Thursday, April 27, 2006

2nd Amendment Debate TODAY

Don't forget to join us tonight at 5:30 in room 138 for a debate on how much regulation is Constitutionally permissible.

Free drinks will be provided! It's right after the TGIT - plenty of reason to stick around.

Arguing that gun regulation and licensing should be treated much like we do with cars is our own Constitutional Law Professor Stewart Jay. And we are proud to welcome Mr. Don Kates, a pro-2nd Amendment criminologist, retired Constitutional and Criminal Law professor, civil right's lawyer, and proud member of the ACLU. It should be a very interesting and unique 2nd Amendment discussion, with a lot of nuance that is usually missing from this important issue.

But They Support the Troops...

Just ask the ROTC guys at UNC-Chapel Hill who had their building vandalized. Do these idiots not understand that no one is making them "Fight Your Wars"? They ought to just be grateful those fine volunteers are, in fact, volunteering so there isn't a draft.

As a former ROTC Midshipmen, I hope they find these guys and choke them. In the Vietnam era, there were a lot of arson attempts on ROTC buildings. Someone will get hurt if this isn't stopped.

But they're all about peace and free speech. And oh, yeah - they support the troops, just not Bush and the war.

H/T Michelle Malkin.

Men's Law Caucus - How DARE They!?!?!

Earlier this year, a small group of friends jokingly created the "UW Men's Law Caucus" over lunch. The joke spread, and the idea caught on. The chief instigator had T-shirts made, and sold quite a few of them to men (and women) throughout the law school. Part of the proceeds went to a testicular cancer research charity, and yet more of the profits went to send care packages to soldiers in Iraq, as one of the MLC Founders has a brother there now. I proudly own one of the shirts myself.

But there have been rumblings about this insidious organizations. Is it dedicated to the chauvinist belief that women should stay barefoot and pregnant in the home, and have no business in the courtroom? Is it a sexist group? Have men in today's society NOT yet learned that they have no rights to assemble? Have they not heard women have a right not to be offended?

Even worse - is there an unsaid implication that it's the WHITE Men's Law Caucus? Are they all racists, too?!?

This culminated in a complaint to the Student Bar Association. From the agenda for today's meeting:

Some women at UWLS were offended by the idea of a Law Men's Caucus, and reported their concerns to an SBA board member. Should the students themselves fail to raise their concerns direct at the SBA meeting, the SBA board member will do so on their behalf.

So - the implication is that someone is asking us to disband our loose little group, and to ban a form of expression at the school by not allowing the T-shirts as a form of hate speech against women. They'll probably demand an apology, too. They won't get it from me. If it comes to that, I'll wear my shirt every stinkin' day.

There is, of course, a UW Law Women's Caucus, and good for them. My wife is an attorney, and I understand that there are unique issues that women face in this profession. I don't think the LWC is involved - in fact, I just talked to a fellow student who's on the LWC board, and she thought the MLC shirts were "hilarious."

So what's the problem? Is being 60% of the student body not enough for today's women? Are a bunch of guys getting together and grunting and scratching and talking about issues that concern them such a terrible thing? Are there no unique issues that impact men? How many more women do we need as Deans before we're not discriminating against women any more? Is Dean Knight a raging sexist? Is the Seattle legal community REALLY a bastion of "old boys" who don't want to hire women? Seriously?

When I see a Che Guevara T-shirt, I'm offended. I hate seeing the thoughtlessly anti-conservative, "Republicans are baby killers and war mongers" fliers, shirts, and posters littering the campus. Snarky anti-Bush and anti-conservative comments by professors, ubiquitous in this most liberal of law schools in this most liberal of cities, is an irritation you just learn to live with. But as obnoxious as all those things can be, it would never occur to me to complain to the Student Bar Association about it, or demand they be censored or forced to apologize. I guess free speech at this school only extends to transients looking at porn in our law library.

The T-shirts were, in part, a tongue-in-cheek ribbing of some students who are perceived as taking themselves a little too seriously. This outrage seems to prove that perception was correct.

UPDATE: The SBA complaint went no where, but the MLC spokesman got in a T-shirt plug in. A victory for sanity. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Are High Gas Prices Really Such a Bad Thing?

Don't get me wrong. I don't like paying $3.50 per gallon for gas (although it's still cheaper than a latte in a lot of places). I am a poor starving student, after all. And my family's planned road trip from Seattle to Minneapolis to Iowa to South Dakota and back again is going to be a lot pricier than we planned, although at least we'll be driving through the cheapest gas regions in the country.

