Sunday, April 30, 2006

Boy on the rocks (or photoblogging comes to the RC)

Originally uploaded by tacsmith.
It was bound to happen. Bloggers yakking endlessly about their digital cameras. Posting photos of universities that may be bigger, but are definitely not cuter than USD. And so, armed with a new Panasonic Linux with a 12X optical zoom, I set out, determined to close the gap between the RC and other blogs which may be more famous, but are not in any Platonic sense, more bloggy.

This is just a test. In the future, we will try some USD photos, maybe even add a photo album to the blog. Who knows. To your, above, I guess, you see my younger middle son William, 9, bouldering in the Anza-Borego Desert State Park, an extremely beautiful patch of country, mostly protected from those who would like to shred it with their ATVs. Bouldering just means climbing and crawling all over big rocks, and it is heaven for that. If this sort of thing bores you to death, don't worry. I plan to post most of this sort of thing over at my personal family sort of blog, which I will link to some other time (Flickr doesn't seem to enable that, though otherwise, an impressively capable site.)

April 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conflicts of Interest at the New York Times
Mike Rappaport

Powerline makes the case.

April 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush's Response to Gas Price Increases
Mike Rappaport

Sadly, I have to agree with other right wing commentators that Bush's responses have been pathetic.    I would like to blame it on him being a second term President, but he probably would have said much the same thing the first term.

While I like Tony Snow, perhaps Bush should have hired Ann Coulter, who knows the right point to make:

I would be more interested in what the Democrats had to say about high gas prices if these were not the same people who refused to let us drill for oil in Alaska, imposed massive restrictions on building new refineries, and who shut down the development of nuclear power in this country decades ago.  But it's too much having to watch Democrats wail about the awful calamity to poor working families of having to pay high gas prices.  Imposing punitive taxation on gasoline to force people to ride bicycles has been one of the left's main policy goals for years.  For decades Democrats have been trying to raise the price of gasoline so that the working class will stop their infernal car-driving and start riding on buses where they belong. 

April 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Does Circumcision Help Protect Against Aids?
Mike Rappaport

An interesting article in the Times discussing the matter. 

April 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Who is Juan NonVolokh?
Mike Rappaport

Over at the Conspiracy, they are guessing who Juan Non Volokh will turn out to be.  His or her name will soon be revealed. 

The leading candidate is Jonathan Adler.  I had originally thought it might be him, especially given JNV's environmental law interest, but Adler was blogging by name for National Review.  I think I may have even had a conversation with him about who he thought JNV might be, and I think he mentioned some possibilities.  At that point, I did not think he was JNV.  But in the last year, I have gradually come to the view that it is Jonathan, although I can't really explain why he would be anonymous at Volokh, but not at NRO.  (Perhaps liberals law profs are more likely to read Volokh than NRO.)

April 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

American Vertigo
Mike Rappaport

I bought Bernard Henry Levi's American Vertigo, a book about the French philosopher's journey through the US, and plan to read it.  But this review by Brian Anderson seems devestating. 

Lévy’s parochialism is nowhere more evident than when he offers the Democrats a new platform to propel the party back into power, including a renewed commitment to Enlightenment rationalism against religious fundamentalism and a “new New Deal” of massive government programs for the poor. Does Lévy really think that transforming the Democrats into European-style social democrats would appeal to Americans? Taking such advice could only drive the party deeper into the political wilderness.

This myopia makes an especially dramatic contrast with the example of Lévy’s famed forebear, Tocqueville. The French aristocrat came to our shores open to what the American experiment in democracy could teach France, especially about preserving liberty in an age of equality. But BHL never troubles to consider what the American model—with its vigorous market economy, social mobility, and respect for religious faith—might offer to statist and relentlessly secularist Europe, with its stagnant welfare economies and alienated and increasingly radicalized Muslims. Like so many literary travelers before him, Lévy came to America and found only himself. 

