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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Catholic Exchangeon the Death Penalty

I am a big fan of Mark Shea. I read his blog regularly, and yesterday I finished listening to every episode of his podcast, Rock Solid. I'm also proud to say that he reads tdaxp. A bit ago we talked about my analysis of early Christianity as a political movement, and we agreed that because grace perfects nature, the rise of Christianity is an appropriate subject for scientific study.

However, Mark is less enthusiastic about my recent post on Mike Nifong, the disbarred prosecutor who knowingly, falsely accused three youths of rape. He writes:

Blog Entries Like This Are Why I am *So* Glad We Do Not Live in a Pure Democracy

The blogosphere is a daily reminder of the sinister moody mercurial power of the bloodthirsty mob.

Specifically, Mark objects to my contention that, had the laws allowed, Mike Nifong should be executed by the State of North Carolina. Or more generally, what is the appropriate Catholic view of the death penalty?


The answer: Catholics should support the use of the death penalty to the extent that it reduces crime. Christians not only may, but must, advocate the use of lethal punishment by the State.

Many Christians are bothered by the State's penal apparatus. We pray to Our Father in Heaven that He "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us." And certainly we should forgive: not just those who ask for it, and not just those who deserve it, but especially forgive those who do not seek and do not deserve forgiveness.

This shouldn't keep the State from killing them.

It is prideful to confuse yourself with the State, but many Christians do just that when they confuse individual forgiveness with State clemency. We cause no harm when we forgive, aside from the odd Jonah perturbed by grace. But the State causes great harm when it releases criminals: it sacrifices the health, safety, and lives of innocents to criminals.

A prideful Christian, who forces the State to release a criminal because he has confused himself and the State, is condemning an innocent and releasing a criminal out of a misplaced feeling of self-righteousness. The prideful Christian who sacrifices the innocent out of concern for the guilty answers Pilate's question, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" the same way the question was answered two thousand years ago.

This is why the Bible (Romans 13:1-7) supports capital punishment.

Now that capital punishment is supported, the next question is: should Mike Nifong be executed, if the laws would allow such a thing? The answer is yes. Corrupt officials are a particularly odious form of criminal, because they use the machinery and offices of the State to do their evil. Nifong attempted to condemn innocent youths into decades of captivity, rape, and misery, bankrupt their family, and inflame divisions in the community, and while ordering the police to do his bidding.

If the laws would allow Mike Nifong to be executed, Christians must ask themselves: Do we prefer to condemn guilty men or innocent men? Are we as grand as the State?

Sin (Guilty, Yes) and virtue (Innocent, No) give different answers to this question.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Is the SysAdmin Constitutional?

Volokh, E. (2007). The marines, the coast guard, and the constitution. The Volokh Conspiracy. January 28, 2007. Available online: http://volokh.com/posts/1170035957.shtml.

Eugene Volokh ponders the question: is United States Marine Corp is constitutional, as it appears to be an Army administred under the Constitutionally more generous terms given to the Navy?

The tougher conceptual question is whether the Marines can constitutionally be considered part of the constitutionally specified Navy (whether or not they are part of a federal agency labeled the Navy), or must be seen as falling under the constitutional head of "Armies." In either event they'd be constitutional, but if they are treated under the head of "Armies," then they'd have to be funded using appropriations that are for no longer than two years; if they are treated under the head of "Navy," they can be funded under unlimited-length appropriations. Recall that the relevant Congressional powers are:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy.

I don't know the answer, but I thought I'd flag the question (recognizing that it is of little practical importance, especially these days).

Dr. Volokh then gives speculated on why the Army should be on a shorter lease than the Navy:

My (somewhat vague) recollection is that the constitutional distinction between armies and the navy stems from the fact that Englishmen of the time -- including the American variety -- saw land-based forces as much more dangerous to domestic liberty than sea-based forces, and sea-based forces as much more important to day-to-day national defense. That's also why there was lots of concern about a standing army, but not about a standing navy. Modern Marines are in this respect at least potentially more like "armies" than like the "navy"; that's why the question I pose is theoretically nontrivial.

Is Barnett's Leviathan an updated version of the Department of the Navy (the few, high-tech, can only be deployed offshore and abroad) while his SysAdmin just an updated version of the Department of the Army (the many, the low tech, deployable at home and abroad). If an Office of Systems Administration is created, would it have to be funded for no more than two years at a time?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Nebraska

Hoegh, P. (2007). Senator criticized over move to restrict alcohol in church. CNSNews.com. January 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200701/CUL20070118a.html.

