Let’s Just Cut Down Some of the Trees. One Tree Actually. That Big One Over There.

By , December 31, 2012 12:40 pm

Is “Giv{ing] Up on the Constitution” on your list of resolutions for 2013? It’s on Louis Michael Seidman’s.

I get his point, and I disagree with it. I like that the Constitution has been a drag on powerful presidents, finger-in-the-wind senators, a sometimes capricious judiciary, and an often fired-up citizenry. It had its flaws in the past, has others even now, but the Constitution also has mechanisms to correct those problems. It’s also worth mentioning that the Constitution has little or no bearing on much of what passes for law nowadays. In other words, not every legal issue is a constitutional issue.

In any case, to Professor Seidman, I’d respond with the words of Robert Bolt–through the mouth of Sir Thomas Moore–in his play A Man For All Seasons:

More [to his soon-to-be son-in-law William Roper]: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Even Mr. Seidman acknowledges some good things in our Constitution: free speech, equal protection, things like that. He’d like to keep them. And so would I. But how secure would those rights be without a Constitution? Not very, I worry. They’re under attack even now. Fish in a barrel they’d be if we amended the Constitution out of existence.

Constitutional Howlers

By , December 27, 2012 3:49 pm

Piers Morgan, the British ex pat currently lecturing the USA on its guns laws, is a sometimes Constitutional scholar, or at least he plays on on TV–and on Twitter. To wit:

Piers Morgan_Twitter_2012-12-27_1539

When our elites are this dense, is there any hope for the rest of us? Jim Treacher thinks not . . . kind of. I mean, after all, David Gregory is a member of the lecturing, hectoring elite class, no? Where will we go for guidance? Oh the humanity. Etc. etc. etc.

Problem Solved!

By , December 21, 2012 8:18 am

If you read one thing (no, 850 things, actually) read the reviews of the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer on Amazon and let the holiday cheer begin!


The first two are priceless.

No More Winning for You, Mr. Banana!
For decades I have been trying to come up with an ideal way to slice a banana. “Use a knife!” they say. Well…my parole officer won’t allow me to be around knives. “Shoot it with a gun!” Background check…HELLO! I had to resort to carefully attempt to slice those bananas with my bare hands. 99.9% of the time, I would get so frustrated that I just ended up squishing the fruit in my hands and throwing it against the wall in anger. Then, after a fit of banana-induced rage, my parole officer introduced me to this kitchen marvel and my life was changed. No longer consumed by seething anger and animosity towards thick-skinned yellow fruit, I was able to concentrate on my love of theatre and am writing a musical play about two lovers from rival gangs that just try to make it in the world. I think I’ll call it South Side Story.

Saved My Marriage
What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone…. this is one of the greatest inventions of all time. My husband and I would argue constantly over who had to cut the day’s banana slices. It’s one of those chores NO ONE wants to do! You know, the old “I spent the entire day rearing OUR children, maybe YOU can pitch in a little and cut these bananas?” and of course, “You think I have the energy to slave over your damn bananas? I worked a 12 hour shift just to come home to THIS?!” These are the things that can destroy an entire relationship. It got to the point where our children could sense the tension. The minute I heard our 6-year-old girl in her bedroom, re-enacting our daily banana fight with her Barbie dolls, I knew we had to make a change. That’s when I found the 571B Banana Slicer. Our marriage has never been healthier, AND we’ve even incorporated it into our lovemaking. THANKS 571B BANANA SLICER! Banana slicer…thanks to you, I see greatness on the horizon.

And then there is this product insight:

Angle is Wrong
I tried the banana slicer and found it unacceptable. As shown in the picture, the slices is curved from left to right. All of my bananas are bent the other way.

Common Ground on Guns

By , December 19, 2012 9:42 am

Frank Miniter, a gun owner and the author of “The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Manhood,” writes today on National Review Online to offer some good advice to both sides of the gun debate:

. . . So let’s step forward . . . onto common ground. Consider what President Barack Obama said in Newtown: “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement, to mental-health professionals, to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have?”

What about engaging gun owners? The National Rifle Association (NRA) estimates there are 100 million gun owners in America. An October 2011 Gallup poll found that 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun in their home. Americans own more than 300 million firearms. In both recent shootings — in the Oregon mall and the Connecticut school — the killers used stolen guns. How about working with gun owners to make sure guns are stored safely? How about allowing those with concealed-carry permits to defend fellow citizens? Aren’t these choices? After all, currently more than 8 million Americans have concealed-carry permits.

