Monday, October 31, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why Ms. Dowd is Still Single

You know feminism hasn't brought us to the promised rose garden when Maureen Dowd is lamenting the movement's crash 'n' burn.
Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the author of "Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children," a book published in 2002, conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of 35-year-old career women were childless. And among corporate executives who earn $100,000 or more, she said, 49 percent of the women did not have children, compared with only 19 percent of the men.

"You can have it all," they told us. "Marriage, children, a fantastic career!"
We have ourselves to blame for believing them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Draft Mrs. R.

What Supreme Court vacancy? Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online identifies a solution we've all managed to overlook.
Since the Democrats and liberals liked Roberts so much and we [conservatives] liked Roberts so much, isn't the answer obvious? Give Roberts two votes!

Of course, with O'Connor gone, there's still the worrisome 50 percent reduction in female representation on the court. But wait -- isn't Roberts' wife a pro-life-group-affiliated lawyer?

The Capitalist Manifesto

Hear all about The Capitalist Manifesto at a meeting of the NYU Objectivist Club. Author Andrew Bernstein will discuss his new book.

7 p.m. on Friday, October 28

Room 900 Series, Kimmel Center
60 Washinton Square South

intelligent design panel

Wednesday, November 2nd at 12:20 in room 102 of Jerome Green Hall at Columbia University Law School, the Columbia Law School Libertarians, together with the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society will be hosting a panel debate on Intelligent Design. Speaking will be:

Professor David Helfand, chairman of the Columbia Astronomy Department
Professor Kent Greenawalt, University Professor of Law
Mr. Mark Ryland, Vice-President of the Discovery Institute (the preeminent pro-ID organization)

This event will be fantastic. Hope you all can make it.

Ben

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

File under "Too Cute For Words"

The NPR reporter assigned to cover Plamegate -- the scandal involving Lewis Libby et al. -- is none other than Libby Lewis.
They were born Irving Lewis Libby and Dorothy Elizabeth Lewis, and if they went by Irving Libby and Dottie Lewis, there would be no dots to connect. BUT . . . “Scooter” Libby never uses his first name, and Lewis can’t stand her first name (”I’m not a Dorothy. I’m a Libby”). Coincidence? We think not.

Too bad they aren't married to each other. Libby Lewis could have become Libby Libby.

Calling all freshmen!

If you're 19 years old, you're young enough to enter this essay contest on the topic of racial profiling. (Hint: Write in opposition to racial profiling if you want to win the $1000 prize.)

Essay length: 1000-1500 words
Deadline: March 1, 2006

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Nom de leak

Andrew Stuttaford has written a column on NRO that's so wonderfully quotable, I don't know which lines to copy and paste here.
The promise Libby and Rove were seeking, and that Miller and Cooper purported to give, had nothing to do with any grand jury. It was that the sources' names would never be revealed to the public.

Yet, you are the public, and you do know their sources. Why?

You know them because the journalists decided to tell you. Miller and Cooper both made certain that the public knew every syllable uttered by the sources they've sanctimoniously told us, again and again, they made commitments to shield. And they did it in the worst possible way: in hyper-hyped, autobiographical, self-adulating accounts of their valiant struggle to withhold information from a grand jury despite that nagging inconvenience the rest of us know as the law. Miller, in fact, is planning to cash in with a book about the whole thing, while the previously obscure Cooper has become America's latest fifteen-minute celebrity (whose clock, we can hope, is nearing its last ticks).

And you needn't feel sorry for Judy "Jailbird" Miller. Read Stuttaford's column to find out more....

Rosa Parks dies at age 92 yesterday

Rosa Parks was a true freedom-fighter. As the NYTimes puts it,

The truth, as she later explained, was that she was tired of being humiliated, of having to adapt to the byzantine rules, some codified as law and others passed on as tradition, that reinforced the position of blacks as something less than full human beings.


Wikipedia gives a great overview of the story we all know so well, but is worth repeating:

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Parks refused to obey a public bus driver's orders to move to the back of the bus to make extra room for whites. She was arrested, tried, and convicted of disorderly conduct as well as of violating a local ordinance.

