July 31, 2002
BANG: Dave Kopel and Robert Racansky suggest a "Goose and Gander" constitutional amendment whereby the same gun control laws would apply to the police as to the public. The principle is good-- follow the link for the argument-- but the actual amendment is a bad idea, thanks to our old friend the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Since the amendment as they word it exempts (as would obviously be necessary) the National Guard and Department of Defense, it means the governments would get around gun restrictions by calling in soldiers to do the jobs of police.
Peace officers are trained to subdue people with the minimum amount of necessary force. Soldiers are trained to kill people. Whenever the line between the two is blurred (as it often is by federal agents, particularly drug warriors), governments end up killing people indiscriminately. Kopel could live out his days writing sequels to his book on Waco if his and Racansky's amendment were adopted, because rather than adopt a sensible gun control regime, the federal and state governments' would merely call in the National Guard instead of the SWAT teams, and perpetrate numerous Waco-like disasters.
PAGLIAWATCH: Camille calls Paul Begala "a yapping mongoose with the ethical sense of a stone" in her chat with Andrew Sullivan.
Personally, I think she slanders stones and mongooses (mongeese?).
July 27, 2002
BACK: Had an exhausting week. The September issue was ready for the printers yesterday (which, incidentally, was my highly uneventful 22nd birthday).
From what I gathered of the news of the last week, the main story was Israel Defends Itself and is Condemned by the World, Part 137. Tell me if I missed anything.
July 22, 2002
A BRIEF NOTE FROM INTERN...
A BRIEF NOTE FROM INTERN HELL: Liberty goes to press this week, hence the extra-light posting.
July 20, 2002
PAGLIAWATCH: She's on a roll, continuing her assault on Richard Goldstein and other left-wing gays who hate dissent-- or, as she puts it, "unscrupulous, incoherent, mewling philistines who don't read books and resent those that do." Come on, Camille, tell us how you really feel!
CORRUPTION OF BLOOD AT LAST
CORRUPTION OF BLOOD AT LAST: The Israeli Army is beginning a policy I've been advocating for some time-- punishing suicide bombers' families. Deportation to the Gaza Strip is the punishment-- one I hadn't thought of (I floated imprisonment or execution). It works because the Gaza Strip, unlike the West Bank, has defensible borders.
(A shout-out to Ryan for pointing this out to me-- I've been so busy lately, I could have missed it.)
July 17, 2002
AND BACK TO PERVERTS...
AND BACK TO PERVERTS...: It's been a while since I wrote about aberrant sexuality; it's about time to correct that.
(Long-time readers remember my lengthy post on pedophilia, society and Pim Fortuyn; even longer-time readers remember my thoughts on a certain Supreme Court decision, and Ann Coulter's reaction to it, regarding something I still get google-hits for. I won't invite more by mentioning it again.)
"Man who had sex with underwear-clad dogs forced to flee" may be an amusing headline (and tailor-made for Drudge), but this story is not merely gross and strange. This raises serious questions about crime and punishment, and has more to do with people than canines.
Why would you put women's underwear on a dog? To make it seem more like a human sex-partner. Why not find a human instead? Isolation due to social mal-adjustment is one reason; another, likely in this case, is wanting to do something to a human that you can't.
Consider the case of "crush videos," which are a problem for animal protection organizations; certain people get off on watching animals crushed to death by a high heel. The obsession typically starts with bugs, then usually progresses to larger and larger animals-- frogs and rodents are typical, but cats and dogs can show up. I read one anti-animal-cruelty activist quoted as saying he'd seen a crush video with a monkey. The point is that obsessives will seek things closer and closer to human.
Some people who are into crush videos identify sadistically with the heel, but it is more common for them to identify with the animal; their Thanatos is in overdrive. One Darwin Award nominee took this fantasy to its logical conclusion by lying under a board in a pit while his wife drove an SUV over him and killed him (their crush video collection was part of her defense, and she avoided jail-time).
