Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

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

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Myths of gun control and of the origin of gun rights

I'm unsurprised that a column of this caliber came from John Stossel, and encouraged that this pro-freedom stalwart holds a position in the mainstream media as co-anchor of CBS's 20/20. Now if they'll just let him do a show based on this column, we just might get somewhere...


The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.
What's the special risk? As Alex Kozinski, a federal appeals judge and an immigrant from Eastern Europe, warned in 2003, "the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.

"The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do," Judge Kozinski noted. "But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."

Monday, October 17, 2005

LttE - Why do we still have unions?

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 17 October 2005:

Letter-writer Bob Tucker praises unions for giving us "the eight-hour day, workplace health benefits, family leave, retirement benefits and a living wage." This just begs the question, though - with all of these things either codified into law or universally accepted by employers and employees alike, just what function are unions still serving today?

UPDATE: Printed on Wednesday 19 October 2005

It's a lock - Prop. 75 is good to go

This just in: the Left Angeles Times interestingly argues that its opposition of 1998's paycheck-protecting Proposition 226 in no way conflicts with its support of this year's Proposition 75. The editorial board says that the narrowing of the prop's focus to only public employee unions is the clincher, and makes perfect sense.


The Greatest Game Ever Played

This, dear readers, is why I find myself respecting Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis more every day:
At exactly 7:15 p.m., Weis took several steps into the Trojans locker room and offered his congratulations.

"That was a hard-fought [bleeping] battle," said Weis, as the USC players shushed each other to hear the Notre Dame coach. "I just want to wish you good luck the rest of the way. I hope you win out."
He also, in the postgame press conference, refused to place any blame on the officials for the situation of the last play, when the clock appeared to run out but the officials ruled on the field that Leinart had fumbled it out of bounds, which should have stopped the clock at :07. What a complete and total class act. I hope that guy coaches ND for 20 years.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Debating Prop. 75 over at OC Blog

I've put some effort the last few days into arguing logically and rationally for the passage of Prop. 75 to restrict public employee unions from taking union members' dues for political purposes without permission. I admit I'm kinda proud of the arguments I've used to support my position and the calm, rational way in which I've presented them (thanks, Dad!), and feel like saving them here for my once-in-a-great-while readers to see. Enjoy!

In chronological order starting on Monday this week, there's Window Into Public Employee Unions, then Propositions Polling Ahead!, and More On Polling.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bad news from GWB's tax reform panel

Apparently, the panel of geniuses put together by our esteemed Republican president has decided not to make any case for, not even suggest the possibility of or even say, "it would be nice to do this, if someone could only figure out a way to make it work", any major reform of the tax code. No flat tax, no FairTax, no VAT, no national sales tax replacing the vile progressive income tax, nothing. Instead, they found all kinds of ways to squeeze just a little more revenue juice from the already-oversqueezed American taxpayer by reducing deductions for home mortgage interest and premiums for employer-financed health insurance.

Translation: we're so hooked on the revenue from the even more vile AMT that we can't get rid of it without raising taxes on everyone who doesn't already fall under its boot heel.

Here's an idea - how about reducing spending by something more than a trifle? First, DeLay and Hastert go on and on about how the decade-long GOP majority has cut spending pretty successfully (HA!) and that there's little to no fat left to trim (they did both read and sign the transportation bill, didn't they?), and now this? This is what we've brought all these Republicans to Washington for? To hear them say there's no more money to save and that they're going to take even more from us 'cause they can't figure out how to make the tax system simpler? Sheesh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Good news for CA's Special Election

The latest polls, sponsored not by any of the interested campaigns but by California TV stations, have all 4 planks of the Governator's reform agenda significantly positive. While it appears that some of the results might appear to be huge unexplainable swings away from prior polls, possibly indicating errors in the polling, consider that the surveyor, SurveyUSA, was the second-most accurate pollster in 2004 statewide contests (.xls file). Also consider that a recent study from San Jose State's Survey and Policy Institute resulted in the interesting conclusion that while most people voice disapproval for Schwarzenegger and don't want him reelected, a 49%-40% plurality want him to succeed (PDF) (hat tip Dan Weintraub). My admittedly amateur read? People are buying into the spiteful ads they're seeing on TV that the Governator is a bad, bad man, but have learned enough about the Propositions in his reform agenda that they recognize they make sense and want reform to happen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miers, Bush, and ... Charlie Weis???

First, let me get this part out of the way: I don't know enough about Harriet Miers to have an opinion on whether she'll be a great judge who will bring an originalist interpretation to the SCOTUS or the complete opposite. So in that respect, I don't oppose the nomination. But I do know enough about Janice Rogers Brown to know that she absolutely would have brought that interpretation to the Court, so in that respect, I'm a little disappointed.

A few of the more common points being made regarding this nomination are (from those who are disappointed) that we should have gotten the Scalia/Thomas disciple like the President said he would appoint and (from those who trust the President and his nomination) that with the President's back against the wall with low approval ratings due to Iraq, Katrina/FEMA/Mike Brown, etc. this was the best (read: pragmatic) nominee we could hope for without a protracted, potentially damaging knock-down drag-out confirmation fight and we should just trust him that he knows what he's doing. National Review's Jonah Goldberg made a stellar point today (and I'm sure others have made it but they've been lost in the landslide of op-eds and blog posts the last few days):
But President Bush has put himself in the awkward position of asking his base to trust him at precisely the moment the base was expecting Bush to demonstrate their trust was well-founded in the first place.
What in the world does this have to do with Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, you say? Simple. Charlie Weis also made a promise, to someone who would have trusted him with their own life and happiness. He promised a dying 10-year-old ND fan that he'd run Joe Montana's pass play on the first offensive play two Saturdays ago. He also found himself with his back to the wall, where keeping his promise meant risking changing a very bad situation into a potentially very damaging one. His team was on their own 1-yard-line, a situation you never pass from, especially on first down. The difference is, where Coach Weis said, "Damn the torpedoes, we're keeping our promise come hell or high water," the President essentially said, "Trust me, even though it looks like I'm breaking my word."

Now it may turn out that Miers will turn out to be a justice in the Scalia/Thomas mold, and say what you will about the difference in stakes between a football game and a SCOTUS nomination (Luke 16:10 comes to mind here) but at this point in time it's very easy to see the practical effect of the two different responses: Weis's fanbase was energized, and he gained newfound respect from loads of people outside of his normal channels of influence, while Bush's base is disillusioned and disappointed, some even vocally railing against him.

Monday, October 03, 2005

LttE - Tenure vs. competition

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 3 October 2005:
Writing about teacher tenure, Chris Dornbush asks, “what other professionals go through this eggshell period each time they move or want a better opportunity?” He’s actually complaining that he has to wait five long years before he magically secures lifetime employment, seemingly revocable only in the case of a criminal conviction.

I’ve got news for everyone who’s never held a non-government job: everyone goes through that eggshell period, and the eggshell period never ends. It starts with an interview where you have to convince someone that you’re the best choice for the job, but it doesn’t end there – you have to continue convincing them, year after year, that you’re still the best choice, or you might get replaced. It might seem harsh if you’ve never experienced it, but this mechanism of competition is exactly what has made America the economic dynamo that it is – and its addition would improve the quality of our schools like no other measure can.