Saturday, May 12, 2007
Barnett ponders Brave New War...
One thing Robb's book made me realize: Core states tend to be bottom-heavy (more government below and thinner on top--e.g., the U.S. police structure), whereas Gap states tend to be top-heavy (and capital-centric to boot). The former structure disincentives the insurgent (the locals have vibrant local government), the latter is far more vulnerable to their penetration and supplanting.
Federalism (states rights, whatever you call ti)is an example of political defense-in-depth. By making it possible for insurgencies to win local vicotires, it discourages them from attacking the entire system. Further, the fact that the insurgents might actually win forces the local political elite to actually care about defeating them. Otherwise, regional governors will think that "I will leave, then this place will be someone else's problem."
Two fate of variations of Christianity, early Christianity as preached by Jesus and Paul and the Ku Klux Klan as devised by Nathan Bedford Forrest, show this well. The Christians were attacked by a centralized system where no limited victory was possible. However, their local opponents were only lukewarm in their opposition. This attitude went back to the Crucifixion, with both Governor Pilate and King Herod generally unconcerned about Jesus's fate. The centralized nature of the Roman state meant that Christians would be persecuted until they took over the whole country. So they were persecuted for a long time. And then they took over the whole country.
The United States government, however, abandoned its war against the Klan after about a decade. While militarily defeated, the political wing of the Ku Klux Klan (in the form of local Democratic Parties) soon gained power across the South and were able to implement their policies. Then the violence against the State stopped. This was unfortuante for the victims involved. However, while the centralized Roman persecution of Christians meant that time was on the side of the insurgents (just wait long enough and some mircale will happen), the decentralized American system meant that time was against the insurgents (the nothern states merely waited until they were politically powerful to reinvade with minimal bloodshed).
Read the rest of Tom's thoughts on his blog.
Friday, April 06, 2007
I'm more sanguine about Massachusetts v. EPA (the "global warming case") than Ed Whelan. While the court's four liberal justices got the result they wanted (pushing the EPA closer to regulating CO2 emissions), they had to dig pretty deep into paleoconservatism for a justification how to do it. To get states-righters Anthony Kennedy's fifth and decisive vote, the court resurrected a rather hard-edged "Father of the People" interpretation of Amendment X.
In the case, the Court decided that because States are the Fathers of their People, but are unable to resort to armed invasion to protect their people, their pleas must be listened to more readily by the Court than if the States were just land-owning persons or societies.
Amendment X, the states rights amendment, maintains the United States as an open society. It allows the sort of local experimentation and resilient networking that makes the United States an exceptionally agile country.
Amendment X is also despised by tyrants of all stripes. Both Leftist and Rightist factions happily trample on the freedom of states and citizens in order to push their through own agendas . That the court's liberals are now retreating to Amendment X to defend their agendas is a good sign for freedom, liberty, and decentralized government.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
"Amendment X" is one of the most important sentences of English ever written. While Amendment IX obviously does not create federally enforcable rights and Amendment XI corrects a Supreme Court powergrab on technical grounds, Amendment X works to directly limit the power of the national government. This passage protects our federal experiment from interest group tyranny, from some powerful sect enacting their morally pure laws throughout our land.
It is in this context I am excited about Eugene Volok's words on the right of (medical) self defense (hat-tip to NRO's Bench Memos):
Volokh's bright but controversial idea--which is soon to be published in the Harvard Law Review and was recently presented at the American Enterprise Institute--is that there is a constitutional right to what he terms "medical self-defense." The basic concept is that the government may not throw substantial obstacles in the path of medical treatments that might protect against death or serious harm. If accepted by the Court, this would mean that the government could not prevent a sick individual from using an experimental drug not yet deemed effective by the Food and Drug Administration. It would also invalidate the federal ban on payments for organ donations. And, of course, it could be applied in any number of other circumstances, limited only by the inventiveness of lawyers and the imagination of judges.
