple Computer and iPhone news.

June 27, 2008

JUSTICE SCALIA’S pro-women’s rights position.

June 27, 2008

A HATFILL WIN: “The DOJ has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with former Army scientist Steven Hatfill, whom the government called a ‘person of interest’ in the 2001 anthrax attacks.”

June 27, 2008

HEH: “OBAMA CLARIFIES POSITION. Is that becoming a familiar headline, or what? I hope someone is compiling them all.”

June 27, 2008

MCCLATCHY: Is Obama Turning Out to be Just Another Politician?

June 27, 2008

HEH: “What is wrong with the British? Islamists regularly demonstrate in the street promising to behead Jews, Christians and other infidels. No foul, no crime. A man whistles at a girl, it’s jail time.” It’s just a question of who they’re afraid of, and who they’re not.

June 27, 2008

WILMETTE, ILLINOIS suspends its handgun ban in response to Heller.

June 27, 2008

CANADIAN KANGAROO COURT UPDATE: “Human Rights” complaint against Mark Steyn dropped.

But beware: “They know that in going after high profile targets they’ve bitten off more than they can chew — any action against them would likely stir political action to do away with the commisions altogether. If they drop the complaint against Steyn, the political pressure will simply go away and they’re free to continue zealously violating the rights of lesser known individuals and organizations.”

June 27, 2008

DAVID BERNSTEIN:

The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, upholding the Second Amendment right of individuals to own firearms, should finally lay to rest the widespread myth that the defining difference between liberal and conservative justices is that the former support “individual rights” and “civil liberties,” while the latter routinely defer to government assertions of authority. The Heller dissent presents the remarkable spectacle of four liberal Supreme Court justices tying themselves into an intellectual knot to narrow the protections the Bill of Rights provides. Or perhaps it’s not as remarkable as we’ve been led to think.

And making gross errors of fact in the process of the knot-tying.

June 27, 2008

MORE ON THE JIM COOPER STORY, here and here.

June 27, 2008

I’VE MENTIONED THE BIG ANTI-AGING CONFERENCE AT UCLA THIS WEEK BEFORE, but now it’s underway. Here’s a piece in Wired, focusing on researcher Aubrey de Grey.

June 27, 2008

COOL: Just days after discovering ice on Mars, scientists stumble upon morning dew.

June 27, 2008

CAR LUST: The Vauxhall VX220 Turbo. “The VX220 is a lightweight giant-killer for both the road and the track, meant to embarrass much more expensive Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches.”

June 27, 2008

RICK MORAN: House GOP Retiring Themselves Into a Permanent Minority.

June 27, 2008

FOR WHEN CARBON FOOTPRINTS DON’T MATTER: Test-Driving the 2009 Bentley Flying Spur.

June 27, 2008

MEGAN MCARDLE:

Now the gun controllers pour out of the woodwork to claim that you’re more likely to kill yourself or a family member with a gun than a criminal.

Some of the people deploying this statistic really ought to know better.

Some of them do know better, and deploy it anyway. Some related thoughts from Jim Lindgren. “That the New England Journal of Medicine would publish a time-series article that did not account for population changes over roughly a two-decade period is embarrassing, but then peer review seems to suffer when gun control articles are involved.” Plus, a Bellesiles story.

June 27, 2008

BOB ZUBRIN: The Saving Grace in McCain’s Energy Policy. “Amidst a pile of campaign nonsense, John McCain just set forth one policy that could save the nation.”

June 27, 2008

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Court gun ruling has Chicago thinking it’s next. (Via NewsAlert).

June 27, 2008

RANDY BARNETT: So what gun regulations are reasonable?

June 27, 2008

DON SURBER: Saving our coasts by ravaging Nigeria. Plus this proposal: “Slap a dollar-a-gallon tax on residents of any coastal state that bans drilling in the Pacific or Atlantic, and give that money to people who live within a mile of a coal-fired power plant.”

June 27, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Neal Asher’s Shadow of the Scorpion: A Novel of the Polity.

June 27, 2008

stadiumside.jpg

Knoxville, Tennessee. A detail from the East side of Neyland Stadium.

