Liberty

…And the lack thereof.

Ignoring the Constitution: it's not just for Democrats anymore

After taking a shot at Rick Santorum about the apparent incongruity between his strict constructionist stance and his zeal for federal restrictions on abortions, I was gratified to see that I wasn't the only one to notice. The Volokh Conspiracy, one of the best law-oriented blogs out there, today has a post by David Kopel pointing out that Santorum and four other Republican presidential candidates have signed a pledge that states almost in the same breath that they will appoint strict constructionist justices to the Supreme Court and that they will promote and sign a law that almost certainly would not survive scrutiny by such justices.

Sympathy for the devil

I challenge anyone to provide a reputable source for this supposed quote attributed to GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum:

Abortion in any form is wrong, except for my wife. If your wife's life was at stake and the only thing that could save her was an abortion, well, too bad. Your wife will have to die. It was different with my wife. You see, I love her. I don't even know your wife's name.

The FairTax Book
Neal Boortz and John Linder

I have to hand it to Mr Boortz and Congressman Linder: whether you like their proposal or not, they are actually thinking about how to improve our current hideous taxation system. In fact, their proposal replaces the entire Internal Revenue Service so unless you’re a big fan of the devil you know, right off the bat their proposal almost has to be a good one.

Toward a new right

From time to time I am reminded of the complete and utter inadequacy of the terms «left» and «right» as they pertain to the realm of political beliefs. Even the Libertarian Party's two-axis Nolan Chart is only a small step in the right direction. This kind categorization oversimplifies opinion about the role of government in a dangerous way that prevents both liberty and progress.

From hearing all the academic jingoists quoting Tocqueville I had the impression that Democracy in America would turn out to be a glowing review of the marvel that is American Democracy. In some aspects it certainly is; Tocqueville had great admiration for the accomplishments of the fledgling republic. What I found surprising was how critical he was not just of the United States, but of democracy itself.

My interest in the Supreme Court was rekindled recently when I learned just prior to his retirement announcement that Justice David Souter writes his opinions with a fountain pen, just as I'm presently writing this review (the first draft, anyhow.) It's a trivial detail, but it motivated me to seek more information about the Justice.

Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

I’ve got to finish listing all the books I read last year before I can start writing about this year’s books, and this one has been a tough one to write about. I’m very deeply ambivalent about Atlas Shrugged, more so than about The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is Rand’s later work, written and published almost a decade and a half after The Fountainhead, and the scope is far grander.

Happy Birthday to the Rail Splitter!

1909 VDBThere are more anniversaries today than I originally realized. Thanks to @spacehobo for reminding me. Although we officially celebrate «President's Day» on this coming Monday, once upon a time calendars celebrated Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays separately and on the correct days. Today, quite auspiciously, is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

This means it's also the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Cent, which was designed and placed into circulation to honor Lincoln's 100th birthday. I have a modest collection of them. I don't quite have one of each, but I do have some key years. The rarer and more expensive ones in my collection tend to be pretty beat up; I think I'm doing pretty well if I can get my hands on a coin so worn the date is barely readable, if the alternative is blowing my rent money. I've paid over 300000% of face value for some, which sounds like a lot more than it is.

God Bless These United States

It’s a glad day for me. For the first time in my life a man I voted for has taken the office of President of the United States. America has shown a willingness to transcend the prejudice that has poisoned so many chapters of our history. I keep on thinking about how it was less than fifty years ago that people were skeptically whispering, «do you think that America is ready to elect a Catholic President?» Today proves not that America is free of racism (which it isn’t) but that we are able to hold more closely to our ideals than we do to the stories we tell when we second-guess ourselves.

The fifth book I read this year was Candice Millard's River of Doubt, the story of Theodore Roosevelt's 1914 exploration of uncharted territory in South America. Both Obama and McCain have invoked Roosevelt's name (and no, Obama wasn't talking about FDR though I'm sure he has good things to say about him as well) in the current campaign for president, and bully for them. You don't get much better than Theodore Roosevelt.

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