Sunday, July 31, 2005

Living Constitution, But Is Anything Other Document Living?

In the runup to the Supreme Court nomination, you can find arguments for and against Originalism, which is the textual theory that you should interpret the Constitution based on the meanings of the words as it was understood at the time, especially by the author or authors. I can't think of a better definition

Many in academia and other places disagree with this theory. They usually argue for a "living, breathing Constitution". Or a Constitution whose meaning is determined by those who read it.

Not only is nonsense, most legal experts who hold this view also don't believe in this method of interpretation in their heart of hearts? How do I know?

None of them use that methodology to interpret Supreme Court decisions. If that methodology should be good for one text, it should work to properly interpret any text. Do you ever hear about a "living, breathing" Roe v. Wade. I don't. Roe v. Wade is not dependent on the readers, but the actual words of the decision, for its meaning.

Why do you then hear about a living, breathing Constitution? Because the Constitution is a constraint. It prevents people from getting anything they want. Any document that has a role as a constraining influence will be treated in such a way.

Thoughts on T.O.

I am not upset at Terrell Owens, unlike many Eagles fans. Business is business. And, yes, I think he is underpaid.

What, as and Eagles fan, am I most upset about? Andy Reid doesn't quite realize that he should freaking run the ball a little bit more. He doesn't have to grind it out all the time. But no Super Bowl ring will be had until he understands this.

Look, the Eagles knew they were getting a handful when they got T.O. So they shouldn't have badmouthed him in public. They should have taken the high road. And they also shouldn't have played hardball with him. Guaranteed the third year or something. Thrown him a little bit of extra money.

I know, I know. Then, that opens up the floodgates. Who cares? It won't. The Eagles could just say "shove off" to all the other players. Problem solved.

The perfect solution? McNabb could have stepped in and told management to give a portion of his money to T.O.

Personally, I think Reid should give some of his salary to Jimmy Johnson, who is already well paid. The defense has carried the team for a very long time.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Thinking Logically About Disagreement

Senator Rick Santorum was on Michael Medved's radio show yesterday. A very upset caller presented his case against Santorum which I will sum up. He was very upset that Santorum was arrogant. He believed that people who disagreed with him were wrong.

While this emotion is understandable, it is not expressed in a logical way. If you don't think people who disagree with you are wrong, you don't think what you believe is right. And if you don't think what you believe is correct, why would you believe it in the first place?

What the caller was trying to express was that telling people they are wrong is mean. And, it can be expressed in a mean and repulsive manner. Or we can agree to disagree.

But I have to ask. Why would you be upset that someone disagrees with you or thinks what you are doing is wrong? I can understand be concerned if those people are going to hurt you. But, short of that, why get so upset?

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Effects of Too Much Politics

Hat tip John Rabe.
Veteran wire reporter Helen Thomas is vowing to 'kill herself' if Dick Cheney announces he is running for president.

The newspaper HILL first reported the startling claim on Thursday.


"The day Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I'll kill myself," she told the HILL. "All we need is one more liar."

Thomas added, "I think he'd like to run, but it would be a sad day for the country if he does."

That's just freaking sad. I'm glad I'm not involved in politics full-time. Sometimes you need to step back and pick up a hobby.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Great Breakdown of Jimmy Rollins

Not the best report on J-Roll.

Christian Hedonism and Angst

For a long time, I have fallen victim to angst. I get sad about the passage of time. I get a small existential crisis around New Year's. And as someone who probably thinks too much, what non-professional advice can I give to those who are prone to angst like me?

One of the best insights into reality has been by John Piper, who is a pastor in Minnesota. The insight didn't quite originate with him. But he gave the concept a wonderfully descriptive name "Christian Hedonism".

Most of the world and even many Christians don't view godly living and seeking after God as fun. Sin is fun, or at least some sin. Doing what you want. God, with all His rules, is a cosmic killjoy.

