Friday, October 28, 2005

What Was Scooter Thinking? 

Let's assume for a moment that Scooter Libby is guilty of perjury. The questions that immediately comes to mind is: what was he thinking? He knew there were three other people out there (Cooper, Miller and Russert) who could reveal that he had lied to the grand jury. Did he assume they would refuse to reveal their sources forever? Or perhaps that they would also lie? That the aspens would all turn together?

Official A 

My favorite part of the Libby Indictment:

21. On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

Which I take it means that Novak, who first published the information that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA employee, is the only reporter we know of involved in Plamegate who continues to successfully protect his source from public exposure.

Two further thoughts. First, I expect that this will enrage Jon Stewart & Co. Second, I guess we may never know who told Novak.

Deep background with Novak is deeper than Deepthroat.

Update: Jack Shafer is the first to register his annoyance!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Week Krucoff Took Over the World 

Last night we turned three bars and one magazine launch party into Save Krucoff events. Teendrama has the deets.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Areas of His Expertise 

Lindsayism has a post up today praising John Hodgman's new book, "The Areas of My Expertise." Hodgman hosts the Little Gray Books lecture series usually at Williamsburg's Galapagos (except the next one is in Brookline, Mass for some reason). I've been to a number of them and some people I know have read at these lectures. They're almost always very, very funny and quirkily informative.

The last LGB lecture I went to was about how to commit the perfect crime. The whole Blottered crew was there. (I'll post some stuff there soon, Krucoff, I promise.) The lecture I remember the best described how a goof-up in setting the jurisdiction of federal courts had created a small area in Yellowstone Park where no court had jurisdiction. The result of this is that you would be immune from prosecution for any crime you commit there. I took a map of this place with me on my fishing trip a couple of months ago but for some reason my fishing companions weren't that interested in checking the place out. Come on, guys, you can trust me! This handgun is just in case we run into a bear!

Why did I start writing about Hodgman? Oh, right. The title of his book reminds me of a story.

About ten years ago a promising young anarcho-capitalist named Brian called to tell me he was moving to NYC to look for work. We'd gone to college together and at some point I must have suggested that he could stay in my parents place if he ever dropped by New York City. I was living up in Cambridge at the time and thought he might want to crash at my parents place at some point. Actually, I didn't really think he'd take me up on it at all. I didn't want to stay with my parents. Why on earth would anarchist Brian?

Well it turns out Brian did want to stay at with my parents. Not just crash. Stay. As in move in. He had an unpaid internship with a famous somewhat libertarian newscaster in Manhattan and no way of paying rent. I told him I'd check this out with my parents but he had already called them. In fact, he was calling me from their place.

Brian stayed through his internship, and then kept staying. He got a job working for my father processing data, and became very good friends with my parents and the official walker of my dog. When I got home from Cambridge that summer, he was still there, almost a year after moving in. He had his own bedroom. In that bedroom he had an extensive file system divided into various categories, each containing clipped articles about a specific topic. He referred to each topic as one of his "Areas of Expertise." When he said it you could see the capital letters forming.

"How many of these areas of expertise do you have," I asked.

"I have 36 Areas of Expertise," he told me. Then he smiled, "I have three areas of broad knowledge, as well. WIthin four months, they will become Areas of Expertise as well."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Key to Victory: Boots on the Ground 

Today is Saint Crispin’s Day. For most people, this day is probably best known as the occasion on which Shakespeare’s Henry V gives the famous band of brothers speech just before the battle of Agincourt. I went through a fanatic Shakespeare period during college in which I saw every Shakespeare performance I could (which was a lot, as I was living in London at the time), so I must have heard or read the speech a dozen times before I got around to asking who this Saint Crispin fellow was anyway.

