Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
That was the emphasis of the Register's editorial on the subject. George Will made note of the phenomenon also, suggesting that Congress is becoming more or less obsolete in the era of the Imperial Presidency.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Anyway, here's the Register's editorial on the move, worrying that the government is setting us up for serious inflation is 2010 and 2011, and setting the stage for another boom-bust cycle. If it were up to me I would get rid of the Fed. A central bank is (and has been from the beginning) an instrument for creating inflation to facilitate government growth rather than for promoting genuine monetary and/or economic stability.
Incidentally, Chapman, which called the recession last December (just validated by the NBER) thinks we'll start coming out of it by the end of 2009, but doesn't expect a very robust recovery.
Mainly, though the Bruins seem to be counting on four Freshmen, and so far they have validated the observation that Kevin Love was a pretty unique talent as a Freshman. He was obviously the best player on the floor last year from the get-go. Jrue Holliday this year has shown flashes and will no doubt be terrific eventually -- he seems to improve with every game -- but it will take him some time. I'm afraid the Bruins might lose some Pac-10 games, but I expect them to keep improving and to go pretty deep into the tournament, but not to be as dominant as last year.
As for football, I just didn't feel like discussing it after the USC game, although the Bruin defense was reasonably solid. I do think Neuheisel will put together a solid team by next year. The question remains the offensive line, which never came together -- injuries, inexperience, Freshmen thrown in before they were really ready, though it might pay off next year -- this year. I doubt if we'll be ready to challenge USC next year, especially if Mark Sanchez comes back, but we'll beat a lot of people.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
And now we have a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee -- with no Republican dissent -- saying that the impulse to torture came from the top, largely from Rumsfeld (though Bush had to be in the loop). It wasn't a few non-com "rogues, and it wasn't interrogators in the field begging to be allowed to use more aggressive methods. It was a bunch of sofa samurai with no practical experience in such matters but with a faux-tough attitude who pushed torture, and it came from the top. Here's my Antiwar.com column on the subject.
What's remarkable is that in almost all of the accounts finally coming forth, it is apparent that those who were most skeptical and cynical about the Bush administration turned out to be right, and they (we) may even have understated the venality and dishonesty af this administration.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A week or so ago most media outlets heavily covered a report that seemed to debunk claims that Vitamin C or Vitamin E offered any significant protection from heart attack or stroke. As this Life Extension Foundation report demonstrates fairly clearly, however, those studies were severely flawed.
A little background. Several large-scale studies in the early 1990s showed significant reduction in such diseases from rather large doses of these vitamins. The most widely reported was done at UCLA and showed that of 11,348 participants, those that took 800 mg of Vitamin C a day (the Orwellian “recommended daily allowance” is 60 mg) lived six years longer than those who took only 60 mg, and this higher intake reduced cardiovascular disease by 42%. A more recent study done at UC Berkeley(hardly reported outside scientific jourrnals) showed much more hopeful results. Other studies show protection against the onset of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
The study widely reported last week had four groups of male doctors take 500 mg a day of C, less than the amount deemed to be efficacious. They also took only 400 I.U. of Vitamin E every other day, whereas most vitamin enthusiasts recommend at least 800 IU (natural rather than the synthetic used in the test) every day. In addition, the subjects’ intake was not monitored; they were told to rely on their memories over eight years as to how religiously they had taken their vitamins.
Small wonder that the result was little or no difference between those who had taken the vitamins and those who had received a placebo. It raises a real question as to whether this test was designed to fail. The question was why the media so aggressively reported this study.
I still resist the dark conspiracy theory that the big pharmacuetical companies constantly try to debunk regular vitamin usage so people will develop diseases that require enormously more expensive prescription drugs. Much can be attributed, of course, to the enormous scientific ignorance of most journalists. But there’s something going on, and it isn’t constructive.
