The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hotels and Mandatory Restrooms: The Modern Statist Legacy

I like tying things together, and it seems that there are some common themes from the last few days, as we discuss Comrade Che, the Kelo Decision, and the subject we'll touch upon as well today, mandatory bathrooms.

One of the greatest problems with a burgeoning nanny state is the state's tendency to proscribe behaviors - to make choices for the citizens that the citizens themselves would otherwise want to make (I guess that's pretty much the definition _of_ the nanny state). The outcome, of course, is a state that makes everyone a criminal, as the laws are so vast and proscriptive that nobody can possibly be in compliance with the law at all times (largely because they don't know that they are breaking the law).

The state making these decisions for the people smacks of elitism - and besides the implication these policy courses invariably have on individual rights themselves, I find it particularly galling that someone else feels that they have the power to make a choice for me.

Such, of course, is one of the fundamental problems with private-to-private eminent domain. Why the mayor of Lockwood, Ohio can decide what houses should be torn down (applying standards that would have made her own house suspect, but, of course, she would have gotten to keep her house), simply because she's mayor, is beyond me. Just because someone was elected (or, God forbid, appointed) to a government post doesn't give them wisdom to substitue their judgement for my own.

That's one of the reasons Kelo was so disappointing, and why the efforts to condemn Justice Souter's home were so promising. Object lessons are always the most educating, no matter where you are in the course of life. And as powerful as a sitting Supreme Court Justice is, the ability to teach that person an object lesson when he does something so patently stupid as to allow statist nonsense to be perpetuated is a truly great thing indeed.

So it's with a heavy heart that I have to report that the Lost Liberty project is, at the moment, dead in the water. As alluded by Liberty Blog reader Kira Zalan in her comments, and reported on her own blog (, the town of Weare, NH, where Justice Souter's lifetime home is, has turned down Freestar Media's request to condemn Souter's land.It's too bad, really. An object lesson like that would have been simply marvelous - especially as it can be applied across a whole host of state powers.

Like the requirement in many states that businesses open their restrooms to the public, regardless of their own desires to keep their restrooms to themselves and their employees, reported in the Wall Street Journal today:

Small Merchants May Run Afoul Of Rules on Restroom Access
Many Shops Are Unaware Of State Codes Requiring Public Access to Facilities
Wall Street Journal
July 26, 2005; Page A22
By Gwendolyn Bounds

While shopping last month at a Rochester, N.H., Salvation Army thrift store, a local woman found herself unexpectedly in need of a restroom but was denied access to one because of the store's "employee only" toilet policy. Unable to make it elsewhere in time, the shopper had an accident in the store.

It might have ended as just an unfortunate incident; after all, scores of stores around the country decline to let the public use their toilets because of the costs of cleaning and monitoring such facilities. But what happened next highlights a quiet shift in public policy that affects small businesses nationwide when it comes to restroom facilities.

Police were called to the scene and the state's building inspector eventually was consulted about New Hampshire's plumbing code, which sets out requirements for buildings' toilet facilities, among other things. That brought some surprising news: According to state code, merchants of all sizes and types located in spaces constructed since the early 1980s, or brought up to code since then, are indeed supposed to provide customers and visitors with restroom access. Violations are considered a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,200 fine.

"We were not aware of the law in New Hampshire," says Trish Raines, community-relations manager for the Salvation Army's Eastern territory. She says the Rochester store is now allowing the public access to its restrooms and says all new or updated thrift facilities will do the same.

As it turns out, many U.S. merchants may be unwittingly in violation of plumbing codes when it comes to letting the public use their bathrooms. A growing number of states now include language in their codes spelling out requirements for customer restroom facilities in mercantile and other business spaces. New Jersey's code has done so since 1983; California's does also, as well as Virginia's and Florida's. Indeed, a majority of state legislatures, including New York's, have adopted codes with similar requirements.

---end quoted material---

Nanny-statism at its best. The article went on to say:

"I don't think our legislatures should be worried about people being able to go to the bathroom in any location in the nation," says Matt Webb, owner of 1-800-Flowers, a retail florist shop in Tampa, Fla. With only one or two employees in his store at any given time, he says, it would be a strain to have them regularly cleaning toilets.

Plus, there are liability issues for business owners, says Andrew Langer, manager of regulatory policy for the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business advocacy group. "If someone starts shooting up heroin and the cops bust in, theoretically, you could be liable," he says. "In the end, it should not be left to the states to decide what is best for the small-business owner. It should be up to the small-business owner."

---end quoted material---

Wendy Bounds unfortunately didn't quite get what I was saying right. The problem is compounded by state and local civil asset forfeiture laws (laws right out of Che Guevara's vision for socialist utopia), in which the state can take private property if it was used in the commission of a crime, and build revenue (which creates a perverse incentive to find private property used in the commission of a crime). There are real-world examples, like the woman whose car was taken by the state because her husband had used it to seek the services of a prostitute, or the elderly couple who had their home taken because their grandson had been growing marijuana in their backyard, unbeknownst to them.

In this case, someone shoots smack in the bathroom of a small business, a small business that otherwise would have liked to keep the dope addict out of their facilities. The cops storm in, bust the heroin user, and in the process take the small business property as having been used for the commission of a crime.You'd think that it couldn't happen, but the real world examples are just too scary to dismiss.