It turns out that Crispin and his brother, Saint Crispian, were Roman nobles who went on an evangelical mission in Gaul in the middle of the third century. In order to avoid having to live off the charity of the faithful, the brothers took up the trade of shoemaking. Their charity, piety and hard work impressed the local enough that it got the local Roman governor’s attention and eventually led to their execution. Together they are the patron saints of cobblers, and are thought of as demonstrating that attention to wordly professions is neither an impediment toward holiness nor an excuse for avoiding Christian obligations.

Last night, under the influence of too much whiskey, I wound up explaining to someone how this also makes them anachronistic symbols of our victory over the Neanderthals. As I have been telling people for years, it was the invention of shoes that gave us the edge over our prehistoric competitors. Now just because I’ve been telling people that doesn’t mean I had any reason to believe it. It was just something that was fun to say.

Until now. Recent evidence suggests that we started wearing shoes around 30,000 years ago, right about the time the Neanderthals exited stage oblivion. It circumstantial but the timing is right. Tonight I plan to raise at least a few glasses in honor of Crispin and Crispian, cobblers everywhere, and those original, bold shoemakers who gave our ancestors the perhaps decisive edge over those powerful Neanderthals.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Casualties of the Night 

I dropped by Lolita bar Saturday night, where the lads of No Data were in charge of the music. The place was packed full of a lot of my favorite people. Someone slipped something in my drink, though. Something like whiskey. I ended up in some after hours place on Ludlow. Barely beat the sunrise home. As my friend Gavin told me the next day, "Nothing good happens after four in the morning." I need to add that to my list of Tips for Living.

The really bad thing that happened was that someone stole my camera at the afterhours. Right out of my coat pocket. Check out my flickr site if you want. There won't be anything new up there for a while.

Sigh. I guess now I need a new camera. Any recommendations?

Update: Here's Dens' version of events. I didn't know that was a rap video. I thought it was just a convention of thugs. Does that mean a rapper stole my camera?

More pictures here and here. Oh, and there should be some going up here all week long.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Sticky Shadow Wars Begin 

Lock, I hope you realize that this means that I'm going to sticky shadow your apartment with the message "Free Booze and Meth After-Party in Apt. #XX. Ring doorbell anytime after midnight." I'm just saying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

