Monthly Archives: February 2008

I Don’t Smoke — But ‘My Character’ Does!

Bars in Minnesota are finding interesting and creative ways to get around the state smoking ban:

What started as a quirky idea to get around the statewide smoking ban appears to be spreading like wildfire.

Dozens of bars are expected to stage “theater nights” this weekend in which patrons are dubbed actors. The law, which went into effect in October, permits performers to smoke during a theatrical production. “Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,” said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he’s devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.

When people are this drawn to smoking, especially in a place so brutally cold as Minnesota, where it was -9 degrees F the last time I was there, is it any surprise that they’ll find *any* way to get around this nanny state idiocy, even if it eventually means blatant violations of the law?

I’d say that perhaps these advocates of a smoking ban should simply drop the veil, show their true colors, and declare that they wish to see smoking made illegal nationwide. I would hope that this would lead to widespread outrage among Americans in favor of individual freedom. But in modern times, where the Constitution and its protection on individual rights has been replaced by worship at the idol of democracy, I think there wouldn’t be much resistance at all. After all, I live in California, where I think there’s more social acceptance of marijuana than there is of tobacco. The biggest fight would not come from individual citizens, but from the beneficiaries of government largess paid for by cigarette taxes.

William F. Buckley, Jr. And The Libertarians

Robert Poole, former Editor-in-Chief at Reason comments on the passing of William F. Buckley and his role in what eventually became the American libertarian movement:

By creating National Review in 1955 as a serious, intellectually respectable conservative voice (challenging the New Deal consensus among thinking people), Buckley created space for the development of our movement. He kicked out the racists and conspiracy-mongers from conservatism and embraced Chicago and Austrian economists, introducing a new generation to Hayek, Mises, and Friedman. And thanks to the efforts of NR’s Frank Meyer to promote a “fusion” between economic (free-market) conservatives and social conservatives, Buckley and National Review fostered the growth of a large enough conservative movement to nominate Goldwater for president and ultimately to elect Ronald Reagan.


Some commentators dubbed Buckley a “libertarian conservative,” and in the broadest sense, I guess that was true. Though he seldom let National Review deviate from his own Catholic social issues positions (especially on banning abortion), Buckley courageously took a stance against drug prohibition, making common cause on that issue with Friedman and other libertarians. And that enlightened view seemed to survive Buckley’s retirement as the magazine’s editor in chief (as one hopes it will survive his demise).

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

William F. Buckley, Jr. Dies At 82

William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of National Review and arguably the founder of the modern American conservative movement, died today at the age of 82:

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, National Review.


Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.

In remarks at National Review’s 30th anniversary in 1985, President Reagan joked that he picked up his first issue of the magazine in a plain brown wrapper and still anxiously awaited his biweekly edition — “without the wrapper.”

“You didn’t just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism,” Mr. Reagan said.

“And then, as if that weren’t enough,” the president continued, “you gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom.”

I cut my political teeth on much of what Buckley wrote, subscribing to National Review when I was in high school and watching Firing Line, which remains one of the most unique political talk shows ever produced and far more iintellectual and reasoned than what passes for commentary today on shows like Hannity & Colmes or The O’Reilly Factor. I didn’t always agree with what I read, but it was the starting path down a road that lead me to discover people like Milton Friedman, a Buckley favorite, and F.A. Hayek.

Buckley was also different from what passes for conservatism today. Much more rational, eloquent, and respectful of dissenting opinions. In the 1950s, he rejected any coalition with John Birchers or other anti-semites, realizing, correctly, that they would only marginalize the political goal he wanted to achieve:

“Bill was responsible or rejecting the John Birch Society and the other kooks who passed off anti-Semitism or some such as conservatism,” Hugh Kenner, a biographer of Ezra Pound and a frequent contributor to National Review told The Washington Post. “Without Bill — if he had decided to become an academic or a businessman or something else — without him, there probably would be no respectable conservative movement in this country.”

And, since the libertarian movement had it’s roots in the rebirth of conservatism, one could make the case that libertarianism wouldn’t exist as it does today.

Buckley also had his libertarian streak. Back in 1973, he took his yacht outside the territorial waters of the United States and smoked marijuana to “see what it was like.” In later years, he publicly called for reform of the drug laws. And, though he supported the Iraq War in the beginning, by 2006 he was one of the few people on the right willing to admit that it was a failure.

He was, in other words, a thoughtful conservative. And there aren’t many of those any more.

Dick Armey On Illegal Immigration

A great video from


“The biggest immigration problem we got in America is a government that’s not doing its job,” says Armey. “I don’t like illegal immigration, but I’ll tell you something: I don’t run stop lights. But you put me out on the road at two o’clock in the morning on the way to the all-night drugstore to get medicine for my babies, and you give me a stop light that is stuck on red, and no traffic in sight, and I’m gonna go through that red light.”

Why is it that politicians always make more sense after they leave office ?

The Relationship Between Immigration And Crime

The San Jose Mercury News reports on a study of California’s immigrant, including illegal immigrant, population:

Countering widespread belief, a new report shows California’s foreign-born population – including illegal immigrants – makes up only a sliver of the state’s population of inmates.

The report by the Public Policy Institute of California, released Monday, also suggests the foreign-born population, which makes up more than a third of the state’s adults, plays a disproportionately smaller role in serious crime.

“Crime, Corrections, and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do with It?” gives one of the clearest glimpses yet into the impact of immigrants and immigration on the state’s justice system.

It also aims to dispel the perception that cities with large foreign-born populations are criminal hot beds, with several California cities showing a dip in police activity amid recent immigration waves.

Among the study’s conclusions:

• Foreign-born men make up about 35 percent of the state’s adult male population, but they are roughly 17 percent of the state’s overall prison inmates.

• U.S.-born men are jailed in state prisons at a rate more than three times higher than foreign-born men and are 10 times more likely to land behind bars.

• Male Mexican nationals ages 18 to 40 – those more likely to have entered the country illegally – are more than eight times less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be imprisoned.

• Those who entered the country when they were 1 year old or younger make up about 0.8 percent of those institutionalized.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Our research indicates that limiting immigration, requiring higher educational levels to obtain visas or spending more money to increase penalties against criminal immigrants will have little impact on public safety,” [report co-author Kristen] Butcher said in a statement.

So much for that canard, I suppose.

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