Thursday, September 29, 2005

But Richard Posner already has a --

U. of Chicago Law profs' new blog . . . coming soon.

Linked from Volokh. And, speaking of law, ROBERTS RULES! Literally!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On the job

Jabs and gaffes -- stranger than fiction. Here's proof that the fun doesn't have to stop once you've graduated from Columbia.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Apparently, the two links did not work. There they are again.

Kitzmiller v. Dover

This is an incredibly important case about to commence in federal district court in Pennsylvania. Here and here are articles about the issue. According to a recent Gallup Poll, more Americans believe that Creationism is "probably" or "definitely" true than believe the same about Evolution. As has been stated on many blogs and in numerous newspaper articles, intelligent design fails as a scientific theory, and does not deserve to be taught in a school room. I had hoped that this debate would have died off quite some time ago, but unfortunately, it has not.

Robert Novak? No...

You know something is rotten in Denmark (or D.C.) when Bob Novak writes a column even slightly critical of any members of the Republican Party.

Anti-War? No, Anti-U.S. Military

Christopher Hitchens condemns the media's whitewash of "progressive" protesters at last Saturday's, er, Iraq-themed rally in D.C.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.


CCL meeting tonight!

Monday, September 26
Radio Perfetto (118th and Amsterdam)
@ 9pm

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The maiden-name security myth

John Hargrave blows the lid off this one with a funny-but-real transcript of his phone call to Visa.

Just Say No.

Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins has written a provocative essay on the abuse of a particular drug condoned -- shockingly -- by most governments. Dawkins refers to this drug as "Gerin oil," though clearly he has something else in mind.

Oil-heads can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of mild violation of the laws of physics.

I can't say anything more without giving it away.

My new column

Here it is. I've had quite a bit of trouble with the editors at the Spectator, because once again they made a bad mistake. I did some major editing on this piece, but they somehow decided to publish Draft #1 instead of the final version. So there are mistakes in this piece...

Maybe they're just disorganized because it's early in the year, but it's getting on my nerves.

Anyway, remember, my column comes out every alternate Thursday!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Nothing's perfect, but . . .

Tomorrow's meet-up at RADIO PERFECTO might come close to perfection.

Join fellow liberty-minded Columbians from the law school, the business school and assorted undergraduate divisions for an evening of conversation and debate.

Monday Sept. 19 at 9 p.m.
Radio Perfecto Bar & Restaurant
118th & Amsterdam Ave.

A Woman President

... or something like that. It looks like Angela Merkel will become the first female chancellor of Germany. Gerhard Schroeder made up a ton of ground over the past few weeks because Merkel ran a very poor campaign. But Germany's terrible socialist-like economy did Schroeder in. Polls just closed about 15 minutes ago, and exit polls show Merkel up 2 points. Neither will get clos to a majority. Of course, exit polls have been wrong before...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Roberts: In nobody's pocket

An eloquent editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal defended John Roberts against Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant's charge that Roberts would, as Chief Justice, begin "moving the foul lines" of U.S. law and wreaking havoc with the Constitution.

Any reasonable person listening to Judge Roberts yesterday could only conclude that a judge who, if anything, disappointed despairing conservatives because of the caution with which he approaches the revisiting of past court decisions, would not be cavalier with the Constitution itself, as Mr. Oliphant thinks. Judge Roberts appeared to be so conservative an umpire, in fact, that his most animated criticism of the Dred Scott decision, which protected slavery, was that the high court went beyond the facts of the case. It is hard to imagine an umpire such as that moving the strike zone.

The problem with being so non-activist -- so appropriately unimaginative, as Roberts is -- is that nobody can claim him as a political pawn. He has few truly impassioned defenders, as a result -- few except those who hope he will prove every bit as originalist as he sounds.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Oh, those bellicose Brits

Christopher Hitchens is gearing up for tomorrow's Iraq War debate with George Galloway at Baruch College.

Hitchens and Galloway go way back -- but not in a good way. Hitchens, the Nation-Trotskyite-turned-neocon, didn't pull any punches in his latest Slate column.

The "anti-war" movement has as its new star a man who is openly pro-war, but openly on the other side. A man who supported the previous oppressors of the region—the Soviet army in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq—who supports its current oppressors—Bashar Assad and his Lebanese proxies—and who still has time to endorse its potential future tyrants in the shape of the jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere. Galloway began his political life as a fifth-rate apologist for the Soviet Union, but he has now diversified into being an apologist for Stalinism, for fascism, and for jihadism all at once!