And so the problem is, whether it be the desire of a select few to reinvigorate a community with businesses of the size, scope, and style they prefer; or the desire of another select few to ensure that the public has restroom access whereever or whenever they choose, the point is, it is the people on one side of a line making decisions for people on the other side of that line - substituting their judgement for that of the individual whose life is being impacted.

Moreover, as more laws get passed and are turned into regulations, the problem only gets worse. More and more behavior becomes proscribed, and individual choice gets thrown out the window. And it's a patently unfair system to turn everyone into unwitting criminals - especially if all they want to do is keep their own bathrooms private.

These are not the principles upon which this nation was founded. In fact, it's precisely the opposite.

Monday, July 25, 2005

One Mo' Thing...

I was out at a charity event for work today, and I happened to talk to a friend, Laura Creekmore, whose company does business with my trade association. She is based in Nashville, and when I shared that I had a blog, she let me know that she, too is blogging. She's a foodie, too, and so her blog is about cooking: (I'm going to put a link over on the side, too).

Now, last week I promised a bit about a corn fritter recipe that I tried here at home. It was awesome. If you're like me, you live for summer, and can't wait until the freshest vegetables hit the farmstands and the farmers' markets. I'm growing heirloom tomatoes again this summer, for instance (Mr. Stripeys, brandywines, and green zebras. I'm also growing two non-heirloom varieties - patios, because they are early "fruiters", and taxis, because they didn't need staking and were also early "fruiters").

But one of the problems is getting too redundant in what you make. There's only so many caprese salads, for instance, so many chicken cobb salads. And so many times that you can make boiled or steamed corn on the cob.

So Cooks Country, the new magazine from the editors of Cooks Illustrated (which is an essential magazine if you're a foodie - along with the Penzey's catalog), recognized this, and offered another recipe which utilizes fresh summer corn. These awesome corn fritters. The recipe is similar in many respects to the Cooks Illustrated recipe for potato pancakes in that it makes use of different cuts of corn to create competing textures within the individual fritters (some cut, some grated, some creamy corn pulp). Here it is:

Farmstand Corn Fritters
makes 12 fritters

1 1/2 pounds fresh corn (2 large or 3-4 medium ears), husks and silk removed
1 large egg, beaten lightly
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tablespoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil for frying (or more as needed)

1) Using chef's knife, cut kernels from 1 or 2 ears of corn and place in bowl (you should have one whole cup of kernels). Grate kernels from remaining ears (hopefully, you'll have a 1/2 cup of grated kernels). Scrape remaining pulp from corn cobs into bowl (the back of a knife works well for this).

2) Stir in egg, flour, cornmeal, cream, shallot, salt and cayenne pepper.

3) Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into pan - press flat with back of spoon. Do not overcrowd your pan. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer finished fritters to paper towel-lined plate, adding oil to pan as necessary.

Serve immediately.

They are excellent - this is definitely a keeper recipe and super simple.


More on the Lost Liberty Hotel Project...

From Today's Washington Post...

For Souter, Seizure Ruling May Hit Home
By Beverley WangAssociated PressMonday, July 25, 2005; A04
WEARE, N.H., July 24 -- Near the foot of an unmarked, dead-end dirt road sits a humble, mud-colored farmhouse more than 200 years old. A sign on the mailbox reads "SOUTER."
Some folks want to make that "Hotel Souter."

People from across the country are joining a campaign to seize Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter's farmhouse to build a luxury hotel, according to the man who suggested it after Souter joined the majority that sided with New London, Conn., in a decision favoring government seizure of private property.

"We would act just as these cities have been acting in seizing properties. We would give Souter the same sort of deal," said Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles. A rival proposal from townspeople would turn Souter's land into a park commemorating the Constitution.
Souter has declined to comment on the matter, but he has defenders, such as Betty Straw, his sixth-grade teacher. "I think it's absolutely ridiculous," she said. "They're just doing it for spite."
Souter, 65, has lived for decades in his family's home on eight acres about 15 miles from Concord. The house is one of few remnants of the original East Weare village, which was seized 45 years ago to make way for a dam.

Clements, 36, said his mission is rooted in his passion for a philosophy of free-will capitalism: "We should have a voluntary society where people interact with each other through trade, not through the initiation of force."

In a state where people fiercely protect their right to local control over land and government, many said the hotel gambit is Souter's just deserts.

Robin Ilsley, who makes syrup on a family farm about two miles from Souter's place, said the justice brought the controversy on himself. "It was a pretty stupid ruling," she said.

Her mother watched Souter grow up but is unsympathetic. "I like David very much, but I don't like his ideas," said Winnie Ilsley, 77, who runs a doll museum at her farm. "I just don't think it's fair," she said of the court's "takings" decision.

A recent University of New Hampshire poll found that 93 percent of state residents agree with her.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company
---end quoted material---

Of course, this was reported by the Liberty Blog nearly a month ago, but still. The Supreme Court decision was a catalyst - there's no doubt about it. I've been saying for two years that the eminent domain abuse issue was a singular one for the property rights movement, and that prediction is coming true. Everyone gets why this is wrong - it produces a visceral reaction in people (though I have a hard time taking some people seriously when they pontificate on this issue and have been foursquare against property rights for years, and have just written about how much they admire those who waged brutal war on private property).

