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Historians of the decline will note this decision

Chris Floyd has a post that actually made me lose sleep last night: Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery.

Here's how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president's fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a "suspected enemy combatant" by the president or his designated minions is no longer a "person." They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever -- save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

Obama does a number of dangerous things better than Bush, like how he distances himself a lot more from his minions at the Justice Department. All of this has to be happening with at least his blessing--after all, he is the president--but he's never at the press conferences and when you see him lately he's always talking about some urgent national issue that requires you not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

Chris Floyd's blog is normally excellent, and he's outdone even himself with this piece. Have at it.

Price controls in sheep's clothing

While most Americans would say that price controls are vaguely a bad thing, they're missing out on the most fundamentally damaging one:

Missed in virtually all the commentaries is the key question: Should a central bank try to manipulate interest rates? Lost in all the debate over monetary policy is the fact that interest rates are market prices that are supposed to tell the truth: the truth about actual supply and demand conditions in financial markets. [Emphasis mine.]

Richard Ebeling has more.

Spit in one hand and pile Democratic fortitude in the other and see which one fills up first

Jesus Christ:

Pelosi: Obama must make case for war buildup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It is up to President Barack Obama to convince wary Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to support his escalation of the Afghanistan war, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.

Pelosi also said many House Democrats "are eager to have a vote soon on Afghanistan," and may get it as early as next month on a resolution to end the conflict.

With Democrats divided and most Republicans backing the war, there seems no chance the resolution will be approved.


"War votes are votes of conscience," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Oh wow! They'll be getting the US military out of Afghanistan?

Congress is expected to approve funding for the troop increase, which the Pentagon has estimated would cost between $30 billion to $35 billion.

Hey, Democrats and Democratic voters, great job. Pat yourselves in the back.

Winner and loser at the same time

Follow-up to previous post on the subject: Helicopter Ben is Time's Person of the Year.

Update: J. Grayson Lilburne has some good commentary on the Mises Institute blog.

Time's Person of the Year

Vote for Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Other than Steve Jobs and Usain Bolt, the specific people on that list are all scumbags, and in a just society would be treated like crooks, not celebrated by an adoring press. "The Chinese Worker" is a concept, not a person, but it got my vote. Which, of course, is not worth the electrons it's submitted with.

BONUS: Minimum 100-word harangue about Steve Jobs and intellectual "property".

Obama's Nobel Prize Speech

Left and right, pundits applaud Obama Nobel Peace Prize speech

This, to the discerning mind, is a clear sign that the speech is full of shameful lies that would make a decent person cringe.

Here's a more honest (and funny!) take.

Sheriff Joe on the warpath

In a situation tailor-made to demonstrate the problem with the Randian quest for legal finality within a monopolistic law enforcement system, Maricopa County's various legal system components are feuding with each other, fueled by a sheriff with literally no concept of the rule of law. Check it out.

A > B > C > A ?

Robert Paul Wolff has a humorous post about rational choice theory that you economically-minded readers are likely to enjoy.

The backwaters of humanity

Reading this article makes my blood boil (even if the first thing on the page is the Queen of Jordan, who is a real looker). If you don't have the time, while detailing Jordan's legal wrangles over "honor killings", it gives the story of a woman killed by her relatives in relatively civilized Jordan for...wait for it...leaving the house at night with her infant son.

His sister's crime was simple. Her husband complained that she had left the house on the middle of the night carrying her 16-month-old baby son. The police had found her wandering the streets half an hour later.

The dishonour such wanton behaviour brought on her own family, it seemed, could only be expunged by her death.

Here's the real punch in the gut:

Police inquiries have revealed his sister's husband had not told the brothers the entire truth. They allege he had beaten his wife severely with his belt, and then kicked her out. He only called for help when he realised she had taken his baby son with her.

Yet Abu Ishmael does not appear angry. Instead, the whole business remains to him a matter-of-fact quandary, one he seemed to think that any family might face, when addressing the competing possibilities of family disgrace.

