Responding to Elizabeth Edwards' interview Wednesday on the "Today" show, Andrew Young e-mailed the following snippet to The Charlotte Observer (emphasis mine):
As much as I admire Elizabeth's resilience and understand her pain, I am disappointed that she is not yet facing the truth about the scandal that hurt so many people, and our country. She is not facing the facts and not taking responsibility for her role in constructing the myth of John Edwards and enabling him to carry on a terrible deception. Instead she continues to blame others and presents versions of events that are distorted. This approach — an attempt to manufacture reality and deny responsibility — set the stage for the Edwards debacle and only makes people feel even more cynical about our leaders and politics as it is practiced today.
That description could just as easily apply to Young himself, a former aide (though a better term would be "gopher") for John Edwards. Young lied to cover Edwards' infidelity, and then when opportunities for cash and power evaporated, he turned on his boss, wrote an expose, and began doing the media rounds. All under the guise of coming clean.
I recommend Young's book, The Politician, because it gives great context to the anatomy of the scandal that brought Edwards down. But consider the source and read with caution.
On June 16th, members of the League of Municipalities rode on a CAT bus to the General Assembly.
This service was "provided as a courtesy" to the League, according to David Eatman, Raleigh's Transit Administrator, in response to my inquiry on the matter.
With CAT's marginal cost at $68/hr, and 11 hours of service provided to the League, the total cost of this ride was $748.
What does this mean? The City of Raleigh paid to let people from other city governments lobby our state government for money.
And if that isn't absurd enough, it gets better. The whole thing is completely legal under The Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR Part 604, Section 605.6).
Maybe it's just me, but when our government is already in the hole, spending over $700 to allow other governments to ask for more money to put us further in the hole just doesn't seem like a good idea.
Hey, but maybe they'll also pay to repair the wall I damaged from banging my head into it out of frustration.
A proposal to force North Carolina law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from every person arrested on certain felony charges would hurt all North Carolinians' privacy rights.
That was a key piece of the argument Sarah Preston, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, offered today against a DNA collection bill under consideration now in the General Assembly. Preston delivered that argument during a presentation to the John Locke Foundation and Federalist Society.
In the video clip below, Preston outlines a key privacy concern.
2:30 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 53:18 presentation.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
NPR reported this morning on a case in Tennessee where: Prosecutors charged Bradley Waldroup with the felon murder of his wife’s friend, which carries the death penalty, and attempted first-degree murder of his wife. It seemed clear to them that Waldroup's actions were intentional and premeditated. There were numerous things he did around the crime scene that were conscious choices. One of them was [that] he told his children to “come tell your mama goodbye,” because he was going to kill her. And he had the gun, and he had the machete.
His defense? "His genetic makeup, combined with his history of child abuse, together created a vulnerability that he would be a violent adult.” Bernet, Waldroup’s attorney explained.
Over the fierce opposition of prosecutors, the judge allowed Bernet to testify in court that these two factors help explain why Waldroup snapped that murderous night.
As the jury reached a decision, the genetic evidence apparently played apart in the outcome for Waldroup. The jurors concluded that his actions were not premeditated and agreed with the defense argument that Waldroup just exploded.
One Jurer commented after the trial that, the science helped persuade her that Waldroup was not entirely in control of his actions.
Apparently that's the case, as Professor Ralph Reiland explains in this excellent article.
Lots of people still say that they dislike "capitalism," but if you ask if they're satisfied with their business dealings with, oh, their dry cleaners, grocery stores, book sellers, painters, etc, mostly they say that they are. Small businesses aren't political pets and will go out of business unless they can please customers. They have to deliver good value for the money and people know it.
Americans don't like crony capitalism, with good reason. Pure, uncontaminated capitalism is just fine.
HB 1403, the DNA on Arrest bill, was heard this morning in the House Finance committee. Twenty-three states and the federal government already have DNA on arrest laws. The newest version of the bill only pertains to certain felony arrests and uses "non-coded" DNA with only
13 genetic markers.
Here are the highlights from the committee meeting:
-Blackwell is first to speak and feels DNA is "similar to fingerprints."
asks about fiscal note and wants to know how the $3.5M costs will be covered. The staff say that in
this newer and more narrow version, costs will be less. However, there is no
updated fiscal note at this time.
-Holliman asks why there is an exemption to felony assaults (why is cyberstalking and stalking included, but not assaults???)
Staff says there is usually no DNA in assault cases.
agrees with staff members saying that they had to narrow the crimes in order
to appease people and that you can still get their DNA after arrest.
-Luebke wants it to go to a study commission and calls it "taking from
the innocent." He cites the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and
Policy study that said the use of DNA is unknown and poorly documented.
-McCormick believes it is a "good bill and a timely bill."
-Alexander is concerned about the misuse of the samples and also wants the study commission.
says that J1 already spent 3 meetings on the bills, and it would be the
2nd narrowest law out of the other states with DNA on arrest.
-Chairman Gibson comments on the fiscal note saying that the new
version lessened the impact. There is no fiscal note yet, but costs have been
-Tillis amendment adopted (technical amendment concerning effective date).
-Blust wants to know the standards for warrants for arrests, the number
of arrests that lead to convictions, and the number of people arrested
and required to give DNA under the bill criteria, but then convicted of
-Sarah Preston with ACLU, who is speaking today at Federalist Society luncheon here at the John Locke Foundation, is against the bill. They are
concerned with privacy and they want a warrant to be required for
obtaining DNA. She says it is against 4th amendment rights and might
lead to officials arresting just to get DNA.