I agree with this completely. But at the same time, such an right to medical self defense should not give judges the right to legislate from the bench. We have states governments to experiment, to try this and that, to come up with the best solutions through an evolutionary process.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
"Bigotry Beneath the Fog," by Eugune Robinson, Washington Post, 23 June 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201466.html (from MyDD).
My old nemesis, the Voting Rights Act, took a powerful blow because of wily House Speaker Dennis Hastert
Speaker Dennis Hastert was ready to move forward with a feel-good, election-year extension of the landmark 1965 act that guaranteed voting rights for African Americans disenfranchised by Jim Crow law and custom in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. In 1975 the act was expanded to cover Alaska, Texas and Arizona, where citizens with limited command of English -- Latinos, mostly -- were being treated as if they were black folks in the South.
Hastert understood that reauthorizing the act would be useful in efforts to convince voters that the Republican Party as presently constituted is just ultraconservative, not actually racist. But Hastert was sandbagged by fellow Republicans who rebelled in a private caucus meeting Wednesday. The renewal probably could have won easy approval on the House floor, since Democrats would have voted for it, but Hastert's policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans, so he had no choice but to yank it.
This is great news.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
"May a plague descend on both their houses! May their manors and stables burn to ash! May the Lord of Hosts strike their names, and may even their sons forget their fathers! May beetles, and locusts, and foreign armies descend upon their fields, and may all their monuments be toppled down! May those ancient things who lie sleeping wake, and may those things render them justice! May floods from heaven sweep them away, and may the darkest pit consume their souls. May all these things be done, and may we be granted freedom from them!"
In other words, I do not agree with those who are enemies of our federal republic.
Today's topic of dispute: proposed extensions to The Voting Rights Act.
Friday, April 14, 2006
"Omaha Schools Split Along Race Lines," by Scott Bauer, Associated Press, 13 April 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1841310 (hat-tip: The Corner).
"Omaha Public Schools," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Apr 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omaha_Public_Schools&oldid=48371184..
"Winter came to Omaha
It left us looking like a bride
A million perfect snowflakes now
And no two are alike
So it's hard for me imagining
The flaws in this design"
Theme from Pinata, from "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn," by Bright Eyes
"We create a new people.
The next stage,
you will see!"
Yasser Arafat, sampled in "Hezbollah Radio Advert," by Muslimgauze
The big news is the end of the Omaha Public School District. The secret news is the triumph of complex adaptive systems.
On June 6, 2005, Omaha Superintendent John Mackiel decide to increase his power by annexing 25 schools currently part of the Elkhorn, Millard, and Ralston public school districts. Using an obscure Nebraska doctrine called "One City, One School district," Dr. Mackiel planned to increase the centralizing influence of the Omaha Public Schools, the Office of the Superintendent, and, least of all, himself.
What he didn't count on was complex adaptive systems.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
"Federalist No. 10, or, The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection," by "Publius" (James Madison), Daily Advertiser, 22 November 1787, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Federalist_No._10.
"Back to Federalism," by David Gelernter, Weekly Standard, 10 April 2005, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/062fkzaa.asp (from Bench Memos).
The United States of America should absorb the Mexican United States, creating an 81-state economic and political union. I've argued this will shrink the size of government and unite the North American people.
Uniting States of America
Another reason to marry the united States of America and Mexico is that it help build the America of our Founders' dreams.
Friday, October 28, 2005
"Everything is Meaningless [Chapter 1:3,8-11]," attributed to King Solomon, The Book of Ecclesiastes, circa 300 BC, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes%201:3,8-11;&version=31;.
"The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (continued) [The Federalist No. 10]," by James Madison, New York Packet, 23 November 1787, http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm.
"Environmental Influences on Democracy: Aridity, Warfare, and a Reversal of the Causal Arrow," by Manus Midlarsky, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 39, No. 2. (Jun., 1995), pp. 224-262, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0027%28199506%2939%3A2%3C224%3AEIODAW%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2 (from tdaxp).