(Full disclosure: While in college I met and became friends with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, who went on to write “Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach,” which had a flurry of popularity in the 1970s. Knowing that they were both trained as scientists, having talked extensively with them when they were doing their preliminary research, and having stayed in touch with them over the years, I’m convinced they’re onto something. Consequently I take what most people consider a ridiculous amount of vitamins, including 5,000 mg daily of Vitamin C. Having reached an age when such things are not a bad idea — 65 next month, but you’ll have to put up with me for a few more years before I retire — I recently had a complete physical and came out with virtually perfect health. I’m healthier than most people I know 15 years younger than I am. I’m well aware that genetics and the fact that I generally refrain from doing physically really dangerous things play an important role, and I obviously haven’t been able to do a double-blind test on myself. But I strongly recommend that anybody who wants to live long and avoid debilitating disease get a copy of Durk and Sandy’s book (it’s practically free at Amazon.com now) and take their findings into consideration.
Got another e-mail from the inimitable and invaluable David Theroux of the Independent Institute noting remarkable progress on their goal of making a thoughtful and scholarly book on individual rights, constitutionalism and the Second Amendment an unlikely best-seller during the Christmas season, the heaviest book-buying time of the year. I read Stephen Halbrook’s earlier book, “That Every Man Be Armed” on the historical relationship between true citizenship and the right to bear arms, which is enough for me to recommend “The Founders’ Second Amendment.”
The idea is to highlight, as an administration not inclined to be friendly to an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment comes into power, the fact that a lot of Americans think that what until the Supreme Court’s Heller decision had been the neglected ugly stepsister of the Bill Of Rights is pretty important. Not that gun rights (excuse me, human rights to keep and bear arms) are the whole of the Bill of Rights, just that they’re important. So you can go to the Website here and pledge to buy one for yourself and perhaps as gifts for your parents, children and Aunt Mildred.
It’s working. When the campaign started the book was at around 200,000 on Amazon’s list, and it’s now at 140. In different categories the result is even more impressive, as David notes:
#1: Law #1: Civil Rights and Liberties #1: Constitutions #1: Constitutional Law #1: Revolutionary and Founding History #12: History #11: Professional and Technical #26: Nonfiction (all)
Monday, December 15, 2008
I suspect the incident shows more about how most Iraqis view Bush than the polite words of support and courtesy coming from peoiple in the near-puppet Baghdad government.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The duty of state and local authorities when there is a question about whether state law conflicts with federal law is to enforce California law unless and until a federal court issues a ruling that federal law supersedes state law. That hasn't happened and it isn't going to happen. It's long past time for those sworn to uphold the law to start doing it instead of trying to undermine it. Here's the Register's editorial on the subject.
Here's the piece I did on the attacks for Antiwar.com. And here's the Register's editorial on the attacks, which ran yesterday.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Karolju is done by David Zinman with the BBC Symphony and the Philharmonia Chorus. There's nothing you're likely to recognize here, though you may think it sounds familiar. The main attraction here is a suite of original carols by American composer Christopher Rouse. They were originally written for the Baltimore Symphony, in a variety of styles, from contemplative to jolly, and a range of languages (Latin, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian -- very characteristic -- Czech, German and Italian -- especially lovely. It all sounds Christmas-y and much of it as if you think you ought to know it. Imaginative and well-done.
The CD also contains a suite of Polish Christmas songs by Witold Lutoslawski, and three very Spanish-sounding pieces by Joaquin Rodrigo, which are definitely worth your attention. But the Christopher Rouse suite is the highlight.
Then on Monday, at our wrap-up meeting, after telling us that even the brass players were impressed (instrumentalists generally don't have a high opinion of choirs, although having done both, I contend, as does Marilyn Horne in this interview piece, that singing is more difficult than playing an instrument) and saying this was the best-sounding group he has assembled in 3-1/2 years of the organization, Don informed us that several key singers are having to leave, which will require recruiting replacements and puts a question mark on the future of the group. In a group of 22, just a few holes can throw the whole balance off.