Things could get ugly tomorrow night. Get your tickets, folks, before they're sold out.

UPDATE: All sold out, but you can listen on the radio in real time.

Monday, September 12, 2005


CCL meeting tonight (Monday)!


408 Hamilton


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Unlikeliest "Huffington Post" Post EVER

Who says they don't listen to dissenters at the Huffington Post? Apparently they gave this guy his own column.

Have you ever worked on anything that turned a profit?

Are you into global justice?
Have you tried to unionise sweatshop workers in China?
Have you helped organize sex workers in Bangkok?
and you actually got three back to your hotel room for sixty bucks?

Did you ever work for a bi-annual feminist journal?

CCL Meetings

Two things:

1) I think we all decided on Monday nights at 9pm for meetings. Andrew--you know the room, right?

2) We should do some flyering. So you know all of those quotes people have been posting on the blog? We should do one-liners like those and post them around campus (individual initiative here, guys) saying at the bottom "Columbia College LIbertarians. Meetings on Monday at 9pm Room ___"

How does that sound to everyone?

(I'm posting this on the blog because I think it will reach the most amount of people; that way, we'll get the most number of flyers up. )

Can we do this also?

Ukraine's Yuschenko Fires Government.

By the way, when is the first club meeting going to be?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More on Katrina...and by the way--I love John Tierney

This is his op-ed today. It's about how a more localized government could have prevented the massive death tolls of Katrina.

I've copied and pasted it all below:

Magic Marker Strategy

It was the climax of George W. Bush's video introduction at the Republican convention: the moment at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series when he threw a pitch all the way to home plate. The video ended, and the conventioneers cheered as Mr. Bush strode onto a stage shaped like a pitcher's mound.

Well, live by the pitch, die by the pitch. When you campaign as the man on the mound, the great leader whose arm rescues Americans in their moment of need, they expect you to deal with a hurricane, too.

Mr. Bush made a lot of mistakes last week, but most of his critics are making an even bigger one now by obsessing about what he said and did. We can learn more by listening to men like Jim Judkins, particularly when he explains the Magic Marker method of disaster preparedness.

Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.

That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain. It's the same lesson we should have learned from Sept. 11 and other disasters, yet both liberals and conservatives keep ignoring it.

The liberals bewailing the insensitivity and racism of Republicans in Washington sound like a bad rerun of the 1960's, when urban riots were blamed on everyone but the rioters and the police. Yes, the White House did a terrible job of responding to Katrina, but Democratic leaders in New Orleans and Louisiana didn't even fulfill their basic duties.

In coastal Virginia - which, by the way, has a large black population and plenty of Republican politicians - Mr. Judkins and his colleagues assume that it's their job to evacuate people, maintain order and stockpile supplies to last for 72 hours, until federal help arrives. In New Orleans, the mayor seemed to assume all that was beyond his control, just like the mayors in the 1960's who let the riots occur.

They said their cities couldn't survive without help from Washington, which proceeded to shower inner cities with money and programs that did more damage than the riots. Cities didn't recover until some mayors, especially Republicans like Rudy Giuliani, tried self-reliance.
Mr. Giuliani was called heartless and racist for cutting the welfare rolls and focusing on crime reduction, but black neighborhoods were the greatest beneficiaries of his policies. He was criticized for ignoring social services as he concentrated on reorganizing the Police and Fire Departments, but his cold effectiveness made the city a more livable place and kept it calm after Sept. 11.

Yet Mr. Bush, with approval from conservatives who should have known better, reacted to Sept. 11 by centralizing disaster planning in Washington. He created the byzantine Homeland Security Department, with predictable results last week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, often criticized for ineptitude, became even less efficient after it was swallowed by a bureaucracy consumed with terrorism. The department has spent billions on new federal airport screeners - with no discernible public benefit - while giving short shrift to natural disasters.

The federal officials who had been laboring on a one-size-fits-all strategy were unprepared for the peculiarities of New Orleans, like the high percentage of people without cars. The local officials who knew about that problem didn't do anything about it - and then were furious when Mr. Bush didn't solve it for them. Why didn't the man on the mound come through for them?

