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The Constitution, Annotated

I may have mentioned this site before.  Even so, it's pretty cool.  It's an online annotation of the Constitution.  It's interesting reading on its own.  But tonight it proved a great way to find the leading Supreme Court cases on an issue I knew almost nothing about

Just go here, click on an amendment, and you'll see a link saying, "Annotations."  Click again, and have fun.  (Or save yourself some serious research time.)

Know Your Meat

Here is how cattle are treated at Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, California:

Video footage being released today shows workers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the "downer" cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals' noses -- all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

Whether you want to be complicit in such cruelty is something to consider next time you're at the grocery store.

Liberals Don't Regularly Have Orgies (And Other Discoveries)

If you're conservative or libertarian, you can sympathize with this post.  In essence, a liberalish law professor actually listened to Rush Limbaugh and was shocked to learn that he's, well, a hedonist.  (Can you really get as fat as Limbaugh was without being a pleasure seeker?)  What got the ire of one conservative blogger was that liberals seem to discuss similar "discoveries" about conservatives all the time - as if these discoveries aren't banal and widely-known. 

Liberals write about conservatives and libertarians are some weird species that needs to be studied.  Saying, "Rush is a hedonist" is sort of like saying, "Did you know Bill Clinton likes oral sex?"  It's stating the obvious.

And what is frustrating is that liberals don't realize they are stating the obvious.  Imagine if I wrote: "I've been talking to some liberals, and I've learned that they don't practice paganism, have orgies, they aren't harboring any members of Al Qaeda, and they don't treat 9-11 like a national day of celebration."  People would think such "observations" were pretty hilarious.  While rolling their eyes, they'd say, "Wow, Mike, you're just having all sorts of deep discoveries lately, aren't you?"

And yet the more liberally-inclined members of society seem to find it fascinating that, e.g., conservatives have sex, drink wine, and smoke cigars; and that libertarians don't laugh at the homeless and wish poverty on people.

What is even more hilarious is that liberals claim to be the party of nuance.  How does, "You shouldn't have sex before you're married" lead to, "Conservatives hate sex"?  How does, "People should have the freedom to rise and fall based on their own abilities," lead to, "Libertarians like it when people fail"?  And yet, those are popularly-held liberal beliefs.  So much for nuance!

Conservative Judicial Activism

Here is a distressingly easy hypothetical.  Police say they want to question you about your involvement in a crime.  You say, "I plead the Fifth."  Query: Have you invoked your rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Shockingly easy, right?

Yet three conservative judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would have held that saying, "I plead the Fifth" does not communicate to the police that you want to invoke your rights under the Fifth Amendment.  Simply amazing

Our "Fair" Tax System

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beers by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.'

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free, but once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right,"exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got TEN times more than I!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!" "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something very important....they didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Not Written by: David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics University of Georgia

Islam, the Religion of Love

Dubai authorities have sentenced a man to four years in prison for having - literally - a grain of marijuana stuck underneath his shoes.  Be careful where you step in Dubai.  (Via.)  I wonder how much prison time a person with gum stuck under his shoe gets.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Islam is really a religion of love.  It just so happens that every country under Islamic rule is a tyranny.  It's only a coincidence that a number of practitioners of Islam have a fancy for blowing up buildings.   

That's an absolute coincidence that has nothing to do with Islam.

I am still waiting for the "loving" Muslims in America (after every terrorist attack, we are told we have hundreds-of-thousands living in America) to denounce sentencing a father of three to prison for having a speck of marijuana stuck to his shoe.

Something tells me I'll be waiting a long time for this outpouring of love.