Still, browsing parts of the book revealed interesting little details about the country that should make it worthwhile reading.  And it should also give me some insight into the strange culture that is Europe.

April 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Optimism - Or Irony? - On Immigration
Maimon Schwarzschild

Victor Davis Hanson suggests what amounts to amnesty and citizenship for the millions of (mostly Mexican) illegal immigrants now in this country, but only in exchange for a genuine commitment on the part of the new citizens to becoming "Americans" - not only by learning English, but also by identifying primarily with their new country, not their old.

At more recent rallies, protestors have carried red, white and blue banners. And they've voiced a desire to become U.S. citizens...

[But] will most of the illegal-alien protesters truly wish to become full U.S. citizens with all that entails?

In America, it doesn't involve racial or ethnic allegiance. Rather, U.S. citizenship asks immigrants to make linguistic, political and social concessions.

So, imagine an immigration compromise that, in exchange for strict border enforcement, allows the majority of the current 11 million resident illegal aliens to remain here to start their citizenship process. Wouldn't it then be natural to expect these future Americans to understand that U.S. citizenship carries as many responsibilities as rights?

In a country that is increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, it no longer makes sense to rely on bilingual government documents and services for a particular ethnic group. Such duplication is expensive and hampers English immersion. It's also the road to tribalism, whose bitter fruits we know well from the Balkans to Rwanda. Those who now march professing their desire to become Americans must quickly learn the English language, as have hundreds of past immigrant groups.

As American citizens, newcomers must also realize that no nation can remain sovereign without controllable borders. So Americans would hope that they also would support border enforcement of their new country. Employer sanctions, more guards and a barrier will start to end the present unworkable system that led to their own ambiguous status in the first place.

Does Hanson think this likely?  Or would such an amnesty -- following past amnesties -- encourage supporters of essentially uncontrolled immigration to believe that this country is unable or unwilling to enforce any immigration law, at least vis-a-vis Mexico?  Is there evidence of any desire on the part of organised supporters of essentially unregulated immigration from Mexico to discourage cultural or political separatism, or to embrace anything like the "social contract" that Hanson proposes?

April 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The code puzzle in the Da Vinci code case
Tom Smith

Judges will be judges, so it is not too surprizing that Judge Smith, the English judge who presided over the recent Da Vinci Code / Holy Blood, Holy Grail copyright infringment case in London, should have embedded in his opinion a coded message, to test whether any lawyer, cryptographer, or lawyer-cryptographer is smart enough to figure it out.  Apparently, the response has not been as avid as he hoped, so he has dropped some rather broad clues, which you see if you read the NYT article linked to above.

C'mon American blawgosphere devotees.  Let show this clever English jurist that he cannot defeat the little grey cells of the Legal Army of Davids (seems I've heard that phrase before somewhere . . . well, no matter).  This may be a perfect challenge for the global blog-o-mind.  Do I have a link to the opinion?  No I do not.  That would be cheating.  If you can't even find the opinion, somehow I doubt you will crack the code.  But I will post it when I find it myself.

A loyal reader provides a link to the opinion.  Have at it, junior code breakers!

April 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A Referendum on Iraq
Mike Rappaport

Not in the US, but in Iraq.  Jonah Golberg has the truly inspired idea to have the Iraqis vote on whether the US should remain in Iraq.  This is something that could shut up a bunch of people, from Ted Kennedy to the Jacques Chirac.  More fundamentally, it could help to demonstrate to all, within Iraq and elsewhere, that the US are not occupiers, but liberators.   

April 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service and How it Hurts America
Tom Smith

That's the provocative title of an important new book by Kathy Roth-Douquet, my friend and former student, though that is far from the most impressive item on her resume.  She was also a principal assistant Deputy in the Department of Defense in the Clinton Administration.  That's how she met her husband, who was the pilot of Marine One, the President's helicopter.  He went on to command a Marine helicopter squadron and serve two tours in Iraq.  Kathy is also an alum of my wife's college, Bryn Mawr.  If you're married to a Mawrter-to-the-core, you will know what I'm talking about.