Now back to those underwear-clad dogs. They were both found dead in bras and panties, one in a ditch, one hanging from the rafters of a garage. It's quite typical for serial killers to have childhood histories of cruelty to animals; this is how the blind-spot for empathy first manifests itself. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what this man's sexual intentions might be toward human women.
"Staff Sgt Boyd Campbell, of the sex-crimes unit, said his greatest concern is the possibility 'this is an escalating offence. Hopefully we are wrong but there is enough concern.'" More than enough, actually. Such a case calls into serious question Thomas Szasz's opposition to state-mandated psychiatric treatment. I'm still agnostic on Szasz-- some of his views seem very persuasive-- but in this case, the imminent rape and murder of women seems a virtual fait accompli without either near-constant surveillance or effective psychiatric treatment. The latter seems to me not only more practical, but also a smaller infringement upon personal liberty than the former.
July 16, 2002
PAGLIAWATCH: Since her Salon column ended over a year ago, Camille Paglia's been hard to find in public. (People asking what on Earth she's been doing lately often forget that she's actually a full-time professor, as she told Virginia Postrel a few months ago.) Andrew Sullivan points out her latest, a letter to the Guardian. Her elegant smackdown of the absurd Richard Goldstein should provide a brief fix for Paglia-addicts in withdrawal.
IRANWATCH: Since I've kinda let this feature slide (if you check the archives, you'll find a period when the coming Iranian revolution was a near-daily obsession on this site), check out Everyone's favorite Iranian Jew's site for frequent updates. And check out Michael Ledeen's latest, of course (and his archives).
July 11, 2002
THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE
THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE: Cartoonist Scott Adams pens a funny and short New York Times op-ed.
It takes gale-force cynicism to create a cartoon as funny as Dilbert, you see. Adams goes on to say he is torn as to whether the CEOs were actually evil or just incompetent. The title of Adams's book The Dilbert Principle refers to the concept, even bleaker than The Peter Principle (which holds that qualified people are promoted until they get to the job they can't do well), that the stupidest people are promoted because they can do less damage in management than in engineering.
I think it's useful to put these corporate scandals in perspective. Every employee I ever worked with in my old cubicle-dwelling days was pillaging the company on a regular basis, too. But the quantity of loot was rarely newsworthy. My weasel co-workers were pocketing office supplies, fudging expense reports, using sick days as vacation and engaging in a wide array of work-avoidance techniques.
Most people rationalize this kind of behavior by saying that corporations are evil and so the weasel employees deserve a little extra. The C.E.O.'s and C.F.O.'s aren't less ethical than employees and stockholders; they're just more effective. They're getting a higher quality of loot than the rank and file, and for that they must be punished.
I had to put this "in perspective" in a more serious way the other day when my Dad casually suggested that the accounting scandals were now more serious than 9/11. It was really just a poor choice of words-- the old man is no Krugmanite squish, he just has a penchant for hyperbole (both of these facts might be demonstrated by his fondness for Ann Coulter). Still, I had to point out that thousands of dead bodies (and hundreds of thousands of vaccinated children who would otherwise die) constituted something a bit more serious than a bunch of unfortunate stockholders forced to trade in Ford Explorers for Geo Metros.
UH-OH: Dan Savage points out, in an excellent piece on the proper liberal response to this war (post-war nation-building, not antiwar idiocy), points out that I've moved into a potential terrorist hotzone:
...here are some fun facts specifically meant to bother people who live in Seattle: For all the talk of nuclear "suitcase bombs," people paid to worry about terrorism are more concerned about "conex bombs," as Bill Keller wrote in the May 26 New York Times Magazine ["Nuclear Nightmares"]. The name "conex" refers to "those shack-size steel containers that bring most cargo into the United States." Last year almost two million conex containers were unloaded at the Port of Seattle, and tens or hundreds of thousands of conex containers come into Seattle every year from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and other countries believed to have been infiltrated by al Qaeda fighters. Put a few barrels of anthrax spores and/or some easily obtainable low-grade nuclear waste and a few hundred pounds of explosives into a conex container along with some Islamo-fascist jackass excited by visions of paradise and... well, will the last person to die in Seattle please turn out the lights?