It's a fair question as they go door to door looking for bodies. But so is this: Why didn't they go door to door last week with Magic Markers?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

My Libertarian Response to a Natural Disaster

As an avowed Libertarian, people often ask me the "tough" questions, such as "would I give a starving child a muffin if it would save his/her life and wouldn't cost me anything?" These type of questions are meant to show me that my beliefs in personal responsibility and anti-altruism are so ridiculous and morally reprehensible that I should renounce my entire belief structure in favor of a more "compassionate" or "progressive" philosophy. Because I know that arguing with people who pose such questions to me is essentially useless (they aren't going to convince me of my error any more than I am going to convince them of my sincerity), I just nod and walk away. The real answer (at least for me) is that being a libertarian is not a day-to-day philosophy of life. Just as most Marxists would happily win the lottery and buy a new Rolls-Royce, I can, without any internal philosophical turmoil, donate blood or buy a cup of coffee for the neighborhood panhandler on a cold, winter night. Howard Roark might be an idealized model, but he is also an impossibility in the contemporary world of compromise and coexistence.
Why does this matter at all when faced with the horrendous realities of a natural disaster? It matters because I, as a semi-affluent student, feel some small measure of "guilt" (call it a Nietzschean conscience, or a Judeo-Christian inspired moral responsibility) if I do not donate some of my time and money to the relief effort. This guilt is at constant loggerheads with my philosophical stance of libertarianism. I imagine that many other libertarians feel the same conflict and, although I can speak for no one other than myself, I thought I might offer the solution which has provided me a measure of personal satisfaction.
While I do not normally believe in "charity" in the sense of tithing or giving monies to random groups with political agendas or moral missions, this is because many of those groups seek to assist individuals who have, in some way, brought themselves into a difficult situation or are merely seeking a way out of adversity without trying to work for their way out. I believe in neither a "hand out" or a "hand up."
Natural disasters, on the other hand, provide an entirely different set of circumstances. The individuals affected by the tragedy did nothing to bring their family to dire straits, and the doctrines of Social Darwinism should not apply. Certainly, the argument can be made that they knew that they were living in an area that would potentially be flooded, or that they did not heed the warnings of the weather service, or that they did not take adequate safety precautions to protect against the possibility of such a tragedy. However, these arguments fail when applied to the greater category of natural disasters. There is a reason insurance companies characterize certain things as "acts of god" - there is no way to protect against such circumstances. A tidal wave could destroy Los Angeles or New York as surely as it did Thailand and Bangladesh, and an earthquake could destroy Atlanta or Minneapolis as surely as it did Iran or San Fransisco. Tornadoes, lightning storms or hurricanes are unpredictable and tragic - we should never blame the victims for their "unpreparedness."
I will donate money to the Red Cross, or some other humanitarian organization. I will do this not out of any "duty" to help my fellow man, or any responsibility I might have (as I do not recognize any such duty, nor would I condemn anyone who decided against giving money or aid in this, or any similar, situation). I am doing this because I believe that when people are stricken by forces outside of their control and beyond their ability to prevent, it is no vice to attempt to help them. It may not be a virtue, either, but each person should make their own decision. For me, in this moment, I will give, and I will be happy to do so.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ask him about the "Constitution in Exile" movement.

Next Wednesday night, Richard Epstein will kick off the Friedrich Hayek lecture series at NYU. The new annual series "focuses on the analysis of law from a classical liberal perspective."

WHEN: Wednesday 9/7/2005 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Greenberg Lounge, Vanderbilt Hall, NYU (at 40 Washington Square South)

If you have any questions, or to RSVP, please contact Arden Ohls at:
arden dot ohls at nyu dot edu.

Spec Column

Hi guys, I haven't posted all summer but I'm back now. I just wanted to let everyone know that I've won a regular column in the Spec this year, which I've entitled "Publius Deux". It will run on alternate Thursdays.

The reason I bring this up is because I just had the realization that I need to produce upwards of 15 columns in the next 6 to 8 months. That's a lot. So if anyone has some good column ideas, with some good literature for facts & quotes, I'd love it. I'm already writing my first column, on the Hurricane, and it will be published on Thursday the 8th. But after that, I have no specific column ideas ready. So leave comments here or e-mail me at jlw2028. Thanks.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Win Ben Stein's Hindsight

A famous Columbia alum has some sober advice for the class of 2009.

I still know less than I would like to know about the material world and all other parts of life, but here, in outline form, is what I wish I had been told when I was a cowering 17-year-old in Hamilton Hall....