The following night, 50 leaders of the African American community, headed by the then relatively unknown minister Martin Luther King, Jr (pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama) gathered to discuss the proper actions to be taken as a result of Mrs. Parks’ arrest. What ensued next was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The entire black community boycotted public buses for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months until the law legalizing segregation in public buses was lifted. This event helped spark many other protests against segregation. Through her role in initiating this boycott, Rosa Parks helped make other Americans aware of the civil rights struggle. Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book, Stride Toward Freedom, "Mrs. Parks’ arrest was the precipitating factor rather than the cause of the protest. The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices...Actually no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'"

In 1956 Parks’ case ultimately resulted in United States Supreme Court's ruling that segregated bus service was unconstitutional.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Event at the Law School

On November 2nd at 12:00 noon, there will be a panel discussion on Intelligent Design. Speaking are Professors David Helfand of the Columbia astronomy department and Kent Greenawalt of the Law School, and tentatively Mr. Mark Ryland, Vice-President of the Discovery Institute. Tell all your friends.

The Columbia Law School Libertarians will be sponsoring the event, together with the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.

They didn't use the Miers method to pick him.

Well, Glenn Hubbard will remain in Morningside Heights for the foreseeable future. I'll admit I'm disappointed he wasn't chosen to replace Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Disappointed, but not surprised -- since Hubbard's experience lies in fiscal policy (see 2003 tax cuts) and not monetary policy (the business of the Fed).

Looks like the person Bush chose is a pretty smart guy. Here's a paragraph from the NY Times article announcing his nomination:
Ben Shalom Bernanke, the son of a pharmacist in Dillon, S.C., displayed his significant intellectual capacity early in life. He won the state spelling bee in the sixth grade, taught himself calculus in high school, and earned the highest college admission test scores in South Carolina in the year that he applied to college.


UPDATE: We may have a Keynesian on our hands. NRO's John Tamny had nothing nice to say about Bernanke in a column written two months ago.

Still missing Hiss after all these years

I'll try to verify this later -- after class -- but Jay Nordlinger's latest column has a second-hand report of some institutionalized eulogizing of the late Alger Hiss, who was convicted and jailed for spying on America for the KGB.
A law-school friend of mine sent me this notice: "The Isabel and Alger Hiss Government Misconduct Internship has been made possible through the generous gift of the Estate of Isabel Johnson Hiss." My friend asked, "DOESN'T THIS BOTHER ANYONE?"

Not exactly the "Boo, Hiss" this communist traitor deserves.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It's the money supply, stupid.

A writer over at Techcentralstation says that energy prices are rising, sure, but don't be fooled. The central banks are to blame for inflation.
As important as they might be, rising oil or other energy prices cannot be the primary cause of higher consumer prices. For this to be true, the quantity of money would have to be passive and adjust itself to accommodate increases in input costs.

However, the reverse is true in that overall costs can only rise when there is an excessive expansion in credit or the money supply. Unless there are offsetting increases in money supply or credit, higher oil prices would force down all or some other prices.

Costs and prices can only rise in all or most sectors if the central bank engages in monetary pumping by loosening credit policies by lowering benchmark interest rates.

A wise man once wrote, "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon."

Sometimes a horse is just a horse.

The government of Mongolia gave Donald Rumsfeld a gift horse -- literally -- when he paid a visit to thank the country's military for its 131-troop presence in Iraq.

But the Defense Secretary's plane is ill-equipped for transporting equine cargo, so Rumsfeld arranged to house his new pet with a Mongolian herder until he's able to fetch it sometime in the future.

None of this is the slightest bit interesting, but the New York Times gave it a 600-word article topped with a cheesy, pun-filled headline.

In dazzling sunlight on the grounds of the Mongolian Defense Ministry, Mr. Rumsfeld took the reins of the calm gelding and said, "I am proud to be the owner of that proud animal." He immediately announced that he would name the horse Montana, because the dusty plains and mountains that ring the Mongolian capital reminded him of that Rocky Mountain state.
The entire exchange recalled an ancient era of alliance and conquest, when a warrior's word was law and the long knives were carried in the open.


