Monday, June 30, 2008

Dave Healy for Texas Township Supervisor

Dave Healy is a candidate for Texas Township Supervisor. He is running against Republican incumbent Ron Commassaris in the August 5 primary election.

Healy has experience in government as a former member of the Van Buren County Commission. He has private business experience as well.

The incumbent has slacked off on the job and is no longer effective.

Dave Healy has been endorsed by the Kalamazoo County Republican Party, as well as the Homebuilders and Realtors. He deserves the support of Republican primary voters.

Should You Become a Professor?

A libertarian answers.

Attention Students: Should You Get Your Ph.D. and Become a Professor?

Sunday, June 29, 2008


This update focuses on gun rights. The Supreme Court overturned the DC gun ban in DC v. Heller. The battle for gun rights continues on many other fronts.

The decision: DC versus Heller

The Western Right: DC Gun Ban Gone
Ted Nugent: DC Gun Ban Blown Away
Cassandra Kane: Second Amendment: A Valued Target for Students
Dave Workman: Kansas tornado produces gun rights bill
Phyllis Schlafly: Stunning Victory Against Judicial Supremacy
John Lott: Gun-Free Zones Are Not Safe
Vin Suprynowicz: 'If Only We Were Armed Before'
Dick Clark: Buying Your First Handgun
Will Grigg: Tyranny, The One-War Mirror, and the Criminal Syndicate Called the ATF
Sean Trende: Seemingly Good News for Second Amendment Rights

Daily gun news is available at NRA-ILA and Keep and Bear Arms.

DC Gun Ban Gone

The Supreme Court has overturned the District of Columbia gun ban. The ruling was 5-4, with the conservatives (plus Kennedy) in the majority, and the liberals in the minority.

Here is the decision: District of Columbia v. Heller

Here is some analysis of the decision.

After reading DC v Heller
Court: A constitutional right to a gun
Commentary: So, what’s next on guns?

We shall deal the with the good and bad in the decision, as well as the implications for other gun laws, and who deserves honor and shame in this case.


Of course, the court struck down the law requiring handgun registration while also not allowing any handguns to be registered. It also struck down the law preventing carrying a gun in your own house and requiring that long guns always be locked up. (It did not address the issue of handgun licencing in principle.)

Justice Scalia's opinion provides an excellent exposition of the meaning of the Second Amendment. As a bonus, it is also in places hilariously witty, particularly when slapping down some of Justice Stevens' assertions.

Scalia notes that the right to keep and bear arms is preexisting--the Second Amendment protects it, not grants it.

Scalia provides a good summary of the various state keep and bear arms provisions.

Scalia provides an interesting exposition of cases and legal commentaries concerning the second Amendment, including US v. Miller.

Scalia ably refutes the argument that you don't need handguns if you have long guns, which was not refuted in the oral arguments.

It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police.

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
Properly understood, it is unlimited. The English provisions that Blackstone commented on may not have been. Courts may have made such statements, but that does not make them right. The right applies to 'arms' as the term was understood by the Founders, basically those weapons useful for defense against individuals. It does not apply to nuclear weapons, of course. No manner of keeping or carrying an arm may be banned. As long the purpose is not to commit some other crime, the right covers it.

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Prohibitions on felons and the mentally ill owning guns are legitimate if they are incarcerated. However, if a felon has served his time or 'mental illness' is simply the opinion of a psychologist about someone who has not been committed, then it is not. Which places are really 'sensitive' can be determined by how they treat the general public. If they allow visitors unmolested, then they are not sensitive and arms must be allowed. Only if the public is allowed by permission only, and hence there are guards and barriers (e.g. military bases) can arms be banned. Aside from the prohibition of selling arms to known criminals, regulation of the sale of arms is illegitimate.

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
This makes no sense. Whether you have a right to have a weapon depends on how many other people use it? The definitions of 'arms' cited earlier in the opinion don't say this. Whether a type of arm is common, or even exists, has no connection to whether you have a right to it. According to the standard the court proposes, if the government bans a weapon after it is common, this is unconstitutional, while if it bans it before it is common, this is constitutional, even though it is a greater infringement!

One is tempted to blame Justice Kennedy for the flaws in the majority opinion, though this cannot be proven.


What does this decision mean for other gun control laws? The only federal gun control law clearly appears to be unconstitutional is the gun-free school zones act. Not necessarily the part about the schools themselves, but the part that bans guns within 1000 feet of a school, theoretically including people's houses. In fact, an earlier version of the same law was struck down as unconstitutional because the commerce clause did not allow such a regulation.

The 1932, 1968, 1986, and Brady (1993) gun control bills are not affected by this decision. Of course, it is certainly possible that future decisions could build on this one and affect them. The Lautenberg amendment (1996) related to 'domestic violence' might possibly be affected.

Whether state gun laws are affected depends on whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. The only way it could do so is if it is 'incorporated' by the 14th amendment. Courts have not to date ruled that it is, and have treated the rest of the Bill of Rights piecemeal on this point. The court declined to rule on this issue, and it sent mixed signals. Incorporation is a very dubious principle, but as long as it exists, there is no reason why it should not be used to advance freedom.

If the Second Amendment is incorporated, then laws such as the Chicago gun ban would be unconstitutional. The NRA has already filed suit against Chicago and several of its suburbs for their gun bans, and against San Francisco for its ban on guns in public housing. Several other local gun laws could be threatened.


Who deserves credit for this decision? Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy, of course. Lawyers Alan Gura and Robert Levy filed this lawsuit and guided it through years of hard work. The plaintiffs Heller, Parker, and the others. The NRA (later on) for rounding up lots of Congressmen and state Attorneys General to support the suit.