But Kelo has been a watershed event - and the important thing now to do is seize on it and push the issue to it's fullest.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Che Guevara and the "Pedagogy of the Wall"

Because it's now a topic of discussion on the Liberty Blog, and and important one, I thought it'd move it up top. As we talk here about liberty and individual rights, especially rights in property, the subject of Comrade "Che" allows us an opportunity to visit the concepts of romantic idolization and how they contrast with reality.

It's also important to talk for a while about ideological consistency. Ideas have meaning, obviously, and if one isn't to be considered a hypocrite, one's beliefs ought to at the very least agree with one another. This is known as "ideological consistency" - the belief, for instance, that if government ought to be severely re-evaluating how it perpetuates the individual welfare state (more commonly called "welfare reform"), that they ought to also be working on reducing the number of subsidies they put out to various industries (ie, perpetuating the "buggy whip" industry, though that industry ought to have died around the same time as the internal combustion engine).

Anyhow, ideological consistency has also come up on this blog - and discussing Che, socialism, and property rights seems to help illustrate the problem when internal ideals become inconsistent.
People must remember that no matter how romanticized historical figures might be, the realities of their lives and their effects might be much, much different from that portrayed in books or on the big screen. I'm fairly sure I don't have to remind the bulk of the readers of the Liberty Blog of that. But sometimes it is important to restate the obvious.

In terms of the great "heroes" of communism and socialism, this reminder is even more important. There are many flavors of socialism, from mild socialistic government programs to full-blown totalitarian maoist-stalinism (and beyond). On that most extreme end, the movements are characterized by commanding authority, cold-blooded violence, brutal repression of dissent, and the complete subsumption of individual liberties to the state. Such as it is with with the flavor of stalinism as practiced by Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Guevara didn't just practice stalinism as a system, he truly admired Stalin and his iron-fisted viciousness. "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of The Wall!"" Guevara reportedly said these words as he perpetuated Castro's revolution in Cuba.

Like is totalitarian compadres, Guevara was a man who understood the seductive power of hate, and the use of hate as a tool. He said in his 1967 "Message to the Tricontinental, "Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy...

"We must carry the war into every corner the enemy happens to carry it: to his home, to his centers of entertainment; a total war. It is necessary to prevent him from having a moment of peace, a quiet moment outside his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a cornered beast wherever he may move. Then his moral fiber shall begin to decline."

Truly romantic stuff, isn't it?

But as we turn to the issue of individual rights, especially private property rights, Guevara's words are particularly telling, "one has to constantly think on behalf of masses and not on behalf of individuals...It's criminal to think of individuals because the needs of the individual become completely weakened in the face of the needs of the human conglomeration."

In the context of what we've been talking about regarding eminent domain, it's clear where Guevara's loyalties would lie. If communism as expressed by Marx can be summed up at "the abolition of private property", the stalinism expressed by Guevara saw that abolition carried out with a maximum of hatred towards the owners of that property, with the most extreme force used in the taking of the property from their hands.

Those who admire Guevara cannot, with the same breath, speak romantically about their passionate committment to protecting private property from the predation of the state, or any other rights for that matter. Guevara had no respect for either, and people with consistent internal ideologies recognize this.

Socialism remains an evil force on this planet. And I don't mean to speak of it in the bogeyman-ish terms of McCarthyism. I mean that as far as devastating and murderous political philosophies go, there are damned few worse than socialism. Millions have been killed at the hands of socialist devotees. Millions more have been enslaved at the whim of gangs of fanatical madmen. Che Guevara was one of these, and the "Motorcycle Diaries" does as much damage to the cause of freedom and individual rights as any tome celebrating the life of Hitler or Stalin - perhaps more because few have ever seen beyond the romantic imaging of Che.

He is not to be emulated and admired. He is to be shunned and reviled.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Aristocrats... A Celebration of Free Expression...

Can mere words be as controversial as pictures or acts? Can language in a film be as provocative as images of sex or violence?

'The Aristocrats", a new film by legendary comedian (performance artist? magician?) and libertarian Penn Gillette and comedian Paul Provenza, proves to explore these questions. Centrered around an inside joke that has been floating around the back rooms of comedy clubs for three-quarters of a century, the film offers this nation's finest comedians (of this age and previous ones) the opportunity to shock audiences by letting them in on comedy's best-kept secret.

Over the course of the film, 100 comics, ranging from Robin Williams to long-perceived-as-"squeaky clean" Bob Saget, offer their take on this joke - truly a vile "shaggy dog story" (Saget, though apparently very clean on "Full House", was well-known in the 80s as a very dirty comic). Just about anyone who is anyone in comedy (with the notable exception of my favorite comedian, Patton Oswalt) has their version shown in this film (and apparently, every comic has his or her version).

Penn Gillette has this to say on the official website of "The Aristocrats": "The movie is a lot more than dirty words and disgusting images. The taboo language is not even the main thrust; the main thrust is a movie with no nudity, no violence and no conflict... The Aristocrats take for granted that they can say anything they want. Fighting for freedom is a losing battle. Taking liberty is what real Americans do. It's a love story, it's political, it's patriotic... but you shouldn't see it if you've ever been offended by any word ever ever... if you're going to be offended, don't bother coming."