Christian Hedonism turns this on its head. We are built to enjoy God. While sin can be fun or pleasurable short-term, long-term it is an awful way to live. It won't make you ultimately happy. God isn't trying to decrease your joy, but to increase it.

Now, if your heart hasn't been regenerated, you won't find God enjoyable. But you are still built to find satisfaction in God. As Augustine said: "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you."

Put another way, God is most glorified when we are most dependant on Him.

I fully encourage you to visit John Piper's ministry to learn about Christian Hedonism. From the site:
Does seeking your own happiness sound self-centered?Aren't Christians supposed to seek God, not their own pleasure? To answer this question we need to understand a crucial truth about pleasure-seeking (hedonism): we value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God's competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.

We know this intuitively. If a friend says to you, "I really enjoy being with you," you wouldn't accuse him of being self-centered. Why? Because your friend's delight in you is the evidence that you have great value in his heart. In fact, you'd be dishonored if he didn't experience any pleasure in your friendship. The same is true of God. If God is the source of our greatest delight then God is our most precious treasure; which makes us radically God-centered and not self-centered. And if we treasure God most, we glorify Him most.

Does the Bible teach this? Yes. Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn people for longing to be happy.

In Wine vs. Beer, Quality Gets Lost

The South Jersey wine merchant with the devoted cult following is pleased for exactly 10 seconds.

Then his smile fades.

So more people are drinking wine.

"But what most people are drinking," he laments, "is the wine equivalent of a McDonald's hamburger."

Or to put it in beer terms: "They may have switched to syrah, but it's still Budweiser."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back to the Grind

Traveled yesterday, back to work today. First day back from vacation, I always wonder what I'm doing with my life. More thoughts later.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Final Thoughts

I'll be on vacation for a couple weeks. Things to look out for regarding the Britain bombings, while I'm away.

Britain has tolerated a militant Islamic community for a while. Articles regarding this should pop up.

On a completely more pleasant topic, Victory Brewing of Downingtown, PA should be releasing their first saison while I'm away.

Also, look to what the Phillies will do towards the trading deadline. The question is "buying or selling"? They should be selling, but Wade's job is on the line. He has no choice but to buy. And that is bad for the long-term health of the club.

See everyone in two weeks or so.

Kenyan Economist Says Aid Hurts Africa

The Bible and an Entitelment Establishment

Author argues that governmental entitlement programs go against the Biblical model. I'm not sure if I agree with every jot and tittle of this. I would argue instead that disagreeing with economic liberalism is not the equivalent of not helping or caring for the poor or loving your neighbor. Separation of responsibilties between the state and individuals.

Todd English, Famous Culinary Person, Pushing Michelob and Fine Food

One of my big things is matching beer and food. Beer goes better with a lot of food.


Try a Saison Dupont prior to going for the Michelob.

Our Prayers Are With Britain

Too early to have any thoughts on the Al Queda bombing in London. But, obviously, we should give them whatever support they need.

Citizen's Blog Examines Coors Light Field

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ann Coulter Goes Through the Worst O'Connor Decisions
Of course, it was often hard to say what her decision was, period. In lieu of clear rules, or what we used to call "law," O'Connor preferred conjuring up five-part balancing tests that settled nothing. That woman could never make up her mind!

In a quarter-century on the highest court in the land, O'Connor will have left no discernible mark on the law, other than littering the U.S. Reports with a lot of long-winded versions of the legal proposition: "It depends."

Some say her worst opinion was Grutter v. Bollinger, which introduced a constitutional rule with a "DO NOT USE AFTER XXXX DATE." After delivering a four-part test for when universities are allowed to discriminate on the basis of race (a culturally biased test if ever there was one), O'Connor incomprehensibly added: "The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."

So now constitutional rules come with expiration dates, bringing to mind the image of O'Connor proffering one of her written opinions to Justice Scalia and asking, "Does this smell bad to you?" Strangely enough, she failed to specify which month and day in the year 2028 that affirmative action would no longer be justifiable under the Constitution.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bill Conlin Has a Proposal to Fix Citizen's Bank Park Before It Destroys the Team

I would ask for a special dispensation from MLB to raise the mound or make it steeper or something.

