Political Animal


FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE CIGARETTES….I don’t often agree with National Review, but yesterday The Corner reported that “Not content with their onslaught on tobacco and alcohol, the totalitarians of ?public health? are now eyeing your chocolate bar.”

More scary hype from the loony bin right? Let’s find out! According to The Independent, British health experts are concerned about the growing crop of extra-large candy bars:

They believe that consumers are more likely to buy the Mars Big One, which is a third larger than a standard bar but only 15p more expensive. Similarly, the KitKat Chunky costs 40p and weighs 55g, and is only 5p more than the smaller, traditional KitKat bar.

No shit. I mean, that is the whole point isn’t it?

Ah, well, I suppose it was bound to happen, and as a good liberal I should just suck it up and take it. It’s only a matter of time before California goes the way of Britain.

In fact, maybe Gray Davis should read about this. A $1.10 tax fee on chocolate bars would probably go a long way toward solving our little deficit problem.

ORIGINAL INTENT….”Originalism” is a doctrine

ORIGINAL INTENT….“Originalism” is a doctrine that says constitutional questions should be decided based on the original intent of the framers. Today, via Sam Heldman, Yale law professor Jack Balkin suggests there’s less to originalism than meets the eye:

My experience has been that people tend to invoke originalist arguments only when it produces constitutional results they like and they tend not to mention originalist arguments when they prove embarrassing. If I have the time, I hope to do a series on originalism in constitutional argument, but for the moment I want to focus only on the issue of colorblindness and original understanding.

Balkin then goes on to make a pretty compelling case that the original framers of the 14th amendment did not intend to prohibit race-conscious behavior. In fact, they specifically foresaw that blacks could still be prevented from voting (thus the need for the 15th amendment a few years later). What’s more, the same congress that passed the 14th amendment also passed a number of bills offering special welfare and educational benefits solely to blacks.

So: will Justices Scalia and Thomas, who claim to be originalists, uphold the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program? Answer: does it produce “constitutional results they like”? What part of “no” don’t you understand?

UPDATE: History professor Tom Spencer doesn’t think much of originalism either. My own take on the doctrine is here.


I DUNNO, THE CROWDS LOOKED PRETTY BIG TO ME….You know, I’m actually in favor of deposing Saddam, but count me among the people wondering just why the warblogosphere is so shrilly insistent that this weekend’s war protests were (a) microscopically small, (b) intellectually vacant, (c) unapologetically Stalinist, and (d) objectively pro-terror.

Sure, more people went to football games than went to the protests. So what? Probably more people went to football games than went to Vietnam War protests too.

Methinks they doth protest the protests too much.


THIS IS WHAT WE MEAN BY AN “ORANGE COUNTY REPUBLICAN”….My state assemblyman ? as well as Einstein-loving Ann’s ? is John Campbell (R?Irvine). There may not be many Republicans left in state government, but by God, Orange County has one of them.

So what does my assemblyman think about our budget crisis, all $35 billion of it? Like all Republicans, he pretends to believe that the $35 billion figure has been deliberately inflated to make things seems worse than they are, thus creating an excuse to raise taxes. LA Weekly asked Campbell why he thought Gray Davis was doing this:

?So,? asked the Weekly, ?if Davis? cuts solve most if not all of the crisis, why would he want to raise taxes??

?Because he is catering to ideological liberals in the Legislature who want to raise taxes,? explained Campbell.

?So, John, if the Davis plan was enacted we would have a big budget surplus??

?Yes, absolutely,? replied Campbell. It seemed an exciting thought. Then he reconsidered. ?Well, many of the taxes would end up not being paid because people would figure out ways around them.?

Ah, yes, if we raised taxes, people would just cheat more, and we’d end up with less tax revenue. This is sort of the dark side of supply side economics, I suppose.

Sadly, though, this is the kind of Olympian intelligence we have to put up with around here. Not only is it dumb, but it even ignores political realities: everybody knows that Gray Davis wants to run for president some day, and my guess is that he would rather have his big toe hacked off than have to campaign as a governor who raised taxes. But he went ahead and proposed it anyway.

What does that tell you?