Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lean times at Wisdom and Liberty

Wow, a week without posting to your blog can really hurt your readership! Well, to tell the truth I haven't had much time to blog lately - or rather, I've re-prioritized my activities - and I think I've got a really good reason. My wife Kristi and I just this past Friday the 11th welcomed to the Trippet family our first child! Everyone, say hello to Riley Dane Trippet. Riley, say hello to everyone.

So I'm taking some time off work to get to know this wonderful little gift from God (and help his dear mother heal up from the ordeal), and with that time off comes responsibilities that outweigh whatever small value I was adding to the blogging world. It felt good every time I saw my blog linked from somewhere else; I got all excited and said, "Wow, Bruce Bethke/Matt Welch/the guys at OC Blog/insert your name here) read my blog!" So I'll go on believing that what I had to write was at least interesting to a few people here and there, if not the breaker of huge news stories like Powerline or the thoughtful purveyor of wisdom for writers like the Original Cyberpunk.

That said, I'm sure I'll start blogging again at some point, when the new family has developed a routine and rhythm that allows it, and when the mood strikes me. Thanks to all for dropping by, and feel free to subscribe to my site feed so you won't miss it when I come back on the air!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Minimum wage amendments defeated

Good news, reports the Heritage Foundation:
Sponsors of the bankruptcy reform bill in the Senate managed yesterday to fight off two competing amendments to the bill that would have raised the minimum wage.

We were pleased to read these words, spoken prior to the vote by Senator Rick Santorum, whose minimum-wage amendment was intended as a less-costly alternative to the one sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy: "I hope, candidly, that we don't pass either one of these at this time..."

While unattractive for its raising of the minimum wage--always a mistake, in our view--the Santorum amendment did contain other provisions, particularly regarding flex time and other regulatory matters, that warrant consideration on their own merits.
I'm glad that these both were defeated, but I'm still disgusted at how convoluted the legislative process has become - not only do we try to attach minimum wage amendments to a bankruptcy bill that has nothing to do with minimum wage, but there are provisions of the minimum wage amendment that have nothing to do with the minimum wage! I'm being daily bombarded with the feeling that there's just nothing to be done about the state our government is in, and the best path to take is to just let it collapse of its own gargantuan weight - and it's getting harder and harder to resist that very urge, no matter what else I read of the founders and their principles and aspirations for this great country.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The art of brevity

Tustin's Henry DeVusser submitted a letter to the Register today (the very last one, bottom of the page) that sums up in one brilliant sentence the bafflement Social Security reform advocates feel when confronted with the wailings of the opponents of personal accounts:
To all of those who continue to bash President George W. Bush and his plan for Social Security reform: Can you spell 'voluntary'?
Classic - I hope this one letter makes more of an impact than any other longer-winded letter or commentary column (ahem) has to date.

More on libertarians & conservatives - the "marriage or divorce" debate

The American Conservative weighs in with two articles in the latest edition, Marxism of the Right by Robert Locke, and In Defense of Freedom by Daniel McCarthy. I haven't read them both yet (gotta get some real work done this morning!), but certainly will, and will post back with my thoughts if they seem poignant enough. Reason's Tim Cavanaugh comments on the two on Hit & Run.

More on bloggers' & journalists' 1st Amendment protections

Dan Fost of the SF Chronicle has a great column today detailing the questions being pondered these days as a Superior Court Judge has issued a preliminary ruling that three bloggers will have to divulge their sources after being sued by Apple. Fost quotes industry people, bloggers, and political activists as he tries to get to the bottom of what's going to happen as a result of this preliminary ruling and the rest of the case as it proceeds to trial and beyond. This is going to be an interesting case, no doubt, and I hope the courts will be able to keep separate the question of whether or not those bloggers were trafficking in Apple's proprietary intellectual property (which, IMO, would be a punishable offense and worthy of forcing those bloggers to divulge their sources) and the question of whether or not the same protections that the media enjoys should apply to generic citizen-bloggers also. I don't think I'm alone in fervently hoping that the courts will be able to navigate the morass of public opinion and find an outcome favorable to freedom while protecting property rights (including IP). I'm working on a piece right now looking at the principle of 1st Amendment protections that are enjoyed by citizens and legislative protections enjoyed by the media ("press shield" laws), and the extent to which both brands of protections should be protected by all, rather than differentiate between average citizens and the media at large. More to come on that as I finish it.