How to Restore Some of the Constitution

Been ruminating on some of this for a while.

The Supreme Court recently had two bad decisions. In a medical marijuana case, they ruled that Congress can regulate pretty much everything under the Commerce Clause. In the Kelo decision, the Supreme Court disregarded the limitations under the 5th amendment and allowed private property to get ceased under eminate domain and given to other private entities.

So why doesn't use the rulings against each other. Under the expansive reading of the Commerce Clause, Congress should reverse the Kelo decision. If the Supreme Court overturns that law, you get the Commerce Clause back. Either way, you come out ahead.

Nicholas Kristoff: Bush, a Friend of Africa

Why aid isn't always best.
The liberal approach to helping the poor is sometimes to sponsor a U.N. conference and give ringing speeches calling for changed laws and more international assistance.

In contrast, a standard conservative approach is to sponsor a missionary hospital or school. One magnificent example is the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, where missionary doctors repair obstetric injuries that have left Ethiopian women incontinent.

Liberals also often focus on changing laws, but in a poor country, the legal system is often irrelevant outside the capital. Sudan, for example, banned female genital mutilation back in 1957; since then, the practice has expanded steadily. Sure, lobbying for better laws is important, but it's usually much more cost-effective to vaccinate children or educate girls. Nobody gets more bang for the buck than missionary schools and clinics, and Christian aid groups like World Vision and Samaritan's Purse save lives at bargain-basement prices.

Liberals may also put too much faith in aid itself. What Africa needs most desperately are things it can itself provide: good governance, a firmer neighborhood response to genocide in Sudan, and a collective nudging of Robert Mugabe into retirement.

Plenty of studies have shown that aid usually doesn't help people in insecure, corrupt or poorly governed nations. Indeed, aid can even do harm, by bidding up local exchange rates and hurting local manufacturers.

All that said, in the right circumstances aid can be tremendously effective, especially in well-governed countries - Mozambique is an excellent example. And Mr. Bush's new push to help Africa is smartly designed, targeting problems like malaria and sex trafficking, where extra attention and resources will make a big difference on the ground.

Are the Phillies Statistical Outliers?

In statistics, an outlier is an observation which is completely different from other observations.

Moneyball types noticed a general formula which relates to wins and losses for a ballteam. The difference between runs scored and and runs given up will accurately tell you how many wins you had. They then related this to OBP, slugging percentage, etc.

The Phillies have a lot of good players which can generate a lot of runs. However, they don't produce the amount of runs or wins you would suspect. Why?

My theory is that they score runs in bunches. Hot and cold. So last night they scored 10+ runs. Tomorrow, they will score 1. That averages to 5.5. Pretty good average. Very bad result.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Don McKee: Break Up the Phillies
The underachieving Phillies have gotten a surprisingly free ride this summer, while the fans are heaping scorn on manager Charlie Manuel and savaging general manager Ed Wade.

Very few fans (or members of management) have been willing to hold the players' feet to the fire.

Luckily, plain-spoken Virginian Billy Wagner did it for them Thursday night. And the lefty was as subtle as a 100 m.p.h. fastball at a batter's chin.

"You've got to know how to win before you can start thinking about playoffs," Wagner told The Inquirer's Jim Salisbury. "There are a lot of reasons to have faith. This ain't over. But anybody who says we have a clear shot to the playoffs right now is fooling themselves. We've got to win."

Wagner even joined the growing chorus that says further trades or additions won't help a club that seems determinedly blasé.

"Adding pieces isn't going to make us any better," Wagner said. "If you don't learn to win and show some fight, it doesn't matter."

Wagner still thinks - or says he thinks - this collection of pacifists can rally and save the season.
No reasonable person can fault the management for spending oodles of money to bring players who were nearly universally applauded at their acquisition. (Lest we forget, this team was a near-unanimous choice to win the NL East before last season.)

