James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Archive for March 2005

Lapid and Poraz assure Sharon of Shinui’s support for budget

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From Haaretz, Lapid and Poraz assure Sharon of Shinui’s support for budget. This is good news. The deal is hardly one many libertarians would love, but politicians are still politicians, even when they lean libertarian.

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Monday, March 28, 2005 at 2:57 pm

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EU Accuses Israel of Breaching Peace Road Map

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Reuters had this to say in its article, ‘EU Accuses Israel of Breaching Peace Road Map’: “The international community regards the Israeli settlements, home to 235,000 Jews, as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disputes this.”

Apparently, “the international community,” is code for Europe (and probably the Arab states …). Doesn’t Europe have enough history of preventing Jews from living where they want and dispossessing them of their homes? Living outside the Ghetto was illegal too, but that does not mean it is wrong.

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Friday, March 25, 2005 at 4:03 pm

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French Kiss 35-Hour Workweek Au Revoir

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This article in the Washington Post, ‘French Kiss 35-Hour Workweek Au Revoir’ notes a welcome change in French labor law. As Jews, many of us know that we can keep Shabbat while working more than 35 hours (I think I put in more than 50 last week). But, there is a small catch, “The changes will allow workers to increase overtime and work up to 48 hours a week if they want — the maximum allowed by the European Union.” I suspect that this will be enough for all but the most committed professionals (and people with two jobs).

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 2:27 pm

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Minnesota Rampage Leaves 10 Dead

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What a tragedy, as reported in the Washington Post, Minnesota Rampage Leaves 10 Dead. I know the response today will probably focus on the importance of gun control, but in a state like Minnesota, where carrying is legal with a permit, I can only think about how sad it is that so many had to die in a victim disarmament zone. That is what schools have become. The victims are disarmed, and the criminals are empowered. Why else would it be that most spree killings happen in victim disarmament zones like schools, post offices, and government facilities? How sad.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 9:52 am

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Conversion

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So, on Sunday, I officially converted to Conservative Judaism. My wife and two other people converted with me. My Hatafat Dam Brit was the week before, the Bet Din was like a comfortable conversation, and the mikvah was nice, if a bit chilly. It feels good. The road to this point was a long one, but that is the way it should be. After all, the road has just begun.

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Monday, March 21, 2005 at 7:44 pm

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Jewlicious – Oh Shabbat, why you so crazy?

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This post and thread on Jewlicious has turned into a really interesting discussion of observance and the nature/existence of G-d. I strongly recommend it. There is nothing particularly libertarian here, but it is a good Jewish exchange of ideas.

Written by JamesEJ

Friday, March 18, 2005 at 10:26 am

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‘With or without him’

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This article in Haaretz by Avraham Poraz makes a tough case for the course Shinui is taking on the budget (Shinui threatens to vote against the budget, which could push the government to hold elections). I am tempted to agree with Poraz that peace will move forward with or without Sharon. However, I am also fairly risk averse when it comes to shaking things up in the middle of the peace process. In principle, I agree with Shinui, but in practice, this approach may be a bit too aggressive.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005 at 1:58 pm

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Aliyah

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I usually don’t make personal posts, but my wife and I are planning a trip to Israel this June. I am very excited. Neither of us have been there. She qualifies for Birthright Israel, and I will pay my way. It should be amazing. She will have the privilege of staying an additional couple weeks to do research in Tel Aviv. In that regard, I am jealous.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005 at 8:21 pm

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"Assault Weapons" registration in Iowa

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This Iowa General Assembly Senate File would subject all “assault weapons” and their owners to registration and force the owners jump through a series of hoops just to continue possessing certain firearms in Iowa. The definition is so broad that it includes almost every rifle that accepts a magazine. Appalling. More to come …

Update: I have been informed that this legislation is doomed this year. I’m still writing my state representatives.

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Thursday, March 3, 2005 at 10:59 am

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Causing death, liberty and Judaism

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A few items in the news, including, the Supreme Court struck down the juvenile death penalty, Terri Schiavo’s looming death by malnutrition, and the awards for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ have me thinking about the issues of human-caused death, Judaism and libertarianism today.

For me the death penalty case is separate from the others. A person found guilty of a capital crime is very different from a disabled person. However, the recent case involving the child who, at 12 years old, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years as an adult infuriated me. A twelve year old can hardly be as culpable as an adult. Even so, a 17 year old gangster with repeat violent offenses can certainly be as culpable as an adult. Without general opposition to the death penalty, it seems strange that the Supreme Court could make such a broad rule.

The Schiavo and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ cases are similar to each other, but I would still treat them differently. First, let me observe that as a Jew, suicide, assisted suicide, and death by treatment refusal is always tragic and usually evil. Disabled people, even quadriplegics, can live long and fulfilling lives. We should embrace the life G-d gives us, no matter how underprivileged our situation may seem. However, in the case where a person is capable of giving their informed decision to die and that decision is documented in a writing, I cannot oppose stopping such a wrong by force. Consequently, while I am troubled by the message of ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ I ultimately would probably permit its result.

However, in the case of Terri Schiavo, there is not written intent. Even if her husband is honest in reporting that she would wish to die, she never indicated as such in a legal fashion. A written expression of the intent to die demonstrates a level of consideration and willfulness that is absent in an oral communication to a close family member. For someone that appears largely disconnected from this world, she is functioning quite well biologically. Her parents care for her and are willing to shoulder that burden. Starving her to death seems basically evil in this situation. I realize that the courts will probably find otherwise, but this is a situation where it is appropriate for the state to use its power to protect life.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 3:46 pm

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