The New York Times said the following: "The point of the joke, and the film, may be freedom of expression, or self-censorship, or what happens among professional comedians behind closed doors. But for practical purposes, the joke is so absurdly obscene that the viewer is shocked into hilarity, or deep offense. Or possibly both. The conundrum for those marketing the film is encapsulated in its tagline: "No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity." "

In that same article, co-film maker Provenza said, ""We're not trying to sucker punch anybody, not trying to trick anybody into seeing the movie. The movie is about creative expression, creative freedom. "

The point is, in America, you have no right to not be offended. You have the right to choose whether or not you want to see offensive material (or read it or hear it), but you do not have the right to tell others whether or not they can see, hear, or read something because it offends you (so long as nobody is harmed by the action).

You may not like "The Aristocrats" (the film). You may not like "The Aristocrats" (the joke). You may find them both offensive and believe that Messrs. Gillette and Provenza (and the hundred or so comedians who participated in the film) do be complete degenerates (as well as anybody who wants to see or enjoys the film).

That's your right. But it's their right to say those things, or for the audience to go and see them say it.

That's what makes America the greatest nation on Earth, and it's those prinicples the Liberty Blog is fighting for.

"The Aristocrats" opens August 12 in DC. Anyone want to come with me to see it?"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What "Dedication to a Cause" REALLY Means!!!

If you've been reading my blog, you know how passionate I am about property rights (no, Andrew - really??!!). You know that I've been following the eminent domain abuse issue for several years now, and have written about the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kelo v. New London (see, "Dumb Supreme Court Decisions I Have Known"), and I've expressed my admiration for the attorneys for Mrs. Kelo in that case, the Institute for Justice.

Well, IJ really knows how to fight for a client. Most of the time, the Supreme Court renders a decision, and the losing party is left to dust himself off, live with the decision, and move on.

Not IJ. Having been termed (as I've mentioned) the "Merry Band of Litigators", their moniker suggests a certain dogged and earnest aggressiveness. IJ isn't taking this lying down. In addition to launching a full-scale nationwide campaign on this issue, IJ is taking one final step specifically on the Kelo case. I offer the following press release:


Homeowners Ask U.S. Supreme Court: Rehear Eminent Domain Case
Homes, Small Businesses & Even VFW Post
Could be Condemned for Private Development
If Case is Not Reconsidered

Washington, D.C.-The U.S. Supreme Court has one final chance to correct one of its most-despised decisions in recent memory-its ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, which allows the use of eminent domain for private development. Today the Institute for Justice will file a petition for rehearing on behalf of New London, Conn., homeowners asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 5-4 ruling from June 23 that has already opened up the floodgates to eminent domain abuse.

“We will be the first to admit that our chances of success with this motion are extremely small, but if there is any case that deserves to reheard by the Supreme Court, it is the Kelo case,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice. “This is the worst Supreme Court decision in years. Hopefully the Court will see the abuse of power that it has unleashed and will reconsider its misguided and dangerous opinion.”

Forget Hypotheticals: Floodgates are Opened With Ruling

As the petition points out as the first basis for the rehearing, the floodgates to eminent domain abuse have already begun to swing open. “Justice O’Connor predicted a world in which a Motel 6 can be taken for a Ritz-Carlton, and homes for a shopping mall,” said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney at the Institute and co-counsel in the Kelo case. “The majority wrongly dismissed these as hypotheticals when in fact such takings are already occurring throughout the country.”
Among many other examples of lower-tax producing businesses being taken for higher-tax producing ones just since the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Institute for Justice cited:

· Hours after the Kelo decision, officials in Freeport, Texas, began legal filings to seize two family-owned seafood companies to make way for a more upscale business: an $8 million private boat marina.
· Homes are already being taken for shopping malls. On July 12, 2005, Sunset Hills, Mo., voted to allow the condemnation of 85 homes and small businesses. This is the first step in allowing the private Novus Development Corp. to use eminent domain against the property owners to build a planned $165 million shopping center and office complex. Also in Missouri, the City of Arnold plans to take 30 homes and 15 small businesses, including the Arnold Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, for a Lowe’s and a strip mall.

The Poor & Middle Class Will Be Targets

The Institute for Justice pointed out to the Court that because property owners must pay their own litigation costs in eminent domain, many eminent domain abuse cases will never make it to court because property owners will simply be unable to afford the legal and other costs associated with challenging an eminent domain action on public use grounds.

For less wealthy individuals and businesses, the cost of litigation will very quickly exceed the value of the property, which is why nearly all appellate public use cases in the state courts involve challenges by larger business owners. Homeowner and small business cases, when they are brought at all, typically involve rare pro bono or public interest litigation. The Institute for Justice wrote in its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, “As a result, eminent domain for economic development purposes directed at poorer individuals, minorities and the politically powerless will rarely make it to the courts for evaluation on a case-by-case basis [as the Court suggested in its Kelo opinion] and those individuals and groups will in large part bear the brunt of these takings. Petitioners respectfully ask this Court to rehear this case so it may prohibit the use of eminent domain for private economic development or, at a minimum, provide greater protections to property owners.”

“Rarely does a Supreme Court decision generate such uniform and nearly universal outrage,” said Chip Mellor, president of Institute for Justice. “Clearly, Americans understand just how threatening the Court’s decision is for ordinary home and small business owners everywhere.”