99 Tips for Living 

* You should never have to match your socks, other than to separate black from white; buy 18 pairs of identical socks in each color and throw them all out every six months.
* Pants with pleats get cuffs; pants without, do not.
* Avoid large faced watches if you have thin wrists.
* Sunglasses may only be worn indoors after 1 a.m.
* Carry around those small bottles of hand sanitizer and use some before you eat.
* Business casual was invented to prevent younger people from dressing better than their bosses. Rebel and wear and a suit or jeans.
* If you need to put stuff in your hair to add shine or hold, you are washing your hair too often.
* Yes, you do have to floss.
* If you are handling a small baggy in a bathroom stall, face away from the open toilet and you will never drop it in there.
* When a friend calls after a drunken night, never say, “You were so funny.”
* Avoid staying out past midnight three nights in a row.
* You can ignore the three-night rule if something really good comes up on the third night.
* You will regret your tattoos.
* If you wear a baseball cap in bars, the girls will suspect you are bald.
* Go to more baseball games.
* Time is too short to do your own laundry.
* When the bartender asks, you should already know what you are ordering.
* Learn how to speak before groups.
* An undershirt will prevent you from perspiring through your overshirt.
* Yes, you do have to go to the gym.
* Complaining about other people smoking makes you an ass.
* Stop talking about where you went to college.
* When people don’t invite you to parties, you really shouldn’t go.
* Sometimes even when you are invited, you shouldn’t go.
* You can ignore those rules about parties if it is a really, really good party.
* Drink plenty of coffee.
* People are tired of you being the funny, drunk guy.
* When in doubt, always kiss the girl.
* Tip more than you should.
* If a book is too big to carry around comfortably, cut it up and carry the pages you can read.
* Yes, you do have to have your shoes shined.
* It's okay to arrive late.
* You probably use your cell phone too often and at the wrong moments.
* Do not spend very much money on sunglasses or umbrellas. You will lose them quickly.
* Do thirty-push ups before you shower each morning.
* Eat brunch with friends every other weekend.
* Be a regular at a bar.
* Read more.
* And not just biographies.
* If her friends hate you, it's over.
* A glass of wine with lunch will not ruin your day.
* It’s better if old men cut your hair.
* They should charge less than $20.
* If you smoke pot, you probably smoke too much.
* Learn how to fly-fish.
* Ask for a salad instead of fries.
* Pretty women who are unaccompanied want you to talk to them. Ask someone for an introduction.
* You cannot always make amends with people.
* Buy furniture that you think is too small for your apartment. It isn’t.
* Cobblers will save your shoes.
* Figure out what kind of knot you like in your ties and stick with it.
* The first round of drinks is on you.
* When a bartender buys you a round, tip double.
* Hang your clothes up when you take them off.
* Except sweaters. Those get folded.
* Piercings are liabilities in fights.
* You’ll regret much more the things you didn’t do than the things you did.
* Do not buy the product insurance.
* You may remove your jacket and roll up your sleeves. The tie may not be loosened.
* It’s not that you’re unphotogenic. That’s just how you look.
* Do not use an electric razor.
* Deserts are for women. Order one and pretend you don’t mind that she’s eating yours.
* Keep rugs and carpets to a minimum.
* Carry a pocket knife.
* Subscribe to a small-circulation magazine.
* It should have a cork-screw.
* One girlfriend is probably enough.
* After one day of hanging, your tie should be rolled and placed in a drawer.
* People will dance if the music is loud enough and the lights are dim enough. You should too.
* You may only request one song from the DJ.
* Take pictures. One day it will be fun to laugh at them.
* When you admire the work of artists or writers, tell them.
* And spend money to acquire their work.
* Sleep outdoors when you can.
* Your clothes do not match. They go together.
* Yes, you do have to buy her dinner.
* Staying angry is a waste of energy.
* Revenge can be a good way of getting over anger.
* Go to the theater.
* Always bring a bottle of something to the party.
* Ask cab drivers not to speak on the phone.
* When the bouncer says it’s time for you to leave, it is.
* Do not make a second date while you are still on your first.
* Avoid the “last” glass of whiskey. You’ve probably had enough.
* If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid very loud clubs.
* Drink outdoors.
* Drink during the day.
* Date women outside your social set. You'll be surprised.
* If it’s got velvet ropes and lines, walk away unless you know someone.
* You should probably walk away anyway.
* See more bands than you have been.
* You cannot have a love affair with whiskey because whiskey will never love you back.
* Place-dropping is worse than name dropping.
* The New Yorker is not a high-brow magazine.
* You aren’t really a great DJ. Those people are dancing because they are drunk.
* Don’t let that discourage you. If they’re having fun, you are doing your job.
* If you believe in evolution, you should know something about how it works.
* No-one cares if you are offended, so stop it.
* Eating out alone can be magnificent. Find a place where you can eat at the bar.
* Get out of the city every now and then. The parties you miss won’t miss you. And you won’t really miss them either.
* Never date an ex of your friend.

We Will Always Party Hard 

Party Time

Last year I had a really great party to welcome in the Fall. I didn't think I was going to throw another but I'm starting to get the urge to invite everyone I know over to ruin my apartment again. Look for invitations.

Confessions of a Blood and Soil Conservative 

It was half-past one on a Friday afternoon. The part of lunch that involved food was over. All that remained were drinks, jokes and arguments. The bankers gathered around the back table at the Pound & Pence Pub had already begun to loosen their ties. A few had already had enough to drink that their eyes had gone glassy. Jackets were off, revealing gym-honed torsos beneath extravagantly patterned cotton shirts tucked into unpleated, uncuffed pin-striped pants. Blackberries dangled from belts, or else sat on the table. Every now and then one of the devices would shimmy across a few inches across the table, vibrating the arrival of a new message. Earlier this would have caused a momentary disruption, as the owner checked his machine to see if the message demanded immediate attention. Now the voices of these bankers had grown loud enough that they didn’t notice the spastic buzzing and crawling. As another round of drinks arrived, it was obvious that most of these men—there were no women gathered around the table—wouldn’t be making it back to their office that day.

