28 June 2010

Initial Reactions To McDonald v. Chicago

The Supreme Court has just held that the Second Amendment, interpreted in Heller to protect a natural right to self-defense by ensuring access to firearms, applies to (i.e., limits) the states as well.  This probably (but not necessarily) means that Chicago's gun ordinance, which has the practical effect of preventing private citizens from owning guns, is dead.

My off the cuff reactions:

1.  The privileges and immunities clause, which for more than 100 years has been thought to be dead, is really, really dead.

2.  Justice Thomas' lone opinion that the Second Amendment applies against the states because of the privileges and immunities clause, rather than through the due process clause, was necessary for him to concur in the result because he disbelieves in due process clause incorporation (as do I).

3.  Thomas' opinion is defensible, because the right to keep and bear arms really is a privilege of federal citizenship and arguably the amendment applies against the states on its own terms ("the right of the people" (emphasis added)), although the Supreme Court has long since rejected that idea.

4.  This opinion will be a seven day wonder, much like Heller and the corporate free speech decisions, with the media lamenting conservative judicial activism.  A few laws will be tweaked and someone in Chicago will get a new gun, but not much will actually change.

5.  The only exception might be that McDonald will weaken the NRA.  Not much existential threat to gun ownership if it's a recognized constitutional right.

25 June 2010

Anyone Else Hate The Phone?

Over the last few months, I've started to realize that I hate the phone.  I hate being called, and I hate having to call out.  Calling someone now seems like intensely rude, hateful behavior -- "HEY, WHATEVER YOUR DOING, STOP IT AND PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!!"  Whatever I'm doing when they call, that's what I want to do. And if I call actual people, I assume that they have something they'd rather be doing (since they're in the middle of doing it) than talk to me.  Having to call some business, and navigate phone trees, and wait for a customer service representative, is just Hell.  As you may have guessed, at this point calling me is probably the worst way to get me to do something, like buy your product or contribute to your cause. Frankly, at this point I'd rather you just drop by.  At least then you're making more of an effort than you're forcing me to make.

Is it just me, or are we all on the cusp of having our phones yanked out of the house?

14 June 2010

The Secret Blog Is In Albuquerque

And this was its breakfast:

12 June 2010

Remember: The American Word For American Is "American"

It's World Cup time come again, and the excitement is palpable as all the papers recycle all those same old stories.  This will be the year Americans love soccer; really, shouldn't the game where you use your feet get to be called "football;" all those soccer playing kids now grown to adulthood will sit riveted to their televisions watching adults play their childhood game (an argument never made for hopscotch); etc.; etc.; etc.  This year the big evidence is that Nike spent as much as $100 million producing an admittedly really cool commercial about the World Cup and that ABC/ESPN paid $100 million for the rights to broadcast the 2010 and 2014 in the US in English.  (Tellingly, Univision paid $325 million to broadcast the same games in the US in Spanish.)  These are apparently big numbers for soccer, although they are ridiculously small for the US.

And that's the point.  The rest of the football loving world should be doing everything it can to keep us convinced that soccer is a boring, pointless sport played solely because it's better than the alternative, which is sitting huddled in misery in some foreign country (oops, redundant).  In fact, I suspect that this is what actually is going on when some bloody foreigner tries to explain the joy of a 1-0 game, in which not a single goal was scored but which was won by that odd tie-breaker kick-off thing that looks like nothing so much as a pre-game warm-up drill.  I'm reminded of a criticism of Quiditch that pointed out that having the game end when the snitch is caught is like having a basketball game end when there's a knockout in a boxing match being held next door.  Soccer suffers from exactly this problem:  you could end it at any random moment (the score being much the same throughout) and then run that warm-up drill that has almost nothing to do with the actual game, in which, we're told repeatedly, the point is the beautiful passing and athletic jumping and falling down and pretending to be hurt....  Sorry, got lost there for a moment.  Where was I?

And that's the point.  If America really got excited about football, we'd just take over.  I'm not saying we'd always win the World Cup.  I'm saying that the World Cup would be run to suit us.  For instance, today, the US is playing England at 2:30 pm Eastern time, which is 7:30 pm in England.  If ABC/ESPN could actually get decent ratings, they would have paid a billion dollars for the World Cup, which is about what NBC paid for the last Olympics.  (The NFL is guaranteed about $4.4 billion per year in tv revenue through 2014, even if they don't play a game in 2011 when the CBA is up.)  For a billion dollars, FIFA would do what it's told, and the game wouldn't start until ABC wanted it to.  As demonstrated by the on-going NBA finals, that's 9:00 Eastern time, or 2:00 am English time.  So, if the rest of you all ever want to see a World Cup game in prime time again, without three times as many commercials, without cheerleaders (I assume foreigners don't have cheerleaders), pray that the US doesn't suddenly learned to love soccer.

Of course, it's always good to pray for something that's bound to happen anyway.

P.S.  Apparently, they don't do that tie-breaking thing at the World Cup.  Who knew?

11 June 2010

Not Evil Or Stupid, But Conservative

One of the things that conservatives like to obsess about is why liberals are liberal.  The two most common explanations are referenced in the title, but sometimes I think that there's a third explanation.  At least in the US, I think that liberals are liberal because they are instinctively conservative, in the sense of being content with the status quo.  If you're content with the status quo and the status quo is liberal, then you end up being liberal.

That's why my conservatism isn't much shaken by the big questions status quo conservatism got wrong, which in the US are basically slavery, Jim Crow and civil rights.  Status quo conservatism is too prone to the position that some practice is unfair/unjust/oppressive, but now's not the time to rock the boat.  Once you've taken that position, it's never time to rock the boat.  The right position is that it's always time to rock the boat, if the cause is worth risking upsetting the boat entirely.  That's why, for the past 30 years, our reactionaries have been liberals and our radicals have been (non-status quo) conservatives.

Does Being The ...

Iconoclast's Iconoclast make me an Iconophile, or put me off in some third room by myself?

Sometimes I worry it's the one, and sometimes I worry it's the other.

10 June 2010

Odd To Discover

That I hadn't forgiven Daniel Ellsberg, "a hero and an icon of the left."  I had just forgotten about him.  Apparently, he's just as big a horse's ass as he ever was.