Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Riley update

For those not aware, Riley Dane Trippet is my almost-5-month-old son, and the main reason for the sorry pace of blogging since March - I'm just having way too much fun being a dad!

Anyway, I just posted an amazing 30-second video clip on the Riley Photo Gallery at that the world should see! Kristi is playing with him and he's just laughing and giggling like he's the happiest boy in the world - which of course he is. Go watch it, and check out all the recent photos while you're there. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A night with the Minutemen

Local columnist Gordon Dillow has an excellent column about his trip to the CA-Mexico border with the California Minutemen. Note especially that the Minutemen were actually shot at from unseen parties on the other side of the fence and did not return fire (so much for being "vigilantes", eh?), but were accosted by San Diego County Sheriff's deputies and told that they'd be arrested if they continued to carry their own firearms. Sheesh.

It's certainly becoming more obvious that this kind of effort is helping (Dillow reports that a truckful of illegals and their smuggler were apprehended after being spotted by a Minuteman patrol, and verbal confrontations with people on the other side of the fence, who ostensibly would have come through in pursuit of whatever goals they had, had the watchers not been there).

Monday, July 25, 2005

Redistricting initiative finds unexpected supporter

The San Francisco Chronicle printed an editorial denouncing AG Bill Lockyer's case against the proposition as based entirely on a technicality, and that Prop. 77 has earned its place on the ballot. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

LttE - Prof. Binder wrong on original intent

Submitted to the OC Register on 7/21/2005:

Being a law professor at Chapman, I’m sure Tuesday’s Orange Grove author Denis Binder has a much firmer grasp of constitutional law and theory than I do. However, I think Prof. Binder made a mistake in describing the beliefs of adherents to “original intent”.

It’s disingenuous at best (and inflammatory at worst) to assert that if original intent were followed line by line, “women would not have the vote and a slave would only count as 3/5ths of a person.” Is it Prof. Binder’s belief that originalists ignore the First and Fifth Amendments, as he clearly believes they ignore the Fourteenth and Nineteenth?

Originalists believe just as strongly as anyone else in Article V’s prescribed amendment process, and that Article states clearly that once an amendment is duly ratified by both houses of Congress and 3/4ths of the states, it is considered to be as much a part of the original text as any provision found in the first seven Articles.
UPDATE: Dang, I sent this before I saw a letter had been printed making the same argument - so this one likely won't see print.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Police as protectors?

An interesting take on the deplorable Supreme Court decision Castle Rock v. Gonzales cites a couple of court decisions that make it very clear that law enforcement has no legal or constitutional obligation to protect individual citizens from criminals:

local officials fell back upon a rich history of court decisions that found the police to have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from private individuals. In 1856, the U.S. Supreme Court (South v. Maryland) found that law enforcement officers had no affirmative duty to provide such protection. In 1982 (Bowers v. DeVito), the Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit held, '...there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.'

Later court decisions have concurred.
Yet another argument in opposition to the position of the victim disarmament lobby that individual citizens shouldn't be able to defend themselves with firearms.

LttE - Laffer and Hamilton were on the same page

Submitted to the OC Register on 7/19/2005:

Editorial writer John Seiler is right on the money when he reminds us about the Laffer curve and the positive effects on total tax receipts that lower tax rates tend to have. What I just realized last week is that the underlying principle of it predated Arthur Laffer by hundreds of years. “If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds.” - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #21, 12 December 1787.

Someday the tax-and-spenders and Keynesians (but I repeat myself) will figure out what our Founding Fathers already knew: that government isn’t there just to spend as much money as it can coerce from its subjects, but only to exercise just enough power to secure and safeguard the unalienable rights with which we as humans are endowed.
UPDATE: A slightly edited version (mostly just wordsmithing but also removing my jab at Keynesians - dang!) was printed here on Friday the 22nd.

Rep. Ron Paul on CAFTA

The only consistently pro-freedom and pro-Constitution voice in Congress, Rep. Ron Paul gives us another reason to oppose CAFTA (which isn't about "free trade" at all):

The largely government-run health care establishment, including the nominally private pharmaceutical companies, want government to control the dietary supplement industry – so that only they can manufacture and distribute supplements. If that happens, as it already is happening in Europe, the supplements you now take will be available only by prescription and at a much higher cost – if they are available at all. This alone is sufficient reason for Congress to oppose the unconstitutional, sovereignty-destroying CAFTA bill.

Monday, July 11, 2005

LttE - The true effect of Paycheck Protection

Submitted to the OC Register on 7/11/2005:

Letter-writer Michael Stone makes a false comparison in opposing the Paycheck Protection initiative – Prop. 75 doesn’t address the difference between unions and companies themselves, but the difference between the sources of PAC funding: union members and shareholders.

