What’s Right vs What’s Legal

A useful discussion over at Instapundit (not to imply that Professor Reynolds is in the habit of discussing unuseful stuff) about gun registration and whether Ashcroft is following the law and the Constitution in not going through gun purchase lists looking for terrorists. In a previous post, Glenn mentioned that some of his pro-gun friends consider him “wet” because he believes gun registration to be Constitutional (though under the federal statutes he cites and quotes here, not legal).

This is an issue that continually rankles me (not gun registration, but the inability to distinguish between good ideas, and Constitutional ideas). Almost always, when discussing court decisions, each debater uses, as a center of gravity of the discussion, not what is legal or Constitutional, but what they want the outcome to be. I suspect that this is simply another symptom of the abysmal state of our educational system. Roe v Wade is a classical example of this. Supporters of the decision support it not because there’s a clear basis in the Constitution for it (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg is skeptical on that score), but because they want abortion to be universally legal, and the Constitution be damned. I oppose the decision not because I want abortions made illegal (though I do in fact believe that it should be left up to the states), but because I consider it an abortion of a decision, and one that sets an ugly penumbra of an emanation of a precedent.

I think that gun registration is a very, very bad idea, for reasons that have been discussed in length at many times in many places, but I agree with Glenn–it isn’t per se unconstitutional. It’s unfortunate that we can’t somehow segregate these two discussions from each other, because when they get entangled, as they inevitably do, it makes the issues that much harder to resolve.

More On the Wages Of Love

Reader Charlie Banks weighs in on the Twelve Days Accounting Controversy via email:

Tricky conundrum regarding Lords a-Leaping, although I have a possible solution: such displays could easily pass as performance art. Of course, since there’s a Christmas theme the ACLU would have issues with government funding for such displays, so one might simply define the Twelve Lords cost as the average price of one ticket for a privately-sponsored performance art display. Or perhaps two tickets, if this unnamed “true love” loves the receiver as truly as he/she claims…

Well, it didn’t say they were explicitly Chistmas-oriented leaps (just what would those look like, he wondered inanely?)–they may be just garden variety. Surely even the ACLU can’t complain about giving tickets to a performance as a Christmas present?

A few more questions regarding other services: are the maids/drummers/pipers/etc. working at minimum wage, or are they backed by the farm worker/musician/etc. unions? And what of the ladies dancing…exactly what kind of dancing are we talking about here? Nine ladies tap dancing may not cost the same as, say, nine ladies lap dancing.

Lap dancing. Hmmmmm…now that’s what I would call true love, though (appropriately) not the kind of which Dr. Laura would approve…

Blogged Down

It’s going to be slow posting today, and probably for the next week and a half–I’m suffering with a dial-up connection, and it’s my only phone line. I may take the time to do some longer, more thoughtful pieces.

Born Again?

According to Opinion Journal in reference to Administration civil liberties proposals:

Newspapers and TV networks pretended there was great “bipartisan” angst about all this, especially military tribunals, though the only conservative critics were libertarians they usually ignore.

I suspect that Bob “Drug War” Barr would be shocked to be described as a libertarian…

The First Infamous Day

All week, I’ve been wondering whether December 7th would be overshadowed, or enhanced by the events of three months ago. I seem to have an answer–commemorations of the sixtieth anniversary are now being performed in the context of this more recent atrocity. Fox and Friends (which I don’t normally hear because they’re on too early in the morning for me on the left coast) are discussing it now, and there’s apparently going to be an extensive special about it on Fox this weekend using old Movietone clips. They’re talking about the parallels between Pearl Harbor and WTC, particularly the breakdown in intelligence, and misperceptions of the enemy, that allowed both to happen. Did we get enough of a wakeup call to fix the problem this time?

As a reporter would say, only time will tell…

Tally Me Banana

OK mon, me and I made it safely to the Caribbean, but still no peanuts.

Guess I’ll have to struggle along with coconuts.

And pineapple. And Bacardi…

Looked like a busy bloggerday yesterday from my quick glance through the links last night, but I didn’t feel like posting anything. There’s plenty for today, though.

First of all, my air travel horror story. Well, actually, it turned out to be less than horrible. It was more inconvenient than the last time I came down here (just before 911), but for all of my complaining about the policies, it was actually not that big a deal. (This should not imply that I have changed my mind on the subject, however–I think I was just lucky).

Deciding to live dangerously, I left for LAX at my normal time–about an hour and a quarter before flight time. My longest line was in the taxi waiting to get into LAX. Once past Checkpoint Charlie at the 96th Street entrance, there was the least traffic inside the airport itself that I’ve ever seen at that time of the morning.

