Be afraid, be very afraid

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, be afraid, be very afraid.

A regional alliance led by China and Russia called Tuesday for the U.S. and its coalition allies in Afghanistan to set a date for withdrawing from several states in Central Asia, reflecting growing unease at America’s military presence in the region.

Why do China and Russia want the US out of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan? I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t sound promising for those much smaller nations. Remember what happened to Poland.

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The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die

Andrew Roth at The Club for Growth waxes sentimental for the Fourth of July and points to this GQ Article:
The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die

Alan Richman traveled 23,750 miles and consumed more than 150,000 calories while taking the measure of 162 burgers across the country—with one goal: to find you the best damned assemblage of ground beef and buns this country serves up

The hamburger is a symbol of everything that makes America great. Straightforward, egalitarian, substantial, and good-natured, it is also a little bloody at times.

Roth thinks they missed out by not including a burger with an egg on top in Lawrence, Kansas. I sympathize. I think they were robbed by eminent domain of the chance to even try the really best burger. Yes, there is a poor imitation of the original Ebbets Field (original restaurant that is) in Springfield, Missouri. Yes, they still serve a burger called Da Durocher, but frankly it’s just not the same. A parking lot for a performing arts center was a pretty damn poor trade-off for a falling down house full of baseball memorabilia, Marilyn Monroe pictures and draft beer, even if a performing arts center really is a “public use”. (Sorry, those not acquainted with Springfield, MO in the 80s and early 90s, I know you have no idea what I’m ranting about.)

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I can’t write what I otherwise might given that O’Connor wrote the dissent in the two worst Supreme Court decisions of the last 100 years. All the blah-blah about her being a moderate or the fact that she might have had a bit too much regard for dubious precedent in Roe v. Wade is ultimately and easily trumped by the fact that she knew interstate commerce from growing a shrub in your backyard and private property rights from communal ownership. Even Scalia, whose philosophy I much prefer to her pragmatism, can’t claim that.

If Bush can find a nominee who has that much sense, it will raise the IQ of the Court if nothing else.

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Etymologic: the toughest etymology (word origin) game on the Web

Etymologic: the toughest etymology (word origin) game on the Web

In this etymology game you’ll be presented with 10 randomly selected etymology (word origin) or word definition puzzles to solve; in each case the word or phrase is highlighted in bold, and a number of possible answers will be presented. You need to choose the correct answer to score a point for that question. Beware! The false answers will often also seem quite plausible, and some of the true answers are hard to believe, but we have documentation!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the word etymology comes from the Greek word ‘etymos’, which means real, or true, and the -ology ending indicates that it’s the study of, or science of. Put them together and you get the study or science of the real or true. Impressive, eh?

This game led to my finding out that the politically correct crap about the phrase “rule of thumb” referring to legal wife beating is bunk.

The real explanation of ‘rule-of-thumb’ is that is derives from wood
workers (or other constructors) who knew their trade so well they rarely
or never fell back on the use of such things as rulers. Instead they’d
measure things by, for example, the length of their thumb; they measured,
not by a rule(r) of wood, but by rule of thumb. The term was already in
metaphorical use by the late 17th century.

So, not only do Words Matter, but Word Games Matter, too.

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Exactly what difference does this make?

I’m afraid I just don’t understand what difference this makes at all.

VOA News – US Probes Charges Iranian President-Elect was Embassy Hostage-Taker

The United States is looking into whether Iranian president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad was involved in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The State Department says Iran needs to make a definitive statement on the issue.

Regardless of whether this guy was personally involved, and it’s certainly quite likely that he was given his apparent age, this is the same government that aided and abetted the hostage taking. This is the same government that has sponsored terrorism in the Middle East and around the world for 26 years. That the current President-elect of Iran had a more or less direct role in one of those many acts of terrorism seems irrelevant except to those who feel some need for justification to act against Iran beyond the ample justification of 26 years of their failure to abide by the most basic international norms.

The only thing this says to me is that the dictum usually attributed to P.T. Barnum applies to Iranians as well as to Americans.

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Federalism and eminent domain

I’ve had a few thoughts on the Kelo case, federalism and the Bill of Rights and judges wearing robes.

The Bill of Rights was, of course, originally intended as a check on federal power. As a proponent of federalism, I’m generally comfortable with giving state legislatures broad latitude in experimenting with a wide range of policies. That said, I’m also a believer in freedom and I am a federalist not a confederationist. A meaningful, freedom enhancing central government will sometimes act to check state power. Applying the Bill of Rights to the States is such a long settled matter of law that even Justices Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas generally accept it as a given. I don’t have a problem with that. The Bill of Rights are a finite set of specific rules that I would call quintessentially American and to apply them as written to the States can only enhance American federalism in achieving American ends. But if they are to be applied to the States they should all be applied to the States including the Second Amendment and the property rights provisions. They should also be applied as written. To simply say that we are going to apply the Bill of Rights plus the nebulous sphere of real or imagined rights that spring from them gives too wide latitude to federal power, as we’ve seen in many cases.

There is another problem with the Kelo ruling from a federalist perspective. Instead of saying, “We can’t rule on this as this Amendment doesn’t apply to the States,” the Court ruled that the Amendment did apply but that achieving higher tax revenue or economic growth is a “public use”. They then went on to say that the States could adopt a tougher standard. That’s wonderful and certainly seems in tune with federalism on its face. The problem is that state constitutional language on rights is often modeled, in some cases copied directly, from the federal language. So one would expect a state court facing a state constitution which requires a public use test for eminent domain to refer to the thought of their judicial superiors and likely arrive at a similar conclusion. While paying lip service to the idea of tougher state standards, the ruling that anything which by any stretch of the imagination is a “public good” is also a “public use” actually guts state protections as thoroughly as it guts the federal one.

Solution to the eminent domain issue? Attack it from all sides. The trial balloon by James Sensenbrenner to prohibit use of CDBG money for private development using eminent domain would be a great first step at the federal level and needs to be put into a bill or budget amendment asap. The various state proposals should all move forward.

Solution to the bigger problem? I don’t know that I have one, but part of the solution has to be injecting some realism into the thought of federal judges, reminding them that they are citizens not sovereigns. They need to be reminded of a document much older even than the United States, but fundamental to our theories of government, the Magna Carta. The proposal to remind InJustice Souter that his house is subject to the same rules as everyone else is precisely that. Perhaps it’s also time to require them to wear suits like other government officials instead of priestly robes, to remind them that they are men and not gods.

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If my posts seem a little strange lately…

Miss Bea sitting on my shoulder
What’s on this side?

Originally uploaded by tomhanna.

it may be that I’ve had typing help for the last 3 weeks. Miss Bea’s favorite spots are on my shoulder and perched on my lap with her head on the wrist rest of my keyboard.

This is the sister of Peggy, the kitten mentioned earlier and named after Peggy Noonan. Miss Bea was named after The Bride in the Kill Bill movies.

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