Who doesn't deserve credit? The Bush administration, whose Solicitor General opposed overturning the ban and argued this position in court. The NRA (early) which tried to sabotage the suit by filing a non-Second Amendment suit and merging the two. In fairness, the NRA had very real concerns about the strategy behind this suit. If Justice O'Connor was still on the court instead of Justice Alito, the result could have been very different.

Finally, shame must be affixed to Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer. They attempted a truly evil act. They tried to annihilate one of our most basic rights and freedoms. For this they deserve our everlasting contempt.

Previous: Second Amendment at the Supreme Court

Friday, June 27, 2008

Great Short Film

Free rock with every purchase!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cannon Fired

Utah Republican voters have ousted Congressman Chris Cannon of Utah in a primary election. He was defeated by Jason Chaffetz by a large margin, 60% to 40%.

This is significant. While Cannon is conservative in some ways, he is absolutely awful on immigration. He is the biggest supporter of open borders amongst house Republicans.

This is the first time that a primary defeat of an incumbent Republican member of Congress is clearly attributable to immigration.

When Cannon survived tough primary challenges in previous elections, the Wall Street Journal wrote editorials saying that most voters didn't care about immigration. What will they say now?

Cannon was also bad on some spending issues, such as his vote for the Medicare prescription drug bill.

Incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland was ousted by voters earlier this year. He lost over a combination of issues, including abortion, gun rights, economic issues, the war in Iraq, and immigration.

For more on Cannon record on immigration, see this blog post.

McCain Still Supports Amnesty

A corespondent to Michelle Malkin reports on John McCain's closed-door speech to a Hispanic group.

Then John McCain aid the exact thing I came to hear, he said “I was proud to work for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and If I am elected President I assure you that in 2009 I will ask Congress to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” (The crowd goes wild) “It is a Federal Responsibility” he said and continued ” we also need a temporary guest worker program”
And this:

New York - The Republican candidate for the White House, Senator John McCain, promised that if he wins, a day after he is sworn in as a new president of the United States, he will pressure Congress to enact a law immediately in favor of immigration reform.
"Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is McCain's name for what everyone else calls amnesty. After McCain's popularity collapsed in the wake of the defeat of the 2007 amnesty bill, he promised not to support amnesty until the border was secured.

Rep. Tom Tancredo is challenging McCain on this issue.

Now, in an open letter to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, Tancredo is questioning McCain's role in a private meeting with Hispanic leaders in Chicago last week, and is challenging the candidate to stand firm on border security, regardless of the audience he's addressing.

The finger-in-your-chest tone of the letter may have subtly accused McCain of backpedaling on border security pledges in Chicago, where it was reported McCain promised an audience of 150 Hispanic leaders "comprehensive immigration reform."

"Senator," reads Tancredo's letter, "given your past sponsorship of amnesty legislation, such statements raise troubling questions. Are you planning to break a promise you made in February to postpone all other immigration reform legislation until we have first secured our borders?"

The letter goes on to allege that promises for secure borders have been dangled as carrots to lead legislators into voting for amnesty measures, but were then yanked away unfulfilled "after the amnesty was achieved."

"Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives are resolved to never let that happen again," the letter warns. "Are you prepared to wage war on conservatives to secure another amnesty for illegal aliens? I hope not," wrote Tancredo.
Is anyone really surprised by this?

District 62 Residence Dispute

There has a been a dispute over the residency of a candidate for the 62nd state house district (Calhoun County), County Commissioner Greg Moore.

There are several articles in the Battle Creek Enquirer that explain the issue. The County Clerk declined to remove his name from the ballot, and the issue may now be decided in court.

Greg Moore hits residency snag in 62nd District race
Candidate's residency challenged
Moore likely to be on ballot

While candidates should certainly follow election laws, this doesn't seem like a big deal. Moore was chief of staff to Mike Nofs, who represents the 62nd district, and he represents part of it on the county commission. It's not like he has no connection to the district. Why not let the voters decide?

Also see the 62nd District Preview.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who Are the Mystery Republicans?

Suspicion surrounding the backers of the proposal to rewrite the Michigan Constitution now centers on Michigan trial lawyers. They certainly have ample reason to hate the Michigan courts, but their involvement has not been confirmed yet.

There's another question that needs to be asked. From an article in the Oakland Press:

Dianne Byrum, a spokeswoman for Reform Michigan Government Now, said it has bipartisan support.
For something to have bipartisan support, it has to have support from some Republicans. The article doesn't list any Republicans supporting the proposal. Are there any? Who?

Can Diane Byrum name a single Republican supporting it? A RINO, even?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Truth About Global Warming

With all the misinformation and hysteria surrounding global warming, the truth is badly needed. Here are the important facts about global warming presented in a question and answer format. Documentation for the answers can be found in the articles concerning global warming previously linked on this blog.


Is there a scientific consensus about global warming?

No. Over 31,000 scientists, including over 9000 PhD holders have signed a petition opposing the alarmist view on global warming.

Didn't Al Gore's movie settle the issue?

Gore's movie is filled with errors and unsupported claims. A court in Britain found that it contains eleven proven errors and prevented it from being shown in schools without warning of this. It contains a cartoon of a polar bear drowning, while in reality polar bears can swim. It claims that sea levels will rise 20 feet, while even the alarmist IPCC says the worst case scenario is an increase of 19 inches.


Hasn't Earth warmed over the past century?

Yes, a little. Earth warmed a little 1900-1940, cooled a little 1940-1975, warmed a little 1975-1998, and has stayed constant 1998-2008. All of these charges were less than one degree.

How much has Earth warmed?

