Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Look, New Writers

We've expanded the blogging contributors to the general membership of our chapter (as opposed to just the executive board). I'm very excited to hear from the new voices out there, and to get more readership and conversation.

I've also put a subscribe button on the right sidebar to our Yahoo Newsgroup - if you're not already on the list, please sign up. It's the best way to communicate with the membership about upcoming events, social activities, etc.

Also, I've put a hit counter at the bottom of the side bar. Don't forget to advertise the blog when you can, and to encourage people who disagree (or agree) to join the discussion. Good ideas are made great through the forge of debate.

If you're a member and haven't received an invitation to the blog, please contact Ranjit or me.

Olympia Protesters Earn Richly Deserved Pepper-Spraying

Hundreds of protesters in Olympia demanded to be taken seriously this week by breaking in to the port of Olympia, disrupting traffic, destroying gates and fences (public property), tresspassing, and assaulting 60 - 70 police officers by throwing bottles and rocks at them. 22 were arrested, and many were pepper-sprayed for their efforts. Having been pepper-sprayed myself, I can attest to its painful effects, and I can think of no group of people who deserve this treatment so richly.

For what noble cause were these people acting so violently? Peace, of course. You see, the port was being used to onload equipment to ship to the deploying Ft. Lewis Stryker Brigade. They had to stop the baby-killers from murdering the Iraqi Minute Men, after all.

It's interesting that two of the criticisms on the left against President Bush's handling of the war on terror has been that he (a) hasn't gotten troops necessary equipment, and (b) that port security is inadequate. And yet these protesters are (a) trying to disrupt supply flow to the troops of their necessary equipment, and (b) are making the port less secure and criticizing the police who are trying to keep it safe. Oh, well - no one has ever accused violent protesters of being smart, consistent, or logical. I can't wait for the loud denunciations from the pro-troop Democrats about this. (Cue the crickets chirping.)

And really - is there any possible way to have a less effective protest? Really? I mean, do they seriously think the longshoremen are going to look at them acting like imbeciles, get out of their cranes, and say, "Gosh, those guys are right." Do they think the master of the ship is going to look at them and say, "Man - why didn't I think about this before? I'm helping the imperial fascist Bush sell blood for oil. That's it - shut down the engines. We're not going anywhere."

One of good folks who felt the cyan pepper burn was Olympia City Councilman T.J. Johnson (no relation, thank God). Mr. Johnson was the troop-supporter who drafted a resolution in 2004 to block the USS Olympia, a fast attack submarine named for our capital city, from docking in the Port of Olympia for a port visit. The resolution was successful, not through any force of law, but because the Captain of the boat canceled his request for the visit. Nice. But don't you dare question his patriotism...

The protesters, including Councilman Johnson, say they're just trying to stop the war as soon as possible. Well, then, how about let's all push for victory together? What these red-faced fools don't understand is that every one of these demonstrations gives hope to the enemy that our government will capitulate and leave, and allow the rape-room aficionados back into power. The fascists we fight have continually told their people, devastated by our military might, that if they just hold on a little bit longer, the protesters will win, the weak Americans will get bored, and they can go back to oppressing women and reversing the tide of freedom in the Middle East. So the reality is that their protest activities will actually prolong the war and cause more deaths.

But dissent is the highest form of patriotism. And they're committed to peace and freedom. Got it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nevermind about the Holocaust...

Turns out Iran isn't making Jews wear little yellow pieces of cloth after all... at least according to Maurice Motamed, the only Jewish member of Iran's parliament. And he'd know. Looks like the affair was largely fabricated.