"Local Government and Democratic Political Development," by Henry Teune, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 540, Local Governance around the World. (Jul., 1995), pp. 11-23, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-7162%28199507%29540%3C11%3ALGADPD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-V.
"Democracy and openDemocracy," by Isabel Hilton and Anthony Barnett, openDemocracy, 12 October 2005, http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-opening/barnett_hilton_2792.jsp.
"Dangerously Naive," by Mark Schulman, American Future, 18 October 2005, http://americanfuture.net/?p=637.
"Agitating for a Hermetically Sealed "Democracy"," by Mark Safranski, Zen Pundit, 18 October 2005, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/10/agitating-for-hermetically-sealed.html.
"Debating our debate," by Anthony Barnett, oD Today, 23 October 2005, http://opendemocracy.typepad.com/wsf/2005/10/debating_our_de.html.
What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.
In spite of my occasionally griping about the leftist, closed-minded, economically dubious, and intellectually redundant nature of the University, sometimes it is useful for blogging. Consider the evolution of a debate on globalization and democracy. Hilton and Barnett of the Sorosistically named openDemocracy journal first attack the idea that globalization helps democracy:
The end of the cold war in 1989 opened the way for the extension of democratic government to many countries around the world. Now, terrorism, fundamentalism and the imposition of the neo-liberal form of globalisation threaten to halt and even reverse this process. Democracy is under attack from without, and, even more insidiously, from within.
The way in which globalisation has undermined peoples’ belief in democratic self-government is familiar. This is the age of democracy, yet the democratic claim of universal equality of worth is mocked by the intensification of global inequalities that marked the end of the 20th century.
The reach of multinational corporations; the influence of a few powerful states and of opaque international financial institutions; the weakness of the United Nations as a force for positive government; the remoteness of the governance of the European Union; the mendacity, cynicism and populism of the global media; the awesome threats of climate change – all combine to undermine the citizens’ faith in the efficacy of democratic government.
Globalisation as part of the everyday experience of life has been part of human history since the16th century, when the marketplace that was the Netherlands stretched to the Spice Islands of what we now call southeast Asia. Historically it has sharpened differences rather than creating homogeneity. The development of markets across the world and the separation of law from the state permitted hideous exploitation under colonial empires, but also laid the groundwork for independence and national democratic constitutions.
Sadly, Schulman has no true response to these claims. He accuses Barnett and Hilton of blaming America first. He does accuse them of selective reporting of evidence, and the best he throws is mentioning that the anti-War protests are put on by some bad people.
No mention is made of the anti-democratic organizers of these demonstrations: ANSWER and the British Socialist Workers Party. Nor is mention made of the absence of demonstrations against the tyrants of our day.
Barnett seems to grant Schulman's concrete criticisms...
As for the leadership of the anti-war demonstrations, I agree.
...because they do not effect his major point: globalization is bad for democracy.
Mark from ZenPundit joins in by defending globalization's effects on liberty, but let's the claim that globalization attacks democracy go uncontested:
I have to add that there is a definite incongruity between advocating political freedom to make choices in terms of one's government while wanting to preclude or restrict the economic freedom to make choices in every other area of one's life - work, lifestyle, access to information, travel, religion and culture. Denying people the latter ultimately makes a mockery of the former; a farmer chained in perpetuity behind his water buffalo by the state casts a ballot only to decide which hand is going to hold the whip over his head.