Short of actually rehearing the entire case, the property owners ask the Court as the second basis for the rehearing to at the very least “vacate” the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court and allow more evidence to be submitted about the takings in this case. The Court announced new standards in the use of eminent domain for economic development in Kelo and four years have passed since the trial in the case. Petitioners ask the Supreme Court to allow for reexamination of facts in the trial court in light of the new standards it announced.

Hands Off My Home

In addition to asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rehear the Kelo case, less than one week after the decision, IJ and its Castle Coalition announced a $3 million “Hands Off My Home” campaign-an unprecedented financial commitment-to halting eminent domain for private profit. “Hands Off My Home” will focus the universal wave of opposition to the Kelo ruling to, among other actions, ask state courts to enforce the “public use” limitations found in every state constitution and to support citizen activists nationwide who are urging their state and local officials to set stricter standards for the use of eminent domain. Already, legislators in 25 states have introduced or promised to introduce legislation reforming the use of eminent domain for private development, but unless all 50 states enact such legislation, homeowners could be left in jeopardy. The U.S. Congress is also considering several bills to prohibit the use of federal funds for municipal projects that use eminent domain for private development.
Good luck and godspeed, IJ. You inspire all of us with your tireless dedication to this cause.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Coming Soon... THE ARISTOCRATS...

I plan on writing more about this film, but there's been a clamor for the trailer and the "South Park" version of this highly controverisal film, and the joke which is its subject.

WARNING: This joke contains themes and language of an adult nature. It should not be viewed by minors, anyone _INCREDIBLY_ easily offended by bad language and very, very vulgar imagery.


The Official Site and a link to the Official Trailer can be found here:

- Andrew

A Correction....

Well, any blog is bound to make a mistake or two as they are starting out, and so it is here. In my post last night on Judge Roberts, I reference a statement made in the National Journal regarding Roberts' judicial qualities. That statement had been given to me as being attributed to the Journal itself, and not any specific writers for the it.

Well, apparently the National Journal is now reading my blog (welcome, I appreciate it, I'm honored to have you here), because I just received an e-mail from Katherine Birrow, Manager of Public Relations for that well-respected DC publication:

Good afternoon Mr. Langer,

I am writing to make a request for a correction on your blog with regard to a National Journal mention in your post about John Roberts. When quoting one of our opinion columnists, in this case Stuart Taylor, Jr.'s remarks about the nominee from a 2002 column, please note in your writing that those sentiments are qualified as his views and not those of the the magazine itself. National Journal is a non-partisan, non-ideological publication and it is important that statements of our opinion columnists are attributed appropriately.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

I have contacted Ms. Birrow in kind, apologized for the error, explained what had happened, and promised to correct the error. The article now relflects that the comments came from a columnist, and not from the National Journal itself.

I apologize for the error, and I appreciate the National Journal contacting me regarding it.

Thanks for your understanding.

The Biggest Announcement of the Week!!!!

Alright, so now that the tension has been broken and we've got a nominee, it's time to move on to what is the biggest announcement of the week. While I am sitting here waiting to see if the remaining members of the world's greatest rock group ever (that would be "The Who") are going to tour again (and come to DC this time), (and others) are reporting that Cream is going to reunite and come to the States.

Cream, of course, was the supergroup composed of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. A brief history of the band can be found here:

The rumor is that "Slow Hand" Clapton, Bruce, and Baker will come to NYC to perform a series of shows at Madison Square Garden in October, 2005.

Truly amazing, if this is to happen.

To hear samples of this amazingness, click here:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who Is John Roberts?

Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.
DOB: January 27, 1955
Born in Buffalo, NY. Raised in Indiana
A.B., Harvard, 1976 (Summa Cum Laude in only 3 years)
J.D., Harvard, 1979
Married with two children.
ABA Rating (for his DC Circuit Nomination): Well Qualified, Without Reservation

The following is from the DC Circuit's Biographical Sketch:

"Following graduation from law school, he served as law clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the following year to then-Associate Justice Rehnquist of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Roberts served as Special Assistant to United States Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1986. He then joined Hogan & Hartson where he developed a civil litigation practice, with an emphasis on appellate matters. From 1989 to 1993 he served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1993. At the time of his confirmation, Judge Roberts was the senior partner in charge of Hogan & Hartson's appellate practice. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers."

Judge Roberts is a quality pick for the President. With exceptionally impeccable credentials, Roberts has argued a tremendous 39 cases before the United States Supreme Court (very few of the members of the US Supreme Court Bar have argued more than one, if that). He has a winning record: 25-14 (batting .641, in other words).

Stuart Taylor, Jr., a columnist for the National Journal and currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies for the Brookings Institution, wrote in a 2002 column for the National Journal that, "John Roberts seems a good bet to be the kind of judge we should all want to have — all of us, that is, who are looking less for congenial ideologues than for professionals committed to the impartial application of the law.”

When nominated to the DC Circuit, 152 members of the DC Bar said that Judge Roberts, "“one of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation, with a deserved reputation as a brilliant writer and oral advocate.” The letter went on to cite his, "unquestioned integrity and fair mindedness."

