Exactly what difference does this make?

I’m afraid I just don’t understand what difference this makes at all.

VOA News – US Probes Charges Iranian President-Elect was Embassy Hostage-Taker

The United States is looking into whether Iranian president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad was involved in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The State Department says Iran needs to make a definitive statement on the issue.

Regardless of whether this guy was personally involved, and it’s certainly quite likely that he was given his apparent age, this is the same government that aided and abetted the hostage taking. This is the same government that has sponsored terrorism in the Middle East and around the world for 26 years. That the current President-elect of Iran had a more or less direct role in one of those many acts of terrorism seems irrelevant except to those who feel some need for justification to act against Iran beyond the ample justification of 26 years of their failure to abide by the most basic international norms.

The only thing this says to me is that the dictum usually attributed to P.T. Barnum applies to Iranians as well as to Americans.

Federalism and eminent domain

I’ve had a few thoughts on the Kelo case, federalism and the Bill of Rights and judges wearing robes.

The Bill of Rights was, of course, originally intended as a check on federal power. As a proponent of federalism, I’m generally comfortable with giving state legislatures broad latitude in experimenting with a wide range of policies. That said, I’m also a believer in freedom and I am a federalist not a confederationist. A meaningful, freedom enhancing central government will sometimes act to check state power. Applying the Bill of Rights to the States is such a long settled matter of law that even Justices Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas generally accept it as a given. I don’t have a problem with that. The Bill of Rights are a finite set of specific rules that I would call quintessentially American and to apply them as written to the States can only enhance American federalism in achieving American ends. But if they are to be applied to the States they should all be applied to the States including the Second Amendment and the property rights provisions. They should also be applied as written. To simply say that we are going to apply the Bill of Rights plus the nebulous sphere of real or imagined rights that spring from them gives too wide latitude to federal power, as we’ve seen in many cases.

There is another problem with the Kelo ruling from a federalist perspective. Instead of saying, “We can’t rule on this as this Amendment doesn’t apply to the States,” the Court ruled that the Amendment did apply but that achieving higher tax revenue or economic growth is a “public use”. They then went on to say that the States could adopt a tougher standard. That’s wonderful and certainly seems in tune with federalism on its face. The problem is that state constitutional language on rights is often modeled, in some cases copied directly, from the federal language. So one would expect a state court facing a state constitution which requires a public use test for eminent domain to refer to the thought of their judicial superiors and likely arrive at a similar conclusion. While paying lip service to the idea of tougher state standards, the ruling that anything which by any stretch of the imagination is a “public good” is also a “public use” actually guts state protections as thoroughly as it guts the federal one.

Solution to the eminent domain issue? Attack it from all sides. The trial balloon by James Sensenbrenner to prohibit use of CDBG money for private development using eminent domain would be a great first step at the federal level and needs to be put into a bill or budget amendment asap. The various state proposals should all move forward.

Solution to the bigger problem? I don’t know that I have one, but part of the solution has to be injecting some realism into the thought of federal judges, reminding them that they are citizens not sovereigns. They need to be reminded of a document much older even than the United States, but fundamental to our theories of government, the Magna Carta. The proposal to remind InJustice Souter that his house is subject to the same rules as everyone else is precisely that. Perhaps it’s also time to require them to wear suits like other government officials instead of priestly robes, to remind them that they are men and not gods.

If my posts seem a little strange lately…

Miss Bea sitting on my shoulder
What’s on this side?

Originally uploaded by tomhanna.

it may be that I’ve had typing help for the last 3 weeks. Miss Bea’s favorite spots are on my shoulder and perched on my lap with her head on the wrist rest of my keyboard.

This is the sister of Peggy, the kitten mentioned earlier and named after Peggy Noonan. Miss Bea was named after The Bride in the Kill Bill movies.

389 Rooms booked and bl@gger challenge

The Lost Liberty Hotel that I mentioned yesterday has 389 rooms booked for 7 nights through PledgeBank.

I’ve set up a new pledge for bl%ggers – “I will give free advertising on my blog to the Lost Liberty Hotel but only if 50 other bloggers will too.” (Bl#g can be interpreted liberally as long as there is someplace to place an ad.)

Link to the PledgeBank by way of this Marginal Revolution post.