The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator
 

Archive for June, 2005

Ol’ Dirty Watch: No Money Edition

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Today’s edition of the Emerald was an entertaining read. While our own Tyler Graf’s transition from editorialist to news reporter is a success (as evidenced by his latest piece,) the humor was to be found in two commentaries. The first is the actual editorial, which argues that the recent Kelo decision will be bad for homeowners. Now while this is obviously the correct position to take, the Ol’ Dirty‘s reasoning is laughably poor:

Although the government is required to compensate home and land owners, applying a value to real estate is never that easy. It takes time, energy and money to evacuate a residence, especially if that residence is home to a large or economically underprivileged family.

This is simply false. While the strain will disproportionately affect low-income familes (particularly since it will be their homes on the chopping block,) it is almost certain that moving an average wealthy family requires more time and money than moving an average low-income family, as greater material possessions generally means greater moving costs.

Furthermore, home-owners choose their residence based on a number of factors, making it so that government money can never completely compensate those citizens. Residents may have purchased a home for its proximity to schools and grocery stores or for its acre of exceedingly fertile land. There is no way to justly compensate the physical and emotional toil put into homes.

This is an odd argument, to say the least. Being able to choose a home on the basis of different variables does not make being compensated for said home impossible. Kelo simply opens the door for eminent domain to be applied to private projects, it does not perscribe how much compensation should be given. Additionally, this argument that Ailee Slater (who is presumably writing the ODE’s half-baked editorials over the summer) presents is one against eminent domain in general, not against this particularly ghastly version of it. I would imagine she supports the Interstate highway system, the building of which surely caused massive “physical and emotional toil.”

Also, tearing down residential neighborhoods and replacing them with urban sprawl in the form of businesses is harmful to citizens in a number of ways. Land and home owners who retain the rights to their property will have economic developments springing up in their own backyards, where neighbors houses used to be. A drop in the value of surrounding homes will likely result when businesses move into what was once private property.

Wow. Just… wow. The entire point of the ruling is that it enables private developers to develop private property where other private property once was. It will still be private property, Ailee. Also, the assertion that businesses entering an area drive down property values is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve seen printed in the Emerald in weeks. If that were the case, businesses leaving an area would drive up property values… imagine how much homes in inner-city Detroit must be worth! They’re all millionaires!

Even more laughably stupid is the guest commentary from “John Steinsvold,” which argues that money is evil and should be abolished. It isn’t worth shooting down this twit’s arguments, so I’ll just post my favorite line from it:

A way of life without money demands only that we, as individuals, do the work we love to do.

Personally, I love cleaning bathrooms.

“How to throw a no-hitter on acid”

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

The previous issue of Houston Press has a story about Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter on acid. It’s one of the best sports stories I’ve read in quite some time. The descriptions of the no-hitter game are only a part of the story. It also goes over his entire career and his battle with (and eventual victory over) substance abuse. Here’s a money quote:

When the Cincinnati Reds taunted the Pirates after beating them in the 1972 National League Championship Series, Ellis decided to motivate his team by hitting every single batter in the Reds’ lineup. He hit the first three and walked two before he was pulled. He had, in short, that certain combination of raw talent and insanity that rarely creates Hall of Famers but almost always creates legends.

Definitely worth a read even if you aren’t much of a baseball fan.

Shelby Foote Dead at 88

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Shelby Foote, noted novelist and historian, was found dead today in his Memphis, TN home. For those of you unfamiliar with Foote, he wrote one of the definitive military accounts of the Civil War (titled, aptly enough, The Civil War: A Narrative) and became a semi-celebrity thanks to his appearance in Ken Burns’s “Civil War” miniseries.

For anyone mildly interested in the man, here is an interesting column in the Charlotte Observer about Foote and his tastes in liquor:

Foote said he preferred Johnny Walker Black label on ice when he was indoors and straight bourbon when outdoors.

We were sitting on a screened porch and he said, “What is it? Indoors or outdoors?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“I know, we’ll drink two toasts.”

And we did.

Foote’s aforementioned three volume series on the Civil War has often been criticised for only barely mentioning politics, slavery, and economics, as well as for flatly admitting in the author’s notes (I believe it’s the author’s notes, I don’t have my copy here) that he has sympathies for (and ancestry with) the southern side. I don’t believe that these faults necessarily take away from the greatness of his work. Rather, they necessitate that the conscientious reader explore other books (such as James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom) in order to fill in historical gaps and compensate for Foote’s southern bias. One shouldn’t read his narrative looking for answers to socio-economic or human rights questions, as he doesn’t even begin to answer them. Instead, what makes his volume absolutely essential are the obsessively detailed battle descriptions, which are to my knowledge superior to those of any other author.

Anyways, enough of this. I think we need a “Things Only Ian Cares About” category. Hit tip to Emily for texting me about this this morning.

RIP: Andrew Sullivan

Monday, June 27th, 2005

No, he’s not actually dead, but I think this post proves what we’ve all been thinking for a long time: he might as well be, because his brain is functioning just about that well.

