Monday, April 07, 2014

Cruising the Web

Here's a fascinating profile of libertarian legal blogger and constitutional scholar extraordinaire, Eugene Volokh. He's also a very nice man. I emailed him out of the blue several years ago with a question that one of my students had raised in class - what happens if there is a tie in an original jurisdiction case. He kindly posted the question on his blog and it became a rather humorous thread (which I can't find now) including the guess that the justices would just arm wrestle to determine the winner). He even sent me an autographed copy of his book on the First Amendment which I've used several times since then. A true mensch.
Political scientist James Q. Wilson once said that the trick to being a successful conservative in the overwhelmingly liberal realm of academia was to “be twice as productive and four times as nice as your colleagues.” It’s a dictum that perfectly encapsulates Volokh, who despite his manifold achievements—“He’s somehow managed to find more than 24 hours in the day for all the things he does,” said co-blogger Jonathan Adler of Case Western University—is unfailingly gracious, both in writing and in person, toward ideological friends and foes alike.

“Tolerance,” he has written, “means acknowledging that even if people may be wrong in one thing that means a lot to you, it doesn’t follow that they’re wrong in all things. It means (among other things) being willing to see the merits, if there are merits, in people who believe things that you think are wrong, foolish, or even evil.” It’s a generous philosophy that will be put to the test now that the Conspiracy has joined the Post, where many readers—judging by initial comments—are less inclined to be generous back after reading Volokh and his fellow bloggers’ arguments in favor of conservative causes like gun rights.

Volokh, for his part, seems to relish the challenge of preaching to the unconverted. “I hope the payoff will be a broader reach for our ideas,” he recently wrote, “which is why we blog in the first place.”
Scott Johnson links to this unintentionally funny clip of Hillary Clinton trying to answer a question about her greatest accomplishments as a Secretary of State. She has a whole lot of nothing for an answer. She can't even make up something to brag about. Unless it is the fact that the State Department under her leadership misplaced only $6 billion.

Ross Douthat foresees the unending wars over health care.
What’s more, the political salience of this debate will rise for the same reason that the costs of Medicare will be rising: because the country will be older over all, and health policy inevitably matters more to the old than to the young.

Which means that the future almost certainly holds more cries of “death panels,” more ads featuring Paul Ryan clones pushing seniors over a cliff, and no doubt as-yet-undreamt-of forms of demagogy. And it means, as well, that if it’s hard to get Washington to focus on other issues now — tax reform, education, family policy, you name it — just wait awhile: It will get much worse.

It’s important to note, of course, that this “worse” will be the result of betterment: our political debates will be consumed by health care because of all that medicine can do for us, and we’ll be arguing about how to sustain what earlier generations would have regarded as a golden age.

But there’s a reason that golden ages can diminish into twilight — because the demands of the present can crowd out the needs of the future, and because what’s required to preserve and sustain is often different, in the end, from what’s required to grow.

Ah, the Democratic culture of oorruption. And there seems to be even more corruption that California's state senator Leland Yee was involved in as the L.A. Times explores possible quid pro quo votes that he made.

And ever-corrupt Charlie Rangel is involved in another "Oops, I forgot" moment as we learn that he didn't pay rent for his Harlem office.
New York City’s longest-serving congressman won’t pay his rent.
State taxpayers were stiffed out of at least $87,000 when Rep. Charles Rangel stopped paying for the district office he rents in Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, records ­obtained by The Post show.
His staffers’ excuse? They lost the lease, according to state Office of General Services correspondence.
And his punishment seems to have been that the state picked up the tab. Remember that this is the guy who, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, "forgot" to pay taxes on his home in the Dominican Republic and his use of four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem.

Jonah Goldberg explains what is wrong with the term "social justice."

Jay Cost examines the built-in advantage that the Republicans have in representation by state in the Senate.
What do Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia have in common? For one, none has a city larger than 400,000 people. For another, they all voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. For yet another, they are the most likely places for Republicans to pick up Senate seats, thus taking control of the upper chamber, in 2014.

These three facts are related.
As Cost points out the Democratic Party does little to appeal to rural voters. And Democratic hopes in keeping the Senate now rely, to a strong degree, on the proven ability of Republicans to muck things up. And this advantage still doesn't give the Republicans an advantage in presidential elections.
What about the elections after this fall? There can be no doubt that the Republican party has problems putting together a national coalition to win the presidency. The GOP needs to win more Latino voters, more African-American voters, and more young voters. It also needs to drive better turnout among its core vote in critical swing states like Florida and Ohio.

But our government is a separated system in which the power to enact law is split between a presidency and a bicameral legislature. In the latter, the Republicans have the structural advantages. In 2012, Obama won 70 percent of the vote in the big cities, but less than 40 percent of the vote in rural areas. His political coalition may be favored to win the White House, but Republicans will be favored to win the Senate and, thanks to the concentration of Democratic voters into federally mandated minority-majority districts, the House of Representatives as well.

This development will likely be immune to demographic changes sweeping through the Southwest. No doubt immigration has redrawn the political landscape of California over the last 30 years, but California still has only two senators, just like Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota, and Louisiana, whose demographic shifts have not altered their political balance.

Thus, the outsized majority that Obama enjoyed in Congress after the 2008 election appears in retrospect to be more of an artifact of the previous age, when the party brand was not so heavily dependent upon the “coalition of the ascendant.” Now, six years into the Obama administration, Democratic senators will have to deal with the “descendant” voters the Obama administration has ignored. And it’s those voters that may well hold the balance of power in the Senate, and it is looking increasingly as if they intend to wield it mercilessly come November.
Of course, if the Democrats continue to tick off senior voters, they'll have even less hope in this year's elections.

The failures of the Obama Doctrine.

Five questions for Dave Barry. Barack Obama could take some notes. He is not a gifted comedian. He's played to too many obsequious audiences.