But was this really unexpected? There are 2 billion people in China and India awakening to the glories of the middle class and industrialized society, after all. The environmentalists don't want to drill for more oil, and the places around the world that are drilling are not exactly stable.

The bottom line is that massive oil consumption is bad. It's bad for the local environment, and it's bad for national security. Well, maybe "bad" is overstating it, but at the very least it's not ideal, especially in today's world geo-political situation. And no matter how many scare mongering junk science movies Al Gore puts out, as long as oil is cheap and plentiful, people aren't going to change their driving habits.

But consumers are now starting to change their habits. Hybrid cars aren't just for smug emitting elites any more. Use of public transportation is on the rise. And it won't be long before companies even more aggressively start to mass market better technologies. There needs to be some impetus for change, and economic, free market options are the best kind.

That's why yet another government probe or investigation is not the answer. If anything, it makes the problem worse. It's ironic that Democrats who are now making political hay over the gas prices are the same people who have been demanding higher gas taxes for environmental reasons for years. If politicians want to make the leap to alternative technologies for either environmental or national security reasons, as they all seem to be doing, why would they want to disincentivize the market from making the change? I think it's equally dumb to interfere with the market with, say, a $0.50 per gallon gas tax, as John Kerry once supported, as it is to attempt to control the prices back down by attacking the suppliers themselves, as Hillary Clinton is now advocating. Leave it alone. Unless there's collusion (and how may investigations do we need to have to re-prove there isn't), let the prices match what the market will bear.

In fact, if the party of the little guy wants to give the little guy a break at the pump, how 'bout let's cut some of those gas taxes at the pump.

There is always the fear of inflation, but it's a real tribute to the Bush economy that inflation has stayed so low despite the gas prices. (As opposed to the Carter years when there were gas lines and double digit inflation.) In fact, the economy is still charging ahead with a full head of steam. To me, that signals as much as anything that this is not the crisis that politicians are making it out to be. The biggest negative consequence so far is that prices at the pump mean the party in power isn't getting their due credit for a roaring economy - but then again, consumer confidence is on the rise, too.

So - we have a situation in which the economy is remaining strong, and the market now has the correct incentives to invest in real technological change that will make the greens as happy as those of us who hate having to rely on Middle Eastern or Venezuelan oil. What's the problem?

Of course, no politician can say this who wants to win. "Suck it up" is rarely a winning political message. But maybe I'm wrong, and more hearings ARE the answer - as long as it'll keep the pols busy while the real entrepreneurs and "evil corporations" (as usual) beat the government to the right answers.

Gun Rights Debate This Thursday

Now that you've sent a few rounds down range, join us this Thursday at 5:30 in room 138 for a debate on how much regulation is Constitutionally permissible.

Arguing that gun regulation and licensing should be treated much like we do with cars is our own Constitutional Law Professor Stewart Jay. And we are proud to welcome Mr. Don Kates, a pro-2nd Amendment criminologist, retired Constitutional and Criminal Law professor, civil right's lawyer, and proud member of the ACLU. It should be a very interesting and unique 2nd Amendment discussion, with a lot of nuance that is usually missing from this important issue.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Exercise Your 2nd Amendment Rights

The Military Law Association is sponsoring their annual trip to Wade's shooting range today. It's always a ton of fun. If you're interested, the safety brief/information session is in room 119 at 12:30. MLA members will be supervising the range, and helping those who are unfamiliar with how to shoot a gun.

If guns make you nervous, come learn about what they're really all about, and what they aren't. You may just find yourself walking out of there with an NRA brochure in your pocket...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Good News From Iraq here. Because I know you didn't read it in the New York Times.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Smartest Perspective I've Heard Yet on Immigration

As always, Peggy Noonan is able to articulate so simply and so eloquently what I think is the truest comment yet on the immigration issue. She notes why it's important not just to us, but to them, for us to enforce our border laws, and why the "open borders" people are missing the point.

We are a sovereign nation operating under the rule of law. That, in fact, is why many immigrants come here. They come from places where the law, such as it is, is corrupt, malleable, limiting. Does it make sense to subvert our own laws to facilitate the entrance of those in pursuit of government by law? Whatever our sentiments and sympathies as individuals, America has the right, and the responsibility, to protect the integrity of its borders, to make the laws by which immigrants are granted entrance, and to enforce those laws.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Supporting the Troops but Not the War?