UPDATE: That link is supposed to point to a post with the following contents:

MICKEY KAUS IS A MORON: But he’s not excitable.

It may or may not load correctly.

Tom Cruise: Yup, Idiot.

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Drudge posts this transcript from a Today show appearance this morning wherein Mr. Cruise opines about how dangerous it is that some kids are on “anti-psychotic drugs” and how horrible a thing it is to use other “anti-psychotic drugs” when one is depressed. Hrm.

The thing is, Tom, that neither Adderall nor Ritalin is an anti-psychotic. In fact, both of them are pretty near to methamphetamine in chemical composition (Adderall being a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), one of the side-effects of which is potential psychosis if abused over the long-term. Methamphetamine has been known to induce paraniod-schizophrenia, for instance. So, yeah, I’ll agree that giving kids speed might not be the best medical choice, and that ADHD looks surprisingly like what we used to call “childhood”, but get the damn facts right.

Now, about those anti-depressants. Those aren’t anti-psychotics either. The main class continues to be Selective Saratonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac or Zoloft. There are also other options like Wellbutrin.

It’s true that recently some anti-psychotics have been used to treat bi-polar patients with some success, but that doesn’t reclassify Stimulants and SSRIs as “anti-psychotic drugs”. Let’s be very clear: anti-psychotics are used to treat psychotic disorders, particularly Schizophrenia. Anti-psychotic medications have become fairly important in the treatment of schizophrenia, and there are new ones on the way, but that still doesn’t change the facts on the ground: stimulants and SSRIs aren’t anti-psychotics you ignorant, Scientologist dolt.

“Yes, gang, time for more quotas…”

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

I’ve been lax in keeping up with this story, but the Five-Year Plan pie-fight has been drawing attention nationwide, and not just from the people you’d naturally expect to be up in arms. Here ‘s Don Herzog at Left2Right:

Regardless, those of us who favor affirmative action and diversity need to be loud and clear in denouncing travesties like the Oregon plan. So please, consider it well and truly denounced by this academic leftist.

SCOTUS Strikes Again

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

The Supreme Court issued another terrible decision today, this time striking a blow to the very idea of private property. The 5-4 Kelo v. New London decision stipulates that local governments may take private property away from one party in order to give it to another private party under the assumption that the second party will use it for more public good (read: higher income tax revenues) than the first party.

This ridiculous ruling should be repudiated by people of all political stripes. Despite the fact that the majority was composed of liberal justices, liberals should hardly applaud the decision. As Justice O’Conner concludes in her dissent:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. [T]hat alone is a just government, wrote James Madison, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.

In other words, this decision embraces and empowers cronyism and corruption. It’s a win for companies like Pfizer and a loss for individual citizens.

True conservatives should have little reason to appreciate this decision either, as it strikes a terrible blow against private property rights. Your land and property is now utterly subject to the will of government. As usual, Justice Thomas is accurate in dissent:

The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for public necessity, but instead for public use. Amdt. 5. Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a [P]ublic [P]urpose Clause, […] a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is legitimate and the means not irrational, ante, at 17 (internal quotation marks omitted). This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a public use. […] I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion.

As usual, Volokh and SCOTUSblog do a good job covering both Kelo and the other five, less outrageous decisions made today. Meanwhile, Julian Sanchez wonders aloud if “now that the ‘liberal’ justices on the court have sided with the drug warriors against cancer patients, and with a plan to rob people of their homes for the benefit of wealthy developers, will some court-watchers on the left begin to question the wisdom of having let economic freedom become the red-headed stepchild of modern jurisprudence?” Let’s hope so.

Hate Out

Monday, June 13th, 2005

Finally, the pieces came together. The long-awaited issue is out. We hit some stumbling blocks, but I think this one looks good. A lot of people put in some great work, including Olly, Ian and Michael — people whose hard work was essential to getting the issue done. In fact, it wouldn’t have gotten done without everyone who contributed. Good work everyone.

Warning to those with slow connections: The PDF is friggin’ gigantic.

[Update by Ian] I’ve downgraded the PDF to one that modem users will actually be able to download in a reasonable amount of time. The text will be the same, but the images are gonna look like junk.

Generic “Michael Jackson Not Guilty” Headline

Monday, June 13th, 2005

Generic statement expressing outrage for or renewed confidence in justice system. Generic second statement expressing support for Jackson or the boy and his family. Generic third statement linking to gleeful news story. Generic closing statement urging mainstream news sources to start focusing on stories that have nothing to do with perverted celebrities or missing white girls.

Coast-to-Coast Stupidity

Friday, June 10th, 2005

I hadn’t seen this before, but California’s hilariously moronic legislature apparently decided to ban all textbooks over the length of 200 pages a couple of weeks ago. Yes, that’s right: all textbooks used in public schools will have to be under 200 pages if Gov. Schwarzenegger signs the bill into law. From the SacBee article (free registration required):

AB 756 would force publishers to condense key ideas, basic problems and basic knowledge into 200 pages, then to provide a rich appendix with Web sites where students can go for more information.
[…]
Goldberg said the thrust of her bill is learning, not economics.