At least four different conversations were going on at once. There was the market conversation—something about whether it had been wise for the firm to purchase a swap involving credit risk of international hotel chains. In the patios of the bankers this was referred to as “taking a view” on the hotels. There was the sports conversation—although with both the Yankees and the Red Sox seasons complete, this was a somewhat muted conversation. There was the women conversation, and the less said about that the better. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I found myself in midst of the fourth conversation, the one that was dominating the center of the table, the one about politics.

More specifically, we were arguing about immigration. The table was roughly evenly divided between those who thought America’s immigration policy was far too restrictive to meet our economic needs and those who wanted to see more attention paid to protecting our borders from penetration by illegal aliens and potential terrorists. The third position was neither a compromise nor a synthesis of these two. In fact, it directly confronted both of them by asserting that what was really needed was an almost complete pause in mass immigration—a pause that needed to last for several years during with no more than perhaps a couple of hundred thousand foreigners would be permitted to immigrate each year, and these would be carefully selected from countries with cultures and economies most compatible with our own.
This third position, of course, was mine. And, of course, it was mine alone.

As the conversation progressed and more drinks led to ever bolder restatements of each side's principles, it became clear that the disagreement between the “open borders” types and the “national security” types was much shallower than they had initially assumed. Both believed that our country was fundamentally a creedal nation, an experiment or project dedicated to a proposition about human equality and accepting its corollaries affirming the values of liberty and democracy. Being an American involved little more than accepting these values. What’s more, this propositional nature made us a uniquely great country because it meant we had overcome arbitrary attachments to land, kinship, religion and tradition.

The difference between Open Borders and National Security was a prudential judgment about how far to trust newcomers to our land. For the National Security types, association with jihadist Islam or a willingness to violate our immigration laws created a presumption that those values had been rejected. For the Open Borders types, the desire to live in the United States combined with the effort of actually immigrating here created a presumption that those values had been accepted.

My attempt to shake them from this agreement about the nature of our country began with the observation that a dedication to a creed characterizes a religion and not a nation. And the nice thing about a religion is that you can practice your beliefs anywhere you happen to be. If being an American involved believing the right things about equality, liberty and government, than why should that have anything to do with immigrating to America? Couldn’t these creedal Americans go right on professing the creed in their native lands?

Despite the impression that the alleged propositional nature of our country made us a shining exception among the nations of the world, it would in fact put us in very bad company. As Irving Kristol pointed out a couple of years ago in the Weekly Standard, the great ideological nation of yesterday was the Soviet Union. This is not moral equivalence—of course I would rather live in a nation defined by the ideology of our Founding Fathers than that of Karl Marx. But there are important lessons to be drawn from this correspondence. In the first place, an creedal or ideological conception of national identity can have dire consequences for those who would dissent from the creed. As a point of pure logic, if assenting to a national creed defines what it is to be an American, dissenters from that creed are worse than un-American. They are aliens in our midst, regardless of whether they were born here or not. The creedal nation, in short, alienates or excommunicates, to return to the religious analogy, our heterodox native brothers and sisters while naturalizing a world of strangers who assent to our orthodoxy.