Unfortunately, the recipients of a $95 million payroll that again is the National League's second-highest said "Thank you very much," and retreated to their state-of-the-art clubhouse, replete with a professional chef to prepare them gourmet meals.

Perhaps overloaded with rare steak and talapia, or weighed down by their wallets, these players have dawdled in mediocrity for more than three years.

That's long enough to come to the conclusion that it just ain't happenin' with this group.

Back up the truck, indeed.

Humorful bluntness. That's why I love Philly.

Coverage of Live 8 Stunk

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Thomas Friedman: More Economic Freedom in Ireland Produces Prosperity
There is a huge debate roiling in Europe today over which economic model to follow: the Franco-German shorter-workweek-six-weeks'-vacation-never-fire-anyone-but-high-unemplo yment social model or the less protected but more innovative, high-employment Anglo-Saxon model preferred by Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe. It is obvious to me that the Irish-British model is the way of the future, and the only question is when Germany and France will face reality: Either they become Ireland, or they become museums. That is their real choice over the next few years - it's either the leprechaun way or the Louvre.

Because I am convinced of that, I am also convinced that the German and French political systems will experience real shocks in the coming years as both nations are asked to work harder and embrace either more outsourcing or more young Muslim and Eastern European immigrants to remain competitive.

As an Irish public relations executive in Dublin remarked to me, "How would you like to be the French leader who tells the French people they have to follow Ireland?" Or even worse, Tony Blair!

Just how ugly things could get was demonstrated the other day when Blair told his EU colleagues at the European Parliament that they had to modernize or perish.

"Pro-Chirac French [parliamentarians] skulked at the back of the hall," The Times of London reported. But not all. Jean Quatremer, the veteran Brussels correspondent for the French left-wing newspaper Libération, was quoted by The Times as saying, "For a long time we have been talking about the French social model, as opposed to the horrible Anglo-Saxon model, but we now see that it is our model that is a horror."

Friday, July 01, 2005

How O'Conner Should Be Remembered
his snippet, from an AP story on Justice O'Connor's retirement, may be the perfect summation of the futility of her reign (and it has been a "reign") on the Supreme Court:

Perhaps the best example of her influence [because of her "swing vote"] is the court's evolving stance on abortion. She distanced herself both from her three most conservative colleagues, who say there is no constitutional underpinning for a right to abortion, and from more liberal justices for whom the right is a given.

For liberals, this sort of wishy-washiness gives the illusion of depth. In reality, it is a dangerous combination of superficiality and narcissism.

Notice what it says above: she distanced herself from those who said there is no constitutional underpinning for a right to abortion and from those who said there is. Bill Clinton fans love to call this "nuance," but a better word for it is "nonsense." Either the right is in the Constitution or it isn't. If it's not there, the conservatives are right. If it is there, the liberals are right. But to say "maybe it is, maybe it isn't" is judicial cowardice. There's no middle ground between "is" and "isn't," despite O'Connor's flailing attempts to stake one out. That's why I actually have more respect for the consistent Court liberals like Stevens and Ginsburg than I do for O'Connor and her twin Anthony Kennedy. The liberals may be consistently wrong, but at least they've done the hard work of putting together something of a judicial philosophy.

Ultimately, history will view O'Connor as a rudderless ship upon stormy waters. Her jurisprudential legacy will be that she had no real jurisprudence. She had no compass, no substantive philosophy of law to ultimately guide her other than her own shifting personal opinion du jour--an opinion she held in such high esteem she was willing to impose it on the rest of us by fiat.

Back when I was a moderate (granted, a long time ago) I took a selfish pride in being a moderate. I'm not like those two groups on either extreme. But sometimes, as John Rabe notes, if you don't have an opinion on something you aren't deep. You've replaced a strong view with muddled thinking. It is intellectually honest for some people to say "I don't know." I would hope those people, when applied to the judicial realm, would leave that kind of stuff to legislatures.

