Historical Privacy Laws, North and South


I wrote a law review article on the history of privacy law in the Journal of Southern Legal History. There’s no online version, unfortunately, but if you have access to Westlaw or a law library and want to check it out, it’s Honor and Dignity: The Common Law of Privacy, North and South, 1890 – 1967, 23 J. So. L. Hist. 93 (2015).

Never Trump


I’ve talked about it a lot on Twitter, but I haven’t written here yet about why I’ll never vote for Donald Trump for President.

The first thing to turn me off about Trump is that, with the exception of his nativism, all of his policy positions until very recently have been those of a liberal crony capitalist Democrat. He has been anti-gun, pro-abortion, and favored higher taxes, higher spending, and a government-run healthcare system. Basically, Hillary Clinton, but less friendly to Mexicans. Since becoming a Republican, he claims to have seen the light on many of these ideas, but not all of them. And the conversion is too convenient to be believed.

That alone put him a the bottom of my list of preferred Republican candidates, even when there were still seventeen of them. But policy alone would not have caused me to vote against him in the general election if he would gain the GOP nomination. Whatever his true feelings, Trump at least pretends to be conservative, and might even follow through. It’s half a loaf, but better than none at all.

What changed my mind, though, is the sort of supporter Trump attracts, the way he encourages them, and the disgrace he would make of the Republican Party. Not every Trump supporter is a racist, anti-Semite, or nativist. But all of the racists, anti-Semites, and nativists active in politics seem to gravitate to Trump’s camp. And Trump never discourages that sort of support; at times, he seems to revel in it. It is unsettling, and not what Republicanism should stand for.

Last month, Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News asked long-time Republicans for their stories of why they’ll never vote Trump. My tale didn’t make the cut, but here, in part, is what I wrote to her:

Every time some lefty called me a racist, a fascist, or a hater of the poor, I’ve shrugged it off, because I know it’s not true of me, and I believe it’s not true of the candidates I supported. I believe that a small government devoted to color-blind, free-market principles is the best way to help people rise, and so I could honestly tell people that the GOP offered the best path for economic prosperity and racial harmony.
If we nominate Donald Trump, we become everything they said we were. And so, if he is nominated, for the first time, I will vote for a third party candidate for president. It’s not in my nature to boycott the polls altogether, but neither will I close my eyes and pull the GOP lever. The party has meant a lot to me, but it is a means, not an end. If fulfilling conservative principles means destroying the party that once stood for them, so be it. It is better than the alternative of accepting Trump, and seeing the party poisoned to death from within.
That’s the long and short of it. If I vote for Trump, I’m agreeing that the Republican Party is that evil caricature that lefties have always claimed it is. I think we’re better than that–indeed, I think we’ll stop Trump from getting the nomination. But if he does get the nomination, and if he does become President, he’ll be doing so without my vote.

Chess Pie


OK, time for another non-political post.20160228_174921

As I mentioned in this post a couple weeks ago, I’ve been fascinated by this article, 8 Forgotten Pie Recipes We Should Bring Back, that I read in Mental Floss. Last week, I baked the second of them, a Chess Pie.

The article describes it as a “desperation pie” because it requires only a few cheap ingredients that are found in most households on a daily basis. This is true. The filling is mostly sugar, milk, butter, and eggs, and everything else I needed was already in my kitchen.

I followed the recipe linked in the article, which was from Southern Living. That magazine has never steered me wrong when it comes to food, and this was no exception. The pie was easy to prepare and the result was sweet and delicious. The butter flavor was very rich, and I ended up only eating a small slice at a time.

The chess pie is far from fancy, and maybe that’s why it’s been forgotten outside the South, but if you’re looking for a cheap and easy dessert, I’d recommend it.

Gifted Hands


Ben Carson finally dropped out of the presidential race yesterday. I was beginning to think it would never happen.

Or, at least, he’s kind of dropping out. He’s not going to tonight’s debate, and he sees no way he can win the nomination, but he’s not formally suspending his campaign. Honestly, as confusing as his campaign has been, it makes sense that even its ending is a muddle.

My impression of Carson changed a lot over the past year. I didn’t know much about him when he announced his run, but what I knew of his medical career was impressive. He seemed intelligent, sober-minded, and more deliberate than most politicians. I liked that, even if I wasn’t wild about his candidacy.

He briefly rose to lead some polls, and I thought he would attract the votes of some serious Protestants (as opposed to the alleged evangelicals who support Trump.) But it became clear that, whether he knew it or nor, Carson’s campaign was being run as a perpetual money machine, with most of the funds raised being directed back into fundraising. Very little was spent on actually trying to get people to vote for Ben Carson.

The biggest question is ho much Carson knew of all this. Was the whole thing a cynical scam? I doubt it. I think Carson is personally honorable. But the degree to which he was taken in by advisers and scamsters is a great demonstration of why political outsiders are not necessarily the answer to the Washington establishment’s corruption. Someone without knowledge of how the game is played is more likely to be a mark than a winner.

Despite it all, Carson still managed to outpoll John Kasich in several Super Tuesday states. There’s a voter base for him, but whether because of Trump stealing all the oxygen in the room, or because of the Carson campaign’s own ineptitude, it wasn’t enough of a base for him to go anywhere.

It surprises me that folks stuck with him for so long, especially after he seemed to get tired of actually campaigning. People are asking where his supporters will go now. The answer to that has to start with figuring out what made them hang around so long in the first place.