Check in was no big deal, but then, I’m Aadvantage Gold on American, and used the line for business class. Looking over at the regular line, which looked horrendously long, I shuddered. Of course, if I’d thought that I would have had to use that line, I would have arrived an hour earlier…

Security was more of a pain (though again, nowhere near as much as it could have been, based on reports from other people). I had to remove my laptop from my briefcase and put it through in its own basket, as well as my cell phone and other sundries, which I used to just pass around the sensor.

I had to show my passport (or DL, but I was using passport for photo ID) to actually get on the plane (“yes, your papers seem to be in order…). The rest of the trip was pre-911 normal, except that when I switched planes in Dallas, they were randomly wanding people boarding to San Juan. However, I got the luck of the draw, and wasn’t detained.

On the plane, I got my favorite (coach) seat in a 757–10F. It’s kind of a lounge chair, because it’s in the exit row, and the door only allows two seats in Row 9, so there’s nobody in front of the window seat, and you can stretch your legs. I sat next to a retired couple returning from Colorado Springs who live on St. Thomas. They also had homes in tidewater Virginia (north of Yorktown) and in Charlotte, and are apparently avid divers, so we swapped stories about diving various islands.

I mention them because when the flight attendant came by to make sure we knew our exit-row responsibilities they (and I) said yes. After I left, I said to my seatmate, “Our job is to be sure we’re the first ones out…, or actually to be sure that the hijacker is the first one out–while the plane is still airborne.” This slight, but bellicose retired woman said, in a soft southern accent, with no other prompting, “They’re never going to get away with that again. We don’t need these silly new security rules, but they sure should be checking bags for bombs–that’s the real problem now.” For what it’s worth, her husband spent the entire flight reading a Guns & Ammo mag. When I asked if they could get a CCW in St. Thomas, they said yes, though it took several months. They were well into the process…

And as I type this, I know I’m in the tropics–a sudden storm has just blown up with both wind and rain. Have to go shut the windows.

And Now, For My Next Impression

According to the Washington Times, some Muslim groups are complaining that freezing the assets of the “Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development,” will create an impression of “an attack on Islam.”

Well, boo hoo…

On September 11, some folks who claimed to be Islamic leveled two skyscrapers with all contents, ostensibly “for Islam.” Islam doesn’t seem to made any great effort to dispel the notion that Islam approves of such actions.

Sorry, folks, but given the reality of thousands of bodies (including those of the Muslim faith) intermingled with concrete and steel, we’re more interested in reality right now, than “impressions.”

Why aren’t you?

Holy Leaping Lords, Batman!

I know, I said I was done until I get to Puerto Rico, but I decided not to pass this one up. Also, it seems appropriate since, where I’m going, Christmas isn’t that big a deal, but they take a couple weeks off to celebrate Three Kings Day (i.e., the whole friggin’ twelve days). Of course, in Puerto Rico, almost anything is an excuse for a holiday–they celebrate both theirs and ours…

Chris Pellerito astutely notes that:

MSNBC cites a PNC Advisors’ study suggesting that the cost of purchasing all the items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has risen 4.36% in the previous year. (This assumes that your true love gave you a partridge in a pear tree on each of twelve days, two turtle doves on each of eleven days, or twenty-two turtle doves total, etc.)

A couple of interesting observations — first, the goods (five golden rings, etc.) increased in price faster than the services (maids-a-milking and the like.) This suggests that real wages, vis-a-vis the goods they can purchase, are falling. This is exactly how the economy “wrings out” a recession. Second, the golden rings increased the most in price — beware of rising gold prices!

My question has always been: is “Lords-a-leaping” a good or a service? Not that it would seem to have a lot of value, at least to me, unlike maids-a-milking, which at least provides milk and ultimately other dairy products (though perhaps the cows are extra and not included, like batteries, or the wardrobe for Barbie or Jihad Joe…).

What I mean is, do you get to keep them and watch them leap in perpetuity (or until they get old and crippled, and you’ve fully depreciated them, and retired them or had them shot out of mercy or revolutionary vim), or do they just come in and leap for you until the Epiphany, and then go back to their various manor houses? Inquiring accountants and sales tax authorities are dying to know.

I’m also wondering if this can serve as a new surrogate for true inflation and as a general index of the economy. It could turn out to be as useful as the Economist’s use of the Big Mac as a benchmark for exchange rates (as representative of purchasing power parity between different countries)…

Ahh, one of the evils of computers–they make it all too easy to do pointless statistics.

Hiatus

I’m packing tonight, and I’ll be on planes all day tomorrow from LA to San Juan, so I won’t be posting until Friday (from the Atlantic time zone) unless something truly urgent strikes me.

This message is only to the three people who regularly read this weblog (likely all family members). Everyone else can ignore it…

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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