The news is so incredible that I thought it was fake:

Democratic State Sen. Lowen Kruse has introduced a bill that would eliminate two provisions to Nebraska's underage drinking law which allow in their own homes or at places of worship during religious ceremonies.

While saying the primary goal of the bill was admirable, Catholic League President Bill Donahue worries about the implication for Mass. Catholics and some Protestant denominations use wine in their communion services.

I immediately tried to check this out by going to Senator Kruse's webpage.

Nebraska: Equality, except for Catholics (?)

Kruse provided a link to the , where I found the proposed law. The strikethrough (like so) is the part of the law that Senator Kruse wants to revoke:

53-180.02. Except as provided in section 53-168.06, no minor may sell, dispense, consume, or have in his or her possession or physical control any alcoholic liquor in any tavern or in any other place, including public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof, or inside any vehicle while in or on any other place, including, but not limited to, the public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, or upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof. , except that a minor may consume, possess, or have physical control of alcoholic liquor in his or her permanent place of residence or on the premises of a place of religious worship on which premises alcoholic liquor is consumed as a part of a religious rite, ritual, or ceremony.

It actually gets worse than this. Not that not only are the religious service excemption revoked, but other exemptions stay on the books.

53-168.06. No person shall manufacture, bottle, blend, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish, or possess any alcoholic liquor for beverage purposes except as specifically provided in the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. Nothing in the act shall prevent (1) the possession of alcoholic liquor legally obtained as provided in the act for the personal use of the possessor and his or her family and guests; (2) the making of wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables, or grains, or the product thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if made solely for the use of the maker and his or her family and guests; (3) any duly licensed practicing physician or dentist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the strict practice of his or her profession, any hospital or other institution caring for the sick and diseased persons from possessing and using alcoholic liquor for the treatment of bona fide patients of such hospital or other institution, or any drug store employing a licensed pharmacist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the compounding of prescriptions of licensed physicians; (4) the possession and dispensation of alcoholic liquor by an authorized representative of any religion on the premises of a place of worship, for the purpose of conducting any bona fide religious rite, ritual, or ceremony; (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from carrying alcoholic liquor from licensed establishments when they are accompanied by a person not a minor; (6) (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from handling alcoholic liquor containers and alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment; (7) (6) persons who are sixteen years old or older from removing and disposing of alcoholic liquor containers for the convenience of the employer and customers in the course of their employment; or (8) (7) persons who are nineteen years old or older from serving or selling alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment.

This blog has a "health mullahs" to point out over-zealous health laws. However, this isn't a health law. It keeps the exemption allowing 19 year olds to sell and serve alcohol, it keeps the exemption that allows 16 year olds to handle alchol, it keeps the provision for people making their own moonshine.

This is not a health law. This is hate speech in legislative form, designed to harrass Catholics and criminalize Catholocism. Senator Kruse, a Methodist minister, should be ashamed of himself. Like all other bigots.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Racism and Sexism at Duke University

With Mike Nifong's and Crystal Gail Mangum's attempted lynching of the Duke University students continuing to unravel, a mob of activist University professors accidentally becomes right. Ann Althouse, Durham in Wonderland, Instapundit, and La Shawn Barber are on the case.


The Group of 88 faculty's original letter began as follows:

Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday. They know that it isn’t just Duke, it isn’t everybody, and it isn’t just individuals making this disaster.

But it is a disaster nonetheless

Indeed. While the Group of 88 was focused on joining the lynching party, their words are ironic now. They can be used to describe the racist and sexist attitude of the administration of Duke University and Durham County.


Dennis Mangan writes bluntly:

Anyone white and male would have to be a fool to attend Duke. There's some sign, as outlined in the article, that the president of Duke is coming to realize his gigantic fuckup - a criminal fuckup. No one in his right mind should go there, nor should his parents send him.

The situation may not be quite bad, but it certainly isn't good. Perhaps Durham is in the Gap, after all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Purpose of Democracy

McClean, I. (1986). Some recent work in public choice. British Journal of Political Science 16(3): 377-394. Available online: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0007-1234%28198607%2916%3A3%3C377%3ASRWIPC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-N.

I'm back at Lincoln (from a brief journey to South Dakota) and hard at work at an expanded version of "The Suicide Bomber Type." 378:

The other point of contact is with the normative theory of democracy. The only writer to tacke this convincingly so far is W.H. Riker in his Liberalism against Populism, which has already been reveiwed here by Albert Weale. Riker concludes that the General Possibility Theorem is fatal to the claims of populist democracy. Government cannot obey the "will of the people" because there is no such thing. There is almost certainly no state of the world that is socially preferred to all other possible states of the world. In any complex society, there is almost certain to be a cycle among winning alternatives, so that there is none that cannot be beaten by at least one other. Hence, according to Riker, democracy and and should only be a system where the people can get rid of intolerable leaders, not one in which they choose the best alternativeness. The echoes of Schumpeter are striking. There is an important issue for normative theory here, but so far Riker's challenge has scarcely been taken up.

