comment on Category MistakesCan i purchase bactroban without script medicine saturday...
Posted 3 days ago
comment on Norah Vincent on Being a ManAloha! ...
Posted 4 days ago
comment on Pardon the Interruptione-mail: ...
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
Here is a link to an mp3 of Judge Napolitano speaking at the Von Mises Institute's 25th Anniversary Celebration. He offers a short history of attacks on our civil liberties by the Adams, Lincoln, and Roosevelt administrations, and then explains what President Bush has done. This goes beyond the Patriot Act. He explains how the administration has signed into law the ability of the federal government to write their own search warrants, without a judge, to go into any financial institution and get information. This violates the Fourth Amendment. Further, through the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 it has redefined 'financial institution' so that it includes hotels, casinos, car dealers, jewelry stores, real estate offices, insurance agents, lawyers, bodegas, kiosks in a mall where you would buy a magazine or where you would wire money, and the post office. (This law was signed the day they found Saddam Hussein so that nobody would notice its passage. It passed unanimously in the Senate, and by 410-9. Ron Paul was one of the nine who voted no.) Further, people who have had such searches done are not allowed to speak of it.
To this point, no convictions of terrorism have resulted from The Patriot Act. But many other convictions have resulted for other things. In the past, when administrations overreached the Constitution for security reasons, they at least wrote the laws to ensure that such laws would ONLY be used for security purposes. Not now.
Note: I'm still fact-checking on this one. The difficulty is, where the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 changes the definition of "financial institution," it refers to terminology in other laws, which is itself difficult to understand in those other laws. It takes a lawyer to untangle this. I must trust Judge Napolitano, here. I also have to say that the members of Congress who did vote for this were likely themselves not aware of what they were voting for, if Napolitano's interpretation is right. The implications of this bill are far from transparent. But I am thankful that someone like Ron Paul is suspicious of such bills.
11:01 am Pacific Standard Time
Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
There is much about my area that I am not happy with. I would love a place where that had a snowy winter. I would love a place where people read more. But there are many things I like about where I live. I just got a book I had ordered called Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Dougherty. The back of the book has a quote that reminds me of one reason I love my area: we have a newspaper with a great history. If some of my fellow conservative bloggers imagine my libertarianism is out of step with the mainstream of the country, I can say that it is not so out of step with the mainstream of my county and its illustrious history. Anyway, here's the quote:
If Orange County Register publisher R.C. Hoiles hated anything worse than unions, it was public schools...He preferred whorehouses, which, he'd point out, were voluntary, while public schools were not: 'As long as the government...forces us through a twelve-year indoctrination...forcing our parents and everyone else to pay for it, how can American kids grow up to understand the true meaning of our Declaration of Independence or Constitution?'
The Register has drifted leftward, but the Opinion section is again staunchly libertarian. I once temped in the offices of the Register, and was in awe. I was told that the office itself was run in libertarian fashion. They didn't care how their people worked so long as the results were good. I believed this when I walked into one woman's office. It was stacked over a foot high in magazines. No, not the neat stacks you're imagining, but more a lump that was tall in the center and short on the edges, off of which an avalanche was to begin any moment. She was a brilliant conversationalist over lunch, however, which we took at a local Chinese restaurant.
The columnists in the Opinion section can be found not only at Townhall.com, which one might expect from another conservative paper, but also at LewRockwell.com, home of the radical right. I hope that my readers know that by radical right I mean libertarian right, not fascism. The idiot neocons represent that pretty well.
1:30 pm Pacific Standard Time
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
Over at The League of the Scarlett Pimpernel, there is a discussion of The Declaration of Abroath, a Scottish document that is important as a source for ideas found in the Declaration of Independence. Scarlet Pimpernel quotes the following:
Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule.
It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
Good stuff. Full text can be found here. An article with a picture of the document can be found here. It is wonderful to see limits being placed upon the king. He is not given his powers for whatever purpose he may see fit, and he is given to know that if he should use his powers for evil, he will be abandoned.
While I do not hold to all of Contract Theory, that is, that what makes our government legitimate is that we all consented to it, this kind of document does refute one of the arguments I often hear arrayed against Contract Theory. People often say, "Well, the problem with the theory is that there was no social contract. It's all theoretical." This looks like a pretty good contract to me. So does Magna Carta. So do the Articles of Confederation. There may be further questions to ask. For example, how past generations can bind their posterity. But the idea of a contract was not an eighteenth century invention. The Declaration of Abroath comes from 1320.
11:12 pm Pacific Standard Time
Sunday, October 21st, 2007
What are my readers' favorite browsable books?
I love books that convey a sense of vastness. As a child, I really loved a book called Great Big Schoolhouse by Richard Scarry. There were pages and pages of drawings and text. As I grew older, I may have gravitated towards other books, but I still recognize the same sense when I pick up certain books.