I will need to say this a hundred times between now and October. Most conservatives don't want a judge who imposes conservative views as opposed to current judges who impose liberal views. We want legislatures to legislate. Hard issues should be fought at the ballot box.

I Wonder Why We Don't Hear About Human Rights Abuses in Vietnam

Billy Wagner Says Phillies Have No Shot At The Playoffs
wo games before the midpoint of another season of great expectations and even greater underachievement, the Phillies are just a game over .500 and 71/2 games out of first place in the National League East.

As July begins, it's difficult to imagine this sputtering $95 million clunker making the playoffs.

Just ask Billy Wagner.

"No chance," was his response when asked yesterday whether he thought the Phillies had what it takes to make the postseason.

"We ain't got a chance to get there right now."
Wagner, who went to the postseason four times with the Houston Astros, was asked what he believes is missing from the Phillies.

"The know-how to win," he said. "You've got to know how to win before you can start thinking about playoffs.

"There are a lot of reasons to have faith. This ain't over. But anybody who says we have a clear shot to the playoffs right now is fooling themselves. We've got to win."

Would a trade help?

"Adding pieces isn't going to make us any better," Wagner said. "If you don't learn to win and show some fight, it doesn't matter."

German Wimpiness and Iran
On Monday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with Bush in the Whie House, urging him to make new concessions to the mullahs - the European "response" to the election of Ahmadinejad. The West cannot bar Teheran from the peaceful use of nuclear energy, "even though some might not like that," Schroeder said.

Schroeder's logic goes something like this: The Islamic Republic has cheated repeatedly with the IAEA. We really wish they wouldn't do this, so every time they cheat, we get a little nicer. Now, with a new hard-line president, it's time to get really nice. Why not acknowledge the inevitable? Iran is going to get nuclear weapons, so we'd better get used to that idea if we want to achieve peace in our time.

The Bush administration has rightly rejected this logic. But the US also knows that it will not be able to count on Germany, Russia, China or former ally, France, should Iran's case go to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions.

We don't have very much time to get this right.

IRAN'S CLANDESTINE nuclear weapons program was relaunched in 1985 by none other than Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the smiling mullah who announced during the recent presidential campaign that if elected he would broker a deal over Iran's nukes with the United States.

I care less and less about how the rest of the world views us when they are stupid.

RateBeer Releases List of Top 50 Breweries
The poll claims to be the world's largest. Some 30,000 different beers from over 4,000 brewers were eligible. Voters from more than 65 countries participated, according to the site. But the results were decidedly pro-American.

In the end, the survey showed that, like politics, all beer is local: two-thirds of the brewers judged the best were made in the U.S.A. American voters vastly outnumbered other nationalities, too. So perhaps it's no surprise that hometown heroes were on proud display.

Even if the results are a bit parochial, it shouldn't detract from the fact that American beer lovers have a lot to be thankful for these days.

Well, a lot of the world's best breweries just happen to be American. Also, when people rate beer bigger beers get higher ratings. Subtler styles, even American made ones, like pilseners and Kolsch tend to get ranker lower. If you had more hops and malt you just have more flavor components. That will get higher ratings. And that's just the way it is.

If you are a good beer drinker, I wouldn't want to be in any other country than America.

Roy Moore on Original Intent and 10 Commandment Monuments

I'm not in favor nor against new 10 commandment monuments going up. And I think Roy Moore was over the top when he tried to put up his own monument. But, in the final analysis, he has a big point.
The text of the First Amendment's Religion Clauses reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." We need to restore the original definitions of "law," "establishment," and "religion" in the First Amendment. A monument or display could never be a "law," the mere posting or installation of it is not an "establishment," and the recognition of God by the public display of the Ten Commandments is not "religion." After all, the original definition of the word "religion" -- the duties we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging those duties -- which was recognized by the Supreme Court years ago, acknowledged God and a higher law.

Monuments aren't laws. Good point.

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