Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oh, No! College Kids Are Still Drinking!

University of Massachusetts, Amherst wants to make some new rules to curb college drinking.

UMass Imposes More Drinking Restrictions

Jan 31, 7:08 AM (ET)

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - No more drinking games at the University of Massachusetts. The school is cracking down on alcohol abuse on the Amherst campus with a list of new rules that go into effect this semester.

Along with banning games meant to get players drunk as quickly as possible, the rules include prohibitions on taps and funnels and large gatherings where more than 10 people are in a dormitory room with alcohol.

There will also be fewer bottles of beer lined up on the dorm room walls. Students who are 21 or older will be allowed to keep no more than 12 bottles or cans of beer, two bottles of wine or one bottle of hard liquor.

"These changes represent our continued efforts to reduce underage and binge drinking," said Jo-Anne Vanin, dean of students.

I suppose someone sees this as sensible. I sure the hell don't.

Now one thing that surprises some people about me is my attitude about college drinking. One would naturally assume that such an outspoken and enthusiastic lover of fermented beverages such as myself would come out in favor of college drinking shennanigans, and in the end their right, but not for the reasons one might think.

I actually despise the way people drink in college. I really can't stand such dilletantishness as keg stands, beer bongs, and shotgunning. I mean that's some childish shit right there. Even when I was in college I hated that shit. And believe me, at a small, Baptist university where any drinking is frowned upon, that's about all the drinking you see, albeit a little more surreptitiously.

If you wanna get smashed, don't just dump 5% ABV American "sex in a canoe" beer down your throat with a hose. Instead, crack open a bottle of Bourbon or vodka and mix a proper drink. If you drink at all, it should be because you like to drink, not to prove your manhood or try to fit in or some shit. If you're feeling insecure about whether or not all the cool kids will like you, I'm here to tell you the booze ain't gonna help.

What it will do, however, is remove your inhibitions which are preventing you from doing the stupid shit you are likely to do because you've got something to prove. Contrary to what we've all been spoon-fed, alcohol does not make you do something you don't want to do. It simply lowers the inhibition. If someone is going to make an ass of themselves, the booze will simply remove the inhibition and it's only a matter of time. Even if they do get through it all unscathed, they'll blame the booze in a bad way and end up further propagating the prohibitionist paradigm more effectively.

"See kids," The reformed college "alcoholic" says, "alcohol is bad for you. It made me sleep with all those frat boys and get AIDS. It made me drink that flaming shot and get third degree burns all over my face. It made me jump across that bonfire and break my legs. It made me do all those kegstands because I wanted to impress my buddies and drive home and wrap my car around a telephone pole."

I mean just look at our President. There's a man who needs to come out of the drunkard closet if I ever saw one. But that's another rant, and as we say in the tech support monkey business, "outside of the scope of this document."

My fellow drunkards and I refer to that as Amateur Hour. You get these young kids that are too young to remember when the martini lunch was de rigeur among professional types, or when you could drive home after having a glass of wine with dinner and not have to worry about random checkpoints. These people don't have any cultural experience with drinking, so their drinking is amateurish and irresponsible. They end up hurting themselves and in some cases dying before they ever can learn how to drink properly.

I feel sorry for them. You have an entire subculture of people who are the victims of neoprohibition. They've been fed all the stock bullshit about how alcohol is nothing but bad, and that if you so much as have a beer, your life will spin out of control and you will become a raging alcoholic and be a failure at life. I guess that these people figure that since they are "breaking the rules" then they might as well give up all control.

That way you end up with DUI's, wrecked academic careers, and the occasional death from alcohol poisoning, "a promising youth cut down in his prime," as the cliche goes. These people are victims of neoprohibitionism and a nannying society which rules us all to death and makes criminals of the innocent.

In the wake of this, of course, the response is to make more rules. There's a sensible solution. [/sarcasm]

Now keep in mind that for most of these milquetoast neoprohibitionist harpies, the definition of binge drinking is at least two drinks a day. Ironicly, this is the same amount that most doctors recommend as a minimum to help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and a whole other laundry list of things that doctors have recently determined that moderate alcohol intake is good for (and that sensible people have known that alcohol is good for since ancient times).