June 27, 2008

ORIN KERR on Justice Breyer and the culture wars.

June 27, 2008

“YEAH, I DON’T DO COWERING.”

“So let’s see – Obama’s FISA flip-flop was not cowering it was, uhh, tacking to the bipartisan center!”

June 27, 2008

A MCCAIN-CORKER TICKET?

June 27, 2008

ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Robert Mugabe Runs For President Unopposed.

June 27, 2008

POLICE HARASSING a Belfast blogger?

June 27, 2008

YOU WON! NOW WHAT? I’ve got a column on the Heller decision in today’s Post.

June 27, 2008

SANDY LEVINSON: Some Preliminary Reflections on Heller. ” What is especially ironic is that the strongest support for Scalia’s position comes from acknowledging that the Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, has been ‘dynamically’ interpreted and has taken on some quite different meanings from those it originally had. Whatever might have been the case in 1787 with regard the linkage of guns to service in militias—and the historical record is far more mixed on this point than either Scalia or Stevens is willing to acknowledge—there can be almost no doubt that by the mid-19th century, an individual right to bear arms was widely accepted as a basic attribute of American citizenship. One of the reasons that the Court in Dred Scott denied that blacks could be citizens was precisely that Chief Justice Taney recognized that citizens could carry guns, and it was basically unthinkable that blacks could do so.”

June 27, 2008

LONDON TIMES: Cheer up. We’re winning this War on Terror.

And yet the evidence is now overwhelming that on all fronts, despite inevitable losses from time to time, it is we who are advancing and the enemy who is in retreat. The current mood on both sides of the Atlantic, in fact, represents a kind of curious inversion of the great French soldier’s dictum: “Success against the Taleban. Enemy giving way in Iraq. Al-Qaeda on the run. Situation dire. Let’s retreat!”

Since it is remarkable how pervasive this pessimism is, it’s worth recapping what has been achieved in the past few years.

Read the whole thing.

June 27, 2008

IS THE AXIS OF EVIL DOWN TO ONE? “In a gesture demonstrating its commitment to halt its nuclear weapons program, North Korea blew up the most visible symbol of its plutonium production Friday, South Korean media reported from the site. The 60-foot cooling tower at the North’s main nuclear power plant was demolished on Friday, as promised by the North Korean government. The collapse of the concrete structure, the most conspicuous part of the nuclear complex at Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, bore witness to the incremental progress that has been made in American-led multilateral efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.”

June 27, 2008

I’VE SAID BEFORE THAT BOBBY JINDAL ISN’T READY to run on a national ticket. Here’s some supporting evidence.

June 27, 2008

MORE ON HELLER: “WASHINGTON will become a safer place to live and work, thanks to yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling against DC’s absolute ban on handguns. The court ruled that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms is an individual right, striking down one of the nation’s toughest anti-gun laws. As someone who lived in DC when it imposed its ban 32 years ago, I say it’s about time.”

UPDATE: More thoughts from Randy Barnett in the Wall Street Journal. Title: “News Flash: The Constitution Means What It Says.”

June 27, 2008

AT REASON, a panel discussion on Heller, including yours truly along with many more eminent folks.

UPDATE: More reactions here.

June 27, 2008

MEGAN MCARDLE: Guns Are A Feminist Issue: “I’m hardly the first person to make this observation, but I don’t know why it isn’t noted more often: guns are the only weapon that equalizes strength between attacker and attacked. It’s the only time when men’s greater speed, strength, and longer reach make no difference; if you pull the trigger first, you win. This is an enormous social advance.”

June 27, 2008

MICHAEL TOTTEN: How Kosovo Created Its Own Liberal Islam.

June 27, 2008

ILYA SOMIN: Lessons for gun rights supporters from the property-rights experience.

June 26, 2008

WHAT’S COMING POST-HELLER: “On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling, the NRA and other groups prepare to challenge gun laws in California and other states.”

June 26, 2008

TENNESSEE CONGRESSMAN UNDER INVESTIGATION: “Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper is under FBI investigation on charges of unauthorized entrance to a cooperative electric trade group’s website. That is a rather interesting way of gathering information for congressional hearings.”