I think the group will stay together and thrive, but we won't know for sure for a while.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
On Thanksgiving Day we went out for dinner, and most of us didn't even order turkey. It was wonderful not to have to spend two hours-plus cleaning up the mess. I think maybe we've had enough Thanksgiving dinners in our house to suit us (last year we lost power and had to take the turkey to Angie's house to finish cooking it and it was overdone; a memorable disaster we can laugh about now).
Just to give this a mildly political/philosophic spin, here's Gary Galles with this year's retelling of the New England pilgrims' story, from LewRockwell.com.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I don't think I'm just blowing smoke here. I've sung in choruses all my life, including at UCLA under Roger Wagner, and done a good bit of the choral repertoire (though one unfulfilled wish is to sing the Mozart Requiem before it becomes appropriate for me). This is clearly one of the best I've been associated with.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Hope you enjoy it and find it informative. Leave comments, here or there.
I don't know whether live performances in classical (or at least strictly composed) music are becoming a thing of the past or not. The audience is relatively small, and the exigencies of smaller, even very good amateur groups often mean that those who might be interested never hear about something they would enjoy. I think the urge to perform will remain, combined with intelligent efforts to get better at it guided by people with leadership ability and knowledge, however, is unlikely to disappear entirely. Nonetheless, this kind of serious singing is ever endangered.
All this is to say that if you like choral music at all, or Christmas-themed music, you may be in for something of a peak experience if you come to one of our concerts this December. Here are the details:
December 5, at the Fallbrook Performing Arts Center, at 8:00, with brass choir. We thought it was a closed performance, but apparently they're selling tickets, though it's a little pricey at $30. Then on Sunday, December 7, at Promise Lutheran Church in Murrieta (25664 Madison Ave, behind the Wal-Mart) at 7:30 pm. No brass, but more reasonable prices -- $12 in advance, $15 at the door. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want tickets.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Cantus" is a group of nine men out of Minneapolis, each exceptionally skilled, and together they make, on their new CD, "While You Are Alive," some of the richest, deepest, most sonorous choral sounds I have heard. All-male groups are not to everybody's taste, and this is a pretty modern group of songs (three world premiere recordings here), but while there are some strange harmonies, most of it is quite tonal. I am especially entranced by "Lux Aurumque," by Whitacre, and "Lullaby" by Nelson. The major new piece, "A Sound Like This," by Hill, a series of original songs, has some really nice places and a few I haven't quite warmedup to yet, though I like even the odd places sound better each time I listen. "Things I Didn't Know I Loved," by Takach, is also sonorous and adventurous, but the whole thing is worth listening to and repays repeated listening.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Rose Friedman, now 97, is a phenomenon. She did better with an arm to lean on, but she can still get around, if slowly. She is incredibly tiny. Her mind is still quite sharp. Her mother lived to 103, so I hope the world can enjoy the pleasure of her company for a long time to come. I remember having a fairly lengthy discussion with her, probably in the late 1980s at a Pacific Research Institute function in San Francisco (about what she thought were diminishing prospects for liberty) and thinking that Milton Friedman was a lucky man to have found such an exceptional person as a life partner. The title of their joint autobiography, "Two Lucky People," bore out my intuition.
I first met David Friedman, Milton's son, in 1967, the summer I was a journalism intern at Human Events. One night I went to Dupont Circle, the closest Washington came to having a countercultural gathering place back then, and there was this comnpact, curly-headed young man earnestly explaining to somewhat befuddled but fascinated hippies and longhairs that if they really wanted freedom and self-actualization, they should be fans of free markets. It was David Friedman. I still don't know what he was doing in Washington that summer, but we formed an immediate bond, even though he is one of the few people I have met about whom I think that his brain operates on a rather different and decidedly higher plane than mine. (Among the others are Durk Pearson and Richard Epstein). We haven't been close since then, but run into one another every few years. He at least expressed something like relief in the lobby yesterday at seeing a familar face (though I wouldn't be surprised if he was checking out my name tag to be sure).