This is the mantra of the anti-war folks - "Support our troops! Bring them home!" To me, this smacks of condescension - who the hell are they to speak for the volunteers in uniform? (Another recycled Vietnam slogan that makes no sense in the post-draft era.)

But here's the trouble. If you think the war is wrong, what to make of the troops who support the war? Do you support them?

I think this question is impossible to honestly answer "yes, we support them too" to. In an all volunteer force, the men and women in uniform are more responsible than ever for their choices and conduct, and that includes whether or not to re-enlist, or even whether it is better to go to jail than lend support to a war one thinks is wrong.

A British soldier did just that - he refused to go because he felt it was illegal and immoral, and he's backing up his principles by sacrificing 9 months of his life in jail. He didn't run away. He stood firm, used the system, and is accepting the consequences. It's not wrong to demand that people pay for their moral choices. I respect very much that he's willing to pay for his (provided his British stiff upper lip stays that way). If this war really WAS illegal and immoral, I don't think I could support those in uniform who happily went.

That's as opposed to this weasel deserter who I'm ashamed to say I went to high school with. Nothing says "I'm a coward" like joining the army for its "Socialist ideals," deserting your unit, running away to Canada, living in luxury with anti-war hippies, making a name for yourself on the protest circuit, and then whining that the world is picking on you.

So can you support soldiers who support and are participating in a war you think is immoral? Or is it all just politics?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Journalist Shield Laws and Community Responsibility

The Minnesota Daily, the independent campus newspaper of my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, recently wrote an editorial griping that the campus police weren't doing more to prevent bike theft or catch bike thieves. The response by the Chief of UMPD is classic:

Lastly, we definitely rely on student collaboration. An example would be last year when a Daily photographer captured a bicycle thief in the act behind Coffman Union, voluntarily offered to turn the photos over to officers only to be overruled by Daily editors under their mistaken impression the event was protected by the "“shield law."” It is disingenuous in the extreme that the Daily editorial staff would pontificate about a lack of UMPD commitment to protecting student property while abdicating your own duty as citizens.

I love it. Full disclosure, though, when I was a student at Minnesota I worked for the UMPD, and often made fun of the Daily for sucking.

This is a great illustration of why such "shield laws" are so dumb. And as I've written before, because the First Amendment makes us all journalists by birthright, it takes a hard core elitist to think that just because you have press pass that you're somehow above the duties and responsibilities that come with being a citizen.

But... The New York Times Told Me Our Soldiers WEREN'T Greeted as Liberators!

Yup. That's right. Another lie about the Iraq war, brought to you by the people claiming Bush lied about the Iraq war. From a National Guardsman:

We were greeted as liberators in many of the places we went. In Kifre, Iraq a man wearing an "“I love the USAƂ" hat yelled "“Mr. I love you" as we drove through town.

Of course, SGT Taubel is just an uneducated fool who had to enlist because he couldn't get a job anywhere else. Pay no attention to the fact he's almost finished with his Chemical Engineering degree.

Read the whole letter. It's inspiring.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Happy Iraq Liberation Day!

Three years ago today the famous statue of Saddam Hussein fell. I lived in Everett, WA at the time, which apparently has the largest Iraqi population in this state. When it happened, I remember people rushed into the streets, spontaneously cheering and celebrating, waving American and Iraqi flags. I felt very proud to be even peripherally involved, and to have supported it. Remember, at the time, the media was already throwing the "Q" word around because a sand storm delayed operations for a few days.

Three years later, the Iraqi people have voted in ever increasing numbers, under threat of death. (Too many of us wouldn't vote if it meant we'd have to fight too much traffic, or if we couldn't have the ballots mailed to our front door.) Political opponents are no longer tossed into wood chippers. The people have regained their sovereignty, and are forming a government. We've learned the Saddam indeed was a threat to us, if not as soon as we thought, then surely in the future. Hundreds of free Iraqi newspaper presses are running all over the country. There is a long, hard road ahead, but there is hope for a better future in Iraq.

And what's more, the soldiers fighting in Iraq are reenlisting and reporting success. And when given the chance to vote for the President people like Cindy Sheehan think they need to be protected against, they rejected the defeatists and voted for him overwhelmingly.