When corporations make contributions to PACs, the funding they use comes from their shareholders – who can exercise their power of choice to withdraw their support from the company. Each individual shareholder voluntarily chooses whether or not to support the company’s activities.

Unions that have mandatory membership and compulsory dues use their power of compulsion to keep their individual members from having that same choice. Short of quitting their jobs, individual members have no ability to voluntarily extend or withhold their support. Mr. Stone was right in that corporations’ political influence would remain the same – what he’s missing out on is that Prop. 75 would level the playing field by giving union members the same power of choice as corporate shareholders.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

LttE - No legal sense

Submitted to the OC Register on 7/6/2005:

Letter-writer James T. Hamilton is a professor of medicine and as such makes some very intelligent arguments about the effects of marijuana. He falls short though, in claiming that the legal justifications of the Raich decision were right on the money.

It’s interesting to see how far we’ve drifted from where we were in 1919, when it was obvious to anyone and everyone that the federal government had no Constitutional power to ban possession of anything. The only way it could was the 18th Amendment, which took 13 long months to ratify, and required the acquiescence of the legislatures of 3/4ths of the states to go into effect. Contrast that with 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed – it was passed by Congress and signed by the President, but the state legislatures had nothing to say about it.

What changed in the intervening decades that gave the federal government the power to do unilaterally in 1970 what it admitted it couldn’t do without the approval of the states in 1919? That’s the question that must be answered by those who defend the Raich decision.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Open letter to our federal overlords - er, rulers - er, officials

GeekWithA.45 penned a great open letter yesterday that very lucidly described what we who love liberty expect from them. The whole thing deserves a read, but it can be distilled down to these two magnificent sections, described in engineering-speak as the "is" condition and the "should be" condition:

In truth, it is reasonable to argue that we currently live in a constitutionally inverted situation. The limits of the powers of government cannot be readily discerned, but the individual rights it purports to protect are squeezed into so many unnatural provisos and caveats that they may no longer be simply relied upon.
Considerations of petty partisan agenda, and even the pressing needs of our current war must all be held as subordinate to the central question as to whether this government shall entirely abide in the plain terms of its founding charter or not.

The current and coming vacancies in the Supreme Court provide us with both the means and the opportunity to remedy the situation, and to meaningfully demonstrate to the American people your commitment to upholding the plain meaning of the Constitution above any issue or party.
Outstanding words.

SCOTUS litmus tests, circa 1993

Byron York, writing on NRO's Corner, points out something interesting to keep in mind when Senators (of either party) start talking about applying litmus tests to SCOTUS nominees: that as recently as 1993 during Ginsburg's confirmation, it was SOP that it just didn't happen.

Republicans also chose not to oppose Ginsburg even though she refused to answer dozens of questions during her confirmation hearings. Among others, she declined to give her views on Roe v. Wade, on the Second Amendment, on the death penalty, on the Voting Rights Act, on race-based congressional redistricting, and on adoption rights for gay couples, among many other issues. At one point in her hearings, Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond told her, "In preparing these questions or any others I may propound during the hearings, if you feel they are inappropriate to answer, will you speak out and say so." On another occasion, Thurmond said, "I will not press you to answer any that you feel are inappropriate."

The Democrats agreed:

Then-chairman Sen. Joseph Biden told Ginsburg, "You not only have a right to choose what you will answer and not answer, but in my view you should not answer a question of what your view will be on an issue that clearly is going to come before the court in 50 forms probably, over your tenure on the court."
Let's hope today's Senators (again, of both parties) keep that in mind this summer, and focus their deliberations on a nominee's relationship to the law and their willingness to apply it faithfully regardless of personal views and preferences, rather than on those views and preferences themselves.

How to save Social Security

The Heritage Foundation points out an opinion piece in the Grand Forks Herald that posits an interesting way to save Social Security and explains how to fully fund the program through its coming revenue deficits, without raising taxes or reducing benefits: use the rest of the federal budget instead!

In the first year of Social Security's cash deficit - 2017 - the shortfall is estimated at $8.8 billion. Using the current cost of government programs, we'd have enough money to make up this shortfall if we eliminated funding for Head Start, the Labor Department's five worker protection programs and the Supreme Court.

By the following year, 2018, the shortfall triples to $26.4 billion. So, added to the first round of cuts, we'd have enough if Congress also eliminated the entire Environmental Protection Agency, the WIC or women, infants and children nutritional program, the National Park Service and the Federal Drug Administration.

In the third year, Congress could make up the additional deficit by also eliminating the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and the State Department.

Within three more years, in the year 2022, the annual shortfall will be over $100 billion. This represents additional cuts comparable in size to the National Institutes of Health, the FAA, and $12 billion in Title I education grants to local agencies.
I think I'll shop this idea around to some of my uber-Republican friends to see what kind of response it generates.