So with that mindset at work you have all these petty little regulations being implimented, which I'm sure will not even make a dent in the amount of binge drinking, either real or imagined, that goes on in college campuses. While the amateurish style of drinking does create problems, there are still plenty of folks going to college who don't have these problems. But screw it, let's just punish the whole lot for the sins of a few. And while we're at it, let's use the sins of those few as anectodal evidence to support more manufactured statistics and create more unnessesary rules.

Now I know some of you are reading this and going, what does this have to with Constitutional rights?

Well, I could argue that this subculture and these kinds of rules tie into a larger neoprohibitionist effort perpatrated by those who've been collectively undermining the Constitution since 1983. While that might be valid that's not why I chose to post this here.

What irks me specificly is that the University of Massachussets system is a public school which recieves funding from the State of Massachussets. As such they have to adhere to that annoying little document called the Constitution just like any public body. And if you live in the State of Massachussets, you're paying taxes for this shit.

You see there's this little amendment to the constitution, the 21st in fact, which specicicly repealed the 18th amendment prohibiting alcohol. Oh, bother, say the prohibitionists. Many argue that, failing the direct approach constitutionally, prohibitionists are passing lots of small laws that result in the end goal of prohibition anyway. But there's also the 1st Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now look at this bit from the article:

Along with banning games meant to get players drunk as quickly as possible, the rules include prohibitions on taps and funnels and large gatherings where more than 10 people are in a dormitory room with alcohol.

It seems to me like college students getting together for the purpose of drinking in a legal fashion constitutes peaceable assembly. Not only does the University policy violate the letter of the Constitution, I believe it violates the spirit of what the framers had in mind. Consider that in the time the Constitution was written, the drinking tradition was much stronger in this country. Every single one of the authors of our Government went out drinking at night. The idea that a hardworking, churchgoing, responsible American wouldn't drink would was ridiculous to them.

These college students who are drinking in their dorm rooms aren't there to engage in sedition or to incite violence, they're there to get their drink on. As long as it's legal (IE: everyone is over 21, etc.) There's no reason for that sort of rule.

Or more appropriatly, I should say there's not excuse for that rule.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Yes, GOP, I'm looking at *you*

Once again, the ministrations of representatives of the so-called "party of small government" proves that it has abandoned the principles of Ronald Reagan.

Man awarded $1 for 105 acres Port condemned

By: DANA BURKE, Citizen Staff01/19/2006

For years, Seabrook residents have said building the Bayport container facility north of town would hurt property values.

They might be surprised at how much one man got for his tract of land - $1 for 105 acres.

Pasadena land owner Glenn Seureau, II, thinks he was robbed of his by the Port of Houston Authority. He plans to continue an uphill battle with the Port until he is paid fair market value for the land.

One civil court judge, on the other hand, seems to think $1 is compensation enough for Seureau's land, located just north of Seabrook.

Seureau fought for nearly three years to protect his property, in his family for more than 150 years, from the Port's power of eminent domain, only to lose his case in May of last year in the court of Harris County Civil Court Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull.

The judge ruled that having paid Seureau $1, the Port now owns the fee simple title to the property. Seureau was also ordered to give back the Port's previous payment of more than $1.9 million at 5.75 percent interest and pay the Port's court costs at the same interest rate.

Seureau has appealed the ruling, and he and his attorneys are currently in negotiations with the Port.

Port officials declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that they are working with Seureau to reach an agreement.

The conflict began in September 2002, when a special commission held a hearing regarding the Port's request to condemn Seureau's land. Seureau did not attend the hearing, and the commission ordered the Port to pay him approximately $1.9 million for the property.

The Port deposited the funds into the registry of the court, taking constructive possession of the land, but Seureau refused to take the money or relinquish the title to the property.

"I didn't think (the Port) had the right to take the property," he said, adding that the Port's need for the land seems to be based on private rather than public interests.

The Port plans to build a portion of the Houston Cruise Terminal on the property.