-McCloud from the AG's office had the opposite perspective and supports more
science in the system. He speaks about the automatic expungement requirement.
-Hall says expungement is essential.
-The ayes have it and the bill passes with fiscal note to come.
See further discussion on the same bill in Senate Judiciary I committee.
Two different versions of this bill passed both the House and Senate. The House passed a bill that dealt with educating students about voting and related matters. The Senate gutted that and changed the bill to cover a completely different topic: it became a very short bill on whether certain white collar criminals could posses firearms. When the House couldn't agree on this new Senate bill, a conference committee was formed.
Behind the scenes in the conference committee, the bill became a detailed way (as Sara discussed) to address whether nonviolent felons could possess firearms (see my report here). An issue of this magnitude was not discussed in public and there will be little to any chance for anyone (on either side of the issue) to have their voices heard. The exception of course are the lobbyists who have inside connections and were part of the behind-the-scenes process.
This isn't an example of evil lobbyists--it is an example of the legislature setting up a system where to be involved in the democratic process you must be an insider--this isn't a pay to play system. It is a closed system where legislators don't want to be held accountable. It is a system where openness (i.e. transparency) could have reduced the lobbyists' influence and better engaged the public.
Al Gore’s hemisphere is heating up. Portland, Ore., police have reopened an investigation into allegations that the former vice president sexually assaulted a hotel masseuse in 2006. Gore denies it, of course, but he could be following in the vaunted footsteps of other recent Democratic politicians.
The pattern goes like this: vehemently deny the allegations, admit to some of the allegations, admit to all of the allegations, flee the country, begin bar hopping.
But that’s unfair to Gore. After all, his separation from Tipper had nothing to do with marital infidelity and everything to do with George W. Bush and those Republican shills on the Supreme Court.
But there’s more. After years of silence, Elian Gonzalez has spoken to foreign reporters. There are no surprises — he tows the communist party line well, trumpeting the mirage of bliss in Cuba. Yet the Clinton administration’s bungled handling of the case likely cost Gore plenty of Cuban-American votes in Florida in 2000, votes that could have helped him secure a narrow win, snag the state’s electoral votes, and spend at least four, and probably eight, gleeful years in the White House with his wife.
So, in the end, the Gores' separation is Elian’s fault.
A survey by the left-leaning CapStrat and Public Policy Polling shows that a majority of voters think state spending is too high, even though 68 percent of respondents either don't know how much the state spends or think the budget is less than $15 billion. The actual amount is $20 billion in state General Fund Appropriations and $49 billion in total spending.
The new behaviorism also differs from more draconian forms of social engineering in that it poses as nonjudgmental, cloaking its exhortations in the pristine laboratory coat of science rather than caustic moral censure. It views people as mechanical and thus susceptible to some behavioral tinkering, and in this sense it is a far less pessimistic or deterministic view of man than the one offered by genetic science, for example. We’re not ignorant; we are merely laboring under assumptions based on “imperfect information.” We’re not undisciplined losers intent on achieving instant gratification; we have simply adopted too many “time-inconsistent preferences” for our own good.
But if choice architecture is an appealing euphemism, it is also misleading, for the new behaviorism isn’t interested in protecting people’s freedom to choose. On the contrary. Its core principle is the idea that only by allowing an expert elite to limit choices can individuals learn to break their bad habits. Contemporary behaviorists want to nudge us, but not merely to make us happier, better people. They have specific hopes for the social effects this nudging will achieve: fewer smokers, thinner Americans, higher savings rates.
They can keep more of the money they earn from those extra hours of work each week and extra years of work later in life.
That’s one fact that stands out in James Glassman’s new Commentaryarticle on Europe’s “economic decadence.”
The result is that Americans produce and earn considerably more than Europeans. In the U.S. we make $47,000, compared with $36,000 in Germany and the UK, and $34,000 in France.1 In fact, as the Michigan State economist Mark Perry points out on his blog, Carpe Diem, citizens of America’s poorest state, Mississippi, have a higher GDP per capita than Italians, and Alabamans surpass Germans, French, and Belgians.
In his paper, [Nobel Prize winner Edward]Prescott fingered the culprit: high taxes. “The surprising finding,” he wrote, “is that this marginal tax rate [difference between Europe and the U.S.] accounts for the predominance of differences at points in time and the large change in relative labor supply over time.” Taxation rates on the next euro of income became so high that people were discouraged from working—especially with the enticements of early retirement.
Glassman goes on to note that taxes are higher in Europe because “Europeans have chosen to have workers support non-workers in their leisure.” But Glassman contends those Europeans “have taken the leisure side of the tradeoff to the extreme.”
Hence the mounting fiscal problems for nations such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain.
The magazine prints (subscriber link here) a pair of letters praising Goldberg’s assessment, along with another pair that blast the piece as — to offer one example — “pseudo-intellectual baloney.”
In responding to the critics, Goldberg offers this interesting aside:
I think it is a serious challenge to discuss the ideology of self-described liberals, given their predilection for rejecting the idea that they have any ideology at all. This infuriating tactic has successfully freed many liberals from the obligation of stating, or defending, any useful first principles beyond vague platitudes of social justice and generalized do-goodery. The problem with such “pragmatism” is that it always results in arguing for an ever greater role for the government, as we’ve seen with Obama’s own alleged pragmatism. As James Ceaser has written, “Pragmatism is the magic word to describe what liberals want, but do not want to argue for.”