The dedication was folowed by a panel discussion, featuring David, Nobel Prize economist Vernon Smith (now at Chapman) , and veteran UCLA profs Harold Demsetz and Arnold Harberger (who told me later that Bill Niskanen was a student of his) on the general topic of "What Would Milton Do?" about the current financial crisis. I'll report further on it in future posts.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Reason will give a special award to the Dave Threshie and Dick Wallace families, in recognition of the fact that they have kept Freedom Communications in the family and determined to continue propagating libertarian ideas during a really tough time for the newspaper business. Doing so has literally cost them millions of dollars (although they're hardly hurting for money).
It strikes me as a particularly critical time for the freedom movement. Although the financial crisis was sparked almost exclusively by the government, there's a widespread notion out there that it was the result of excessive deregulation; that comes from the Republicans talking incessantly about deregulation but never doing it when they have power; they get the reputation without the reality. We have our work cut out for us reminding peoiple of reality, and the outcome is far from certain.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
As Ted puts it, "It will not be an improvement if an Obama administration withdraws troops from Iraq only to launch new interventions in such strategically and economically irrelevant snakepits as Darfur or Burma."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
However, whetheror not there is a challenge from al-Qaida, some other terrorist organization, or a country bent on undermining the U.S., he will also face a difficult set of foreign challenges, and that was the subject of my column this week for Antiwar.com. From his determination to ramp up the war in Afghanistan to possible related troubles with Pakistan, to the emergence of Russia as a locally aggressive potential Great Power, to likely complications in winding down the war with Iraq, to Iran, his plate will be full. I suggest his honeymoon will be short.
I don't vote because "democracy" to me is simply this era's version of the Divine Right of Kings, a mechanism whereby the appaling people who rule us can claim a shred of legitimacy. I'm hardly alone. Here's an argument against voting and another and another and another.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Our major concert this year will be December 7 at 7:30 pm at Promise Lutheran Church in Murrieta, featuring Christmas music from Palestrina to Britten to Frosty the Snowman, including several antiphonal works, and I'll be unashamedly soliciting ticket sales (they're $12 in advance and $15 at the door) several times between now and then. E-mail me at email@example.com if you're even a bit interested. Tonight's rehearsal was esepcially revealing. We've gotten quite good by now, but a few people haven't quite mastered knowing the music cold and Don was unsparing. He says he's not content with good enough or even very good. He wants people to hear this group and think it's the best choral group they've ever heard. I think we'll be close.
We're also doing a concert in Fallbrook on December 5 that we at first thought was a private one for members of the Fallbrook Music Society (this one with a brass ensemble), but apparently they're selling tickets to the general public at $30 ($10 for students). Check out the Website and listen to some of the past performances. This is an excellent group with which I'm proud to be associated.
Friday, November 07, 2008
We’ll have a piece in either Sunday’s or Monday’s opinion section (I read so many proofs today I’m a bit bleary-eyed), but it echoes some of my thoughts. We’ve seen all these angry demonstrations organized (and/or arising spontaneously) by gays in Los Angeles (and in San Francisco and Long Beach), including one centered on the Mormon Temple in West L.A. It’s not that it isn’t legitimate to criticize the Mormon church, whose members (not all of them, of course) reportedly kicked in about $20 million of the $30-million-plus the Yes on 8 side raised, some in huge quantities from out of state (yes, I recognize contributions for the No campaign came from out of state, and it’s not illegal or fundamentally illegitimate, just interesting). All this was well known before Tuesday. Where were these protesters before Tuesday? I’ll wager they weren’t out walking precincts or making phone calls or donating money or stuffing envelopes. This was a close race. If there had been this kind of enthusiasm — a little more controlled and a little less angry, to be sure — shown before the election I suspect Prop. 8 would not have passed. As it is these after-the-fact demonstrations look a bit like childish rants and I suspect are more likely to discredit the cause than to advance it.