" In the general course of human nature, A power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will. "
What's interesting is that the original article makes two claims, globalization hurts democracy and lack of local power hurts democracy, that have been discussed for decades. On inequality and the origins of democracy, Manus Midlarsky writes:
Although the impact of land inequality on democracy was discovered independently, this relationship is consistent with that implied in Wittfogel's work. He emphasized the contrast between early modern Europe and despotic hydraulic civilization. As Wittfogel (1957) put it,
In late feudal and postfeudal Europe the state recognized a system of inheritance for the landed nobles which favored one son at the expense of all others. And in the modern Western world the state by and large permitted the individual to dispose over his property at will. The hydraulic state gave no equivalent freedom of decision either to holders of mobile property or to the landowners. Its laws of inheritance insiseted upon a more or less equal division of the deceased estate, and thereby upon a periodic fragmentation of property. (pp 84-85).
Thus, as a result of continual subdivision, a basic land inequality was prevented from emerging in hydraulic society. A nobility with large holdings and, in consequence, an independent power base to challenge despotic authorities could not come into being, in contrast to the Northern European experience.
Midlarsky then goes on to cite some conflicting literature. To sum up, Barnett and Hilton are oversimplifying a complex subject.
Ditto for the words on local control and democracy. Barnett and Hilton essentially echo Teuene from 1995:
The linkage between local government and democracy is based on the proposition that political participation if meaningful insofar as it deals with the familiar, a tenet of the Federalist Papers. Another aspect of tis argument is that the incentives for participation are stronger locally than nationally in that visible consequence are more visible and immediate on the local level. There are two supporting propositions for this part of the argument: the larger the political unit, the longer it takes to form a democratic political coalitions; and the larger the unit, the greater the diversity of eeh groups and individuals required for compromise, the less likely decisive action will be taken at all, frustrating the collective aspirations of the many."
Here, the refutation is more than two hundred years old
The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.
Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,--is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage.
So to correct Mr. Schulman, Barnett and Hilton aren't anti-American: only anti-Federalist. (Of course, those arguments have been made before, too).
As some man of old said, there is nothing new under the Sun. Or something like that.
Friday, April 01, 2005
"House OKs citizen vote on gay marriage," by Jean Hopfensperger and Conrad Defiebre, Star Tribune, 1 April 2005, http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/5323674.html (from Democratic Underground).
"Governor of Maine Signs Gay Rights Bill," by Glenn Adams, Associated Press, 1 April 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4906031,00.html (from Democratic Underground).
Different states, different policies. The beauty of federalism.
Minnesota is pondering upping its legislative institution on heterosexual marraigesto a constitutional one.
A controversial bill to let voters decide whether to put a ban on same-sex marriages in the state Constitution was approved by the Minnesota House on Thursday on a vote of 77 to 56.
If the bill passes the Senate, voters in the 2006 election would consider a constitutional amendment to limit marriage or "its legal equivalent" to "only a union of one man and one woman."
Although Minnesota law already bans same-sex marriage, the amendment is needed to thwart potential court challenges, proponents argued during a heated floor debate.
While Maine decides individuals have too muh freedom. Here come the state controls:
Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday signed legislation that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination. Within hours, a religious group launched a campaign to overturn the new law.
``This act not only offers essential civil rights, but serves as a welcome,'' the Democratic governor told supporters who packed the State House Cabinet Room. ``Our doors are open to all people. This is a proud day for Maine.''
The law, which received final House and Senate passage Wednesday night, takes effect in late June.
The measure amends the Maine Human Rights Act by making discrimination illegal in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education based on sexual orientation or gender. Maine law now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, ancestry and national origin.
The new law will exempt religious organizations that do not receive public funds. It also makes clear the law does not condone or authorize gay marriages.
Of course, the news from Minnesota is happier than the news from Maine. Minnesota is defending the status quo, while Maine is sweepign away horizontal bonds with vertical controls. Maine's unease with private property and freedom of association is obvious (though Augusta has yet to legalize homosexualist marriages).
But on another level, this is good news. Federalism gives voters more power because decisions are made closer to them. Minnesotans may have one future worth creating, Mainites another. This is preferable to nation-wide laws, which the left pushed a few decades ago and the right pushes now.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
"The complaint in the Schiavo case," by Ann Althouse, Althouse, 21 March 2005, http://althouse.blogspot.com/2005/03/complaint-in-schiavo-case.html.