I agree, but I would add hobbling is equally important, as people may choose to trust their leaders with more or less power in different domains. Both checks & balances and initiatives & referenda are part of this process.

I wrote something similar a few months back:

The more you do something, the more you purposefully practice something, the better you get. At the same time, people have an inborn capacity for "learned helplessness," where people save time for purposeful practice in a domain that matters to them by eschewing domains where they have less skill (and thus, have practiced less). Thus: politics should be left to the experts.

This approach is fully compatible with democracy. Research by the professors in this class have indicated genetic predispositions to democratic norms, including a preference for deliberative justice and an aversion to corruption and "big-man" behavior. In democracies the people will feel when this behavior becomes uncomfortable to them and will be able to throw the crooks out. Absent such social freeriding by politicians, however, it may make more sense for the government to by run by people who actually know what they are doing. For every decision that actually affects people's well-being in a way they can predict (which, as we have seen, normally involves corruption or big-man behvaior) there are innumerable ones that require a modicum of experience and knowledge, unobtainable from slogans and rallies.

On most issues mass politics is probably the worst of all possible systems, because it combines our inability to think rationally with our genetic predilections for manipulable thought. The government should not be corrupt, should not be ostentatious, and should not have an agenda obnoxious to the people. Beyond that, leave politics to the politicians. Leave it to the experts. And whatever you do, keep it away from the people.

Good stuff.

08:30 Posted in Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Homeland Security Secretary Blasts International Law

"Chertoff says U.S. threatened by international law," Reuters, 17 November 2006, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N17445714.htm (from Democratic Underground).

Secretary Chertoff has joined Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in attacking "international law":

A top Bush administration official on Friday said the European Union, the United Nations and other international entities increasingly are using international law to challenge U.S. powers to reject treaties and protect itself from attack.

"International law is being used as a rhetorical weapon against us," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a former federal appellate judge, said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative policy group.

Chertoff cited members of the European Parliament in particular as harboring an "increasingly activist, left-wing and even elitist philosophy of law" at odds with American practices and interests.

But he said the same pattern could be seen in the policies of the United Nations and other international bodies.

"What we see here is a vision of international law that if taken aggressively would literally strike at the heart of some of our basic fundamental principals -- separation of powers, respect for the Senate's ability to ratify treaties and ... reject treaties," Chertoff said.

While it's bastard twin foreign law has been criticized by the Attorney General and Justice Scalia, it is good to see so-called "international law" attacked as well.

International Law and Foreign Law are both attempts by legalistic factions who cannot impose their will democratically, so they use legal-sounding words to try to get in through the back door. The world is better off without them.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Say Yes! to Michigan!

Michigan Votes to Ban Affirmative Action," Feminist Daily News Wire, 9 November 2006, http://www.feminist.org/news/newsbyte/uswirestory.asp?id=9999.

In one of the few pieces of unambiguously good news, the people of Michigan voted to end Affirmative Action in state government.

Michigan voters approved a state-wide ban on affirmative action in public education, public employment, and state contracts on Tuesday

The vote was a symptom fo wider problems, as the Republican candidate opposed the measure and was on the side of racism

The referendum was opposed by many prominent leaders in the political, business, and academic worlds, including both major gubernatorial candidates, Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) – who was reelected on Tuesday – and Dick DeVos (R).

This is why the Republicans had to lose and the Democrats had to win. The GOP had abandoned the Right, and abandoned the People:

Roughly 58 percent of voters across the state, however, came out in favor of the ban

Predictably, the Left seeks to overturn democracy through the courts:

Hours after Michigan voters eliminated affirmative action in college admissions and government hiring, the lawsuits hit the courts. While most educators remain unsure what the ban will do, some students are worried.

The measure does little to stop informal affirmative racism and its quiet racism by hiring boards, tenure boards, etc., but is a good step forward.

Thank you Michigan!

09:30 Posted in Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: affirmative action, racism

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Corporate Espionage

"Some at H.P. Knew Early of Tactics," by Damon Darlin and Matt Richel, New York Times, 20 September 2006, C1.

Long-time tdaxp readers will note that I was an early nemesis of the executive staff of H.P. Among other things I've accused them of

and other ills. Like all lovers of sanity, I was delighted when former CEO Carly Fiorina was fired. Yet the epic H.P. spying debacle has shown that Fiorina was just the tip of the ice-berg... and that H.P. wickedness extends all the way to my temporary home of Nebraska.