This presents a moral dilemma: if Seattle is nuked, do I hope for westward prevailing winds, so the fallout kills the fewest number of people-- but probably kills me? Lets see that it doesn't come to that.
Oh, and on Savage's larger point-- yes, that's what the left should be in favor of, but whether it's what I'm in favor of will depend on specifics. Our entanglement with other countries should be limited to what is absolutely necessary to protect this one.
July 07, 2002
ONE MAN'S TERRORIST
ONE MAN'S TERRORIST: I find the semantic games about whether the LAX gunman is a "terrorist" rather tiresome. Sure, he may have acted alone. On the other hand, when there are terrorist leaders calling for all good Muslim loonies "to strike at Zionist and American interests and installations," and then one of them does, it's absurd to pretend there's no connection.
Saying this guy isn't a "terrorist" is like saying someone who accepts Jesus as his Personal Savior after watching the 700 Club a lot, rather than joining a church, isn't a "Christian."
REORIENTATION: I know I'm a week late, but I ought to comment on the silliness in my new home state:
Beginning today, [Washington] state and local lawmakers are prohibited from using the term "Oriental" in statutes, codes, rules and regulations.Why "Oriental" is offensive to anyone, I have no idea. The word is a throwback to a time when East was at the top of the map-- hence oriental. Clearly, the Korean state senator who's idea this was is a hypersensitive lunatic.
Instead, officials must use "Asian" to describe people of Asian descent.
The substitution is also incorrect. Eastern Russians, Uzbeks, Indians, Iraqis and Israelis are all "Asian." Only Southeast Asians are Oriental, right?
All this begs the question-- why should state and local laws mention ethnicity, anyway? Interestingly, the only law where the wording is affected-- requiring "solicitation of minority contractors for construction of city water mains"-- may be inactive, if I heard the radio correctly the other day; a ballot innitiative recently outlawed race-based preferential treatment by the state.
BIG TIME: While I was suffering from Blogger-related technical difficulties (I only just today got the July 4th post below to appear), Andrew Stuttaford linked to this site from the rarified air of The Corner. Welcome to any new traffic that I didn't miss.
July 04, 2002
GRAND OLD IMPORTS
GRAND OLD IMPORTS: John J. Miller thinks it's sad that imported star-spangled banners outsell domestic flags (LA Times account and password both "laexaminer"-- thanks, guys!). Why is this sad? It means three things:
1) American workers are too prosperous for textiles-- their labor is allocated to other, more efficient sectors, where they are well-payed.
2) Foreign workers earn sustenance-- the antiglobalists myths about "exploitation" notwithstanding, the average Southeast Asian laborer is a whole lot better with his "low-paying" job than without it.
3) Those foreign workers spend all day looking at the stars and stripes, a pretty concrete reminder of just who the friendly folks paying their bills are.
Happy 4th of July, and here's to Freedom-- including that of trade.
PICTURES: I'm not as drunk as I look in this picture-- I'm just reacting oddly to the light. I actually stayed pretty sober during the bash; I think my ability to blog immediately afterwords attests to my moderation. The rest of the pictures are here.
July 01, 2002
EASY BEING GREEN
EASY BEING GREEN: Rod Dreher, Jonathan Adler, and Andrew Stuttaford are discussing the relationship of the right to the environment over in The Corner. The best thing I've ever read about a natural pro-environment agenda for Republicans (and anyone of libertarian leanings, for that matter) is this old memo by Nathan Lewis, which is in my must-read file.
The free market is needed to protect the environment from the excesses of government-- not the other way around.
HAPPY, JEFF?: I added you to the blogroll. Sheesh.
Now check out Jeff's site for the other bash attendees (scroll down, watch the right column), several of whom I missed, all of whom Jeff seems to be trying to shame into blogrolling him. Do check their sites out-- I just don't feel like collecting a bunch of links that Jeff already has in a neat little list.