Kathy and her co-author Frank Schaeffer have an important and powerful point.  Frank graduated from a British boarding school and is a novelist and film maker, which sounds more Bohemia than Camp Pendleton, except that his son enlisted in the Corps right out of prep school.  Time was, the sons of America's most monied, most educated classes served in the armed services and were proud to do so.  The whole leadership cadre of the sixties and seventies were junior officers in WWII.  But now?  Princeton and Harvard don't even allow ROTC on campus, do they?  It took a ruling from the Supreme Court to compel elite law schools to even allow military recruiters on campus.  Words fail me in trying to express how deeply wrong this is, and we should be grateful to Kathy and Frank for addressing this difficult isssue head on.  What's not difficult is the realization that there would not be elite institutions, educated families or the rest of it, without the men and women who defend us.  And who make sacrifices the rest of us do well to try to comprehend.

As a policy maker, lawyer, and wife of a Marine Corps CO, Kathy is uniquely qualified to write this book.  I hope it can be the beginning of a conversation this country really needs to have.

Kathy is going to be doing at least one event in San Diego, (June 16 at MCASM) and I think she would be open to doing more, so if you have suggestions, please let me know.

Here's an excerpt from a review:

Before Roth-Douquet fell in love and married a Marine, the closest she'd come to the military was getting arrested at a protest at an Army Depot. Schaeffer's youngest son enlisted in the Marines. Both men served in combat, and along the way their loved ones learned that being part of the military is an experience increasingly foreign to the most wealthy and educated American families.

"Not so long ago," they write, "the sons of presidents, bankers and oilmen regularly served. ... Now, however, not one grandchild from those powerful dynasties [the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Sulzbergers, the Bushes] serves."

In 1956, 400 out of 750 in Princeton's graduating class went into the military. In 2004, it was 10 out of 1,100. And Princeton led the Ivy League. Only 5 percent of today's Congress are veterans, and only seven have a child serving in the military.

The gap between those who serve and those who don't has its roots, of course, in Vietnam and the draft. When those two issues were gone, opposition to the military on elite college campuses morphed into opposition to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy the military held toward gays.

But this is a fig leaf for deeper prejudices. At Harvard, where ROTC was banned from campus, the Roman Catholic Church - also not big on homosexuality - has two chaplains, a kitchen, meeting rooms and a place on the list of campus activities. No one suggests banning the church from campus. . . .

In contrast to Vietnam, Americans of all classes profess great trust and pride in their military, even as they've soured on the current war. But that doesn't mean that they'd serve. I know. I, too, became a member of the military family when my son became an officer in the Navy. When he applied to the ROTC, a friend said to me earnestly, "Can't you stop him?"

At a dinner party last year with some of America's wealthiest families, the talk turned to whether the United States would ever have to protect Israel militarily. One woman, whose family are huge supporters of Israel, said adamantly, "Not my son." Well, it would be mine, I said, stopping conversation.

With the draft gone, we will never have the participation rates in the military that we had in the past. But the decisions, implicit and explicit, of those in the upper classes to protect their sons and daughters from even the choice of military service is inexcusable.

And the consequences are real. As the "AWOL" authors point out, the unarmored Humvees that patrolled the streets of Baghdad and caused so much death and injury to the troops would likely have been replaced quickly with armored cars designed to patrol insurgent territory if "the daughters of, say, President Bush and Bill Clinton had been patrolling the streets of Baghdad with, say, the son of the CEO of the New York Times."

Those with the most need to come back to the American military.

Correction:  Princeton does have ROTC, a comment informs me.  Well, good for them.  And so does my alma mater, Cornell, and has for a long time, and located prominently on campus as well.  I seem to recall reading something to the effect that Princeton ROTC was banished to off campus, but that may be wrong as well.

April 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (1)