26 May 2009

Nock Nock

A very good piece by Jonah Goldberg at National Review led me to read further into Albert Jay Nock. I had seen and heard the name around for a while, especially since getting more invloved with Libertarian history and it intellectual underpinnings.
His article led me to Nock's piece "Isaiah's Job."
Which led me to get Our Enemy the State from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Can't wait to read it.

Reaching Better Conclusions

Judge Sonya Sotomayor, President Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court has said:
Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise
old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases....
I am... not so sure that I agree with the statement. First... there can never be
a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman
with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better
conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
If this is her feeling, then its obvious that the bench need be made up solely of women on Hispanic descent. They will reach better conclusions due to the richness of their experiences that no mere caucasion could fathom. Was Ledbetter decided properly? According to the president it wasn't, as this is the case that he cited when saying he wants empathetic judges.

I'll say yet again, judges being empathetic is just dandy, so long as their empathy doesn't interfere with their interpretation of the law. But how, specifically, did Ledbetter betray any sense of empathy? The legislature was silent on a particular issue, the plaintiff sued based on a particular statute and not another, where the question of the timeliness of the act was covered in her favor. Were the justices to say, "Well the statute is silent on this particular matter and it is obvious that there was discrimination (they held that there was) so we'll decide in her favor"?


It is tough to tell what reasoning they should have had because former constitutional scholar and professor Obama did not share any specifics.

But soon we will have Justice Sotomayor (alas, only one of her) and we will then be able to know all that we've been missing throughout our poor history; wanting the richness of experience that she will now be in position to share.

A few other points: she's not Latina. She's American of Puerto Rican descent. There is no Latin America. At least not on any map I've ever seen. The Caribbean Islands and Central and South America were conquered and settled by the Spanish and Portugese. I can't recall ever hearing the phrase Latin American before the 1990s. The use of Latin, in this sense, is due to the fact that the areas were ruled by nations who spoke Romance languages, of which, coincidentally, English is one. Languages derived from the mother Roman tongue, Latin. These cultures are no more ingrained with ancient Roman culture than the US or Canada, and in some instances very much farther removed. So technically, all of the Americas are Latin America and someone born in the Bronx in 1954 would do just as well to look at herself as an American first and foremost, one who is about to have a pretty damn important job.

It also grates my gears when native English speakers pronounce it "Lateena," or better yet "Lateeña," to show that they're hip or whatever. I've noticed this is only done with Spanish and no other language--other that when the talking heads starting speaking of Qatar and pronouncing it gutter as a fluent Arabian might, except those fluent Arabians at the Qatari embassy who would pronounce it Qatar because they were in America. Paris is never, thankfully, referred to as Paree. I've never heard anyone affect the proper German (or hoch Deutsch) pronunciation of Bonn or Berlin. When I took German in high school and college I briefly affected the German accent when speaking of particular towns or phrases, properly pronouncing Gesundhëit and such. I sounded like, and was, a horse's ass.

I've heard of Judge Sotomayor bfore (she was involved in the labor dispute between Major League Baseball and the Players Association in the mid-90s) and her name was always pronounced as it reads, emphasis on the "s" and crisp pronunciation of the "t" and mayor was articulated the same was as the elected officials on large towns and cities. But this morning, the Latin bug (in the bastardized, identity-politics sense) seemed to creep out of hiding and the emphasis is "SoTomayOR."

I don't know how she'll be as a justice, she may end up being as good as Souter sucked--I doubt it, but one can hope, eh? But her above referenced quote is disturbing, as is Obama's view of what baggage a judge should carry with him when reading a text.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh considers whether Benjamin Cardozo, who was Hispanic, was also "Latin." He seems to accept as legitimate, though ruefully, the "latino/a" moniker.
Again, it's a false creation for political purposes. If proposed legislation in America were to benefit, say, Panama or Nicaragua it may or may not pass based on the merits of the actual legislation. If the legislation is phrased to benefit "Latin America" or "Latin Americans" its passage is all but guaranteed--unless its a free-trade agreement that pisses off the unions, then there might be some issues, but its identity politics all the same

