Comparing Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan

Ta-Nehisi Coates offers up some beautiful prose comparing Ron Paul and and Louis Farrakhan:

As surely as Ron Paul speaks to a real issue–the state’s broad use of violence and surveillance–which the America’s political leadership has failed to address, Farrakhan spoke to something real, something unsullied, which black America’s political leadership failed to address, Both Paul and Farrakhan, in their glamour, inspired the young, the disaffected, the disillusioned.

To those who dimly perceived something wrong, something that could not be put on a placard, or could not move the party machine, men such as this become something more than political operators, they become symbols. Substantive charges against them, no matter the reasons, are dismissed. The movement they represent means more. But as sure as the followers of Farrakhan deserved more than UFOs, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, those of us who oppose the drug-war, who oppose the Patriot Act deserve better than Ron Paul.

 The full piece is well worth a read.

Some People

From and NYT article discussing a Libyan no-fly zone:

Even so, the opening mission of imposing a no-fly zone would almost certainly include missile attacks on air defense sites of a sovereign nation, which some would indeed regard as an act of war.

Some?  Some would regard this as an act of war?  I’m pretty sure that if another nation launched missile attacks on American air defense sites more than just “some” of us would consider it an act of war.  That’s not to say a no fly zone isn’t the answer, but let’s agree to call a spade a spade.

Executive Branch Power Play

Details here, in a discussion on whether the executive branch is required to automatically defend all laws passed by congress, or only the ones the President agrees with:

Instead of requiring DOJ to defend the constitutionality of all federal statutes if it has a reasonable basis to do so, the new approach invests within DOJ a power to conduct an independent constitutional review of the issues, to decide the main issues in the case — in this case, the degree of scrutiny for gay rights issues — and then, upon deciding the main issue, to decide if there is a reasonable basis for arguing the other side. If you take that view, the Executive Branch essentially has the power to decide what legislation it will defend based on whatever views of the Constitution are popular or associated with that Administration. It changes the role of the Executive branch in defending litigation from the traditional dutiful servant of Congress to major institutional player with a great deal of discretion.

Here are the potential consequences:

If Congress passes legislation on a largely party-line vote, the losing side just has to fashion some constitutional theories for why the legislation is unconstitutional and then wait for its side to win the Presidency. As soon as its side wins the Presidency, activists on its side can file constitutional challenges based on the theories; the Executive branch can adopt the theories and conclude that, based on the theories, the legislation is unconstitutional; and then the challenges to the legislation will go undefended.

On Our Purpose in Life

Gail Gollins on her purpose on this earth:

David Brooks: Most people in public life are in it for the right reasons. They’re representing a point of view or a group. They’re faced with horrendous character tests — a system that perpetually tempts them to put loyalty to the team ahead of loyalty to the truth. I find the most accurate approach is to view them with sympathetic scrutiny but rarely outright scorn.

Gail Collins: On behalf of the scorn contingent, I have to protest. I’m with you about there being very few evil people in politics, but there are a LOT of self-satisfied, shallow careerists, and I was put on this earth to make fun of them.

Farm Policy

It’s been well known for some time that U. S. farm policy consists of large farming corporations handing policians campaign donations, and politicians handing these companies large quantities of taxpayer cash in return.  In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal discusses just how rediculous this policy has become, and the lengths our politicians will go to in their efforts to protect this waste of taxpayer money.

U.S. cotton farmers took in almost $2.3 billion dollars in government subsidies in 2009, and the top 10% of the recipients got 70% of the cash. Now Uncle Sam is getting ready to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for another $147.3 million a year for a new round of cotton payments, this time to Brazilian growers.

Here’s the problem: The World Trade Organization has ruled that subsidies to American cotton growers under the 2008 farm bill are a violation of U.S. trading commitments. The U.S. lost its final appeal in the case in August 2009 and the WTO gave Brazil the right to retaliate.

Brazil responded by drafting a retaliation list threatening tariffs on more than 100 U.S. exports, including autos, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, electronics, textiles, wheat, fruits, nuts and cotton. The exports are valued at about $1 billion a year, and the tariffs would go as high as 100%. Brazil is also considering sanctions against U.S. intellectual property, including compulsory licensing in pharmaceuticals, music and software.

The Obama Administration appreciates the damage this retaliation would cause, so in April it sent Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro to negotiate. She came back with a promise from Brazil to postpone the sanctions for 60 days while it considers a U.S. offer to—get this—let American taxpayers subsidize Brazilian cotton growers.

I’m really not sure what to say.

Spending or Taxes?

Given a choice between:

a.  Cutting spending
b.  Raising taxes

It seems that most people choose “c.  Magic more money into existence.”  Presto:  you have California.  Also, our federal government.

Surrendering the Doctrine of Original Intent?

In a comment in a thread over at McArdle’s blog on the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision on political spending by corporations and political advocacy groups, themightypuck discusses the demise of original intent:

themightypuck: And, while I agree that the decision is probably the correct one, it is a bit of a high wire act for an originalist to come to said conclusion.

Alsadius: How so? “Congress shall make no law…” seems pretty much what the original intent was, given that that’s how it’s written.

themightypuck: The entire text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I’m quite happy that centuries of jurisprudence have defined speech to mean more than speech and I only mention it here as evidence of what I see as the failure of originalism.

The issue with this statement is that the founders clearly meant speech to include the printed word, and you can argue that television advertising is the modern equivalent of the printed word.  Not being a student of the law, I can’t tell you how the original intent doctrine deals with technological development.

The outrage is that this decision, which overrules a law put into place by the people’s elected representatives as well as two past Supreme Court precedents, was handed down by a group of justices (and celebrated by a group of activists) who all claim to be against judicial activism.