I have a few more criticisms of the No on 8 campaign — from somebody who wanted that side to win. I think it was too timid, hardly ever (at least in the TV ads) uttering the words “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage,” which to my mind conceded the moral high ground to the other side and made it seem as if the proponents of gay marriage were ashamed of it and maybe even figured others would find it shameful. I think the “teach gay marriage in school” issue could have been confronted more straightforwardly too, conceding that if Prop. 8 were defeated those schools that had marriage in the curriculum would probably have to mention the fact that gay marriage is legal in California, but this wouldn’t be “indoctrination” or “recruitment” or propaganda about how kids had to approve it and love it. Not doig so left the campaign open to charges of being dishonest.
There was no way to get rid of the footage of Moron Mayor Gavin “whether you like it or not” Newsome of San Francisco, which I think was the single most effective thing the Yes on 8 people had going for them. But all those “taking away a right” commercials without mentioning what the right was confused people, I suspect. It might not have been a bad idea to have a few couples interviewed on just what marriage meant to them. I think the No campaign underestimated the tolerance of the people of California and that’s part of the reason it lost — besides the fact that a lot of gays who could have been involved sat on the sidelines until it was over.
However, I have my guacamole and my UCLA T-shirt and cap ready. I'm hoping the Bruins -- perhaps jolted by the suspensions? -- have made good use of the bye week and settled down to some serious work on avoiding careless mistakes. And it might just be that this is the week Kahlil Bell, who has shown signs of being a really good back but has been sadly hampered by injuries (as well as bad offensive line play) this year, is ready to break out and show that he's more than just potential. It is his senior year and he still does, despite all the tough luck he's experienced, have NFL dreams.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
And we thought we were getting away from dynasties and monarchical tendencies when we broke with Old Blighty!
I was in California, writing editorials for the Register in 1982, and I remember a few things some have forgotten. Also on the ballot that year was Prop. 15, a gun-control measure whose details I have forgotten, but I'm about 98% sure Bradley supported it. Anyway, it brought out the pro-gun people in more force than usual to defeat it (I think it was leading in the polls too) and while they were at it they voted against Bradley. I'm reasonably sure race had little or nothing to do with it. Jerry Brown was running for the Senate that year and leading in the polls, and he lost also.
Few expected, however, that reminders of the messiness of the world outside our borders would come so quickly, long before he even took office, with Russia announcing it would plant some missiles near Poland if the U.S. went ahead with putting anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, Afghan puppet Hamid Karzai trying to break his strings by protesting about the U.S. bombing weddings (the nerve!) and North Korea releasing photos purporting to show that Kim Jong-Il is really alive and well. Heaven knows what will be in the cards when he actually takes office.
OK, those aren't really major crises, and they're not Obama's to deal with yet. But one dubts that the timing was strictly coincidental. Here's the Register's editorial today on some of the things we already knew the new president would have to face: two wars, a financial crisis, a Democratic Congress eager to tax and regulate, and other aftermaths of the years of a dysfunctional administration. He may have little choice but to have a modest agenda and govern "from the center," whatever that means.
It was especially disappointing since, on the same night, Michigan passed a medical marijuana initiative and Massachusetts passed what was essentially decriminalization of marijuana -- a $100 fine and no criminal record for simple possession of an ounce or less. (Here's a link to the Register's editorial on various state initiatives across the country.) The sentiment for drug law reform is out there, but we couldn't get it done in California (the Register was the only major newspaper to endorse Prop. 5).
Tuesday night's results make me wonder if working for simple decriminalization might be a more productive path. Prop. 5 was carefully, almost exquisitely crafted, with carefully balanced criteria for which offenders would be eligible for treatment. But it would have earmarked money fro treatment programs and it was long and fairly complex. It's not unusual for voters simply to vote No on propositions they don't quite understand, especially if some valid-sounding doubts have been raised (Dianne Feinstein did commercial against it). But the Massachusetts result suggests that voters might be ready for simple decriminalization, at least of marijuana. That would ease a host of law-induced social problems.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I'm sad that this is a political issue at all. If I had my way the State would not be involved in marriage at all, but it is, at many levels. I do wish Prop. 8 had been defeated.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
"I don't think that's decriminalization," Walters said. Yet he actively (and unethically and probably illegally) inserts himself on the wrong side in the campaign to medicalize marijuana (a much more modest proposal) in Michigan. And while I haven't heard of activism on his part, I would be amazed if he doesn't oppose an initiative in Massachusetts to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession,l making it simply a civil offense. And he opposes Prop. 5, which would offer drug treatment instead of jail to certain nonviolent drug offenders in California.