Tonight in the Democratic response, even Senator Chuck Schumer had to say, "There is no question that Judge Roberts has outstanding legal credentials and an appropriate legal demeanor."

But what about his actual legal record? Let's look at a few key cases:

Federalism and Property Rights

In Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 334 F.3d 1158 (D.C. Cir. 2003), Judge Roberts, dissenting along with Judge Sentelle, strongly suggested that he questioned the application of the Endangered Species Act to specific species which only exist within a particular state's borders on Commerce Clause grounds. This denotes a committment to a strong view of constitutional federalism, as well as a strong committment to private property rights (of which the ESA is one of the greatest transgressors). Roberts said in that dissent that there was interstate commerce rationale for protecting the toad, which, he said, "for reasons of its own lives its entire life in California."

Separation of Church and State

During his stint in the first Bush administration, wrote an amicus (friend of the court) brief saying that public high schools could include religious traditions in their graduation programs.

The Civil Rights of a 12-Year-old Girl (with thanks to Scotusblog, from which this was directly lifted)

Hedgepeth ex rel. Hedgepath v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 386 F.3d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2004). (Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Roberts rejected Fourth Amendment and Equal Protection Clause challenges to the arrest and detention of a twelve-year old girl for eating french fries on a Metro train. The case received some media attention because of its extreme facts--as Judge Roberts noted in the first line of his opinion, "[n]o one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation.

All in all, Judge Roberts is a solid legal scholar with credentials worthy of being a member of the nation's highest court.

The Envelope Please....

It's going to be John Roberts, currently serving on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

More in a few moments...

Another Big Announcement!!!

Humantics Foundation.... SUSPENDED!!!!!

So, I wasn't going to really say anything at all... but now that Ilena Rosenthal has decided to continue to talk about me on Usenet, I figure there's no reason to be silent.

You might recall that when I started this Blog, I mentioned that I'd been a frequent writer on Usenet, but that I'd slowed that down considerably in recent years. In no small measure that was due to the rapid decrease in civil discourse - why try discussing things, in my opinion, if nobody is going to talk about them in a rational and constructive manner.

One of the worst offenders in this regard is Ilena Rosenthal. Ms. Rosenthal is the titular head of an organization called "The Humantics Foundation for Women", a group which purports to advocate on behalf of women who believe themselves to have been injured or caused to fall ill by their breast implants. But for as long as I have known her, Ms. Rosenthal has used her time, and her organization's time and resources, to engage in extensive (and intensely negative and vicious) attack campaigns aimed at those she perceives to be her personal enemies. In terms of actual advocacy (and results), the efforts of Ms. Rosenthal and her so-called "foundation" have little to show for all of the time she has supposedly spent on this issue. Her website contains precious little beyond her attack pages, of which there is one directed at me.

There's an old adage that there's no point in wrestling with a pig. The pig likes it, and you get nothing out of it except covered in pig filth. With that adage in mind, I have at times spent months where I did not engage Ms. Rosenthal on Usenet at all. The idea was that perhaps if I ignored her, she might go away - or, at least, simply stop in her campaign of lies about me. In fact, she'd offered as much - a statement which I proved false time and time again (each time I'd go months ignoring her, she'd just continue her barrage of insults and lies and half-truths). Allies of hers made similar claims, but these too fell far short of the truth.

Case in point: I haven't posted anything to since May 15, 2005 (I posted a few messages to sci.environment, but that was in response to some forged messages someone had posted in my name). But despite that, Ms. Rosenthal continued to post messages regarding me - claiming that I have been "stalking" her or "libeling" her.

I nevertheless continued to remain silent, and probably would have let the most recent news about the Humantics Foundation simply pass without comment... except that in her attempts to divert attention away from the very real news about the Humantics Foundation (the organization she "runs"), she tried to deflect a very direct statement regarding the status of that organization by throwing my name into the mix (this time by calling me a "'sound science' shill", whatever that means).

Now, for years I have been asking Ms. Rosenthal about some specific operations decisions regarding her organization. Her organization operates (or was operating) as a non-profit 501c(3) corporation in California, and because of her federal non-profit status, I have a right to ask her questions regarding her organization (and, what's more, she has an obligation to answer them). Specifically, I asked her about irregularities on her organization's filings with the US Internal Revenue Service, the Humantics Foundation's IRS Form 990s (available at Certain entries hadn't been made, and numbers from one year's form that were supposed to correspond with numbers on other year's forms didn't - so I wanted a bit of clarification.

Ms. Rosenthal never answered those questions, and instead repeatedly e-mailed my wife. These e-mails, filled with vicious and scary rhetoric, making false accusations and trying to raise an impression that somehow my behavior was at fault, were designed to elicit a response in my wife. Ms. Rosenthal's goal? To so unnerve my wife that she would put a stop to my inquiries.

In fact, she said as much when she asked my wife to exercise some measure of control over me.

In other words, Ms. Rosenthal was using scare tactics to try to bully me into silence.

Now, I'm not the only one Ms. Rosenthal has done this to. There are webpages dedicated to others as well, and others who have been tormented online by Ms. Rosenthal's behavior. And I know a good many people who have complained regarding her (lawsuits have been filed, in fact). Ms. Rosenthal was, until fairly recently, running her organization from outside of the United States (Costa Rica and somewhere in South America, from what I gather), in fact. How she is supposed to impact US policy on breast implants from a stronghold in Central America is beyond me. The whole thing smacks of "The House on Garibaldi Street", if you ask me (I'll let you all figure out that reference).

