JoshBlogs is now JoshVlogs. First YouTube Video upload.

I just received my new Flip UltraHD camera. It is pretty cool. And, my first video is of my precious puppy, Chana. Enjoy.

By the way. Ballgame over. Yankees Win! The Yankees Win! And to quote Ilya Somin from facebook:

Ilya Somin is annoyed that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel just repeated Grady Little’s mistake from Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS: leaving Pedro in past 100 pitches (after which his effectiveness drastically declines). At least Manuel caught the error faster, and it may not be too late yet.

Failure is doomed to repeat itself.

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Congratulations to the GMUSL Class of 2009. 90.6% 1st Time Passage Rate on VA Bar. MASON FTW!

From David Bernstein at Volokh:

July 2009 Bar Passage Rates

GMUSL 1st Time Pass:     90.6%
GMUSL Overall Pass:       89.1

VA 1st Time Pass:       80.2%
VA Overall Pass:         75.4%

90.6%!

I can gladly say I contributed to that percentage. Mason FTW!

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Ellison Introduces National Same-Day Voter Registration Bill

From The Washington Independent, H/T @ACSLaw:

The Minnesota Independent reports that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has introduced a bill that would allow Election Day registration for federal elections across the country.

The Same Day Registration Act would let people register at the polling place on Election Day rather than requiring registration weeks or months ahead of time, as most states do.

Same-day registration is already law in seven states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, plus the District of Columbia. Common Cause claims those states see voter-turnout rates as much as 7 percent higher than others. North Dakota is the only state to do without voter registration altogether.

In a statement, Ellison outlined the advantage of such a system:

Minnesota routinely leads the nation in voter turnout – usually over 70 percent. … Enacting a National Election Day Registration law would do for the nation what same day registration has done for our State – give a voice to all who want to vote.

While I was volunteering on election day, one of the Obama “Voter Protection” workers was explaining to me why voter registration should not be an Opt-In system, and that everyone at the age of 18 should automatically be registered. Basically everyone would use their social security number as a voter registration number. I haven’t given this topic much thought, though I’m not sure how this will help minimize voter fraud.

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OLC: Hate Crimes Act Constitutional Based on 13th Amendment, Not 14th Amendment or Commerce Clause. But why?

The memo is here, H/T Balkinzation. In part, it reads:

As we explained in 2000, see Senate Report at 16-18, we believe Congress has authority under section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment to punish racially motivated violence as part of a reasonable legislative effort to extinguish the relics, badges and incidents of slavery. Congress may rationally determine, as it would do in S. 909, that “eliminating racially motivated violence is an important means of eliminating, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery and involuntary servitude,” and that “slavery and involuntary servitude were enforced . . . through widespread public and private violence directed at persons because of their race.” S. 909 § 2(7); see also H.R. 1585, 110th Cong., § 1023(b)(7) (2007) (same).

Like the current 18 U.S.C. § 245, proposed section 249(a)(1) of title 18 would not be limited by its terms to violence involving racial discrimination: It would criminalize violence committed “because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person.” S. 909 explains (§ 2(8)) that “in order to eliminate, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery, it is necessary to prohibit assaults on the basis of real or perceived religions or national origins, at least to the extent such religions or national origins were regarded as races at the time of the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.”

Given our conclusion that Congress possesses authority to enact this provision under the Thirteenth Amendment, we do not address whether Congress might also possess sufficient authority under the Commerce Clause and/or the Fourteenth Amendment. See United Slates v. Nelson, 277 F.3d 164, 174-75 & n.10 (2d Cir. 2002).

Very interesting that they justify this based on the Thirteenth Amendment, which reads:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The discussion of badges or incidents of slavery comes from Justice Harlan’s dissent in the Civil Rights Case.
However, for the portion of the Act that involves violence based on sexual orientation is grounded in the Commerce Clause.
Congress may prohibit the second category of hate crime acts that would be proscribed — certain instances of actual or attempted violence directed at persons “because of the[ir] actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability,” § 249(a)(1)(A) — pursuant to its power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, art. I., § 8, cl. 3.
OLC then discussed Lopez and Morrison, but curiously did not discuss Raich. Very odd, especially in light of the fact that SG Kagan did not argue that the Commerce Clause justified SORNA in Comstock. See Ilya Somin’s interesting post here:
Another possibility is that either Kagan or one of her superiors in the Obama Administration secretly disagrees with the Supreme Court’s most expansive Commerce Clause precedents, such as Gonzales v. Raich, and does not want to see them extended. I hope this is true, but it seems unlikely for any number of reasons. I highly doubt that either Kagan or other high-ranking members of the Obama Justice Department disagree with the near-universal consensus among liberal jurists and legal scholars in favor of virtually unlimited congressional Commerce Clause authority.
Are there movements in the Obama White House to limit Congress’s Commerce Power? I hope so.