Seureau also believes $1.9 million is less than the market value for the land, which he had planned to develop with multi-family residences.

He was later advised by an attorney that he did not have the right to contest eminent domain and withdrew the $1.9 million to pay for further appeals regarding the market value of his land.

The Port brought Seureau to Bradshaw-Hull's court on May 16, 2005 to obtain the fee simple title that Seureau had withheld until that point.

On May 17, the judge excluded the testimony of both Seureau and his only expert witness, Louis Smith, saying that neither man could provide evidence that was relevant or reliable regarding the market value of Seureau's land.
According to court documents, the judge's final ruling was based on a lack of evidence to support Seureau's argument.

Seureau also made a motion to exclude the testimony of one of the Port's expert witnesses, Matthew Deal. The court denied that motion.

Seureau, who lives in his 180-year-old family home next door to the recently condemned property, said that although he is not familiar with the judge's intentions, he sees Bradshaw-Hull's ruling as a "punishment" for trying to challenge the Port.

"I was forced to settle for less than market value," he said.

Bradshaw-Hull declined to comment on the case since it is on appeal.

Judge Bradshaw-Hull is seeking reelection on the GOP platform.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Kelo in action

Back when the US Supreme Court (thanks to Swinging Sandra O'Connor) decided in Kelo that government can seize private property from its current owner and transfer the property to another private party in the name of economic development, many of us predicted that abuses were sure to follow. Yours truly, for example, wrote a TCS column, in which I opined that:

After news of Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz was conveyed to British Prime Minister William Pitt, Pitt pointed to a map of Europe and said: "Roll up the map; it will not be wanted these ten years." In light of the Supreme Courts decision to side with New London, we might just as well roll up the Takings Clause of the Bill of Rights, because we won't need it any longer.

Regrettably, confirmation of my concern comes from my own home town: In the sort of blatant move one associates with the Soviet kolkhoz process, Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks (our feckless ex-police chief) wants to the city to sell property seized to build a badly needed animal shelter funded by a city bond approved by the voters to a politically well-connected developer (Francisco Pinedo, president of Cisco Bros.) who has made campaign contributions to Parks and other top city officials. The LA Times reports:

The city's initial plan was to use the site for a new South Los Angeles animal shelter. The city paid $5.8 million to buy the property with money raised by a bond issue that voters approved to expand animal services. ...

Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who is spearheading the plan and represents the area, says the public would benefit more if the land were used for a business. ...

The previous owners of the property, which includes three warehouse buildings, said the city has betrayed them. Their furniture-manufacturing firm had 20 years of success in South Los Angeles, said Scott Vaughan, a partner in Vaughan Benz, which has moved to near Chinatown. "It was thriving." "If they are not going to do what they claimed they were doing and put an animal shelter there," he said, "it was unnecessary to take our property." Vaughan Benz fought the city's decision to seize its property in court, and the partners said the time and money spent on that battle hurt their business.

This is the worst sort of abuse of the eminent domain process, in which a private property owner gets screwed of its land so that a wealthy and politically-connected developer can make money.

But the problem is compounded by the involvement of the voter-approved bond fund:

"I really do feel uncomfortable about it," said James W. Odom, a member of an oversight committee set up by the city to make sure it properly spends the money from its animal shelter bond issue. If the city decides to change the property's use, Odom said, he will fight to make sure the animal shelter bond money is paid back. ...

City sources ... said the income from the sale is unlikely to fully pay back the $8 million spent so far from the animal shelter bond, which includes the legal costs of acquiring the property through eminent domain and $1 million in already completed design work.

Put bluntly, this reeks of corruption. If the deal goes forward, there needs to be an investigation to determine whether Parks violated the law. Ironically, however, city attorney Rocky Delgadillo has gotten even more money in campaign contributions from developer Pinedo!

Is there ANYONE out there who could not have predicted that our property rights would eventually be at the mercy of those with enough dough to bribe corrupt politicians?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

You Say You Want a Revolution? Well, Alright.