Alarmists say that Earth has warmed one degree, while skeptics say it has warmed one half degree.

Why the difference?

Measuring global temperatures is complicated. The collapse of the Soviet Union shut down many measuring stations there. Many stations in America are not located according to guidelines. For example, one is located near an air conditioning exhaust vent. The urban heat island effect means that urban areas are warmer due to development, which can skew the results.


One degree isn't very much. Isn't the planet going to get much hotter?

That's what alarmists say.

Is this prediction based on science?

Not exactly. It is based on computer models. That may sound scientific, but a model isn't necessarily correct. There are good models and bad models. Models can be retrofitted to existing data.

How can we tell if models are accurate?

The test of any model is whether it makes good predictions. A model can both be made to fit existing data and predict anything.

Do global warming models make good predictions?

The really dire results predicted by these models always seem to be 10-20 years in the future, too long to wait. But this question can be answered thanks to the fact that the non-warming of the past decade has led alarmists to predict no more warming before 2015. If their models were reliable, they should have been able to predict this before the non-warming was evident. The fact that they didn't strongly suggests that their models are not reliable.


What do alarmists say is the cause of global warming?

They say that it is due to the increases in emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) due to human industrial activity. There is more CO2 in the atmosphere than in recent centuries. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means that when sunlight enters the atmosphere and reflects off the Earth, some of it is reflected back to Earth, making the planet warmer than it would be without an atmosphere. This is called the greenhouse effect. They say that increased CO2 has led to increased warming.

Is this explanation correct?

It is certainly true that human emissions of CO2 have increased. And the greenhouse effect is real enough. Without it life could not exist on earth.

Are there any problems with this explanation?

Yes. For one thing, CO2 isn't the only greenhouse gas. Water vapor is a far more important greenhouse gas. For another, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is not necessarily due to the increase in human emission of CO2. That may sound strange, but realize that CO2 doesn't simply stay in the atmosphere forever after it is emitted. It is taken out of the atmosphere by plants, which use it to grow. Thus it is reasonable to suspect that if more CO2 is staying in the atmosphere, there is another reason.

Isn't the level of CO2 in the atmosphere correlated with global warming?

There is a correlation. But correlation is not causation. When there is a correlation of A and B, A could cause B, or B could cause A, or both could be caused by another factor C. Further, the historical correlation shows that CO2 levels lag global temperatures. This means that they cannot be causing them, and it suggests that higher temperatures may cause higher levels of CO2.

How is that possible?

There is a large amount of CO2 contained in the oceans. When they warm, more of it is released into the atmosphere. When they cool, they absorb more of it back.

Hasn't temperature gone up along with human CO2 emissions over the past century?

The correlation is weak. As seen above, there have been periods of both increases and decreases in temperatures, while CO2 levels have increased steadily. The exception to this was when human emissions dropped during the Great Depression of the 1930's, when temperatures were the highest in the twentieth century.

Is there another explanation for the changes in temperatures?

Yes. The sun. The sun is responsible for the energy that keeps us alive. The alternative is that the sun's energy output changes slightly, resulting in changes in Earth's climate.

Isn't Earth the hottest it has ever been?

No. Earth was hotter than now during the Medieval Warm Period, long before human activity could possibly have affected the climate.

Is there a way to tell whether changes in solar energy output or human activity is responsible for current warming?

Yes. If the sun is responsible, we would expect to see warming on other planets and moons in our solar system. And we find exactly that--warming on "Mars, Jupiter, Pluto, and Triton". Humans cannot be responsible for that, so there is no reason to think that we are responsible for the warming on Earth.


If there is significant global warming, wouldn't this be destructive?

There have been all sorts of dire scenarios suggested surrounding global warming. Given the unreliability of global warming models, such scenarios aren't too credible. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to suppose that global warming would have some negative effects.

Then shouldn't we implement measures to stop it, just in case?

No. Global warming would also have positive effects. Predicting specific effects is difficult, but there is no reason to think that all such effects would be negative.

Can you tell whether the net effect would be positive or negative?

There is good reason to think that the net effect would be positive. During the Medieval Warm Period, roughly 800-1300, temperatures in Europe were warmer than they are now. This was a time of prosperity relative to both before and after due to such factors as higher crop yields.

Is there a concrete example of a positive consequence of global warming?

Yes. Fewer people will die from cold. Since cold kills far more people than heat, there would be a significant net gain.

Would global warming melt the polar icecaps and flood the coasts?

No. As noted above, even the alarmist IPCC says the worst case scenario for the rise in ocean levels is 19 inches. This is hardly a nightmare scenario.


If global warming is a threat, should we implement the Kyoto treaty or some sort of "cap-and trade" system or carbon tax to deal with it?

No. Even if global warming were a real threat caused by human CO2 emissions, the Kyoto treaty would not work because it only applies to some countries. It exempts China, India, and many other third world countries. China is now the largest CO2 emitter. That's bad enough, but if drastic CO2 limits were implemented in America, manufacturing would be outsourced to China and other such countries, meaning that total emissions might not decrease at all.

But shouldn't we reduce carbon emissions just to be safe?

No. The world economy depends on them. Major cuts in carbon emissions would cause a massive increase in poverty, millions of job losses, and major decreases in quality of life and life expectancy.

But isn't cutting carbon emissions the only way to stop global warming?

No. There might well be a technological solution. For example, some people have proposed putting mirrors into space that could reflect some of the sunlight coming to Earth. Others have proposed putting particulate matter into the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight. This is not to say that these plans would work or are good ideas, only that there could well be a technological solution, and poverty isn't the only option.

What if there isn't a technological solution?

