Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Zero-Tolerance Watch

Fear of guns in this country has become totally, irrationally, batshit crazy. In Georgia, a seventh grader took a BB gun onto a school bus. Not a real gun, a BB gun. Now, BB guns can be dangerous, you could put somebody's eye out with one of those things. So I have no problem with rules against BB guns on school buses.

It's the punishment that's wrong. The boy has been expelled from school for a year and a half. That is way out of line for what is essentially a dangerous toy. There is probably no similar punishment for carrying a lawn dart, and those things were way more dangerous than BB guns. It's that "G" word that gets everybodies panties in a twist.

But it gets worse. Much worse. Two other boys have been expelled for a year and a half as well. Their "crime?"
Bussey and Burns were expelled for a year and a half for touching the gun.
Absolute, total, zero-tolerance lunacy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Lawyers

Here's an interesting article:
The Democratic Party has become the Lawyers' Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama are lawyers. John Edwards, the other former Democrat candidate for president, is a lawyer and so is his wife Elizabeth. Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate.) Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Benson, went to law school. Look at the Democrat Party in Congress: the Majority Leader in each house is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not lawyers, but businessmen. The leaders of the Republican Revolution were not lawyers. Newt Gingrich was a history professor; Tom Delay was an exterminator; and Dick Armey was an economist. House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer, not a lawyer. The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.
That's a novel thought. To be sure, there are too many lawyers in government on both sides of the aisle. But there do seem to be a disproportunate number on the Democrat side. And what is the result of all this?
The Lawyers' Party sees these sorts of people, who provide goods and services that people want, as the enemies of America. And so we have seen the procession of official enemies in the eyes of the Lawyers' Party grow. Against whom do Hillary and Obama rail? Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospitals, manufacturers, fast food restaurant chains, large retail businesses, bankers and anyone producing anything of value in our nation.
This is the natural consequence of viewing everything through the eyes of lawyers. Lawyers solve problems by successfully representing their clients, in this case the American people. Lawyers seek to have new laws passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent, and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.
Confined to the narrow practice of law, that is fine. But it is an awful way to govern a great nation. When politicians as lawyers begin to view some Americans as clients and other Americans as opposing parties, then the role of the legal system in our life becomes all consuming. Some Americans become "adverse parties" of our very government. We are not all litigants in some vast social class action suit. We are citizens of a republic which promises us a great deal of freedom from laws, from courts, and from lawyers.
I hadn't considered it before, but is it possible the red versus blue divide in this country arrises not so much as the result of a two party system, but as a result of the way the lawyers in both parties view the world and carry on their business?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Now, not only is the press refusing to label Eliot Spitzer a Democrat, it has actually re-assigned his party affiliation to Republican. Check out this headline:

Eliot Spitzer (R) holds a news conference in New York City with his wife Silda by his side

Monday, March 10, 2008

GOP Governor Entangled in Sex Scandal

From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK - Gov. Eliot Spitzer, accused in news reports of being involved in a prostitution ring, apologized to his family and the public on Monday at a hastily called news conference. He did not elaborate on the story.

With his wife at his side, Spitzer told reporters that he "acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family."

"I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself," he said. "I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."
Oh, wait. Though it never appears once in the story, Spitzer is actually a Democrat. So this is AP's headline instead: NY gov apologizes, but quiet on scandal

Friday, March 07, 2008

George McGovern: "Freedom Means Responsibility"

Boy, you know politics has changed in America when you see me quoting a new article by George McGovern of all people. The man sounds like a modern libertarian!
Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior. Much paternalist scrutiny has recently centered on personal economics, including calls to regulate subprime mortgages.
He goes on to vilify a list of government intrusions into personal decision making, including payday lending regulations and health insurance requirements. Then he finishes up by hitting the ball out of the park:
Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.
On October 1st, Minnesota instituted a state-wide ban on smoking in bars, restaurant, and other nightspots. The law provides and exception for performers in theatrical productions. So some nightclubs have decided that all the world's a stage:
So some bars are getting around the ban by printing up playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume, and pronouncing them "actors."
The customers are playing right along, merrily puffing away - and sometimes speaking in funny accents and doing a little improvisation, too. […]

"They're playing themselves before Oct. 1. You know, before there was a smoking ban," owner Brian Bauman explained. Shaping the words in the air with his hands, like a producer envisioning the marquee, he said: "We call the production, `Before the Ban!"'
Typically, the anti-smoking nazis are humorless about the whole thing:
About 30 bars in Minnesota have been exploiting the loophole by staging the faux theater productions and pronouncing cigarettes props, according to an anti-smoking group.

"It's too bad they didn't put as much effort into protecting their employees from smoking," grumbled Jeanne Weigum, executive director of the Association for Nonsmokers.
It's too bad you can't smile and let people enjoy their lives as they see fit, Jeanne. The funniest "production" of all is at the Queen City Sports Place, which calls its nightly production "The Tobacco Monologues."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So the governors of Florida and Michigan want to vote again.
The governors of both states are now saying they would consider holding a sort of do-over contest by June. So are top officials in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign.
It's kind of startling in its hubris, isn't it? The reason Florida and Michigan moved their primaries up was because they weren't influential enough. And they did it with full knowledge that they would be stripped of there delegates at the Democrat convention. Now, it seems like they could be even more influential with a late primary, and they want a shot at that, too!

By this formulation, why not schedule a primary every Tuesday from January 1st through April 30th, and only count the one that has the most national impact?