UPDATE: Note the defenses of Cooper in the comments.

June 26, 2008

JIM LINDGREN ON THE DEATH PENALTY AND CHILD RAPE:

Yet the Court shouldn’t talk about following a “national consensus” on an issue on which in 1997 only 31% of the American public agreed with the Court and 65% of the public opposed the Court’s view. The justices should admit that they follow ELITE opinion, not the views and morality of the ordinary public. If they can’t go that far, they should at least stop preaching to us about a “national consensus” that is little more than a fig leaf for their own (often quite reasonable) policy preferences.

Indeed. Or we should go whole-hog and just start electing Supreme Court Justices. Then they’d actually have the democratic legitimacy they’re claiming with talk of consensus.

June 26, 2008

TOM MAGUIRE: Score one for David Brooks.

June 26, 2008

SAYUNCLE ON HELLER: “5-4 was bit too close for comfort in my opinion. I was figuring on 6-3 or 7-2, honestly. Sure, this quiz was pass/fail but we were only one heart attack away, my friends. I hate to say it but that one reason is why I’ll hold my nose, get good and hammered, and pull the lever for John McCain.”

June 26, 2008

GLENN GREENWALD DISCOVERS SOMETHING ABOUT KEITH OLBERMANN that the rest of us already knew. “Strong and righteous words indeed. But that was five whole months ago, when George Bush was urging enactment of a law with retroactive immunity and a lessening of FISA protections. Now that Barack Obama supports a law that does the same thing — and now that Obama justifies that support by claiming that this bill is necessary to keep us Safe from the Terrorists — everything has changed. . . . What’s much more notable is Olbermann’s full-scale reversal on how he talks about these measures now that Obama — rather than George Bush — supports them.” Do tell. It’s as if Olbermann were some sort of dishonest hack or something.

UPDATE: Don Surber:

It’s the Trotskyites vs. the Stalinists.

Like Olbermann, my money is on Stalinists.

I do believe he’s right about Olbermann.

June 26, 2008

MORE THOUGHTS ON HELLER, from Prof. Mike O’Shea. “The imposition by the U.S. government of a U.K.-style system of sweeping gun bans and prohibitions on armed self-defense is now off the table. Such laws are a violation of the U.S. Constitution.” Actually, they always were.

June 26, 2008

HELPFULLY POINTING DAVID ADDINGTON OUT TO Al Qaeda Terrorists. Reader C.J. Burch emails: “If this isn’t in a Republican television spot pronto the Republicans deserve to be run out of poltics and replaced with a living party.” Don’t hold your breath, C.J.

June 26, 2008

THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG: A lawsuit against Chicago’s gun control ordinance is filed. PDF of complaint here. (Via NewsAlert).

June 26, 2008

MCCLATCHY: Will Obama’s shifting stances undermine his true-blue image?

June 26, 2008

IS YAHOO! manipulating bloggers?

June 26, 2008

JIM LINDGREN: “I have been reading Justice Breyer’s dissent in Heller. I suspect that it may go down in history as one of the strongest arguments AGAINST balancing tests.”

June 26, 2008

GROTESQUE FACTUAL ERRORS IN STEVENS’ HELLER DISSENT: I noted this in an update below, but it deserves its own post. Really, amazingly shoddy work. Did the dissenters — or their clerks — even read the things they cited?

June 26, 2008

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN: Now out in download and DVD. But is this exclusive arrangement a harbinger of things to come?

June 26, 2008

ERIC S. RAYMOND is blogging again.

June 26, 2008

SAYING GOODBYE to the White Lily Flour Company.

June 26, 2008

WHAT WHITE PEOPLE LIKE: Comparing people to Hitler. “Being a truly advanced white person means being able to speak with authority about pretty much any field of conversation- especially politics. In order for white people to streamline the process of knowing everything, all human beings can be neatly filed into one of two categories: People I Agree With, and People Who are Just Like Adolf Hitler.”

June 26, 2008

AN OLYMPIC CRACKDOWN in Beijing.

June 26, 2008

THIS IS CHARMING: “While the subprime mortgage crisis roils the market, a profusion of anti-Semitic rhetoric has exploded against companies like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers Holdings on online message boards maintained by Yahoo.”

