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"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?"

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I wrote an article about the constitutional amendment process and why it's practically a dead letter, which is a Bad Thing. It's bad because it frustrates strong national consensus, such as the Equal Rights Amendment which rose very close to the three-quarters-of-the-states requirement for ratification (It was ratified by 35 out of the 38 states necessary and ultimately failed). The Framers rightly but more or less arbitrarily chose to make the amendment process much harder than regular legislation. But they were operating in the dark--constitutions and their amendment processes were a brand new concept and so they didn't have much to draw on. Two super-majorities is tough, especially now with 50 states and 535 congresspeople.

Even Antonin Scalia, who staunchly revered the Constitution, thought the Article V amendment process was too restrictive. He reasoned that in order to block an amendment’s incorporation, a bare majority of the people within the thirteen least populous states could impede a proposal from reaching the three-fourths of states necessary for ratification. That comes to about 2% of the population. “It ought to be hard, but it shouldn’t be that hard.” (Interview with Scalia and Ginsberg)

The other danger about frustrating amendments is you force lawyers to lobby the Court to see their arguments as already existing in the Constitution rather than made out of whole cloth. Granted, I like some of the creative discovery of rights that the Court has found, but it can be unpredictable and cuts both ways. The Court constitutionalized a right to abortion in 1973, building on earlier discoveries of the right to privacy. In 2008/2010, it constitutionalized the private possession of firearms for self-defense, hunting, and sport, when the second amendment proscribes the federal government from neutering state militias by over-regulating firearms (and says nothing about state governments regulating the private possession of firearms by their civilians).

Amendments are tough.

How is Jones the shittiest candidate? I'm ignorant of him other than what's trotted out in articles from the last month or two.

And are you attributing his "barely squeaking by" to his shittiness as a candidate? To me, he barely squeaked by because he's a Democrat in the one the most thoroughly Republican states in the Union.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 13, 2017

Is this your first semester? How's it been? I guess it's better to ask in two weeks when this is all over, huh?

Some twitter jabs whose value is entirely feel-good:

The real winner is Steve Bannon. It takes skill to lose Alabama to a pro-choice Democrat.

Moore liked this night when it was much younger.

Jeff Sessions gave us Bob Mueller and Doug Jones. Thanks Jeff!

And a video: Jake Tapper in an exchange with a Moore campaign official, wherein official tries explaining why Muslims can’t hold office by claiming they’d have to swear on a bible which they can’t do “ethically.” Tapper’s response is priceless

Great overview. I haven’t brought myself to poring over many particulars of the senate or house bill, but this gave some more substance to my vague understanding.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

And the dense conversation above about politics and dark money garnered 1 share. You can't beat a cat photo!

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

Cool tattoo! All hail

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

Will do.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

I am one with your observations. GMU's economics department is an interesting creature indeed. When my professor, a GMU economics PhD by the name of Howard Baetjer, first seriously suggested I apply to a Charles Koch Institute internship, I was confused. I had never heard a real life person speak with anything but contempt for the Kochs, let alone their nonprofit or advocacy groups. I had listened to an interview with Stephen Dubner and Charles Koch on Freakonomics and knew that some people sincerely conceive of Charles Koch as merely a billionaire uber-libertarian with small government fantasies intent on unleashing the productive capacity of the everyman, that Jane Mayer's criticisms were off-base, etc. That said, whatever the Kochs' do believe is of vast importance. Their political network is mind bogglingly well-funded. After spending $250 million in the 2016 election cycle--though neither for Trump or Hillary--they stated their intention to spend as much as $400 million in 2018. From Politico:

    Koch and his brother David Koch have quietly assembled, piece by piece, a privatized political and policy advocacy operation like no other in American history that today includes hundreds of donors and employs 1,200 full-time, year-round staffers in 107 offices nationwide. That’s about 3½ times as many employees as the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had on their main payrolls [in November 2015].

The honorarium that my professor would pay Bryan Caplan to come speak at my college? Paid from a donation made by the Koch Foundation.

That said, I have an enormous respect for Cowen, Hanson, and Caplan. I've seen Cowen give one of his "Conversations" in DC. I'm genuinely geeked to see Caplan next semester if he agrees to come. I'm pretty well convinced of some of the broad libertarian arguments--the negative effects of things like operational licensing, the supply and demand distortions in the Affordable Care Act, etc. I am wary of the libertarian movement, though, since their arguments are so easily co-opted by don't-give-a-fuck greedy, crony corporatists. So, like you, I observe from afar not without some interest.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

Curled up while I'm reading. I like to think she's holding up her head while snoozing.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

Is knitting a form of relaxation to you? I would love a new hobby for home that keeps my hands busy. I bite my nails or play on my laptop, neither of which I need more of in my life.

blackbootz  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 6, 2017

I GOT A CAT! A three-month old kitten from BARCS--Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. I couldn't've hoped for a better personality: social, cuddly, doesn't seem to get into too much trouble with wires or drapes, is getting more independent but is still curious as, well, a cat. She's absolutely hysterical and I find myself laughing aloud at her antics while I'm home doing work.


Two weeks left in the semester. School has been a pleasant challenge but in response to a ramping up in difficulty, I've abstained from drinking for the last few weeks. It's been such a positive influence that I'm thinking really hard about abstaining for the entirety of next semester. Partly because next semester may quite literally require twice as much work as this one, but also because I'm hungry for a big personal project and I've enjoyed the experience, I'm seriously considering a four-month commitment to teetotalism. As it was, I spent at least 24-48 hours a week recovering from hangovers. Abstention would allow me to focus on school, soccer, and gymnastics. Speaking of which...


One of the highlights of 2017 was getting back into the sport. I've increased my flexibility and skills with just four hours of practice a week since September. Today I finally managed a giant--a 360° swing around the high bar.

Bryan Caplan

An economics professor of mine is a graduate of George Mason University which is home to a number of world-renowned economists, like Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson, and Bryan Caplan, the latter of which is publishing his book on the economics of education in January of next year. An earlier book of his, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, has been the most stimulating book I've read this year, and if this new book proves to be half as interesting I think we're in for a treat. I was explaining Caplan's work quite enthusiastically to my professor. Afterwards he surprises me by sharing that he's friends with Caplan and that he's going to see about inviting him to give a lecture on his book next semester. My jaw dropped. That doesn't happen every Tuesday.

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