Fortunately, we are unlikely to begin shipping dissenting natives to a gulag because the description of America as an ideological nation does not really fit what it means to be an American. As I’ve already indicated, it misses the localness of our nationality—our understanding that being an American somehow involves a connectedness with actually living, at some point, in a place called America. Even the immigration enthusiasts tacitly acknowledge this when they say we should welcome more immigrants into our land. Other problems arise. Why should we restrict the voting franchise in ways that prevent so many of the creed’s foreign friends from voting in our elections? Why do we tolerate government restrictions on foreign co-confessors that we would not tolerate at home, such as the laws in Western Europe which have outlawed political parties or banned politically incorrect books? Why does residency and citizenship in foreign lands immunize our fellow co-confessors from so many of the taxes leveled upon us by our government? Why are we so much more concerned when American hostages are taken, or American troops attacked abroad? Why, in short, is the ideological conception of nationhood not a recipe for a universal administrative state?

This objection only appears to be extreme. I am not arguing that our immigration policy will lead inevitably to the dissolution of our country as an independent state. My point is this: very few things about our idea of what it means to be an American are intelligible under the theory of America as a creedal nation. The central question—the National Question—is one that the creedal theory cannot answer—why is America these particular people and not everyone? Why is it this place and everywhere? Why does our government continue to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, between Americans and non-Americans, between us and them, here and there?

Historically, the reason America exists is because we no longer wished to be ruled from over there. That is, we made a national decision to distinguish ourselves from the world by declaring our independence from foreign powers. Indeed, this is part of the reason any nation exists—to divide and protect Us from Them. Why should we undertake this divisive endeavor? We’ve known that answer at least since Plato composed his Republic, which in Book II describes the formation of the state as a response to danger of plunder by foreigners. We create nations as an assertion of self-rule because the alternative is rule by others, which all too frequently means exploitation for the benefit of others. To paraphrase John Steinbeck’s Tom Joad, historically we created America to throw out that cops that ain’t our people.

This kind of historical answer can only be the start of a fuller answer because it raise a further question: where does this feeling of “we” come from? Here again, we are driven into history, although in a different way. Our sense of togetherness as a national “we” comes, as the brilliant online writer Larry Auster has said, from “the experience of a particular group of people living together in one place under common institutions and joined together by their history as such, and by the beliefs, attitudes and habits, the loyalties and aversions, the personal and family ties, and even the distinctions and disputes that have grown out of that history.” That shared experience has given rise to something that is more than the sum of those things—a transcendent sense of shared national identity.

One of the great advantages of this concept of transcendent national identity is its flexibility. Since it is not attached merely to one set of beliefs, social arrangements or institutions, it can accommodate change in those institutions over time. It is not, however, infinitely malleable. Although we can accommodate newcomers, we must assure that both we do not indulge them so as to retard our ability to adjust to them and their ability to become us through shared experience. That means we must take care that we do not welcome too many immigrants or immigrants for or with whom sharing the national experience will be too difficult, and we must periodically suspend this process of welcoming newcomers in order to assure that the national identity remains strong enough to undertake the necessary adjustments.

One of the great disadvantages of the concept of transcendent national identity is that it is unlikely to make sense to people who have lost a taste for transcendence. To some, this is all so much hokum and baloney. They want the meaning of America to involve something more concrete, something that can be expressed in an equation, syllogism or statistic. This is a common view among social planners, people who want to make our world more legible, more rational, less arbitrary. Unfortunately for this type, our world cannot be reduced in this way. As we have seen in the attempt to reduce the National Question to the question of ideology, these descriptions do not fit what it is they are trying to describe. These maps do not match the territory.

In the October issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus quotes leading same-sex marriage advocate William N. Eskridge. Transforming the law to fit with the gay experience, Eskridge says, “involves the reconfiguration of family—de-emphasizing blood, gender and kinship ties and emphasizing the value of interpersonal commitment.” Something like this is going on with the project of remaking America as an ideological nation. The opponents of this attempt to reconfigure the family claim that it amounts to the abolition of the family. I won’t claim that reconfiguring America will abolish America, but it would require the loss of our nation identity as we have known it.

"We might first," I said to the bankers, "want to make some very extensive inquiries into what exactly it is proposed we will receive in return for this loss."