We are all students of the mechanisms and structure of government. It's been fascinating and inspiring to see a people create the foundations of a new and free government in real time, and to see how they solve problems and overcome deadly obstacles. Too often, when an unjust government is overthrown, what takes its place is no better, or indeed worse - as the Cubans know all too well. But the Iraqis have rejected that fate with their continued willingness to vote, and through their continued willingness to put their lives on the line by running for office, publishing newspapers, and enlisting in the national police force. They've embraced due process Saddam denied them, and are conducting a remarkable trial despite the best efforts of the defense "attorneys" for whom winning is more important than maintaining the integrity of a fair trial system.

The critics now predict civil war and failure. But those predictions have far more to do with their hatred of President Bush and their unflinching willingness to ignore any evidence which doesn't conform with a view they cemented 4 years ago than their deductive reasoning skills. They are the same people that solemnly predicted we would fare worse than the Soviets in Afghanistan, that it would take years to take Baghdad, that refugees would cripple the region, that sandstorm = quagmire, that the Iraqis could not successfully vote, that they could not agree on a constitution, and that the Kurds would instantly break away. Every prediction they make has been wrong. Why anyone still listens to them, I'll never know.

This effort can still fail. We have prominent American politicians give seditious and false speeches in enemy territory - giving the enemy hope. We have an enemy determined to scare us away so they can once again oppress their enemies and slaughter political enemies without thinking twice. It's no wonder they ensure their bombs go off in front of TV cameras.

But the only way it can fail is if we choose to let them fail by abandoning the effort. It is completely up to us. Only the leftist defeatists who care more about saying "I told you so" than making the world a safer place would honestly suggest we leave now, leaving millions of Iraqis to their doom. (I suppose I understand it - when you sneer at the military so reflexively and surround yourself with people who love to denigrate America, you can't understand the profound power of American strength and optimism.)

So congratulations, Iraq. And thank you for fighting for freedom. I'm proud to stand with you, and promise that I will do my part by continuing to vote for American politicians who understand that peace in not just the absence of war, but the presence of freedom and justice - things which require brave men and women to fight for. I won't forget you voted in the face of those who would kill you for your purple finger, and because you reject returning to the bad old days of tyranny.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Well, Representative McKinney issued what she's calling an "apology" today. It's not. And it's a good example of what politicians (and others) do when they screwed up, are too proud to admit it, but need to be politically expedient. You can tell a lot about someone's character by the way they apologize for something. Here's McKinney's:

"I come before this body to personally express, again, my sincere regret about the encounter with the Capitol Hill Police. I appreciate my colleagues who are standing with me, who love this institution and who love this country. There should not have been any physical contact in this incident. I have always supported law enforcement, and will be voting for H. Res. 756 expressing my gratitude and appreciation to the professionalism and dedication of the men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police. I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation. And I apologize."

So she once again expresses "regret." She did that before, in between her many dealt hands of race cards. OK. But my favorite is this phrase: "There should not have been any physical contact in this incident." I love it. It's not, "I shouldn't have hit the cop who was just doing his job." It was "I shouldn't have hit him, but he's equally if not more culpable because he ALSO made physical contact." Blaming the victim, even in part, is NOT an apology.

Then she refers to it as a "misunderstanding". It's not a misunderstanding. The cop understood that someone he didn't recognize and didn't have the right ID was rushing his checkpoint, and didn't stop when asked. He did his job, and she hit him. And then she called him a racist. And SHE was the only one who "escalated" anything. But again she used the passive voice, attempting to paint it as an unfortunate event over which she had no control. "There happened to be an escalation. To the extent that I don't like seeing that kind of thing, I'm sorry it happened." And the statement that she "has always supported law enforcement" is simply untrue. When you call the whole system of law enforcement racist, misogynistic practicers of racial profiling, that's not a show of support. (It makes me wonder if she also "supports our troops." If this is how she defines "support," it suddenly all makes sense.)

When politicians apologize, especially when they say stupid, racist, or offensive things, they always say, "I apologize if anyone was offended." Again, the underlying statement is, "I didn't do anything wrong. If you happen to be offended, I'm sorry that such a circumstance, which I am not responsible for, just happened to occur." They also really like to quickly add a "but." There's no such thing as a sincere apology with a "but" tacked on to it. "I'm sorry I wasn't completely forthright about an 'inappropriate relationship,' but none of this would have happened if it wasn't for Ken Starr. It's all his fault! And now that I've said I'm sorry, I can no longer be judged for this." What rubbish. Anyone who thinks this is sincere, well, I have some ocean view property in Arizona I'd like to sell you.

I hope the indictment goes forward, and I honestly hope she spends some time in jail.