"Shiavo," by Jonathan H. Adler, The Corner, 22 March 2005, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_03_20_corner-archive.asp#058891.
"Shiavo's Case -- One Doctor's Opnion," by John Derbyshire, The Corner, 22 March 2005, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_03_20_corner-archive.asp#058922.
Many writers, including Stuart Berman and Red Side of Belew, have questioned the character of Mr. Shiavo. But what about the parents?
A man of controversial motivations (at best) has sought to see her dead since the settling several law suits of over $2 million...
Michael Shiavo should lose custody of Terri on the fact that he will not allow any kind of therapy to try to help Terri
When a man neglects his wife for 15 years, he shouldnt have any custody rights over her.
But conservative novelist John Derbyshire posts a reply to his earlier comments on Terri Shavio.
Let me say something else, and I admit up front that I don't know all the details of this case: in my experience people who have had a financial interest in the life or death of a loved one have almost always been interested in keeping that person alive. They may be living in a home which is in the patients name, they may have control of that person's bank accounts, his pension checks, his assets. If they have been given financial power of attorney, this is almost certainly so. I have seen this situation before, rarely thank God. A family member puts his completely demented octagenarian mother through a series of painful operations even though she is already completely non-communicative and dependent on tube feeds.
Althouse attacks Terri's theoretical religious right to force others to force feed her
The religion-based claims against the judge and the hospice rely on the theory that the Catholic religion requires the continued feeding of a person in a persistent vegetative state and that, even though the defendants are not preventing Schiavo herself from taking an action required by her religion, that those caring for her are required to act pursuant to the requirements of her religion. That seems to be a difficult argument to make, even though, under state law, those caring for her are only able to withhold feeding because they attribute that desire to her.
Adler defends federalism for Terri-absolutists
While Congress clearly has the authority to regulate federal court jurisdiction, and to provide for such jurisdiction so as to ensure that state courts act within constitutional constraints, I feel the legislation is in appropriate on several grounds. First, state courts make these sorts of decisions all the time in life-or-death situations, including death penalty cases without equivalent federal interference
This case is a sad tragedy. Compared to the pain of the family it is base to discuss the real harm some conservatives are doing by forcing her alive. But the harm is real.
Update: Over at National Review's The Corner, Rich Lowry lists the intensive therapy Mrs. Shiavo's husband and parents sprung for
Theresa spent two and a half months as an inpatient at Humana Northside Hospital, eventually emerging from her coma state, but not recovering consciousness. On 12 May 1990, following extensive testing, therapy and observation, she was discharged to the College Park skilled care and rehabilitation facility. Forty-nine days later, she wastransferred again to Bayfront Hospital for additional, aggressive rehabilitation efforts. In September of 1990, she was brought home, but following only three weeks, she wasreturned to the College Park facility because the “family was overwhelmed by Terry’scare needs.”…
The clinical records within the massive case file indicate that Theresa was not responsiveto neurological and swallowing tests. She received regular and intense physical,occupational and speech therapies…
In late Autumn of 1990, following months of therapy and testing, formal diagnoses ofpersistent vegetative state with no evidence of improvement, Michael took Theresa toCalifornia, where she received an experimental thalamic stimulator implant in her brain. Michael remained in California caring for Theresa during a period of several months and returned to Florida with her in January of 1991. Theresa was transferred to the Mediplex Rehabilitation Center in Brandon, where she received 24 hour skilled care, physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapies.
Despite aggressive therapies, physician and other clinical assessments consistently revealed no functional abilities, only reflexive, rather than cognitive movements, random eye opening, no communication system and little change cognitively or functionally. On 19 July 1991 Theresa was transferred to the Sable Palms skilled care facility. Periodic neurological exams, regular and aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapy continued through 1994.