June 26, 2008

SPEAKING OF A SUPREME COURT THAT LOOKS LIKE AMERICA, Dahlia Lithwick offers this:

Anybody who believes the current Supreme Court looks like America needs to take a few more trips on a Greyhound bus. All the judges are white and/or old; most are both.

Clarence Thomas is white? Who knew?

UPDATE: Reader Tim Hartley emails:

I’m guessing her original sentence said “All the judges are white or old; most are both.” That’s not only better writing (I thought only engineers used the “and/or” circumlocution) but also correct, depending on whether you require people to be eligible for AARP or Social Security before declaring them old (Justice Thomas turned 60 earlier this week).

If you agree that “and/or” really does mean “one or both”, the second clause is redundant, but that doesn’t make the first any less correct.

Clarence Thomas isn’t “old” by any reasonable definition. He could probably kick my ass, and Barack Obama’s, simultaneously. And I’m just one year older than Barack Obama, who is very, very young and dynamic, according to the press . . . .

Meanwhile, Steve Hartley emails: “Anyone who believes that those riding a Greyhound Bus constitute an accurate representation of America’s demographics is simply an idiot.”

And Ken Wheaton emails, “I don’t know… last time I took a greyhound there were lots of old people on it.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kyle Kveton writes:

Two questions:
1. In Dalia Lithwick’s world, is there only a 13 year difference between young (Sen. Obama is almost 47) and old (60 year old Justice Thomas)?

2. Is the Greyhound bus of which she speaks the same one under which all of Sen. O’s friends, pastors and advisors are thrown?

PS– Please remind Ms. Lithwick we refer to the members of the Supreme Court as Justices, not judges (damn layers of fact checkers must have been out at an Obama rally when her piece went to press).

That would explain it.

June 26, 2008

WAFFLES: Obama backpedals on statement that D.C. gun ban was constitutional. I blame the staff!

June 26, 2008

PURE EXCITEMENT: Marcus Samuelsson Cookware Throwdown.

June 26, 2008

IF WE HAD “A SUPREME COURT THAT LOOKS LIKE AMERICA,” Heller would have been 7-2:

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that a District of Columbia ban on handgun ownership is unconstitutional appears to be solidly in step with public opinion. A clear majority of the U.S. public — 73% — believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. And almost 7 out of 10 Americans are opposed to a law that would make the possession of a handgun illegal, except by the police.

Or at least 6-3. Obviously, we need more diversity on the bench.

June 26, 2008

DAVE KOPEL: The spirit of liberty that animates the Second Amendment has survived today’s narrow decision in D.C. v. Heller.

June 26, 2008

KNOXVILLE: “A great place to do nothing!”

June 26, 2008

ITUNES STANDS UP AGAINST weapons of mass destruction. Maybe this is why the North Koreans caved!

June 26, 2008

SETTING LAND SPEED RECORDS with the British Steam Car.

June 26, 2008

ALAN MORRISON:

Based on a quick reading, the most shocking aspect of Justice Scalia’s opinion is his dismissal of those who read the Court’s 1939 decision in Miller as supporting a militia-related reading of the Second Amendment: “Miller did not hold that and cannot possibly be read to have held that” (p.49) even though many judges and scholars read it precisely that way.

Actually, I think Scalia is on pretty solid ground here, and I’m not sure that most of the people expressing the contrary view have actually read Miller.

UPDATE: Reader Jesse Michael emails:

As someone pointed out on David Hardy’s blog (http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2008/06/stevens_dissent.php), that could extend to the four dissenting Justices themselves.

On page 2 of Stevens’ dissent, when referring to US v Miller and the National Firearms Act, he leads off with:

“Upholding a conviction under that Act, this Court held that…”

Of course, Miller was never convicted and US v. Miller certainly didn’t uphold any convictions. That’s just factually invalid.

How did Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer all miss that when US v Miller is the core precedent that the dissent was based on?

That’s right. Plus an embarrassing mistake about the origins of the National Guard. Amazingly shoddy work.