Then we should deal with global warming the best we can. We will be able to do this far better if we are rich than if we are poor. There is a reason that earthquakes of equal magnitude kill thousands in the third world but only a few in America. Natural disasters can best be mitigated in affluence.

Can't global warming be mitigated without major economic damage by finding alternative energy sources?

The trouble with all the usual alternative energy sources is that they don't produce much energy, and they produce it far too expensively. In any case, the best way to find an alternative energy sources is through the free market, not government mandates.

Isn't there any significant source of inexpensive energy that doesn't produce carbon emissions?

Actually, there is. Namely, nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is cheap, efficient, and doesn't create any carbon emissions. If the alarmists really wanted a solution to global warming without major economic disruption, they would advocate major increases in nuclear energy.


Why do many scientists say that global warming is real and a significant threat?

Consider how this situation came about. Climatology is a small field. To succeed, scientists need to publish research, and to do that, they need to get research grants. Those grants come from the government or major foundations. But the grant-making agencies are controlled by environmentalists who believe in global warming. Thus skeptics are unlikely to make it as climate scientists, and scientists have to endorse the alarmist view if they want to keep getting funding.

Isn't the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the final authority on global warming?

Given the UN's record of corruption and incompetence, it should not be considered an authority on anything. The IPCC is "intergovernmental", meaning that its members are appointed by governments, which have their own agendas. Many members are computer modelers or statisticians, which may not be what people think when they hear of scientists. Further, the scientists listed in the IPCC report were not those who agree with the report, they were those "consulted" in the process of producing it. French scientist Paul Reiter had to threaten to sue to get his name removed from the report. The "summary" of the report, which is what most of the media read, was written by bureaucrats, not scientists.

Do environmentalists have a track record of accurate predictions in the past?

Quite the contrary. They have a history of repeatedly making doomsday predictions that have been proven wrong by the passage of time.

Don't environmentalists have our best interests at heart?

No. They want there to be fewer people and more poverty. See these quotes to find out their real agenda.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty

Congressman Ron Paul has ended his presidential campaign. He is now launching a new organization, Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty.

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty

This is exactly the right thing to do. A grassroots activist organization fighting for less government could do a lot of good.

Ron Paul's campaign was incredible in many ways. It was largely organized by volunteers. It was a major presence on the internet. Supporters broke fundraising records. They won many straw polls.

Of course, it didn't do as well in the primaries, where people have an equal vote regardless how much or little they know or care about the issues.

But enthusiasm makes a great deal of difference in political activism. A small group of committed activists can make a lot happen.

The work of the Campaign for Liberty will take many forms. We will educate our fellow Americans in freedom, sound money, non-interventionism, and free markets. We’ll have our own commentaries and videos on the news of the day. I’ll work with friends I respect to design materials for homeschoolers.

Politically, we’ll expand the great work of our precinct leader program. We’ll make our presence felt at every level of government, where just a few people with our level of enthusiasm can make a world of difference. We’ll keep an eye on Congress and lobby against legislation that threatens us. We’ll identify and support political candidates who champion our great ideas against the empty suits the party establishments offer the public.

We will be a permanent presence on the American political landscape. That I promise you. We’re not about to let all this good work die. To the contrary, with your help we’re going to make it grow – by leaps and bounds.
Having thousands of people lobbying their representatives concerning legislation can make a big difference in what passes.

The Ron Paul campaign was big with the youth. That's important for the future, as many involved with it will become lifelong activists. It was also huge on the internet, which is great since the internet will become increasingly important as a source of news, activism, and education in the future.

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty offers the best hope of rolling back big government and preserving American sovereignty in a long time.

Justin VanderArk for Kalamazoo Township Supervisor

There are four candidates running for the Republican nomination for Kalamazoo Township Supervisor. The Republicans are Justin VanderArk, Patrick Butler, Kathleen Doornbos, and Jospeh Thomas. The winner will face democrat Terri Mellinger in November.

The best choice is Justin VanderArk. His website tells more about him.

Justin Vander Ark was born and raised in Kalamazoo Township and has lived in the Township for over 19 years. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College with a degree in Political Science. He currently resides in the Westwood neighborhood with his wife, Emily. Justin is the Director of Governmental and Administrative Affairs for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kalamazoo (HBAGK). Justin serves on the Executive Board of Kalamazoo County Republican Party and the Environmental Advisory Council at the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He describes what issues are important.

The main issues in this election are continuing the fight against crime in the township and the surrounding communities; supporting our fire department; equipping the township parks to become vibrant facilities that serve the township; and the ever-important effort to keep taxes low and establish efficient government. Additionally, I will use my experience in Lansing to keep a fair portion of state revenue sharing dollars coming back to the township.
Justin has been endorsed by many political leaders, including State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk. He deserves the support of Republicans.

See Justin's website:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Democrats' Court-Hacking Scheme

We know liberals don't like the US Constitution. It is becoming increasingly clear that they've got it in for the Michigan Constitution, as well.

There was the "Citizens for Michigan" scheme to have a new constitutional convention.

Now there is a new ballot initiative being circulated. Nick at has an excellent summary of the proposal.

Saul Anuzius has a video about the proposal.

The proposal would pretty much rewrite the Michigan Constitution. It would eliminate two seats from the Michigan Supreme Court, effectively firing Republican justices Robert Young and Stephen Markman. It would also eliminate seven court of appeals judges, six considered Republican. It would cut these judges' terms short, effectively repealing previous election results.

Perhaps even more egregious, the proposal would not only cut judges' pay, it would retroactively cut their pensions, forcing them to choose between resigning and losing much of their retirement money.