When gun-control proponents feverishly demand that law-abiding Americans give up their right to self-defense as the price for a disturbed person’s heinous act, then free, law-abiding gun owners necessarily find themselves on defense, as they’d rather not be left defenseless. There is a better way.

As gun-control advocacy groups and politicians focus solely on gun control, the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and others have been left with the task of teaching firearm safety. While Hollywood and the video-game industry sell gun violence, somehow those preaching gun safety and self-defense have become the bad guys. This demagoguery is counterproductive. . . .

Miniter goes on to discuss “five things gun-control advocates and gun-rights groups should be able to agree on to help prevent a future Columbine or Sandy Hook.” You can read them at the link. They all sound reasonable and doable to me. And they just might actually work. As he says, in the first of his five points:

When an epidemic of drunk driving bloodied our highways, we didn’t demonize car owners and pass bans on automobiles. We worked with the American people, stiffened penalties, and had national campaigns explaining the problem. We talked about designated drivers and hotlines for alcoholics. We treated the American people as adults. We showed a good, moral path to follow.

We need to work with gun owners in the same open, honest way.

Just guessing here, but if you treat gun owners like an adults instead of demonizing them as a brain-dead gun nuts (cue the Piers Morgan video clip), they might consider working with you towards solving this problem.

Sounds Good to Me

By , December 19, 2012 9:15 am

The following is a comment on this post on Ann Althouse’s blog. Though I imagine it could be expensive to implement, the idea could save lives. It sure beats huddling behind some desks in a classroom, listening to gun shots in the distance.

Good Idea_2012-12-19_0904

By the way, the actual post is worth reading. Ann looks at the “common sense” meme that’s thrown about by talking heads and politicians. Short story: when you hear an “expert” say that we should adopt common sense solutions to this or that problem, you can be pretty sure that they are referring to their solutions not yours.

First They Came to Encourage Us to Take Aspirin . . .

By , December 13, 2012 11:39 am

First the good news:

Aspirin is a wonder drug, one that virtually all men over 45 and woman over 55 should take to keep the arteries clear and cancer at bay. So says Dr. David Agus, a professor at USC’s medical school, in an Op-ed in today’s New York Times.

Many high-quality research studies have confirmed that the use of aspirin substantially reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the evidence for this is so abundant and clear that, in 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommended that men ages 45 to 79, and women ages 55 to 79, take a low-dose aspirin pill daily, with the exception for those who are already at higher risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or who have certain other health issues. (As an anticoagulant, aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding — a serious and potentially deadly issue for some people.)

New reports about aspirin’s benefits in cancer prevention are just as convincing. In 2011, British researchers, analyzing data from some 25,000 patients in eight long-term studies, found that a small, 75-milligram dose of aspirin taken daily for at least five years reduced the risk of dying from common cancers by 21 percent.

Dr. Agus is so excited about aspirin that he argues, “why not make it public policy to encourage middle-aged people to use aspirin?”

Which leads me to the bad news:

Dr. Agus apparently can see no end to such policy initiatives, at least when his money is at risk because of someone else’s bad health practices:

[W]hen does regulating a person’s habits in the name of good health become our moral and social duty? The answer, I suggest, is a two-parter: first, when the scientific data clearly and overwhelmingly demonstrate that one behavior or another can substantially reduce — or, conversely, raise — a person’s risk of disease; and second, when all of us are stuck paying for one another’s medical bills (which is what we do now, by way of Medicare, Medicaid and other taxpayer-financed health care programs).

Now, who can’t see the benefits of everybody eating better, exercising more, and so on? I can. But I can also see a problem here: one man carrying out his duty can easily become another man’s oppressor. And a woman with one finger on the pulse of America and the power to call out the nannys when that pulse rate increases, is likely a woman with too much power.