"If she really had left the house of her own free will she would have deserved what happened to her," he said, with a sad shake of his head. "But it appears not."

Abu Ishmael is not only the murdered woman's brother, he also participated in her kidnapping. I'm dumbfounded by this attitude: if she actually had left the house of her own free will, she deserves to be stabbed until she dies.

I've tried to write this part several times now, and frankly I don't even know what to say. That family is a blemish on the human race.

Religious intolerance: it's not just for breakfast anymore

The recent Swiss ban on the construction of new minarets is a very regrettable event, and the only Swiss voter I personally know is furious about it. It's a good example of how socially destructive even apparently benign regulations like building permits can be: now it's a huge political issue when someone wants to build a twenty-foot tall pile of cinder blocks. This is clearly antithetical to a free society, and symptomatic of a larger problem in the European response to Islam. These insular communities are not going to adapt when they're being persecuted.

The Christian Science Monitor's feathers are not ruffled. In a response, it notes religious intolerance of the reverse variety:

Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca and Islam more generally, is one of the least religiously free nation’s on earth. In the Kingdom, the public practice of any faith but Islam is illegal. Christian’s and Jews receive 50 percent of the compensation that a Muslim would receive in personal injury court and the country has no churches at all, though it officially tolerates private worship in homes.

None of this, of course, excuses the Swiss yes-voters from illiberal and immoral behavior. But it's something to keep in mind.

The lost war at home

One of the common laments from pro-Vietnam War commentators is that "We lost the war at home." Militarily, it wasn't as if the Vietcong were on the verge of overrunning a panicking Saigon or anything... The problem was that the US public lost the political will to continue the fighting. The fault, of course, ultimately rests with some variant or other of weak-kneed communist sympathizer or "isolationist."

As it turns out, the members of the US armed forces fighting in Vietnam were frequently antiwar. Not only did they realize its futility, they didn't think they should be killing and dying for this backwater nation halfway across the world. For example, "We Gotta Get Outta This Place" was one of the most popular songs on US military radio and in US military clubs in the fighting zone. Vietnam veterans were often fervent antiwar protestors, even testifying to congressional committees about how US forces needed to get the hell out of there.

What I wonder is if all these grimacing after-the-fact patriots blame soldiers as well as hippies for the lost war at home. I've never heard one say so.

NYPD systematically conspiring to deprive people of their rights

I bet it's not just New York. Similar incentives are in place all over the country.

They are not there to help you

I haven't really been following this story, but Mary Theroux has a great post on a high-school gang rape and the lamentable lack of consequences for the school authorities:

A few weeks ago a 16 year old high school girl was gang-raped for a period of over two hours in a poorly-lit courtyard on the campus of her high school during the homecoming dance. While there have been outpourings of horror, sympathy for the victim, funds raised for her future, etc., I’ve seen absolutely no call anywhere for holding the school officials accountable. On the contrary, local media has accepted and reported the crime as “nearly inevitable:”

Charles Johnson, one of the high school’s security specialists said, “We know that courtyard, and we’ve been waiting for something to happen there.”

Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer

The Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago today. This was part of a longer chain of events leading to the demise of communism as a worldwide phenomenon. Watch here. Jubilation like that gives me goose bumps.

On a personal note, I was a child of seven living in West Germany during this very period. I was too young to understand the significance of it, but not too young to feel the electricity in the air and see it on everyone's face. I could relive that all day long too.

Good economic journalism still elusive

A headline on the Kansas City Star's blog reads: Nixon swings ax, citizens scream "OUCH!". The article's content is more neutral, discussing the financial crunch that led to the cuts. But it's that headline that lets you know what a nasty move it is by this greedy Gov. Nixon.

Well, here's a news flash: governments don't have the money to match their promises. Sometimes they have to cut back. When you or I have personal budget crunches, the solution is to spend less. It's no different at the state government level. (It's different at the federal level, alas.)

And this isn't necessary a bad thing. What government does is create deadweight loss. Less government control over money is all right by me.