Well, somebody's complaints worked. On July 1, 2005, the State of California suspended the corporate charter of the Humantics Foundation for Women.

Of course, Ms. Rosenthal has said nothing for these past (nearly) three weeks. Until someone else brought it up today - and now there is this near-panicked defense. Her response?

To change the title of the post announcing their suspension, and merely mentioning their "recent change in legal status" as though it were some normal, everyday thing. No explanation. No "we're working on getting our status reinstated".

No mention of it on the Humantics Foundation website, either. But they _ARE_ still soliciting donations.


So, for those of you who have googled me and e-mailed me asking, "Who is this Ilena Rosenthal woman, and why does she seethe with hate for you so much?" I have a simple answer:

"Ilena Rosenthal is the titular head of an organization that because of its management practices
has had its corporate license suspended by the state of California. Ms. Rosenthal currently
resides outside of the United States."

There's more - but for the sake of time and space I will leave it at that for now.

President to Announce Nominee...

Tonight, 9pm.

While I'd love for it to be Gale Norton, I think it will be Edith Jones (as I mentioned before).

Monday, July 18, 2005

Diet Anniversary and Channeling Carnac....

People group their friends in lots of different ways (ie, college friends, high school friends, etc). I do those things, too, but have two other categories: friends who knew my when I was skinny, and friends who knew the fat me.

I got fat over the course of about a decade - from roughly 1995 thru 2004. Now, don't snow me and say I wasn't fat. I believe I did carry it well, but there was no denying it. And while there is a bit that's genetic about it, my lifestyle was the "major contributing factor" as the technical parlance goes. Basically, prior to 2004, I was engaging in the "sitting on my ass and eating Ho-Hos diet" (aren't Ho-Hos just the best? Maybe Ding Dongs are better.).

But last year, my lovely wife made the decision that we were both going to go on a diet. Most of you who know me know the story: we went on Atkins right at that lovely time after the holidays, and just into the busy February season. Valentine's Day, our dating Anniversary, both her Mom's birthday and my Dad's - eating occasions.

Nevertheless, we did it. I bitched and moaned - I'm a bit of a chocoholic and had gotten into this nasty habit of having a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie and an egg cream after dinner. Yum.

And two weeks into it, Jan found out she was pregnant. Thus she was off the diet. And because of my carping, she offered to let me out of our agreement. But you wanna know something? It was working. Imagine that - not stuffing your face full of crap and doing exercise _ACTUALLY_ allows you to lose weight!!!!

So I went through with it. I set mini-goals along the way, started working out in earnest (Thank you, Jenny Sprague!), and the fat started to melt away (or is that rendering?). I hit my original goal of 40 lbs, and said, "What the heck? Let's lose another 10." When I hit that, I was talking to my father-in-law, who is an inch taller than I am, and who, at 60 and slim, was nevertheless being encouraged to lose (literally) a couple of pounds and get down to 212. I figured if he could do that, then there was no reason I couldn't lose an even 60 lbs.

There I was, on July 17, 2004, standing on my scale, and sure enough, I'd hit 204. 60 lbs in just over five months (five months and ten days, to be exact).

Yesterday was my one year anniversary. This morning, I weighed 203.8. Every time I think about going back to my old eating habits, I consider carrying around 60lbs of weights all day, every day.

I'll post before and after pics later.

Now, onto Carnac. Last week, a close friend of mine asked me to do something for a party he was putting together. Specifically, he was interested in my doing a "Carnac" routine. Because this was a post-Bastille day party, he wanted me to make some cuts at the French, and I figured because this was going to be chock-a-block full of GOPers, that I ought to do little Democrat bashing as well.

Understand, after my most recent comedy outing, I've been considering hanging up my shoes once again (long story there). So I was a little gun-shy. But I figured, it's a small crowd of people who know me, and the great thing about Carson's Carnac act was that he always got a few groaners in there.

So, here is the act. Remember, the Carnac act consists of a series of envelopes, in which questions are written. Carnac holds the envelopes to his head and predicts the answers to those questions. The questions are, reportedly, hermetically sealed (in Carson's case, in a mayonaise jar on Funk & Wagnall's porch. In my case, they were in the freezer at the party, and delivered with a flourish by one of our host's interns...)...

1: Big Ben, Derek Jeter, and the Democrats’ attempts to take down Karl Rove
Name a clock, a jock, and a crock.

2: A Full Moon
What would you see if Michael Moore dropped his pants?

3: Nothing, you’d be struck blind….
What would you see if Candy Crowley dropped her pants?

4: A razor, a bar of soap, and a ray of sunshine.
What are three things that have never been seen by a French woman’s armpits?

5: Two Thousand and Five.
How many Parisians will die from a lack of air conditioning this August?

6: John Kerry, Dick Cheney and Horace Cooper.
Name three people who have never attended a Wednesday lunch.

7: Ted Kennedy says, “Hey, let’s go for a ride... I’ll drive.”
When will Saddam know that his time is up?

8: Ayn Rand
What did Ayn do while being chased?