If you look closely at the rights extended to us by the US Constitution, you will realize that several of them are not just rights, they are the duties of free peoples. This is because the very EXERCIZE of those specific rights helps us maintain them and all other rights. The first two amendments of the constitution stick out foremost in my mind -- by worshiping as we see fit, we are reminded that our rights are endowed to us by our Creator, not the whim of the state. It is by speaking freely that we keep the flame of freedom lit in the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, and it is by assembling that we can communicate and coordinate any and all efforts to protect our freedom.

But the second amendment is even more essential, for an unarmed populace is powerless to do anything to protect itself or its freedoms except to call upon and trust in the good graces of the powerful. That is not a bet I care to place. You see, while I do not intend to downplay the usefulness of firearms as a way of securing food (hunting) or self-defense, I believe, as many of us on the right do, that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect us all from Tyranny -- and not just to arm the military to proterct us from foreign tyrrany, but to arm the populace against domestic tyrrany. The Founding Fathers had taken up arms in such a cause once, they intended to provide for the possibility of a repeat performance in the future.

I came to the above realization while pondering the recent brouhaha regarding the Christmas Cross that Lars Larson was planning. At least on poster at Portland IndyMedia made comments fantazizing about doing bodily harm to Lars. I supported Lars' decision not to go through with the cross raising, believing he had taken the moral high ground. But two things about the incident struck me: One was that I found it highly ironic that those on the Left (Let's be clear here, I'm not talking about liberals, I'm talking about THE LEFT -- people whose politics make Howard Dean seem centrist) would call Lars a Fascist and in the same breath threaten violence to silence him. But while I was bemused, I was not surprised.

The Left's fringe has become stronger, louder, and more openly embraced by the "Party" in general. And it's become apparent to anyone paying attention that the Left is becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of doing anything they must to further their views, including using violence and lawlessness. They also seem more than willing to do what they must to silence the expression of opinions contrary to their own. And while they might believe they are "Freedom Fighters", they are striving for a political and social order that is frighteningly oppressive in its tolerance of personal freedom. It seems more and more apparent that what the Left wants is Revolution, or at least Civil War. Case in point, note the tone taken by the reader "Unapologetic Liberal" in the comment thread of this post at Ace of Spades HQ.

But the left may be biting off more than they can chew.

This was the second impression I got from the Christmas Cross incident. As one conservative (I can't remember who or where) pointed out that this would be unwise, ever since a leftist idiot revealed Lars' home phone number at Michael Moore appearance and Lars began receiving death threats, Lars has had a CCW permit and actively exercizes his Second Amendment rights. While Lars decided to back down to prevent violence, if any of the PDX IM crowd really tried to do Lars bodily harm, I'm sure they would regret it -- if they lived.

There's a lesson about the Right to be learned by the left from that angle to the story, just as we are learning about them from their reaction. You see, while there is a fringe element to both sides of the political spectrum, it seems that in recent years, the Right has more and more marginalized its fringe, distancing ourselves from it, rejecting its extremes in a way that the Left has failed to react to their fringe. And while it's popular to cast the Right in the light of being the oppressors, we have for the most part shunned violence and domestic unrest as a means to our ends. We have tried to take the moral high ground, abide by the law, distance ourselves from unscrupulous allies and distinguish ourselves from unscrupulous adversaries.

But we can only be pushed so far. And if we find ourselves in a position where our own ability to push back is all that stands between us and being overrun by those who wish to oppress us, we will push back -- and our push is harder. We strive to uphold and respect the Rule of Law. But if you finally get what you want, if you achieve revolution in the streets and open conflict between us, remember this: We're the ones who believe in and exercize our right to bear arms as a means of protecting our other rights. Usually that means from the random criminal who would mug or rob or rape us or our families. Strategically that means from a tyrant who would invade our country from without. Theoretically, the Framers believed it could mean from a corrupt government that would usurp its authority from within. But make no mistakes. If you try to impose a Marxist order on us through violent overthrow of the Government, we are highly likely to decide that you are a greater threat to our freedom than the Government ever could dream of being.

And you won't like what happens when we take sides.