The disclosure came Tuesday as investigators examined the role of a man in the Omaha area who may have obtained private phone records on Hewlett-Packard's behalf, according to people briefed on the company's review of the operation.

California and federal prosecutors are exploring whether laws were broken in the investigation, particularly in the use of pretexting - a technique in which an investigator masquerades as someone else to obtain that person's calling records from a phone company. The prosecutors are also trying to determine who in the company knew of the possibly illegal activity.


The Hewlett-Packard investigations were initiated early in 2005, around the time of Carleton S. Fiorina's ouster as chairwoman and chief executive, and then resumed in January 2006. The two phases -- each initiated after accounts of board members' discussions appeared in news articles -- were code-named Kona I and Kona II, according to several people who saw the company's investigative records. The names are intriguing: Ms. Dunn's vacation home is in Kona, Hawaii.

In addition to Hewlett-Packard directors, nine journalists and two employees, those whose phone records were obtained in the investigation included Larry W. Sonsini, the company's outside counsel, a spokeswoman for his law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, said Tuesday, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday that the records of Ms. Fiorina were also scrutinized.

At this is just one of several recent scandals involving Corporate Spying (remember the Sony/EMG's espionage on the Department of Homeland Security?), I wonder what corporate resiliency planners think of this.

And as the HP scandal keeps getting weirder -- they also wanted to subvert newsrooms -- this has implications for political theorists such as Purpleslog and Curtis Gale Weeks.

13:35 Posted in Cobuyitaphobia, Law, Nebraska | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: hp

Democrats for Voter Fraud

"Verdict is in: Fulton judge way over the line," by Bob Barr, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 26 April 2006, http://www.bobbarr.org/default.asp?pt=newsdescr&RI=739 (from nowcobbblog).

"State Judge Voids Georgia Law Requiring a Photo ID of Voters," by Brenda Goodman, New York Times, 20 September 2006, A24, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/us/20georgia.html (also at Digital DJs, Election Law, Webloggin).

In a completely unsurprising move for a political party that has failed to win two Presidential cycles (2000,2004) -- and six Congressional cycles (1994,1996,1998,2000,2002,2004) -- in a row, the Georgia-state Democrats are trying to keep the hope of voting fraud alive.

A state judge ruled [T. Jackson Bedford Jr.] ruled Tuesday that a Georgia law requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification violates the State Constitution and could not be enforced.


Judge Bedford wrote he was particularly troubled by a provision in the law that allows a registered voter without an approved photo ID to cast a ballot on Election Day but says that vote would not be counted unless the voter returned with an ID within two days..

Judge T. Jackson Belford, Jr.

Legislators [had already rewritten] the measure to make ID cards free. Supporters of the law say the cards are necessary to prevent voter fraud.


"Yet again, an activist judge is thwarting the will of a majority of Georgia citizens and their elected officials, Speaker Glenn Richardson said.

The suit challenging the ID requirements was filed in state court by former Gov. Roy E. Barnes, a Democrat, on half of two registered voters who said they lacked the kind of photo ID's required by the law.

The article ends hilariously, with a claim that a voting process which makes it very difficult to find cheaters has found few cheaters. One may as well say rape does not exist in Islamic countries, because it is nearly impossible to process criminally.

This is not the first time that Judge Bedford has made questionable decisions:

The recent incident in Fulton County Superior Court when Judge T. Jackson Bedford ordered District Attorney Paul Howard handcuffed and detained in a holding cell is not only unseemly and bordering on bizarre, but also highly corrosive of the respect for the law and for our judicial process that is essential to the proper functioning of civil society.

Judge Bedford may have set-back efforts to bring elections in the US up to at least Mexican levels of seriousness. So have the Georgia-state Democrats. Shame.

Update The Republicans prove themselves to be the party of voter integrity (hat-tip to the corner), the Democratic National Committee proves itself to be the party of voter fraud, and more works remains to be done. And don't forget to join the conversation at digg.com.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Foreign Prostitution in the Nation's Capital?

“Sauna, body shampoo, table shower, body scrape, massage, private room” on top, followed by “New Management, “Spa 14K: We have really different choices,” “We take credit card.”

In a recent series of threads over at The Korea Liberator

James Na, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Discovery Institute, and I have been discussing emerging global workplace policing trends, from FBI raids on a DC brothel to minuteman raiding of construction sites to the vagaries of educational visa travel enforcement. Eddie especially, who agreed with me on the legalization of prostitution and drugs, may be interested.

10:10 Posted in Law | Permalink | Comments (15) | Tags: prostitution, brothels, DC