Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Commentary on Marriage Protection Act

Nice set of comments here.  This time it's Congress, rather than the executive branch, overstepping it's authority.  One can only hope that the Supreme Court doesn't decide Article III is worthy of crapping on, as they did the First Amendment.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Funny, from The Onion

In today's Onion:

Garroting Survivors Call For Wire Ban

WASHINGTON, DCâ??The nation's garroting survivors demonstrated outside the Capitol Monday, raising a hoarse but plaintive cry for a nationwide ban on potentially lethal wire. "Every year, dozens of people are severely injured or even killed by garroting," croaked Gerald Michaels, who still bears a necklace of scars from a 1997 telephone-cord-assisted mugging that nearly claimed his life. "This legacy of shame will continue until we eliminate the lethal wires that run through our homes, above our streets, and through our very way of life." Michaels recently accepted a $2 million grant from a coalition of sponsors that included Bluetooth and Cingular Wireless.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Why Vote?

Dr. Paul Hein has a great essay on LewRockwell.com about why voting does no good.  I agree with him, but there is one small flaw in his argument - while not voting make sense from the point of view of the non-voter, it tells the person up for election absolutely nothing.  There is nothing that differentiates the indifferent, apathetic non-voter from the principled non-voter.  Thus, someone who gets 75% of the vote (with a 25% voter turnout, this means 2 of every 10 Americans) claims a mandate for their particular views.

How to resolve this situation?  We need a way to separate lazy people from principled people who don't like thei system or their choices.  One way to do this is an idea I stole from L. Neil Smith, author and libertarian.  The idea comes from one of his books (either The Probability Broach or The American Zone, I've forgotten which one - doesn't matter, buy them both and read them).  The idea is rather simple, and can be ramped up from a grass-roots write-in campaign to deliver a message to true democratic reform.

For every election where there is a person running for an office (i.e. not referendums or initiatives), one additional selection will be added to the list of people running for that office.  That entry will be titled "None of the above are acceptable."  That's it - nothing could be simpler.

If NOTAAA wins a majority of the vote, then the second place finisher gets the office, knowing he failed to appeal to a majority of the voters and, more importantly, having any "mandate" he may have felt taken forcibly away from him.  It also gives local, state, and federal officials a good idea of how many people came out to vote and didn't like their choices, as well as an historical record of

Here's where the ramp-up comes in - at a later point in time, this can be expanded to where, if NOTAAA wins, the office remains unfilled (I like this option, as it cuts down on the size of government).  There are problems here - unfilled seats on the state or federal level may have to be filled by appointment or other method that sidesteps the voting issue, and it does nothing to address the huge pyramid of civil servants who are never elected to office but do all the work. 

So, there you have it - the reason why not to vote, and one reason why I would consider voting again.  It's too late for this election to put NOTAAA on the ballots, but by 2008, I'd like to see this taking off in local elections in my home state, wherever that is at the time.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Kumiai by Mike Rogers

A recent essay called Kumiai by Mike Rogers on lewrockwell.com highlights one of first-level derivatives of my own philosophy of personal responsiblity.  Simply put, I believe I am responsible for my own actions.  My actions can be injurious or beneficial - I try to correct the injury if I can and share the benefits with my neighbors if I can.  Deriving from this is the concept of community, where people working together in local efforts of their own free will can have a larger beneficial effect on the locality as a whole.  Mike's explanation of the Japanese idea of kumiai illustrates this beautifully.  I believe this loss of community in the large urban and suburban centers of America have had a deliterious effect of our national sense of liberty and the wish/need for central government to our rescue.

Minnesota legislators run afoul of Constitution

There's an interesting story on the Minnesota Public Radio site that details efforts to get a concealed carry law passed in Minnesota.  Problem is they tacked the conceal carry bill onto another bill - dealing with a Department of Natural Resources technical bill.  In other words, the two bills in one package are completely and totally unrelated, which seems to run counter to a clause in the Minnesota state Constitution which prohibits it (Article IV, Section 17 states "LAWS TO EMBRACE ONLY ONE SUBJECT. No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.").

I tend to agree here.  State and federal legistatures do this often, group unrelated bills and add riders to other bills in order to get things done, i.e. create more laws.  I'm glad the Minnestoa State Constitution prohibits this, but am disturbed that it continues to happen in the face of a clearly written law.  The article even says that the Minnesota state legislature passes hundreds of bills a year - that's hundreds, if not thousands of new laws for you to deal with.  And the bills aren't particularly useful, IMHO - a bill regulating circusses (wonder if that applies to the state legislature)?

In any case, opponents of the conceal carry law may be doing Minnesota a favor by challenging it in the state's Supreme Court.  While their motives are suspect, their cause may be a good one, getting a ruling that bills need to cover a single subject, as the Minnesota State Constitution says.  It could mean more bills (splitting multi-subject bills into multiple bills), which can mean less of them getting to the legislature and getting passed.  Of course, it could also mean a longer legislative session, more legislators, and more tax dollars to make sure Minnesotan's are protected from circusses and their garbage is properly disposed of.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

As a Connecticut native and a converted collectivist, this essay strikes a chord with me.

The Conversion of a Connecticut Yankee by Norman Patterson: "The Conversion of a Connecticut Yankee"

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Very well done commentary on a recent Supreme Court decision on maximum sentencing.
FindLaw's Writ - Allenbaugh: The Supreme Court's Decision in Blakely v. Washington

Friday, July 02, 2004

OK, there are four posts about this interview - I think the main takeaway from this is the egotism and self-importance of George W. Bush that comes through more in the interview and not in the transcript. Instead of being a citizen of the U.S. answering questions and concerns from an interviewer, he's more of a member of royalty, granting an interview to the peasants. The egotism and consdescension he shows in the interview is disgusting and one of prime reasons.

OK, 'nuff said - Bush has to go, and Kerry's not much better. Start a movement in your state to add a "None of the above are acceptable" choice to ballots. It the only way to tell our elected officials that 75% voter apathy isn't apathy, it's people disgusted with lack of proper choices.
The interview (RealPlayer format).
Here's the transcript of the interview...

Interview of the President by Radio and Television Ireland
Brilliant - the first story on this page recounts an interview between an Irish news correspondent and Bush. Unlike American interviews, this woman pulled no punches and asked ard questions that Bush didn't want to answer.

WORLD VIEWS: Irish journalist riles Bush over Abu Ghraib, missing WMDs; world absorbs the 'shock of decapitation'; Arab analysts dissect Washington's calls for Arab 'reform'; and more.
Interesting editorial on a recent Supreme Court ruling on sentencing guidelines.

Main Line Times