The only believable apology would be this:

"I apologize for hitting the officer. He was doing exactly the right thing, and good for him for stopping me. I was wrong to ignore him, and wrong to hit him. But I am most ashamed of my actions afterwards. I acted like a coward, and made accusations of racism that are unfounded and unfair. I did this to protect myself politically. I am ashamed of myself. I've personally apologized to the officer. Also, I apologize for hiring a bodyguard, which was another political stunt, and even more for hiring one who would threaten a member of the news media. I am no longer worthy to hold this seat or to represent honorable people, and so today I am resigning from my seat. My presence harms America's perceptions of black leadership in this country, and so I can only hope my actions will in some way remedy this view. Thank you."

I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

No More Hammer

Tom DeLay is now gone, and I can't say that I miss him.

RedState has a blog on the subject today that I think sums him up fairly, and more eloquently explains the mixed feelings I have about the former Majority Leader. I think the most relevant part to me was this:

Tom DeLay made his bones as a warrior for the party. He was, in many areas, a dedicated conservative. But he was above all else a party man - familiar as he was with the political dirty tricks during Democrat domination of the Congress, DeLay was determined not to give an inch once Republicans took power. He fought the Democrats with every tool at his disposal, with parliamentary maneuvering, with political brinksmanship, and with redistricting, just as the other side had done for decades.

The emphasis is mine, and explains why his departure is good for conservatives, as opposed to Republicans (although it's also going to help the Republicans in '06). I don't trust people who put party above principle. It's like feminists suddenly deciding in 1998 that sexual harassment or a powerful boss taking advantage of a young girl was no big deal. It destroys their credibility as people who want to be seen as the best thing for their country, because you just get the feeling that given the choice between winning elections for their "team" and the success of the nation, they would always pick their party winning. That bothers me, even if, by and large, I would usually rather see Republicans in power.

I think a large part of the GOP's ridiculous spending habits can be attributed to this phenomenon. Get stuff. Bring home the bacon for constituents. Support the President at all costs, even if he's wrong. It's the letter of the law that matters.

I don't think Tom Delay was ever "corrupt" in the illegal sense. His "legal troubles" were so transparently politically motivated as to be humorous. (They probably helped him because of that.) And I am grateful that he was instrumental in wresting control of Congress away from the Democrats. But he unquestionably played down in the mud and in the back, smoky rooms. I think the Conservative Movement was better off for his presence, and is now once again better off for his resignation.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Matter of Character

I'm glad that the Capitol Police are seeking an indictment of Representative McKinney for her assault on one of their officers the other day.

How selfish! How cowardly! I don't care how much racial profiling she thinks exists in this country - she messed up, and messed up big time. It would only have taken her a few seconds to show her identification. But instead, HER time was so valuable that she was entitled to run a security checkpoint. She not wearing proper identification. She ignored the repeated warnings to stop. She could have prevented the confrontation at any time. And then she was so incensed that the cop had the temerity to do his job properly, that she punched him in the chest, slapped his face, or hit him with a cell phone, depending on the version you read.

The fact that she would even consider doing such a thing speaks enough of her arrogance. But the fact that she now blames the cop, society, racism, President Bush, the boogey man - EVERYONE but herself (she's expressed "regret" but has refused to apologize) says all that needs to be said about her character. Apparently, because there are race issues in our society, she's entitled to physically abuse a person who risks his life to keep her safe. I guess it also means she has no responsibility for her actions, and that any bad thing she does is society's fault. What are we supposed to take away from this example of leadership? What are young black children in her district supposed to learn from her behavior?

The irony is that the officer represents the "little guy" here. He's just a regular guy, doing his job, and making a living. He's charged with an awesome task - allowing the public access to see their government in action while somehow trying to identify and exclude people who might want to harm that government. For her not to recognize the position he was in, and the impossible choice she forced on him - she represents everything you DON'T want in a leader.

She should have thanked him for his vigilance, not called him a racist. I'm glad the Capitol Police are refusing to bow to her official pressure and are pressing charges against her. The men and women who labor in that environment must have the reassurance that when they make a split-second, reasonable call with the safety (not convenience) of hundreds of people in mind, that they will not be left hanging in the wind. Otherwise, the seat of our government will be far less safe, something bad will happen, and then the public will have less access to their representatives.

I don't know what's worse - her refusal to accept ANY responsibility, or the people who support her as she wallows in her disgusting display of selfishness, arrogance, lack of grace and class, and her gross abuse of her position of power.