Who is behind this proposal? It is being circulated by an outfit called Progressive Campaigns out of California. Mark Brewer, Michigan democrat chairman, has endorsed it. Speculation about who is funding it has centered around billionaire Jon Stryker, who has a history of funding lying advertisements, but the funder has not been determined for certain.

It is hard to find the words to describe how outrageous this proposal is. The proposal is reminiscent of FDR's "court packing" scheme in the 1930's. When the Supreme Court struck down several of FDR's New Deal plans as unconstitutional, he proposed a bill on Congress to add six judges to the Supreme Court, appointed by himself, effectively neutralizing it as an independent branch of government. The reaction was outrage. One Senator said that the proposal deserved to be defeated so soundly that it would never be proposed again.

Democrats in Michigan are trying the opposite trick. Instead of adding judges, subtract them. Pass a constitutional amendment to fire the ones you don't like. Instead of a court-packing scheme, call it a court-hacking scheme.

This proposal shows utter contempt for the courts, the rule of law, and Michigan's Constitution. It must be defeated.


This update focuses on education. Liberalism and government continue to damage education. Homeschooling is an issue of contention in California and elsewhere.

Dana Gabriel: Is the United Nations Coming for Our Children?
Education Reporter: Universal Pre-K Doesn't Pay
Steve Sailer: Alchemists Can’t Turn Lead Into Gold, Educrats Can’t Eliminate IQ. (But Lead Is Useful Anyway)
Allen Quist: Transformational Education and the Global Warming Fantasy
Education Reporter: Algebra is the Key to Math Success
Education Reporter: Online Schools Gain Popularity, Face Down Legal Challenges
Kami Dalton: A Power Struggle in Homeschool Case
Lew Rockwell: What If Public Schools Were Abolished?
Phyllis Schlafly: What's Happened to College History and English?

Learn more about education issues in Education Reporter.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hooray for Ireland!

Ireland yesterday voted down the Lisbon Treaty, which would have further centralized Europe. It lost by a vote of 54% to 46%. See a news report and voting results.

The Lisbon Treaty was a repackaged version of the European Constitution, which was shot down in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2004.

The "treaty" had been passed by legislatures in many European countries. But Ireland's Constitution allowed for a popular vote.

The European Union is an effort to merge the nations of Europe into a single supernational government. It has proceeded in stages over the past sixty years. It has mostly proceeded by stealth. It began with a supposed "free trade" agreement that created the European Coal and Steel Community. But the goal has always been a supernational government.

This has always been a project of the elites, not the people. The political class is imposing this on the people of Europe. On the rare occasions when various nations have had the chance to vote on various EU treaties, they have usually voted no.

The EU is essentially undemocratic. It is mostly controlled by unelected bureaucrats and judges. They impose their will on the nations of Europe by dictating what laws countries must pass.

Thankfully, Ireland said no.

The book The Great Deception is a good resource for more information on the EU.

Politics News

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Michigan has made endorsements.

Senate Committee Votes to eliminate 'Safety Inspection' Requirement. These bills appear likely to become law.

Kalamazoo City Commissioner Stephanie Moore has pled no contest to reduced charges.

Rep. Lorence Wenke is involved in the controversy in Comstock Township.
State lawmaker may sue in fight with Comstock woman

Tax foe Ray Wilson disbands group, quits
There should be someone in this county willing and able to run this group, even if not at the same level. See Ray Wilson's message here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Students and Guns

Human Events has a good article on the efforts of college students to promote guns and gun rights. Here are a few excerpts.

Second Amendment: A Valued Target for Students


Student shooters at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan will not have a problem storing their firearms in a few years. The college purchased 72 acres of land three miles south of campus for a shooting range, set to be completed this fall. Long-term plans include a storage locker for student weapons. The land purchase was funded in part by the Roland Ebersole endowment, which promotes Second Amendment rights.

Next spring Michigan State University is set to open a 23,000-square-foot shooting sports facility with indoor archery and small-bore rifle ranges and three outdoor archery ranges. The MSU archery team and Air Rifle club will primarily utilize the center.


At the University of North Dakota last year, Females for Firearms organized an on-campus protest when housing officials attempted to ban firearms from students’ campus apartments.

“[The ban] was especially trouble for women on campus who rely on their Second Amendment right for protection from possible break-ins and attackers,” said Craig Burgers, an LI Campus Services Coordinator.

The protest drew attention from a variety of media, including local television and radio, as well as the Associated Press.

“The support they generated from this protest was amazing,” Burgers said. “Not only did they get a positive response from the University of North Dakota community but even state representatives took note.”

Carl Levin Votes for Higher Gax Taxes

Michigan Senator Carl Levin has voted to increase the price you pay for gas. The democrats held a vote on a "windfall profits tax", that would increase the cost of energy.

Make no mistake. Penalizing profit discourages investment, which restricts supply. That means higher prices.

But rather than lower prices, democrats keep trying to increase them.

Thankfully, their plan failed, for now.

Harry Reid’s Jimmy Carter Memorial Act: Senate takes up windfall profits tax; Update: Reid cloture motion falls short, 51-43; Roll call vote added, McCain and Obama skip out

Meanwhile, Rep. Tim Walberg is actually trying to cut gas prices.

88th District Preview

The 88th district in the Michigan House of Representatives covers most of Allegan County. It is currently represented by conservative Republican Fulton Sheen, who is term-limited. It is a safe Republican district. (This blog has some analysis of the race in the post and comments. The information it contains has not been verified.)

There are eight candidates for the Republican nomination, Todd Boorsma, Randal Brink, Shelley Edgerton, Jeff Farnsworth, William Galligan, Bob Genetski, Joshua Leatherman, and Spencer Moore.