At this point I think I began singing, probably some sort of nationalistic dirge I remembered from a copybook of poems written during the decline of the British Empire. I had clearly had too much to drink. There were shouts for me to relinquish the floor and protests against my inability to carry a tune. Someone shouted that what we’d get in exchange for our identity was money, and lots of it. Speaking of which, someone else said, if I was going to keep on talking shouldn’t I at least buy the next round of drinks?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Great Minds 

The day before I left for Iowa, the New York Times published one of their "36 hours" articles about Des Moines. The 36 Hours series are generally very useful guides packed with up-to-date information about thing to do in cities which are not New York. The idea is that if you wanted to, you could manage to do everything mentioned in the article in 36 hours. I don't reccomend trying it, though. There's usually so much packed into these pieces that you'd be exhausted if you tried to everything. Pick and choose what you want, and then tell yourself you'll do the rest when you return someday.

The picture that ran above the article looked familiar to me. And then I realized I took almost the exact same picture two years ago. Have a look for yourself.

capitol dome>

God Loves America

The top picture is from the Times. The bottom one is mine. We must have been standing in exactly the same place when we took these pictures.

Which do you prefer? The Times is cropped more interestingly, the colors jump out much better. It was obviously taken with a better lense and probably has had some work done to it. I don't even have a trial version of photoshop, so mine is entirely from my point and shoot, pocket-size digital camera to your eyes.
I do think that the light is more interesting in my shot.

The Sun Sets On The Cornbelt 

Cornbelt Sunset

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Only Thing That Would Have Made My Trip to the Tetons Better 

I wonder if Mitch can fish?

One More Picture of Fishing Out West 


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Most Desperatest Missed Connection Ever 

Paging the IJC! I think we have a winner.

I know this sounds insane but back in the summer of 1992, I used to be a pimple face 19 year old who often talked to an older blonde male who went to Wharton Business School at the weight room. I did not like blondes nor older men then but time later I saw you with an olive skinned brunette beauty (whom I assume was your wife years later) who resembled an older version of me around Stuyvesant Town. Then I saw you walking with your child who resembled a mix maybe 5 years ago. I always wondered about you.... What if...

You may not even remember who I am now. I have transformed and now am extremely fit and pretty. I dont believe in breaking up any established relationship but I just wanted to rekindle contact and a smile.

The clincher:

this is in or around Murray Hill

No kidding.

[Craigs List Missed Connection]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Border Patrol 

Readers with more prurient tastes, or those of you intersted in immigration law enforcement, might be interested in my latest post over on blottered.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Off To Iowa 

Probably Too Warm For Trout if You Can Wear Shorts in the River

I'll be spending Columbus Day weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, fishing, hiking and visiting with park rangers, taxidermists, homeschoolers and other residents of that particular swath of the corn belt. Back late Monday night. If you happen to be in Des Moines over the weekend, drop me an email and I'll let you buy me a drink.

Update:Nice of the Times to provide this guide just as I'm headed out west.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fear As A Fashion Statement 

manhattanblog: so like, according to the Associated Press, the threat is "specific to place, time and method." uhm, why not let us know the place and time and then we'll not go to that place at that time.
artseditrixa: ah
artseditrixa: dunno
artseditrixa: fear is better
artseditrixa: don't you think
artseditrixa: it's the new black
artseditrixa: convenient bc
artseditrixa: you can wear it all the time
artseditrixa: and it goes with everything
manhattanblog: and it's slimming too

19 Guys 

Bloomberg says the FBI has shared with city officials a "specific threat" to the New York subway system, and is asking the public to be vigilant.

"Be vigiliant"? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Just stay off the subway.

Also, why 19? Is that some sort of magic number for slaughtering New Yorkers?

Looks like it's time to go back to being a War Employee. I really wish I had figured out what rosewater smells like, though.

Someone Buy Me This. 

Somebody Buy Me One.

A girl I met last night named Danielle Strle made this lamp. I like how the lampshade seems to float above the ground. The curve of the coppery stand somehow suggests biology.