22 May 2009

The More Things Change

President Obama cites the transgressions and inadequacies of the previous administration viz. the war on terror, or whatever its now called. Citing, accurately in my view, that it is a false choice between protecting our sovereignty (which is what it really is and is the primary responsibility of the federal government; further the phrase "protecting the homeland" just doesn't sit well in my ears) and combating and preventing the idiots who would kill and terrorize us.
Dick Cheney then speaks about how the previous administration did well by the American people, evidenced by the fact that there weren't further attacks on us since the big one that happened on their watch--which was entirely preventable under then-existing US law. He then tells everyone that the new administration is putting American citizens at risk by abandoning the policies of the Bush administration.
The there's Jack Goldsmith, who served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for the Bush administration from October 2003 to August 2004. He wrote a great book called The Terror Presidency. He has an article up at The New Republic which shows that other than rhetoric and presentation, the current administration is really just following the policies of the past one.


I'm reading Why is the Foul Pole Fair? Answers to 101 of the Most Perplexing Baseball Questions and I stumbled upon this little gem on page 200:

"...in 1895, when Cavagnaros Peanuts, a New York peanut vendor, couldn't pay for its ad in the Giants program and traded product [sic] for the ad. [Harry M.] Stevens sold the peanuts at the park and, according to Amusement Business magazine, this was the origin of the phrase "working for peanuts."

As anyone who knows me can attest, this is the sort of minutiae I love and I'll probably carry this with me forever.
Also, let it be known that I am indeed more than two-thirds of the way through the book and I haven't gotten the answer to the question in the title and I will be pissed if I don't. Otherwise it's a great read. It isn't just a list of facts and non sequiturs. It's the story of a middle-aged man and his son going to a game and riddled with facts and stories throughout.

19 May 2009

Ponuru's Juju

The increasingly bitter Ramesh Ponuru, apparently thinking that conservatism is in just dandy shape thankyouverymuch, decides to alienate further pretty strong, logical allies...

Last Word [Ramesh Ponnuru]

As long as libertarians continue to display the kind of pseudo-principled indifference to public opinion and political reality that you keep flaunting, Jerry, you'll keep enjoying the political irrelevance you do today.

05/18 02:10 PM

Maybe the end could have been seen coming in his daft, incoherent book fatally rigged with logical flaws, but the end is here. Ponuru demonstrates skill at being "politically" flexible by backing an administration and party that introduced (at the time) the largest increase in federal dependency ever--by the party allegedly in favor of reducing the federal government to its proper role--and intellectually retarded by lambasting libertarians for being out of touch.

If libertarians are politically irrelevant, I would like to be the first to welcome Ponuru's & Limbaugh's brand of conservatism to Siberia.

02 May 2009

The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way

I heard this on NPR a few weeks ago. I was intrigued by the poem, read perfectly by William H. Macy. I picked up the book shortly thereafter and am getting through it.

The poems are perfectly written. Really a good read. Here.

'The Drunken Driver Has the Right Of Way'
by Ethan Coen
The loudest have the final say,
The wanton win, the rash hold sway,
The realist's rules of order say
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The Kubla Khan can butt in line;
The biggest brute can take what's mine;
When heavyweights break wind, that's fine;
No matter what a judge might say,
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The guiltiest feel free of guilt;
Who care not, bloom; who worry, wilt;
Plans better laid are rarely built
For forethought seldom wins the day;
The drunken driver has the right of way.

The most attentive and unfailing
Carefulness is unavailing
Wheresoever fools are flailing;
Wisdom there is held at bay;
The drunken driver has the right of way.

De jure is de facto's slave;
The most foolhardy beat the brave;
Brass routs restraint; low lies high's grave;
When conscience leads you, it's astray;
The drunken driver has the right of way.

It's only the naivest who'll
Deny this, that the reckless rule;
When facing an oncoming fool
The practiced and sagacious say
Watch out — one side — look sharp — gang way.

However much you plan and pray,
Alas, alack, tant pis, oy vey,
Now — heretofore — til Judgment Day,
The drunken driver has the right of way.