Todd Boorsma is a business manager and former head of an anti-gambling group, MichGO. He has a website. He lists sound conservative positions on abortion, guns, and the economy. He claims the endorsement of incumbent Rep. Fulton Sheen and conservative State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk. He has not filed a fundraising report, but claims to have raised $26,000.

Randal Brink is a former Allegan County commissioner who was defeated for renomination in 2006. He does not appear to have a website and has yet to report any fundraising.

Shelley Edgerton is Gun Plain Township Supervisor and a former legislative staffer. She has a website. It contains very general conservative statements. She is endorsed by moderate former state senator Dan DeGrow. At the end of the year, she had trivial fundraising.

Jeff Farnsworth is a business manager. He has a website. He lists solidly conservative positions on the issues. He also claims to have been endorsed by Rep. Sheen. He raised about $3000, but ended the year in debt.

William Galligan is a businessman. He has a shell website. He supports abortion and proposes more government spending and regulation of the economy. He has not reported any fundraising yet.

Bob Genetski is a teacher. He has a website. He lists detailed staunch conservative positions that show understanding of the issues. He is a member of a number of conservative organizations. He has raised about $25,000, including about $24,000 from himself.

Joshua Leatherman is a businessman. He has a website. He lists staunch conservative positions, aside from some questionable material on globalization. He raised about $6000.

Spencer Moore is Leighton Township Supervisor. He has a website. He supports cutting taxes, but does not mention social issues. He has raised a trivial amount of money.

Tom Clark will be the democrat candidate. He has a website. He has not declared any fundraising.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

POLITICAL UPDATE--Energy and Environmentalism

This update focuses on energy and environmentalism. The Lieberman-Warner "Climate Security Act" was recently defeated in the Senate for now. Global warming hysteria continues, but more people are speaking out against it. Gas prices are at record highs thanks to government restrictions on supply. Environmentalism continues to cause harm.

Ben Lieberman: The Economy, Not the Polar Bear, Now Endangered
Max Schulz: California’s Potemkin Environmentalism
Walter Williams: Environmentalists' Wild Predictions

Robert Bluey: McCain’s Global-Warming Plan Upsets Conservatives
Ross Kamisky: Potential Costs to America From Cap-and-Trade
Arthur Robinson: Human Rights, Science and the Energy Emergency
Heritage Foundation: Huge Economic Costs of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Change Legislation
Deroy Murdock: Is Global Cooling Next?
Vaclav Klaus: A Climate of Repression

Dan Kish: A Conservative Energy Agenda
Ron Paul: Big Government Responsible for High Gas Prices
Michael Reagan: Put The Blame Where It Belongs
Ed Hiserodt: Coal in Your Car’s Tank
William Anderson: The Oil-Addiction Fallacy
Ross Kamisky: Ethanol, Starvation, and other Liberal ideas
Ian Murray: 'Let Them Burn Ethanol'

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Good Advice

Friday, June 06, 2008

Understanding Government: Conclusion

Having relevant information about government makes it possible to draw some conclusions.


Government is an organization that has a near monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical region. Government actions depend on the use or threat of violence. Government is less effective than the free market because government employees do not bear responsibility for their actions, while private actors do.

The most dramatic example of the destructive power of government is democide. This murder of civilians by government took the lives of 262 million people in the twentieth century. War, which is a government program, killed an additional 36 million people in the twentieth century.

Taxes, which are an inevitable activity of government, are forcible theft that make people poorer. Governments take trillions of dollars in taxes each year. Taxes in turn fund government spending, and taxes and spending are inevitable partners. Redistribution is a major goal of government spending, though it ends up making almost everyone poorer. Redistribution tends to run up massive debt, which can lead to economic collapse. Plenty government spending is wasted on bureaucracy, which causes more harm through perverse incentives. Government regulation is a combination of taxation and spending, and it causes further harm through more perverse incentives.

Law and Order is an essential feature of government, and can benefit society, but only if the rule of law and civil liberties are protected. Control of borders and immigration is also an issue that government must address, but perverse government policies in this arena can hurt people as well.

Different forms of government can modify, but not eliminate, these problems. Democracies mostly do not fight wars or commit democide, but they are more likely to engage in redistribution. Decentralization is closer to freedom and so lessens the harm that government causes in several ways. Limited Government would minimize this harm as much as possible, but is difficult to achieve and maintain.

Government is wasteful under the best of circumstances, but it can be much worse. It can be intentionally cruel, tyrannical, and destructive. Moreover, government is a perpetual target of ideological activists yearning to impose their visions on society. Government power is incredibly dangerous.


The cost of government is probably far higher than almost anyone imagines. There is the cost in lives, not only war and democide, but also government regulations that lead to thousands (or millions) of deaths. It is difficult to estimate the financial cost of government. How many trillions (quadrillions?) of dollars of wealth has been destroyed or not created because of government?

Further, wealth saves lives. People in wealthy countries live longer because they can afford safer cars and houses, better health care, better public health, environmental protection, and more. Thus government taxes, spending, and regulation can be said to cost still more lives. Estimating this cost is difficult, but nothing else causes more harm.

Government causes almost endless problems. Examining a problem seems to always reveal the influence of government. It may be that every problem in society is either caused or exacerbated by government.

Despite all the harm that government causes, some form of government is all but inevitable. Government appears to be the only entity capable of providing some essential services, including military protection, police protection, courts, border control, and roads.


Another topic of inquiry is the moral justification of government.

One alternative that must be rejected is statism, also called positive law. This theory says that anything the government does is justified because it is the government. But this would justify all the crimes and horrors committed by government. It cannot be correct.