Mexico, of course, is experiencing significant violence as a result of the government's efforts to break up drug cartels. It's ruined the tourist industry in Baja. Obviously the government thinks limited decriminalization might help to reduce violence. It would work in this country too. Too bad John Walters can't see that.
It’s not utterly impossible that John McCain could pull off an historic upset, and I’ll suggest some ways in future posts. But for those who see most polls as imperfect but reasonably genuine attempts to discern the mood of the public rather than as pieces of a gigantic liberal conspiracy to dupe the public into thinking there’s a landslide and going along with it, the smart money has to be on Obama.
So what kind of president might he be. Stuart Taylor of the National Journal, a self-described centrist, has a remarkably thoughtful article in the current issue. He doesn’t see Obama as a sinister terrorist-loving extremist, but looking judiciously at the evidence, he sees a fairly dogmatic, even radical leftist, largely on the evidence of his associations and his 1995 autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” who since becoming a candidate for public office (especially the presidency) has carefully cultivated an image as a pragmatic, cool, calm moderate capable of listening to all sides and bringing people together.
Doubt the radical aspect? He spent his teenage years searching for his black identity, in part mentored in Hawaii by Frank Marshall Davis, “a black-power activist who had once been a member of the Communist Party” who had moved from Chicago. During his first years in college, here at Occidental, he tells us, he chose his friends carefully so he wouldn’t appear to be a sellout, preferring politically active blacks, foreign students, “The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.” After college he became a community organizer and met and was inspired by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. After law school he returned to Chicago to do socially-conscious law and had a much closer association with Bill Ayers than he has since acknowledged.
During the campaign he has appeared much more pragmatic, and he has won support from moderates and even some conservatives. He has acknowledged that “America’s free market has been the engine of America’s great progress” and said he doesn’t want to return to tax rates of 60 or 70 percent. He has glancingly talked about charter schools and merit pay for teachers and even questioned whether affluent blacks like his children need preferences.
If he governs as a left-liberal ideologue, Taylor asserts, he will be a failure. If he governs as a pragmatic centrist he could be successful. There will be forces pulling him both ways. I suspect we’ll find out.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thank goodness there are still a few conservative commentators with a sense of proportion and a certain respect for principle, like George Will and to some extent Peggy Noonan. I don't know if I want the modern conservative movement to reconstitute itself on somewhat more sophisticated principles or just disappear into the mist, which just might leave an opening for libertarians, constitutionalists, Paulistas and genuine devotees of limited government. Obama will surely do many stupid things that have dire consequences, but who will be there to point them out in a coherent way?
I take some comfort from Adam Smith's admonition that there's a great deal of ruin in a country. But I fear we may have to endure a good deal of it.
-- Susan B. Anthony
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Register ran an editorial today that made a similar argument. Coincidence? I think not. I'm afraid my former colleague John Seiler misunderstood the import of the editorial and attacked it in his own blog. We ran the editorial in part to undercut the idea that the United States needs to be actively interventionist overseas to counter these countries, because the threats are petering out of their own accord -- not only because of the falling price of oil but because that falling price exposes some inherent weaknesses in the economies of those countries. I agree with almost everything John wrote, in fact, except for the part where he said the Register had become economic nationalists, for heaven's sake. John and I will remain friends, of course.
As for the Clips, in addition to Baron, I expect Al Thornton and Thomas to have good years. But after the first quarter tonight, the Lakers were just too good.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I'm sad that drug law reform has not been an issue at all in the presidential campaign. Early on various advocates got most of the Democratic candidates, including Obama, to vow not to use the feds to go after patients and dispensaries in states with medical marijuana laws. McCain, of course, took exactly the wrong position on the issue. But it really hasn't come up since. I remember 1992, when Clinton won, going to a Drug Policy Alliance convention and finding most reformers ecstatic, convinced real reform was on the way. But Clinton soon set new records for marijuana arrests. Never underestimate the capacity for hypocrisy of a politician.