Huh? Conquest? Warrior? Either this reporter is free-associating, or somebody needs to lay off the Godfather trilogy DVDs.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fluttering Feminists

Last May, Yale's alumni magazine focused on religious activity on campus. The issue's cover had a cheery, relaxed photo of Yale's four chaplains--a Protestant, a Jew, a Buddhist and a Catholic. And, heck, the Protestant minister is black. The photo seems to depict a diverse yet unified campus.

But wait a minute! This is a picture of four males. In the words of one outraged alumna, the cover photo "waters down religion at Yale to a patriarchy in which students are asked to conform to the God of the old boys' network."

Heather Mac Donald counters the allegations in a fantastic Weekly Standard piece:
This is the same magazine that enthusiastically follows every latest development in Yale's women's and gender studies program, as well as in its queer studies initiatives. In the issue in which Tumminio's and Robert's letters appear, the renowned-alumnus slot goes to Debbie Stoller, the editor of Bust magazine ("For Women With Something to Get Off Their Chests") and author of Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, which inspired an international network of women's knitting groups.

If you're a stickler for equal representation, this photo on the Yale Divinity School website seems grossly offensive. Doesn't it?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I hear she's a great bowler, too.

How Harriet Miers got her job -- and how you, too, can get a job for life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

That answer isn't even wrong.

Harriet Miers has officially gone from dark-horse candidate to dumb-horse candidate.

Monday, October 17, 2005

CCL MEETING TONIGHT!

CCL MEETING TONIGHT (Monday)
9pm
Hamilton 408
FREE PIZZA AND SODA!!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Successful, Popular... They Must Be Stopped.

Wal-Mart wants to open a bank -- to serve itself, not the public, and save money when processing credit card transactions. But to others in the banking business, this spells bad news.

A coalition has formed to keep Wal-Mart out of banking and includes the Independent Community Bankers of America (which provided a sample letter for its members to send to the F.D.I.C.), the National Grocers Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores and the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which is trying unionize Wal-Mart workers. A coalition of community groups called Wal-Mart Watch has sent a petition to the F.D.I.C. with 11,000 signatures opposing Wal-Mart's application.

What if Wal-Mart eventually opens its bank to the public? We all know what happens when Wal-Mart gets its finger in anything -- the grocery business, auto repair, photo processing....

"Wal-Mart is well known for entering a community" and "driving out the local competition," wrote Martin J. Schmitz, president of Citywide Banks of Colorado.

It's a sad, sad day when customers throw store loyalty out the window and flock to the lower-priced Wal-Mart in droves. Some people are so selfish.

Monday, October 10, 2005

CCL MEETING TONIGHT!

CCL MEETING TONIGHT!
Monday, 10/10
9pm
Hamilton 408

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The private lives of judges

Blogger "Article 3 Groupie" of Underneath Their Robes, the blog that keeps its eyes trained on the U.S. Supreme Court so you don't have to, sifts through the rumors about a past relationship between SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers and Texas justice Nathan Hecht, who has also been linked romantically to federal appellate judge Priscilla Owen. A3G raises a "judicial ethics bonus question":

If confirmed, should Justice Harriet Miers recuse herself from any SCOTUS case in which Judge Owen was on the Fifth Circuit panel below?

A3G's answer: YES. If you have pulled violently on another woman's hair while screaming, "Stay the hell away from my man, bitch!", your impartiality in reviewing judicial rulings made by that woman could reasonably be questioned.

New York Horse Racing

No, not this kind. As I mentioned a few days ago, I come from Saratoga Springs, New York, and while Saratoga has a thriving private sector, we get a huge influx of business every summer because we have one of the greatest tourist draws in the state: the Saratoga Race Track.

There are three big race tracks in New York (Belmont and Aqueduct are the other two), all run by a company that is granted a monopoly by the state, currently the New York Racing Association. Apparently, they have to renew this monopoly in the legislature once in a while, but NYRA's been running the show since I can remember - and I've been going to the track since before I was tall enough to place a bet.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Brunswick) wants to revoke NYRA's monopoly and give it to someone else. NYRA's been embroiled in scandal for years (some of the best investigative work was unveiled earlier this year by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi), and they lose money ($16 million in 2004, about the same in 2005), and they claim they're going to go broke in months. (To avoid that fate, they're selling off land that they may or may not own - land that may or may not be owned by the state, which the governor claims it is.) Just a few weeks ago, federal prosecutors announced that a criminal case against NYRA (for a "two-decade tax fraud scheme") would not be pursued, under a "deferred prosecution agreement" in which NYRA allegedly cleaned house.