Another theory is that government is justified by the consent of the governed. This is fine if people consent to a specific policy, but it raises questions if it means that people give an all-or-nothing consent to government that overrides their non-consent to specific actions of government. It further raises questions as to when and how people consent, and whether people can refuse to consent or withdraw their consent. Most people don't explicitly sign a contract, so is living in a society implicitly consenting?

An extension of the previous theory is that people are morally obligated to support government in the cases when a free market alternative is impossible or unworkable. This obligation would not extend to other areas, and would disappear if government ceased to perform these functions.
Another alternative is that government is never morally justified. If this is true, it does not necessarily imply that people are morally obligated to support anarchy, since the existence of government appears all but inevitable. Instead, the best policy would be to minimize government to limit the damage it causes.


Given the harm that government causes, why do people support it? There are several reasons.

People who work for the government support it because they get money or power from it. Many of them also believe that it is effective.

Many people hold statist ideologies that insist that government is essential for a wide range of functions. Ideologies are very powerful. History has shown that people will believe practically anything.

Beyond this, it is often difficult to connect government actions to negative effects. This can be done with reason and economic analysis, as in this series, but most people fail to make the necessary connections. Also, if government performs a task, many people fail to see how it could be done in the free market, and they think that if they cannot see how it can be done, it most not be possible.

Government is also supported by a massive amount of propaganda. Governments put a lot of effort into convincing people that they are necessary and that people should support them. People who receive government money and ideological supporters of government also contribute to the propaganda. If public opinion were to turn against a government program, it would have a difficult time continuing to exist.


If there is one lesson that should be learned from this series, it is to think about the consequences of government actions. Having good intentions does not necessarily lead to good results.

Analyzing government shows that the results of government programs are almost always negative. Any proposal for government action should be viewed very sceptically.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stop the Climate Socialism Act

UPDATE: The bill was defeated for now. The vote was 48-36 against cloture.

It's one damn thing after another. The US Senate is now debating the Lieberman-Warner bill, a descendant of the McCain-Lieberman bill. The stated purpose of the bill is to fight the supposed threat of global warming. It is called the "Climate Security Act".

He who trades liberty for climate security...

The bill would impose a 'cap and trade' system to reduce carbon emissions that supposedly cause global warming. This means that the government would mandate a maximum amount of carbon emissions. This limit would gradually increase to 60% below current levels. The bill imposes a complicated scheme of regulations. Try to read this chart if you want to figure it out.

Various organizations that want to emit carbon would have to buy carbon credits from the government or each other. Even worse, the government gives away credits to various politically favored groups, resulting in a massive transfer of wealth.

This amounts to a tax. If supply is reduced, then price increases. Thus the price to emit carbon will increase. This means that the prices of energy and anything produced using energy will increase.

This will result in a massive increase in poverty. It would go a long way to wrecking the American economy. Energy prices would be much higher. If you don't like $4 gas, how about $6 or $8 gas?

There will also be massive job losses. Manufacturing in America would simply be too expensive. Millions of jobs would be shipped to China, India, and other countries that don't have such self-destructive rules.

Estimates of the specific effects of the big vary, but they are sure to be huge. The costs are estimated to be 1.7-4.8 trillion (!) dollars. There could four million job losses.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimates that Boxer-Warner-Lieberman will increase the cost of a gallon of gas by as much as $3.25 by 2030.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the bill will increase the cost of gas.

What's more, the EPA also estimates that Boxer-Warner-Lieberman will increase electricity prices by 44% by 2030.

See this Heritage Foundation produced chart for how far gas prices will rise under Boxer-Warner-Lieberman in your state.

And see this chart for estimated job losses in your state under the bill.
And all to fight a threat that doesn't exist.

Call your senators. The Lieberman-Warner Climate Socialism Act must be defeated.

Newt Gingrich: Stop the Green Pig: Defeat the Boxer-Warner-Lieberman Green Pork Bill Capping American Jobs and Trading America's Future
Robert Bluey: McCain’s Global-Warming Plan Upsets Conservatives
Ross Kamisky: Potential Costs to America From Cap-and-Trade
Heritage Foundation: Huge Economic Costs of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Change Legislation

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Push for Poverty

Recently, there has been an increasing push to impoverish Americans. This has occurred under the guise of conservation.

The term 'conservation' is used in more than one way. If is means reducing waste, it is laudable. But people hardly need to be harangued to do this, since eliminating waste means saving money.

The other meaning of 'conservation' is using less. It's fine if people voluntarily chose to do this. But they should not be forced or guilt-tripped into doing so. This is exactly what is occurring in the name of protecting the environment, fighting global warming, and saving energy.

How dare you have an SUV? You should drive a tiny compact car! How dare you drive by yourself? You should carpool! How dare you have your own car? You should ride public transportation! Or bike! Or walk!

A recent 'public service' advertisement suggested that listeners "just turn out the lights". Do you have any idea how much toil and tribulation it took for mankind to turn on the lights? What a monumental achievement it was?

Now we're being told that "we'll never have two-dollar gas again". Why not? The historical trend has been for prices of goods and services to decline due to increases in productivity and new supplies. Why should energy be different?

If prices are increasing, there's a good chance that government is to blame. And so it is. We can have cheap energy again.

We're not running out of oil. Malthus and Ehrlich were wrong. The prices of resources decline over time due to new discoveries.

Whenever Congress discusses energy these days, its goal is to stop people from using it, rather than produce more.

Why? It's the influence of environmentalists. Their goal isn't to 'save the Earth', it's to impoverish, eliminate, or even kill as many people as possible. (Please read the linked quotes!)

The environmentalists should be rejected. There's nothing wrong with wanting to drive a big car, have lights in your house, and have whatever conveniences you can afford to buy. The price system rations people's desires.