“We’re talking about a dynamic education system that brings young people into being a part of the learning process,” she said.

What this really means is that textbook publishers will now release multi-volume sets and thus be able to charge more. Hooray for government intervention! Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that the Governator uses some common sense and kills this idea before it starts spreading to other states. Idiocy is contagious amongst western state legislatures.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, the Vermont government has decided to disallow “religious viewpoints” on vanity plates. That’s right, apparantly the plate “JN36TN” is too subversively Christian for the state’s assistant attorney general. I’m all for the separation of church and state, but this is crazy.

Janice Rogers Brown Finally Confirmed

Friday, June 10th, 2005

If you’re following the judicial-nominee story, well, you probably already saw this, which makes me happy.

Reason‘s Sanchez:

People for the American Way have compiled a list of JRB quotes that are supposed to show how awful and extreme and nuts she is. They tend to make me think she sorta kicks ass.

Comment Spam

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

I have deleted over 300 pieces of comment spam this evening. Other OC web-site folks, please remember to stay on top of this.

In other news: I shall be in Eugene from late tomorrow evening through mid-day June 19. If you are one of the people with which I should have beer, please email me at nothf -at- yahoo -dot- com if you don’t have my cell number. If you already have my number, or I have yours, this step is unneeded.

Oregon’s Bumblin’, Stumblin’ Government Eyes Anti-Meth Laws

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

There’s a story in today’s Register-Guard about the Oregon government’s attempts to cut down on rampant methamphetamine use throughout the state. Governor Teddy Kulongoski has called for all medicines containing pseudoephedrine to be put behind pharmacy counters. Fantastic. This will only increase the cost of meth and, consequently, the amount that addicts have to steal in order to get their next fix. Even better, now when I’m having a cold I’ll have to wait behind all the aching and impotent old people just to stop my nose from running like a faucet. A few of the other proposals cited by Guard reporter David Steves are a bit more sensible, however:

Set tougher criminal penalties for people who allow children, elderly or disabled people into a home used as a meth lab.
Make laws establishing new crimes aimed at the meth trade, including the crimes of dumping meth waste, operating a meth lab, and distributing meth equipment and chemicals.
Crack down on owners of contaminated meth labs by setting a 180-day time limit for owners to decontaminate homes that have been declared unfit for use because they had been the site of a methamphetamine lab.
Create immunity for people who report what they believe to be activities involving meth or meth-making precursors.
Authorize the state welfare agency to suspend an individual’s food stamp benefits when there is evidence that the person traded those benefits for drugs, and has a prior drug conviction.

Here’s an even better idea: how about some more jobs?

Yup, He Looked Like That Back Then Too

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

With the rest of the blogosphere already abuzz about John Kerry’s Yale Grades, I’ll stick to making fun of his appearance.

1118128925_2198.jpg

From the image above we can learn a few things:

1) Kerry breathes through his mouth, in fact, he might even be considered a “mouth-breather”

2) He’s always looked like he belonged as part of the Munster or Addams family.

3) In his younger years Senator John “Not Quite As Liberal As Ted Kennedy But Not For Lack Of Trying” Kerry bore a small resemblance to Corky from “Life Goes On”.

4) If you’re going to give an open-mouth smile while having your picture taken, remember to keep your teeth together.

Dancing in the Show Tonight

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

Yesterday, Ian blogged about D.C. from Oregon. Today, I’ll blog about Eugene from the District.

This week the Chronicle of Higher Education has a tiny number of words on the Vincent draft plan (not only is it a “five-year plan,” it’s also a draft. Another good reason to oppose it!) which begat this post by (also D.C.-based) Joanne Jacobs; the story is also getting play at web journals such as this one and education blogs such as this one.

The word’s getting out — better start preparing for the Hannity interview now.

(Full text of the Chronicle blurb after the jump.)

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 10, 2005, Friday
SECTION: THE FACULTY; Pg. 10

LENGTH: 161 words

HEADLINE: U. of Oregon Diversity Plan Sparks Criticism

BYLINE: SCOTT SMALLWOOD

BODY:
The president of the University of Oregon has backed away from some of the more controversial parts of a proposed five-year diversity plan after some professors balked at it. Because of their objections, the plan will be sent to a committee of faculty members for further consideration.

The draft plan, which was released in early May, called for changing tenure and post-tenure reviews to include assessments of professors’ “cultural competency.” It also called for hiring 30 to 40 professors in the next seven years in several diversity-related areas, including race, gender, disability, and gay-and-lesbian studies.

In a letter to the president, David B. Frohnmayer, 24 professors called the draft plan “frightening and offensive.” They complained that it would spend too much money on “diversity-related bureaucracy.”

Mr. Frohnmayer said in an interview that administrators had “taken a step back from the draft plan, given the extent of the response.”