If I had this I my desk I could shut off the florescent lamp and my skin wouldn't look blue-green any more and my eyes would stop twitching.

Also, I apologzine to anyone I may have damaged last night at Solas, Lolita Bar, the Cellar or 12". Never. Drink. Ing. A. Gain.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gas Tax and Family Formation 

The fifty-cent per gallon tax on gasoline proposed by John Tierney on today’s New York Times Op-Ed page strikes me as really, really terrible idea. (Note I haven’t read the column. I was told about it by Pat Kiernan on “In the Papers” this morning—the only way I know what’s on the Times editorial page ever since they started jamming their own opinion page’s signal.) It would make life more difficult for many Americans, create new spending opportunities for the pet projects of politicians and special interests and help elect more Democrats into office.

Since Tierney usually takes a somewhat libertarian approach to policy issues, I was surprised to hear that he was advocating a new tax. Tierney is said to argue that this tax would “fix everything”—provide revenue to shore up Social Security, improve the environment by discouraging people from driving and—for all I know—he may even argue that it will improve our health by encouraging us to ride bicycles and walk more often. But what makes Tierney think we can count on the government to spend the additional revenues from this tax the way he wants it to?

Certainly past performance doesn’t predict this. We know how these things work. New spending priorities emerge and come to dominate—think Iraq, Katrina and Rita. Special interests lobby for a share of new revenues, and politicians pander to constituents with local spending projects. Information about how the new revenues are actually being spent is too difficult for the public to get hold of, and this public ignorance allows for even greater mischief from the government, politicians and special interests.

It’s not just a case of the government taking our money promising one thing and spending it on another. Increased federal revenues means increased federal spending which means increased federal power. The Supreme Court long ago decided that the federal government is entitled to use its spending power to coerce states into adopting homogenized national policies that it would otherwise be prohibited from enforcing—the twenty-one year old drinking age is the most famous example. Anyone concerned about the increasing centralization of political power needs to be wary of anything that would give the federal government more money to spend.

It’s also political suicide for anyone who doubts we’d be better off with more people voting for Democratic candidates. By this time we all know what causes some states to vote for Republicans, right? Steve Sailer spelled it out for us half a year ago, and even coined the phrase to describe it—Affordable Family Formation. In states where it is easier to have a larger family—cheaper houses, with more land and good schools—people are more likely to vote Republican. Where these things are less easily available, people tend to vote Democrat.

A gas tax making life in less-densely populated areas—which generally includes a lot of driving—more expensive, would help tip the balance against affordable family formation. And as family formation became less affordable, more people would choose the pleasures of urban life. For not yet very-well explained reasons, people who make this choice tend to vote for Democrats. In short, raising the price of gasoline would likely diminish the production of Republican voters.

This probably seems like a cynical political analysis. Who am I to say that we should give up the environmental benefits of a gas tax in order to encourage Republican voting? Let me put it differently. Right now, a lot of people are engaged in the pursuit of happiness by having families in a nice house with a yard and a decent school in the neighborhood. The gasoline tax would impose a fine against that pursuit, punishing and discouraging people who want families, houses and yards. It would be a government policy against the way of life of many Americans, social engineering against family formation.

I know there are people out there who don’t believe that people respond to incentives like this. But if you think that folks getting married, moving out to the suburbs, having large families and voting Republican won’t be deterred by higher gas prices, however, you need to explain how you think increasing gas prices will protect the environment by discouraging people from driving. Either it changes behavior on the margins or it doesn’t.

A better argument is that maybe I’m over-estimating the effects of a fifty-cent per gallon tax. It might have some tiny increase in the cost of family formation but a much larger benefit for the environment, I suppose. Maybe. I guess. Sailer only invented the affordable family formation metric six-months ago, so I doubt anyone has done the research to figure it out. When they have, maybe it will be time to consider the proposal I heard was in the Times today. But not until then.