Taxpayers paid $24,000 per Clunker. THIS is why I refused to accept the Cash for Clunkers blood money

Although my license plate is pretty cool, my car is not. I drive a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan with 140,000 miles on it.

This past Summer, when the government launched the Cash for Clunkers program, I was intrigued. My car qualified for a $3200 credit, and dealers were adding incentives on top of that. My car worked just fine, and I didn’t really need a new car. But if I could get $6,000 off the price of a new car, and junk my Soccer-Mom car, I considered it.

After much moral vacillation, I reluctantly decided to participate. I was planning on going to a dealer to look at a snazzy new Ford Escape on Saturday morning. On Friday night, the Obama Administration, unexpectedly announced that they were suspending the Program late Friday night. They were running out of money to fund the program.

At first, I was enraged. Why should those who quickly utilized the rebate get it, while I don’t?

But then I realized something. I was no different from a Soviet who had to wake up at the crack of down in order to be the first on the bread line before they ran out of rations. I was instantly repulsed. I am not a serf. President Obama will not dictate to me the terms of when, where, and what kind of car I should buy. I would not participate in this travesty.

Ultimately, Congress jumped into action and added some funding for the program. I did not care. I was resolute.

People tried to coax me into accepting it. They would tell me, “you pay taxes, get some of your money back.” No. This is not my money. This is the money from taxpayers from across the Country. Their hard earnings were taxed, like the yoke on a donkeys back. I would not partake. While I will concede there are some public goods that justify taxing (roads, national defense, schools, etc-though that etc is not unlimited), subsidizing the destruction of perfectly good cars to replace them with marginally better cars aint a public good I can support.

Now, I realize I was right. CNN reports, Clunkers: Taxpayers paid $24,000 per car:

A total of 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, but only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

The Cash for Clunkers program gave car buyers rebates of up to $4,500 if they traded in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that met certain fuel economy requirements. A total of $3 billion was allotted for those rebates.

The average rebate was $4,000. But the overwhelming majority of sales would have taken place anyway at some time in the last half of 2009, according to Edmunds.com. That means the government ended up spending about $24,000 each for those 125,000 additional vehicle sales.

I won’t even get into the insanity and economic stupidity of this program. The program paid car owners to junk their older cars in order to purchase marginally more environmentally friendly cars. See the Broken Window Fallacy for more details.

My opposition was largely centered on the fact that I did not want to encumber my fellow citizen with any additional tax burden. And the numbers bear out. Each vehicle sale cost America $24,000. Spread out among hundreds of millions of taxpayers, this is negligible, but quantifiable.

Who is John Galt?

de Rugy: We Are Living in an Ayn Rand Novel. When does Atlas Shrug?

Veronique de Rugy has a fantastic post on Big Government, titled, We Are Living in an Ayn Rand Novel (H/T Instapundit)

A year or two ago, only the most radical leftists would have dreamed that we’d be living in a country where the government owns a majority share in GM, bailed out private insurers, took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and handed over billions of dollars to the financial sector.

It continues to bailout homeowners doing more of the same policies that put us in this mess in the first place. The government now plans to bailout seniors and small businesses and it won’t be long before Obama proposes to bailout children. Also,  as the debate over health care reform continues, we are left to wonder: how much is this going to cost us? One trillion dollars or two?

But as I am listening to the hearing on executive compensation and TARP special master (how crippy is this title?), I realize we are now officially living in a world that resembles an Ayn Rand novel. One man, one unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate, has the power cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent in the banks the government now “owns.” A single individual is given too much power without accountability. But more importantly, this charade  masks the fact that the world we live in has nothing to do with capitalism. It’s nothing more than crony capitalism. The government went around bailing out out automobile companies that were producing cars that people didn’t want to buy, bailing out banks that were careless with their capital and assets, and bailing out homeowners that couldn’t afford the houses they were buying.

Amen. Every day I see more and more stories about element of society sliding towards statism, and more closely resembling the world of Atlas Shrugged. When will man reach the tipping point? Who is John Galt.

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