So Senator Bruno thinks a new and better public-private scheme put in its place: he wants to award a new monopoly for the three tracks to a new company.

Earlier this summer, Albany's signature newspaper, the Albany Times Union, was on Bruno's case about a deal that was maybe questionable and maybe not that bad: his son Ken took out a $50,000 loan, cosigned by his father, and he turned around and gave the money right back to Senator Bruno. They both say it was for cost overruns on Ken's house that occurred while he was in the middle of a divorce a couple of years ago. As it happens, Ken Bruno also happens to be a lobbyist, which is why this was a controversy. I stood up for the Senator in a (tangentially related) letter to the Times Union that they published (August 24) and which concluded thus:
Your newspaper and editorial staff are far from "courageous," as they were described earlier this year by readers when Editor Rex Smith was pounding his chest for "discovering" and "exposing" that Joe Bruno helped his son Ken by loaning him money to cover cost overruns on his house. "Partisan," "biased," and "agenda-driven" are much more apt descriptions of the day-to-day antics of your boardroom.
So back to horse racing: guess whose brand new lobbying firm, Albany Strategies, is hauling in $15,000 a month to represent Magna Entertainment, a contender in the battle to take over NYRA's publicly endorsed monopoly. If you guessed that it's Ken Bruno's new lobbying firm, you're exactly right. (The same Ken Bruno that represented Madison Square Garden and Cablevision in their battle royale with the New York Jets over the West Side Stadium - hmm. See here, June 8. Caveat: I'm still glad the Senator stopped the WSS, but I'm referring to the means, not the ends here.)

Which brings me to my final point: why does the NYS Legislature get to pick who provides us our horse racing and horse gambling services (and food and drink services at those tracks - another huge part of the industry)? If horse racing is "vital" to New York State, how come we lose money on it every stinking year under these stupid government-run schemes that somehow "protect" the public? In Saratoga, a lot of us love our horse racing - love it to death. Surely Saratoga won't disappear if the State sells off the track to the highest bidder. There are plenty of strong businessmen and women who absolutely love racing, love the track, and would be fine custodians of it. If Belmont and Acqueduct are failing miserably, fine: they can go out of business. Just get the damned government out of it - why are they spending our tax dollars to keep failing businesses afloat, and to deny the right to compete on fair turf to anyone who might challenge NYRA or Magna Entertainment? It's a crock, and I'm pissed - especially after taking the time to defend the Senator and his son in the paper. Crooks and liars, every last damned politician in this state.

Update: In my Sunday morning reading after posting this, I came across Saratoga (and elsewhere) racing writer Michael Veitch's column, which is chock full o' context, including specifics about how the system operates and semi-recent history:
So with three of the nine seats empty [on the panel that decides who gets the monopoly], Sen. Bruno wants to move forward.

Do you suppose he is worried about possible gains by Democrats in the 2006 elections, and wants the franchise issue resolved before those gains? Only he can answer that, but it is the same Sen. Bruno who signed on to a NYRA franchise extension in 1997 for 10 years through 2007.

He did that just days before New York was supposed to begin a bidding process on Sept. 1, 1997 for a review of the franchise and other potential bidders to operate Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.

He was joined by Governor Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in that cute little move, which ignored the legislative intent of the franchise agreement governing racing at that time.
Veitch concludes:
There are decades of ancient laws and regulations governed by layers of state bureaucracies that are outdated.

This cannot be changed in six months, yet that is what Sen. Bruno is proclaiming.
It can be fixed in six months: the State can withdraw from its role in racing. If NYRA owns the tracks, NYRA can keep the tracks. If the state owns the track, the State should sell the tracks to the highest bidder. Saratoga will be racing til the day I die, and it will race after that. Contrary what Joe Bruno's inflated self-image might lead him to believe, he is not the one keeping us racing. He's a looter and a parasite, and he needs to be put out to pasture.