OC gun-rights advocate sets her sights on advocacy

Yeah, that's right, I said "her" sights. Claremont's Local Liberty blog alerted me to a story in the Register I missed on Saturday detailing a 44-year-old mortgage broker's experience as a rape victim and her exemplary rising up out of victimhood to take responsibility for her own safety by becoming proficient in the use of a firearm for self-defense. In case anyone was ever bothered by my referral to "gun control" as victim disarmament, note especially this part:
Just two days before she was raped, Courtney visited a gun store.

She had become fearful of showing houses in remote areas - a fear fueled by childhood memories of a movie about a real-estate agent getting raped and killed.

"I honestly thought you could just go in and buy a gun," said Courtney, who was surprised to learn about a 10-day waiting period. She did not buy a gun that day because of a required test on firearms safety.

On April 8, 2000, just before closing time at 5 p.m., a parolee and twice-convicted rapist, Douglas Lee Hopper, walked into Carbon Creek Realty in Brea and schmoozed with employees. Soon everyone left except Courtney.
That's right. A "gun control" law that was passed ostensibly for the purpose of controlling criminals' access to guns (its effect is debatable, given the black market that is available to criminals) had as an unintended consequence the disarming of a victim. A case could be made, more strongly in this case than any hypothetical, that she was raped because the law requiring waiting periods was passed. This is a huge reason why victim disarmament legislation very seldom has a positive effect and in fact most of the time has a negative effect. Ms. Courtney now is a strong and active advocate of strengthening Megan's Law, enacting a Victim's Bill of Rights, and making it easier for citizens of Kalifornia to obtain concealed carry permits. I wish her all the best, and when time permits (first baby on the way and all) I'd love to be a part of the organized effort in OC and the rest of CA - but in this liberal wasteland of a state, where Democrats have a stranglehold on both houses of the legislature and we keep sending Herrs Feinstein and Boxer to the U.S. Senate, it doesn't look good.

Monday, March 07, 2005

"The Joy of Federalism"

I've mentioned it here a few times (readers who have taken the time to read every post will remember that I started this humble blog by posting a letter on the subject to the editor of my local paper, the Orange County Register), and finally the bigtime columnists are picking it up. Franklin Foer penned an essay for the book review section of the NY Times, detailing the historical states-rights federalist position of the Democratic party and the long-standing internal debate on the subject between Herbert Croly and Louis Brandeis. There's also an article in Sunday's OC Register by Steve Chapman, a Chicago Tribune columnist (it's not on the Register's website, but it was run by the Tribune the Sunday before). Points are being made all over the place that now that the GOP has asserted total control over the running of the federal government, Democrats are embracing federalism and Republicans have decided - after decades of railing against centralized government intrusion and talking about abolishing the Dept. of Education and the FCC - that maybe it's not so bad that the federal government has its fingers in so many pies. It should be obvious where I stand on the issue, and it's certainly not under a banner with either of those capitalized proper nouns emblazoned on it, but rather - if need be, if I'm the only one left - in a camp of one that believes limited government and federalism is as necessary now as it was in 1789.

Update: Reason's Matt Welch gets in on it also.

Friday, March 04, 2005

For those who think the 2nd Amendment applies only to hunting and sporting

Self-defense with a firearm, despite the gun-grabbers' most vociferous wailings, isn't just about those they call "vigilantes" taking the law into their own hands and "gunning down" people they think are criminals. It's also about defending yourself against whatever comes your way. In case you don't feel like clicking through to the article - two chimpanzees attacked a 64-year-old man, removing his nose, one eye (yep, right out of its socket) and a foot before being shot by a private citizen with a gun. I'm sure this side of the issue won't be covered by the press or talked about by many people, but there it is all the same. I'd sure rather have the ability to carry a loaded .45 with me when I'm in a place that might occasion violence to my wife and baby boy, be it an animal sanctuary, trails through Orange County's back country (remember the recent mountain lion attacks), or the shady slums of Santa Ana and Costa Mesa - but Dianne Feinstein only believes those like her should be able to have that level of security.

Neal Boortz on Martha Stewart

Libertarian talk radio host Neal Boortz has this to say about the state of celebrity-worship in America:
This woman is a felon. She committed a crime. She lied to federal prosecutors! Now she's our de-facto Queen! Talking faces on the news this morning were telling us that she looked very relaxed! Very casual! She was waving and smiling! She has such enormous energy. Grinning, fawning anchors.

This is sick! This is the American celebrity-worship culture taken to the extreme! None of this is going to make any difference in the lives of any of you, yet you would think that Martha had just discovered a cure for cancer judging from the television coverage.
Here's my email response to him:
Hi Neal - daily reader of the Nuze here. I abhor the celebrity-worship that's taken over this country as much as you do, but I really must point out a point of disagreement from today's Nuze:
"This woman is a felon. She committed a crime. She lied to federal prosecutors!"
I agree she was convicted by a jury in a federal court, and therefore is a felon. However, that's where the agreement ends. What crime did she commit? She lied to federal prosecutors about something she did that may or may not have been criminal (what makes a given trading action constitute "insider trading" is debatable and handled pretty much on a case-by-case basis), and we'll never know if it was criminal because those same prosecutors never felt confident enough about it to charge or try her for it. So in essence she lied about a crime she didn't commit. If I find my nearest federal prosecutor and tell him I've killed the family next door to me when in fact they're still alive, can I be convicted in federal court for lying to federal prosecutors? I certainly hope not, or how far has this great experiment we call America fallen.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Shocking ideological hypocrisy in IL gun control advocate

I really wanted to blog about this yesterday, but was just too busy at work.

A strident advocate for victim disarmament -- I mean, gun control -- has been arrested for possessing drugs and an illegal handgun:
The president of the Springfield, Ill., chapter of the Million Mom March faces charges of having drugs and an illegal handgun in her home. Press reports said the gun's serial number had been scratched off.

Annette Stevens became a gun control activist after her son was shot to death several years ago. She told a newspaper the gun belonged to her late son, and when she found it, she didn't know what to do with it, so she put it in a drawer.

Police reportedly found the gun and illegal drugs while executing a search warrant at Stevens' home in connection with a spate of drive-by shootings in the area.
This is deliciously ironic, in the same vein of vicious anti-gun CA Senator Dianne Feinstein holding one of the very, very few concealed weapons permits ever issued in that haven of disarmed victims, Washington, D.C., and anti-gun bombast-spewer Michael Moore's bodyguards holding concealed weapons permits in three different states and being arrested while carrying in a fourth (NY). I hope (probably in vain) that the mainstream media picks this up and is at least grudgingly honest about it.

McCain-Feingold to apply to Internet

Remember those freedom-loving folks who decried the passage and presidential approval of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, AKA McCain-Feingold, Rep. Ron Paul among them? Well, when it was passed the FEC had determined that it didn't apply to Internet communications like email and websites, but U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly just ruled that it must. What that means, according to FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith is that just about every use of the internet that advocates a political message - emails, links on websites, even blog entries that could be meant as little more than idle conversation - may be subject to regulation by government officials and painstaking valuations to determine culpability. Do we really need to force Joe Blogger who posts an original opinion piece on to calculate the percentage of his computer equipment costs, electricity, and web hosting fees contributed to his political advocacy? This is a ridiculous development, and one that needs to be shouted down by the free folk of the nation.

UPDATE: a preliminary ruling by a CA county Superior Court judge says that bloggers are not protected by the First Amendment and shield laws that protect journalists from having to divulge their sources. It's not looking good for the home team.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Federal court reminds government that this "enemy combatant" is a citizen

Good news from a federal court today: a federal judge has ruled that the Department of Justice must either charge Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen classified as an "enemy combatant" (though he was arrested on U.S. soil rather than a foreign battlefield like Yaser Hamdi and John Walker Lindh) and held for the last 2 1/2 years, with a crime or release him. I'm all for defending this country from terrorists, but making the government own up to having incarcerated this man, a U.S. citizen, for 2 1/2 years is a good thing. While it can be argued that Constitutional protection of the rights to due process, speedy trials, habeas corpus, etc. may or may not apply equally to non-citizens, there can be no question that those rights are specifically protected for U.S. citizen (did I mention that Jose Padilla is a citizen?), and the government should be held to act accordingly. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court actually takes a stand on this case, given that the most recent ruling was by a federal court in South Carolina - the Supremes sidestepped the case the first time a federal court ordered Padilla to be charged and released when they avoided agreeing or disagreeing with the federal court in saying that Padilla should have pursued his appeal in South Carolina (where Padilla is being held) instead of New York (silly me in thinking that a federal court was a federal court, no matter what state the judges meet in).