June 26, 2008

WELL, I WAS WRONG: I was one of many skeptics regarding Bob Levy’s efforts to bring the D.C. gun ban case. I didn’t think an individual-rights Second Amendment majority could be found on the Court yet. I was wrong, and he was right. And I’m glad!

June 26, 2008

I’M SKEPTICAL: “Householders will be warned today to expect five years of higher home energy bills to pay for a green power revolution.” Not that it can’t be done. I just doubt that it can be done by the British government. I hope I’m wrong.

June 26, 2008

POLITICAL INSIDER: Supreme Court Makes Guns a Non-Issue. That’s mostly right. Certainly Obama’s record of strong support for sweeping gun control would hurt him a lot more in a climate where gun owners felt more threatened.

The full opinion, by the way, is here. And some breakout quotes from the opinion here.

UPDATE: What’s going on in D.C.

And Megan McArdle comments:

It’s a little sobering to reflect what this decision might have looked like if Michael Bellesiles’ work hadn’t been so humiliatingly and thoroughly unmasked as a fraud. As it is, the dissenters apparently argue that this is overweening judicial activism, even though everything I know and have read about the crafting of the amendment makes a collective right interpretation pretty untenable.

Plus, much more over at The Volokh Conspiracy, where server problems seem to be under control now.

June 26, 2008

ALAN BOYLE: Black holes for beginners.

June 26, 2008

TOM GOLDSTEIN ON HELLER:

Individuals have a constitutional right to possess a basic firearm (the line drawn is unclear, but does not extend to automatic weapons) and to use it in self-defense. The government can prohibit possession of firearms by, for example, felons and the mentally ill. And it can also regulate the sale of firearms, presumably through background checks.

The opinion leaves open the question whether the Second Amendment is incorporated against the States, but strongly suggests it is. So today’s ruling likely applies equally to State regulation.

I’m just on a quick break. I’ll read the opinion — all 157 pages — and comment later.

UPDATE: Bob Owens notes some less thoughtful commentary.

June 26, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Greg Egan’s long-awaited Incandescence.

And, by the way, a lot of folks wanted to know how I liked S.M. Stirling’s The Scourge of God. I liked it quite a lot — it’s consistent with the earlier Change books, which have all been good — though it’s an intermediate work in the storyline, kind of a Two Towers if you will.

June 26, 2008

leaf.jpg

Knoxville, Tennessee.

June 26, 2008

I’M TEACHING A BAR REVIEW CLASS THIS MORNING, but ScotusBlog will be covering the Supreme Court’s opinions, including the eagerly awaited Heller ruling. Meanwhile, by way of background: Here’s a brief piece on the case I wrote a while ago. And here’s a lengthier Second Amendment primer.

I expect that there will be a lot of discussion over at The Volokh Conspiracy as soon as the opinion is out, too. I’ll add my bit later, when I’m done lecturing on the Tennessee Constitution. Which, by the way, provides many useful insights into how the Second Amendment analysis ought to be done. Did the Supreme Court get things right? We’ll know soon enough! Er, well, you’ll probably know a bit before I do, today. . . .

June 26, 2008

HAVING TROUBLE attracting engineers to military programs? Apparently, the pay’s too low, the timelines are too long, and the bureaucracy is too high.

June 26, 2008

WAY BEYOND ETHANOL: A look at the future of biofuels. “The key to the next generation of biofuels isn’t growing in a field; it’s mutating in a lab. By swapping natural genes in yeast and bacteria for synthetic ones, scientists have tricked the microbes into producing hydrocarbons—creating, in essence, billions of tiny refineries to turn simple sugars into environmentally friendly diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and biocrude.” Bring it on.

June 26, 2008

WHY MARS IS LOPSIDED: “The lopsided shape of Mars may well be a result of a cataclysmic impact of a Pluto-size meteor billions of years ago, three teams of scientists are reporting. That would suggest that the lowlands of Mars’s northern hemisphere are a single gigantic impact crater, the largest crater in the solar system.”

June 26, 2008

SUPPORTING THE TROOPS with an online telethon. Check it out.

June 26, 2008

SHERMAN MCCOY, eat your heart out.