Friday, October 07, 2005

October 7, 1777


I come from a little spot in upstate New York called Saratoga Springs, a few miles from the town of Saratoga. Two hundred and twenty eight years ago today, in that town, the rag-tag patchwork of American Patriot militiamen turned the tide of the Revolutionary War and drove back 1,500 British Army regulars in a bloody and vicious battle. Above is an American cannon in the Barber Wheat Field, where the first Battle of Saratoga started a couple of weeks before, on September 19, 1777. Below are some more photos from the battlefield that I took on Memorial Day of this year:

American artillery overlooking the Hudson River. British General John Burgoyne would retreat up the Hudson, north to the town of Schuylerville, upon his defeat and before his surrender.

A tribute to Timothy Murphy, "Celebrated Marksman of Colonel Morgan's Rifle Corps Whose Unerring Aim Turned the Tide of Battle by the Death of the British General Frazer on October 7, 1777." (Another plaque reads, "SARATOGA 1777, Here Morgan, Reluctant to Destroy so Noble a Foe was Forced by Patriotic Necessity to Defeat and Slay the Gentle and Gallant Frazer.")

The house of John Neilson, a local farmer who "cast his lot with the Patriot cause"
(as the plaque outside says). By mid-September, the American militia
had borrowed it for Patriot Headquarters.
"The Unknown American Soldiers who Perished in the Battles of Saratoga September 19 and October 7, 1777 and were Here Buried in Unmarked Graves Helped to Assure the Triumph of the War of Independence to Create the Republic of the United States of America and to Establish Liberty Throughout the World. In Honor of These Patriots and in Recognition of the Bicentennial of the Birth of George Washington, this Memorial is Erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution of New York State, 1951."

A monument to the great Polish engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who believed in the Americans and was a leader in establishing the military defense of Saratoga - and was an early fighter for human rights. Not only did this great Pole lend his helping hand: the victory at Saratoga also brought the French to our side.

Burgoyne and his men were driven north to the town of Schuylerville, where they surrendered to the Americans on October 18, 1777. That winter, the Americans would camp at Valley Forge, and it would be four more long, bloody years until General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, after being stranded by the defeat of the British Navy by a surprise French attack at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Welfare State at its finest

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4309012.stm



By the way, my new column comes out in the Spec tomorrow. Read it!

Fed Forecasting

Come Alan Greenspan's retirement at the end of January, President Bush must pick a new financial guru to serve as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The NY Times narrows the list of likely candidates to three: Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Glenn Hubbard of Columbia (formerly of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors), and Ben Bernanke (formerly of Princeton, now chairing the Council of Economic Advisors).

Mr. Hubbard is passionately devoted to most of Mr. Bush's economic goals and was a crucial architect of his tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. But Mr. Hubbard's strengths are not in monetary policy, and some say his relations with Mr. Bush are not extremely close.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers nominated to Supreme Court

Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

I don't know much about her, but I find that Wikipedia.com is the best place for any sort of news--especially breaking news. So check out her page for continued updates.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Confirmability vs. Being a Confirmed Radical Libertarian... Hmm.

Wonkette wants to "save you the brain-hurty process" of mulling over Bush's next potential Supreme Court nominees before picking your personal favorite. Take this fun lil' quiz to find out which horse you'll back.

Libertarians? In Manhattan?!

That's right, folks -- it's the once-a-month Junto lecture series. Free, open to the public, located near Grand Central Station, Junto has hosted such libertarian guest lecturers as John Stossel, Larry Kudlow and Charles Murray.

On the first Thursday of every month, Junto attendees meet at the
General Society Library
20 W. 44th Street
between 5th and 6th avenues.

7:00 p.m. Socialize
7:30 Discuss current events until...
8:00 The guest speaker is introduced.

October 6th: This month's meeting features Sir Harold Evans, presenter of the BBC's weekly "Letter From America," and bestselling author of The American Century. Evans will discuss his latest book, They Made America: A History of Innovation. Incidentally, he's married to Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker.