Sunday, February 27, 2005

Steyn stuffs the overwrought guiding principles of the EU

The bloviating Europeans cannot come to grips with brevity. The founding fathers of the European Union, a vast project with great hopes, must cram into 500 pages a constitution that will create the world's new superstate. Never at a loss for words the intellectual/politicians like the former French President Giscard are compelled to have the constitution speak not to guiding principles but to specifics. Mark Steyn gets to the heart of the matter.

But, quibbles aside, President Giscard professed to be looking in the right direction. When I met him, he had an amiable riff on how he'd been in Washington and bought one of those compact copies of the U.S. Constitution on sale for a buck or two. Many Americans wander round with the constitution in their pocket so they can whip it out and chastise over-reaching congressmen and senators at a moment's notice. Try going round with the European Constitution in your pocket and you'll be walking with a limp after two hours: It's 511 pages, which is 500 longer than the U.S. version. It's full of stuff about European space policy, Slovakian nuclear plants, water resources, free expression for children, the
right to housing assistance, preventive action on the environment, etc.

Most of the so-called constitution isn't in the least bit constitutional. That's to say, it's not content, as the U.S. Constitution is, to define the distribution and limitation of powers. Instead, it reads like a U.S. defense spending bill that's got porked up with a ton of miscellaneous expenditures for the ''mohair subsidy'' and other notorious Congressional boondoggles. President Ronald Reagan liked to say, ''We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.'' If you want to know what it looks like the other way round, read Monsieur Giscard's constitution.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The time to cut farm subsidies for the rich is now

Money quote:

More than 90% of farm subsidies go to the growers of such politically favored staples as wheat, corn, cotton, soybeans and rice. Because payments increase as a farmer plants more, these handouts encourage farmers to grow surplus crops. Other farmers are paid not to grow crops as a way to conserve the soil.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

That must have been one hangover!

Tim Blair has some things to say about the passing of Hunter S. Thompson. But I like what James Lileks recalls.

It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period. I feel sorry for him, but I’ve felt sorry for him for years.
Thompson's brain was already brittle from that bile long before his latest rant about President Bush; pure bile from a brittle mind indeed. But more than 10 years ago when Richard Nixon died, Hunter Thompson shattered any sense of modesty. Thou shall not speak ill of the dead carried civilization for some time until Hunter decided to piss it away. A third rate Nixon hater, Thompson said the former president "that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character". His counter-obituary at the time is exhibit number one. But what was one to expect? He also had little good to say about Vice President Humpert Humphrey.

A mean little coward well armed but not agile, Thompson represented the incurably incoherent drug-induced stupor that helped fray a generation. He had plenty of enablers. The demise of this great republic would be imminent were this cabal of the vaunted counterculture were to ever take office. The closest is perhaps Clinton and his cohort of beautiful people. But even our "first black president" knew enough to tap into a mainstream culture that wanted no more of the extremism of the adversay cultists. For what it was worth Clinton had a thing for people who played by the rules.

No doubt Thompson could write and there were flashes of brilliance, great white noise for a troubled time. But he spent most of his career destroying himself, a man who could write through writer's block with self-indulgent prose. Serious writers grow up leaving Hunter Thompson behind. The youthful indescretions of writers are no guide to maturity.

Louis Proyect over at Counterpunch has a completely different take on Hunter, "a product of the mainstream media." Alexander Cockburn weighs in with a more kindly view.

The Libertarian Party is bad for libertarianism

Randy Barnett writes: "Whatever one thinks of the initial creation of the Libertarian Party, its continued existence seems to be a mistake for libertarians."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Christopher Caldwell reveals the Swedish dilemma

The future of Sweden, beset by Islamic immigration, lies in balance. More proof that the welfare state is no way to cultivate multicultural project. Christopher Caldwell explains.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Howard Dean listen to Pat Buchanan!

Patrick Buchanan speaks from experience on what it's like to be the party of out of power. Democrats ought to wait out the Bush phenomenon. In the zig zag of American politics, the Democrats will one day regain power for better or most likely for worse. Buchanan advises:

What do Democrats need to do? First, be patient. This is Bush's turn at bat, just as 1965-66 was LBJ's turn. Their innings will come. But before they come, Democrats should have answers to the great problems Bush has failed to solve.

How would Democrats deal with the invasion of illegal aliens from Mexico? How would they stop the loss of manufacturing jobs? How would they eliminate $400 billion deficits? How would they get us out of Iraq? How would they make Social Security and Medicare solvent? What foreign policy do they propose to replace a Bush Doctrine of compulsive interventionism?

Democrats should be thinking, not sulking, because their time is going to come around -- sooner than they know.

The problem is that the Democrats aren't thinking they're reacting hyseterically. They have few good ideas that can capture the imagination of the median voter who has shifted right of center. You can only get so far mocking faith-ased charities and minimizing the terrorist threat to this country. As for Social Security, Democrats are in denial even though its leaders a few years ago were worried about the social insurance's long-term solvency.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mass SJC gets it right: There's enough money for schools; Unions gripe

The' mo' money for schools' crowd gets whacked by the SJC. More money doesn't mean better schools. It is largely a myth promoted by the mother of all rent-seekers, the public teachers union. Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall shows some sanity.

"No one, including the defendants, disputes that serious inadequacies in public education remain," Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote. But she said the state "is moving systematically to address those deficiencies and continues to make education reform a fiscal priority."

But writing in the majority but offering a different opinion, Justice Judith A. Cowin reaffirmed the separation of powers when it comes to school finance. She wrote:

"Public education is a government service, the organization and finance of which is to be determined by the executive and legislative branches." -

Republican overreach I: the damn spending chart

Washington has a way of turning fiscal conservatives into big spenders. It something in the air.

Marginal Revolution has the goods and a chart from the New York Times. All but seven of the remaining Class of 1994, Gingrich's team, voted for the super expensive drug prescription plan.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Government makes libertarians of us all; terrorism breeds statism says Stephenson

Reason has an vital interview with science fiction writer Neal Stephensen. Notable and quotable:
Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I’m afraid might turn out to be quite stable.
Thanks to Instapundit.

Shall we ever be prepared to die? Kurzweil upends the question

The Buddhists say that when we awake each day we should be prepared to die. Ray Kurzweil has other ideas.

During a recent interview in his company offices, Kurzweil sipped green tea and spoke of humanity's coming immortality as if it's as good as done. He sees human intelligence not only conquering its biological limits, including death, but completely mastering the natural world.

"In my view, we are not another animal, subject to nature's whim," he said.

Is this a fatal conceit?

Friday, February 11, 2005

What is a conservative Democrat to think?

The ever-wise Tim Penny is worried about Dean as DNC chair

"If you're looking to reconnect the party to the middle of the electorate, I don't think it's a helpful development," adds former Democratic Rep. Tim Penny of Minnesota. He cites Mr. Dean's opposition to Mr. Bush's idea of partly privatizing Social Security, which Mr. Penny considers a test of commitment to fiscal responsibility.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Patriots 24-21; not pretty but worthwhile; McCartney rules!

Random thoughts on great victory.

A great team leaves it mark on NFL history. How long can the team keep winning?
Did the bookies clean up? As great as they were, Brady and Company failed to beat the spread! Oh those seven points!

Give the devil Terrell Owens his due, he was phenomenal but I still wouldn't want him on my team!

Thank you Bill Belichick! I can't wait until training camp!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005