Reject the push for poverty. Don't turn out the lights.

Delegate Dilemma

The democrats had their much-discussed meeting to decide the fate of the delegation from Michigan and Florida.

The problem began when Michigan and Florida decided to push up their presidential primaries to have more influence on deciding the nominee. This was in violation of democrat party rules. The democrat party denied delegates to a primary held in violation of its rules. To enforce this, the democrat candidates agreed not to campaign in Michigan and to take their names off the ballot. Except that Hillary Clinton "forgot" to do this. Oops!

Naturally, Hillary won a big victory over nobody in the Michigan primary, with "uncommitted" taking second place.

Everybody thought the issue would be resolved once a candidate wrapped up the nomination. But that ended up taking a lot longer than expected. So the democrats had a meeting to figure out what to do.

One proposal, favored by Hillary, was to give Hillary all the delegates she 'won' in her uncontested victory, with Obama getting all the 'uncommitted' delegates. But this isn't actually how people voted. Though many people voting for 'uncommitted' undoubtedly supported Obama, one cannot assume that all of them did.

A second proposal, favored by Obama, would split Michigan's delegates equally. Of course, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the results of the primary.

More recently, a proposed compromise would split the difference between the two proposals. But the democrat committee still wanted to punish Michigan and Florida for breaking the rules, so it adopted the compromise proposal but only gave each delegate half a vote.

Once again, none of this has anything to do with any actual election result. Up until now, one could actually respect the democrats for enforcing their own rules. But this recent decision was totally made up, having nothing to do with the rules.

But with democrats, this is hardly a surprise.

It is worth noting that Senator Carl Levin was key to moving up Michigan's primary and creating this whole mess in the first place. The policies that he advocates are about as effective as his primary effort.

59th District Preview

The 59th district in the Michigan House of Representatives covers St. Joseph and most of Cass County. It is currently represented by Republican Rick Shaffer, who is term-limited. It is a safe Republican district.

There are three candidates for the Republican nomination, Monte Bordner, Matt Lori, and Rob Sisson.

Monte Bordner is a St. Joseph County Commissioner. He has held that position for eight years. He has a website. It contains generalities about advocating for farmers and supporting local control. He has raised about $1500.

Matt Lori is St. Joseph County Sheriff. He has held that position for twenty years. He has a website. It doesn't say anything about his positions on the issues. He endorsed John McCain before the primary. He has raised about $6000.

Rob Sisson is a member of Republicans for Environmental Protection, and has celebrated Earth Day. (Among other things, REP supports the "Climate Security Act", which is projected to cost America at least 1.7 trillion dollars). He does not appear to have a personal website. He has raised about $3000.

The democrat candidate will be Carol Higgins. Higgins is a public school teacher and union president. She has a website. She has filed that she does not expect to spend more that $1000. Democrat Richard Homan was disqualified after filing to run.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


This update focuses on government. Government spending is out of control. Congress has passed a massive farm bill and is considering other major giveaways. Government regulations cause even more trouble.

Charles Scaliger: Rising Food Costs
Deroy Murdock: Housing Bailout: The Feds' Latest $300 Billion-Dollar Baby
Michael Rozeff: Thefts There Are – Safety Nets There Are Not
James Fulford: Civil Rights Law Doesn’t Care If You Die
Don Devine: Killing Local America
Ron Paul: The Double Trouble of Taxation
Thomas Sowell: Political Crusaders
Brian Darling: Congress Preparing for Another Spending Binge
Wayne Olson: Protect Talk Radio and Religious Broadcasting from Regulatory Repression
David John: The Inevitable Future of Entitlements
Deroy Murdock: Kill This Farm Bill
Ron Paul: Can Foreign Aid Save Africa?
John Stossel: Influence-Peddling
Thomas Sowell: Rescuing the Rust Belt

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Oh, the Humanities!

This article from the Weekly Standard is an interesting look at Western and the annual Medieval Congress. It has a few minor errors (outskirts?), but it's a pretty interesting look at the state of an academic discipline.

A Dark Age for Medievalists

Standing before an audience of about 25 academics, all professors and graduate students specializing in the Middle Ages, in a chilly classroom on the vast campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Jeff Persels, a lanky associate professor of French and director of European studies at the University of South Carolina, was reading aloud a scholarly paper at the 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies. The paper's title was "The Wine in the Urine: Managing Human Waste in French Farce." The paper was about, well, the wine in the urine, or perhaps the urine in the wine. Its topic is a 15th-century farce, or lowlife comic drama, about an adulterous wife who uses a wine bottle as an impromptu chamber pot, with predictably gross results involving her husband and her lover.

Persels's paper didn't discuss the play simply as an example of Rabelaisian-style scatology, however. The perspective he used was the postmodernist discipline of "cultural studies," which means pushing works of literature (or movies or television shows or ad campaigns or whatever) through a Marxist cheesegrater as examples of the way society conditions its members to accept the views of a dominant class. In Persels's view, the wine-bottle farce marked a stage in the development of what he called the "bourgeois fecal habitus." Translated out of postmodern-ese into plain English, that means the tendency of uptight middle-class people not to want to talk in public about matters pertaining to the bathroom and to assume that those who do are kind of crude. "The excretory experience became associated with the proletariat," Persels explained. Although he seemed eager to demonstrate that he personally didn't share those uptight middle-class views, at least one of the academics in his audience remained unconvinced that a secret bourgeois habitus didn't lurk underneath his antinomian veneer. "Excretory?" she whispered to a fellow medievalist sitting next to her. "Why doesn't he just say s***?"
Read it all.