In Oral Arguments for the recent Obamacare case, Justice Scalia asked Solicitor General Verrilli whether if the government could mandate that we buy health insurance, it could also mandate that we eat broccoli. Supporters of Obamacare laughed at the idea. As James Stewart wrote in The New York Times, in an article titled “Broccoli Mandates and the Commerce Clause,”

The Supreme Court itself has said: “The principal and basic limit on the federal commerce power is that inherent in all Congressional action — the built-in restraints that our system provides through state participation in federal governmental action. The political process ensures that laws that unduly burden the states will not be promulgated.” And absurd bills like a broccoli mandate are likely to fail other constitutional tests. (emphasis supplied)

All I can say in response to that is, “Mr. Stewart, meet Dr. Agus.”

Who Should You Trust? Certainly Not the Headlines.

By , December 13, 2012 8:59 am

Instapundit sports the following post today:

Click on the link, and you find yourself on the Forbes website, with an article of the same title as Instapundit’s link:


Trouble is, you’ll read in vain to find anything in the article that says Harvard is strangling satire, likewise in the Harvard Crimson article the Forbes’ article links to. Upset about the satire in question? Yes. Calling people in to question them about who carried out the satire? Yes. Strangling? Hardly. That may come, campus speech codes being what they are, but in this case, it hasn’t yet. In any case, isn’t that the intent of satire, to goad superiors and stir up the masses?

Beyond satire, there’s a lesson in this: Don’t trust headlines. Typically authors don’t write them. Apparently, headline writers are often more interested in being provocative than they are in being accurate. And unfortunately, sometimes they (or their publications) have an agenda, one that relies on you and me to read no further than the headline and one or two paragraphs.

Maybe He Meant Higher “Steak” Taxes?

By , December 13, 2012 7:22 am

Why do we listen to this plutocrat when we apparently don’t want to listen to this one?

Emily Litella comes to mind.

Never mind indeed.

Warren Buffett’s $1.2 billion share buyback from a single unnamed investor likely helped that person’s estate save substantially on taxes, just one day after the Berkshire Hathaway CEO said the rich should actually be paying more, not less, when they die. With the “fiscal cliff” looming and … taxes set to rise dramatically in less than three weeks, the timing was seen as advantageous — and, according to Berkshire watchers, also out of place in the context of Buffett’s recent tax activism. … Berkshire said it bought 9,200 Class A shares from “the estate of a long-time shareholder,” whom it did not name, at $131,000 per share, a price in line with where Berkshire has traded in recent weeks. …

Yet given his wealth and his own self-professed low tax rate, Buffett has been called out in some quarters for not practicing what he preaches.

Naughty or Nice Takes on an Urgent Dimension

By , December 12, 2012 1:11 pm

A 60-second exposure of near-Earth asteroid 2012 XE54 streaking through the sky on Dec. 11, 2012, during a close flyby that brought it inside the moon's orbit. CREDIT: Ernesto Guido & Nick Howes, Remanzacco Observatory

A 60-second exposure of near-Earth asteroid 2012 XE54 streaking through the sky on Dec. 11, 2012, during a close flyby that brought it inside the moon’s orbit. CREDIT: Ernesto Guido & Nick Howes, Remanzacco Observatory

Hey, all you who doubt the after life and you who don’t, the news is that we all may have an opportunity to test our theories sooner than we think.

Scientists have discovered about 9,000 near-Earth asteroids to date, but perhaps a million or more such space rocks are thought to exist.

And some of them are potentially dangerous. Observations by NASA’s WISE space telescope suggest that about 4,700 asteroids at least 330 feet (100 m) wide come uncomfortably close to our planet at some point in their orbits.

So far, researchers have spotted less than 30 percent of these large space rocks, which could obliterate an area the size of a state if they slammed into Earth.

But there are much bigger asteroids out there, such as 4179 Toutatis, a 3-mile-wide (5 km) behemoth that’s in the process of flying by Earth now. Toutatis will remain 4.3 million miles (7 million km) away during its closest approach Wednesday morning, but it may come closer on future passes.

Toutatis would inflict devastating damage if it slammed into Earth, perhaps extinguishing human civilization. The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles (10 km) wide, researchers say.

Talking Tough?

By , December 10, 2012 5:33 pm

Okay, you’re going to have to help me. What exactly are “tough spending cuts on things we don’t need“? That’s your president speaking during a visit to an auto plant in Redford, Michigan, mind you. Here’s the quote in context:

What you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families, we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don’t need, and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate, and that’s a principle I won’t compromise on.

If we don’t need something, it’s not hard to get rid of it, right? Unless you’re a hoarder. President Obama’s not a hoarder is he?

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