9: Janet Reno, The Committee for Western Civilization, and Lance Armstrong’s biking shorts.
A: Name three things with more balls than the French.

10: Elitist French obstructionism and this act.
A: What are two things that have gone on for far too long?


By the way - sorry that the Blog's been sporadic. With my wife away last week, I was left with limited time in which to write and publish. More will be coming this week - especially if the President makes his announcement for a nominee to the high court.

And I want to share my homemade corn fritter experience!!!!

- Andrew

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

This was sent to me by one of the Liberty Blog's friends. I would have captioned the steamroller as "Big Business" in stead of "Private Business" since many small businesses are going to lose out from Kelo as well as homeowners. But it nevertheless captures the sentiment well. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

With Our United Strength, Victory is Our Aim...

My heart goes out to the friends and families of the fallen in London this morning, and the Liberty Blog's prayers go out to the British people. Take heart - those who committed this heinous act will be brought to justice. I offer the words of one of England's greatest leaders, Winston Churchill:

"[I]t must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon. Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim?

"I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength." - Churchill, first speech as Prime Minister, May 13, 1940, The House of Commons

We stand with you, Great Britain, as you have faithfully stood with us. Victory is our common goal - victory in spite of all terror. With our united strength, we will defeat this evil.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Another Name in the Mix...

Alright, so I'm still sticking with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, but another name is being bandied about to replace Justice O'Connor.

That would be Edith Jones, from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Larry Ribstein, and my friend Todd Zywicki from George Mason Law School (Todd and I have talked about doing some work on 17th Amendment Reform), have both written about this, and their comments can be found here:

Also discussed by Professor Zywicki is Alice Batchelder of the Sixth Circuit.

The White House is going to put forth their recommendations later this week, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 04, 2005

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should
commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


Happy 4th of July, everyone. I thought it was important on this great day to restate the words of our founders as a reminder of the causes which compelled us to become independent. The declaration was written, as stated so eloquently in the musical 1776, "to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

My "Carnac the Magnificent" Prediction for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Successor....

This is no joke. I have in my hands the envelope containing my outside-the-box prediction for Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the high court.

I'm sorry I've been out for a couple of days - I've been in New York at a family barbecue, and was en route when Justice O'Connor's resignaton was announced. In speaking with a good friend, he credited me with my prediction several weeks ago that O'Connor would resign, possibly before the Chief Justice. His only criticism of me was that I offered my prediction with no vitriol.

I told him that since Justice O'Connor had authored my favorite Supreme Court decision (yes, I am a geek with a favorite Supreme Court decision), I've always had a soft spot in my heart for her. That decision, 1992's New York v United States, 505 US 144 (1992), is a seminal description of our nation's federalist structure, and lays out some of my core beliefs regarding how this nation ought to be governed. Plus, O'Connor's been on the right side of some other courageous high court decisions: Lopez, which overturned the Gun Free School Zones Act and thus underscored that there were limits to federal power; Printz, which held that local authorities couldn't be used as proxies for federal law enforcement agents simply because federal laws compelled them to be.

Now, I'm not in favor of guns being near schools, but I am of the belief that the federal government simply doesn't have any business asserting authority in this manner.

Anyhow, so I've always liked Justice O'Connor, and I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to write on Friday.

But such things allow for one to ruminate on current events, and so I've been turning over in my head possible replacements.

I think that we're going to have to wait for the Chief Justice to step down before we get our much-expected male nominee who will be of hispanic descent. I don't know any conservative or libertarian justices who are hispanic women (there might be a number of them, I am simply unfamiliar with them if there are), and I believe that President Bush will nominate a woman to replace Justice O'Connor, the first woman justice. (Incidentally, there could be another resignation if the Chief Justice resigns. Someone posed the theory to me recently that Justice Scalia might resign if he weren't elevated to the position of Chief Justice, which, while only being a theory is one that makes sense to me. - so we might get two more bites at this apple [so judge Alex Kozinski does have a shot!]).

I think that while the President might have liked to nominate Judge Janice Rogers Brown to the high court, that ship has already sailed - and as I was contemplating all of this, a thought came to me....

If the President wanted to keep things simple, he'd nominate a woman from the west. Someone who while conservative in many respects, has long been at home in libertarian and free-market circles. Someone who is more moderate on issues like abortion. Someone who has already been confirmed by a more liberal senate...

And so I offer the envelope...

I predict that Gale A. Norton of Colorado, currently the Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated and confirmed to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the United States Supreme Court.

Norton doesn't come without controversy, but she's weathered that. Though someone who preached Randian philosophies in her youth, she tempered that rhetoric as a way of being more pragmatic when she stepped into party politics. While the left have vilified her for her pro-property rights stances, and certain feminist organizations have tried to paint her has anti-women, she has also been criticized by some on the right for her pro-choice opinions.

And as I said, she's weathered a Senate confirmation process. While the administration is ready to fight for this nominee, they ultimately want to prevail - especially with an even-more- contentious Chief Justice nomination fight a virtual certaintly.

Plus, and let's not overlook this - Norton's on an inside track. Karl Rove advised her during her ultimately unsuccessful Senate bid, and the DC rumor mill has her wanting a judgeship.

Justice Norton. It even sounds like it's already happened.

Oh, and she'd be on the rights side of a Kelo decision.