I was in the Supreme Court chambers when the court heard the original medical marijuana case, the request by the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club to have a "necessity" defense recognized for certain medical marijuana users under federal law. The court denied that, but during the course of oral argument Justice Ginsberg asked the government attorney why the government wasn't invoking the "supremacy clause" to invalidate California's medical marijuana law. The government attorney replied that this was simply one of those instances where, given the federalist nature of our constitutional structure, some states would simply have different laws regarding the medical use of cannabis than federal law, and it would be up to federal agents to enforce federal law and state agents to enforce state law. That was a welcome recognition of federalism by the Bush Justice Dept., which hardly did so consistently. The likelihood that the government would try to invoke the supremeacy clause now, after all these years, seems low.
Here's the Register's editorial on the subject.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: letter to Alexander Pope, from the field of Karlowitz, Prince Eugene's victory over the Turks.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The Penn State-Ohio State game was similarly interesting until very late, but even though an Ohio State win would have benefited USC (I'm West Coast-centric even when it's USC, though I'll have a different attitude in early December) I was kinda glad to see old Joe Pa's team doing so well this year. And the USC-Arizona game, finally won by USC, was hard-fought and could have gone the other way with some different breaks, even though I think USC is better talent-wise.
As of the UCLA-Cal game, what can I say? at the start of the 4th quarter I thought the Bruins had a chance, but they came up a yard short on the 3rd-and-forever and things just fell apart. I don't know if Kevin Craft will start the next game or not.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Russell Westbrook, who was at UCLA last year and with Oklahoma City this year, also looks good, especially for a rookie. Will he and Kevin Love be competing for Rookie of the Year.
It looks like another deep-into-the-playoffs and quite likely more season fro the Lakers this year -- if they can stay healthy.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
That's eloquent, but I'm not sure it's true. Though I know at some level I am almost ready to admit that I am closer to death than to birth that deceitful feeling, the heat of life, is almost as strong as when I was 18. I'm convinced that Eric Hoffer had it right when he commented that what the Greeks meant by the saying that the good die young, was that the good (viewed expansively, perhaps meaning those who are good at life) is that the good are young at heart and in seizing the joy of life to the end of their lives.
As this Register editorial outlines, based on various news reports, John McCain, who has survived both torture and melanoma, allowed some pool reporters to look over 1,200 pages of medical records for three hours, but not to make copies or take notes. Joe Biden had emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm in 1988, and he released some info, but nothing on whether he had recently had neurologicalo tests. Obama at first released a single-page lettter from a doctor saying he was in excellent health but no details, and finally, under pressure, results of some routine lab tests. Sarah Palin has released nothing, and although she said she would in her interview with Briabn Williams, it apparently took the campaign completely by surprise.
Is wanting such information an invasion of privacy? These people are seeking positions of awesome (even excessive) power over the rest of us. Knowing whether they're likely to keel over under stress is the least we should expect.
Talked to Ethan Nadelman, head of the Drug Policy Alliance, today, about Prop. 5, which would replace incarceration with treatment for most nonviolent drug offenders. He noted that almost none of the news stories mention that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that it would save taxpayers around $2.5 billion over time in the cost of prisons that don’t need to be built, or even that the LAO estimates that the costs of setting up better treatment programs would be offset by the reduction of costs associated with prisons (which is presumably why the prison guards union has donated a million bucks to the No campaign). In fact, the best I can figure it, Prop. 5 is the only proposition on the ballot that the LAO estimates would actually save taxpayers money at a time when the state is in a deep fiscal crisis.
He also noted that beer distributors have donated around $100,000 to the No campaign and various Indian casinos have kicked in around a quarter million. The keepers of the legalized vices apparently have a profound special interest in making sure nonviolent drug offenders go to jail.