Schott's Original Miscellany by Ben Schott was a recent book that I fell into. In Schott's you can discover how to tie a bow tie, a list of Time Magazine's Persons of the Year, that Jules Verne had a dog named Satellite, a schematic of Dante's Inferno, famous last words of Dylan Thomas "I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's a record," and Oscar Wilde "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do," and any number of other miscellaneous facts. From it I discovered that several street names in Laguna Beach, California were named after the muses.
Murder Ink was more focused, but was sort of a miscellany of mystery books. You could find out all sorts of things about different authors, different ways to murder people, and different cryptography systems. Great for a rainy day.
What Luther Says edited by Plass is commendable for its vastness. Being a bit too lazy to pick such a heavy book off the shelf, I find myself pulled towards Luther's Tabletalk, from the American Edition of Luther's Works. My favorite entry is about the dog who was Lutheran.
The Life of Samuel Johnson by Boswell is also very browsable. I once tried to read the thing through. I failed. But I was comforted by the fact that Johnson himself Boswell once asked Dr. Johnson if he had read such and such a book. Johnson replied that he had "read in it." "In it?" asked Boswell. "You didn't read it through?" Johnson retorted, practically roared, "No sir, do you read books through?" Besides, what had originally drawn me to the book was the lively conversation between the men, not all the dull stuff that came in between. I have found much greater enjoyment pulling the book off the shelf now and then and randomly searching for gems.
Generations: The History of America's Future by Strauss and Howe has a section for each generation from 1584 to 2069. Representative people from each generation are listed. As are distinguishing characteristics. Strauss and Howe have claimed to find some overall cycles, so that my generation, Generation X, or in their parlance, Thirteenth, has similarities to the Lost Generation of Ernest Hemingway, and further back to the Liberty generation. The Liberty Generation itself was said to be reactive to the generation of the Great Awakening, whose spirituality got people too busy focusing on themselves to care for their kids, according to the authors. Likewise, Thirteenth Generation youth were conservatives, like Michael J. Fox, reacting to the excesses of their Boomer parents. (Though my own are Silent Generation age.)
Finally, I must list my Companion Bible edited by Bullinger. (No, not Heinrich the Swiss Reformer, but E.W. the dispensationalist Anglican.) This book has 198 Appendices, which can be found here. You can find charts of Bishop Ussher's chronology, chiastic structures, figures of speech, and any number of other interesting things. This is a King James Bible, and I appreciate the fact that the translation puts words that were added to smooth the reading that were not in the original language in italics, so you can get a sense of what was or was not in the original. I remember once having an argument over a verse where a friend put special emphasis on the words at the end of a verse, only to find that there were no such words in the Greek. Perhaps the Greek noun being described did convey such an idea, but I like to know whether the original words insist on this or not.
What books keep you browsing?
8:01 pm Pacific Standard Time
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
I was looking at Henry Melchior Muhlenberg's Journals again today. I ran into the following entry from June 17, 1764:
I was obliged to make public mention of [the lack of discipline among the youth] in church today, as the deacons had complained that they had told several boys to be quiet and not disturb the others during catechization, an the impudent rascals had clenched their fists at them and poured out English curses such as "Go to h..l!" "You son of a b..ch!" "God d..mn you!" etc. And what is more, they said that their parents would protect them against the deacons, etc. I gave the parents to understand that if they were going to strengthen their children in such wickedness, we would be compelled to resort to the law of the land and have them forceably ejected from public worship or, following our Saviour's example, we would make a scourge of cords and drive out such godless boys from the bethel, the temple, and the house of prayer in order that there might be quiet for the rest.
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman translated and edited by T.G. Tappert and J.W. Dobenstein (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1959)
Interesting stuff. I am mildly surprised that the children were using the same language almost two and a half centuries ago. But what seems so contemporary is that they believed their parents would support them. That almost links Muhlenberg's time more closely with our own than the years in which I grew up. Even where rudeness was common, this kind of open defiance was not. Children were sometimes insolent, but generally they did not expect their parents to back them up. Knowing that, the teachers were actually successful in teaching some manners.
I think the chief difference though, between Muhlenberg's age and ours is that he thought that bringing in the power of the state was an option. In another journal entry (September 17, 1776), Muhlenberg mentioned speaking to Benjamin Franklin about investigating the new status of the churches under the newly formed state. The Articles of Confederation did not seem to guarantee the churches the same privileges they had had under British rule. I think a case could be made that pastors received greater respect between Muhlenberg's age and our own, and that they did so at a time when the state was not the chief means of maintaining civility. As we fall back towards barbarism, people's memory of how order was once maintained slackens, and they imagine that a taser is the first means of keeping an orderly crowd. I'm kind of happy Muhlenberg didn't have access to such methods. He was probably more successful by appealing to the parents as he did. I don't think it was the threats that won the day, but his firmness and openness about the unacceptability of the situation.
That said, I hope those young brats felt ashamed for how they acted. I would like to think that they had misjudged their parents (I remember friends doing that!), and that their defiance would have been been met with parental sternness even without Muhlenberg having to make a case.
1:04 pm Pacific Standard Time