Of course, Iran still seems to be working on creating nuclear weapons and wants to destroy Israel. So we've got plenty to complain about, just not the new holocaust thing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thank-you Seattle

Seattle is selling off all of the land taken through eminent domain seizures for the monorail so that they can stop taxing us for a project that will never happen. Of the 33 lots being sold back 4 original owners attempted to buy back their lots. Only 3 were successful and at a significant premium on what the state paid them a short time ago. It is a sad state of affairs when the state can condemn land, then sell it at a profit and never accomplish a legitimate purpose with the land in the interim.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Holocaust Rising

Iran is about to pass a law that requires Jews to wear yellow strips of cloth. Other minority religions, like Christians, have their own designated colors. Think about that for a minute, and what it means. It chilled me right down to my bones. And then this reaction frightened me even more:

Bernie Farber, the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was "stunned" by the measure. "We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again," he said. "It's state-sponsored religious discrimination."

Stunned? STUNNED?!?!? Why the hell are you stunned, Mr. Farber? Why is anyone surprised in the least? Iran has been promising to exterminate Jews and other assundry infidels for years now. When will we learn to take these people at their word?

This isn't a government that can be persuaded by diplomacy, or stopped with sanctions Russia and China aren't willing to participate in (or will surely subvert to meet their energy needs, just as they along with France did all through the 90s with Iraq).

I don't know what the answers are for Iran. But I do know that the longer we wait, the fewer options we will have. There is simply no serious person who can honestly believe they are not developing nuclear weapons. They are more than willing to sponsor terrorism and kill as many innocents as they possibly can. They are desperately trying to subvert the infant Iraqi democracy, and if we leave, they will succeed. When Ahmadinajad promises to wipe Israel off the map, he's serious.

And I know that the longer we hide our heads in the sand, rely on the UN for anything, and pretend that they're a rational government that values peace and international comity, the harder it will be to stop them, and the more people will die before it ends.

After the Holocaust, we said "Never Again." I used to think we meant it.


UPDATE: There are some who are expressing skepticism over whether or not this story is true, because it hasn't been independently confirmed yet. But we DO know that the Iranians passed a very strict "Muslim uniform" law, which will identify the non-Muslims just as easily. And the story isn't being denied by Iran, either. The fact still remains that anyone who thinks it's somehow unrealistic to think the Iranians would do such a thing simply hasn't been paying attention.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Congratulations to Next Year's Executive Board!

Congratulations to next year's executive board:

President: Ranjit Narayanan
Vice President: Alex Chan
Secretary: Arleta Young
Treasurer: Martin Bingisser

It's going to be a great year for the University of Washington Federalist Society! If you want to participate, contact Ranjit - the more people we have involved, the more things we can do.

Also, as the outgoing President, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who's made this such a successful year, and who have put so much effort into our events. This year's E-board has been fantastic, and it's been a real pleasure to work with all of you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Legal Debate on Terrorism Surveillance

The National Federalist Society has just put out a monograph on domestic surveillance and counter-terrorism, with both the ABA's take on what it (shockingly) considers the illegalities of these programs, and an alternate point of view. I've only had the chance to skim it, but it's very interesting stuff. Most of the other things I've seen so far, like Ranjit's nod to Orin Kerr, has focused on statutory concerns, but this looks like it addresses broader inherent power concerns.

Elections Tomorrow

Please don't forget the end of the year meeting tomorrow at 12:30 in room 118. Lunch will be served. Ranjit has thrown his hat into the ring for president, but while I've gotten general interst for other E-board positions, people have not been specific. Please let me know what you would like to do (positions can be adjusted later) if you would like to participate. You, of course, need not have been on the E-board this year to run for a position for next year.
This will be a short meeting, but it's a very necessary one. See you there!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Today's Media in WWII

I recently started reading Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers, which follows the progress of American GIs in WWII from the end of D-Day through to V-E Day. I'm constantly struck by how differently it would have been seen in today's media, and how much more successful our Herculean efforts in the Middle East would be if we had that kind of commitment and sense of perspective today. One example - they had NO problems blowing up churches, some of which must have been centuries old, if the Germans were using them as spotting towers or hiding weapons there. Contrast that with mosques, which a regularly used to hide terrorists and their munitions, but which we leave alone.

The biggest failure of the Iraq war is the lack of perspective with which we view it. I've read other pieces that remind us of how historically successful we have been and continue to be, and that remind us that lasting victory over determined fascists isn't easy, but this is one of the best I've seen in awhile.

Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA call records program

Orin Kerr has a couple of great posts (here and here) on the legality of the NSA's call record program.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Is the ABA Partisan? Nah...

Apparently, working for the Bush Administration is all it takes for the ABA to lower a judge's qualification from "well qualified" to "qualified". Nice.

Whatever it may once have been, the ABA is a political organization, and a very liberal one. They have no business being the sole organization evaluating judges for future nominations any more.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Higher Taxes on Gases?

Orrin had an interesting post a few weeks ago on the benefit of higher gas prices. We had a short discussion in the comments on whether higher gas taxes would be a good idea in terms of creating incentives for development of alternate sources of energy.

Posner weighs in on this very issue on his blog. Interesting read ...

Heroes of Free Speech

Yesterday the far left-leaning Seattle Post-Intelligencer published this column which echoed many liberal bloggers in proclaiming Stephen Colbert "my hero" for speaking "truth to power" to Bush at the Correspondent's Dinner last week. I just can't stand it any more.

Yes. Such undaunted courage! To take cracks at a man knowing there will be absolutely zero consequences, that your life or family is in no way in danger, and that the object of your sarcasm will just sit there and smile and take it, and because he is a man of class and decorum, won't even stand up and walk out in disgust. Think of how many minds he must have changed! Think of how many red state hicks woke up to the TRUE man they voted for, and will now vote for Democrats this November! What juevos! What moxie!

What a joke.

In the worker's paradise of Venezuela, that stunt would have earned Colbert a year or two in the joint (if he was lucky). Go find me a Cuban newspaper with an anti-Fidel editorial staff. A modicum of real courage would be showing the Danish Muhammad Cartoons on the Colbert Report. Or picking civility over liberal cred for ratings. Or doing that bit in Iran. (Warning - that last link is funny as hell, and may cause snickering in class.)

I'll save my free speech "hero" worship for Atwar Bahjat, an al Arabia TV journalist who had been risking her life to bring truth to the thuggery and evil of Michael Moore's "Minute Men" in Iraq, and was murdered in the most brutal possible way by opponents of a free press. She reminded us that this type of murder and censorship used to be public policy in her country, but that now good people are risking their lives by speaking out publicly against them.

That's courage. But then, the P-I has never really been threatened with real threats of censorship, save the threat of bankruptcy because their readership has continued to fall. And I doubt any of their columnists seriously thinks they are writing under threat of torture. The fact that they openly write about how they can't openly express their views is a self defeating statement that points to the total lack of insight, logic, thought, perspective, or any other indicia of reason that pervades their narrow world view.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The House Is Safe for the GOP in 2006

I am boldly making a prediction here, at risk of future ridicule and several dollars (the actual amount will remain secret as my wife occasionally reads this blog) to Publius Rex.

The Republicans will retain the House of Representatives this November.

(Along with this comes the related but less bold prediction that liberal Democrats will react with disbelief, shock, awe, etc., closely followed by conspiracy theories/excuses like the "Diebold Effect", that their candidates weren't liberal enough, or that Chimpy McBushitler prevents the unwashed masses from voting in their economic interests and hearing the truth because of all the right wing corporate media bias. There, I said it.)

Pundits everywhere (even conservative ones) are saying different, of course. Even Ken Mehlmen has raised the panic alarm. But pundits are pundits, and so far every single one of them has relied exclusively on "generic ballot" polls, which say that people are dissatisfied with Republicans and want a change. What they don't do is actually look at the individual races and add up the numbers. They've done it for the Senate, and have rightly concluded the Democrats cannot take it. But 33 races = easier math and more digestible 10 minute TV news segments than 435. And they don't take into account people like me who are "dissatisfied with the Republicans and want a change" but would rather grouse about the status quo than see Nancy Pelosi with any real power.

A few weeks ago, Jay Cost at RealClearPolitics engaged in some actual political science (a rarity I've hardly ever seen, even while I was getting my degree in that discipline), and determined that it was highly unlikely for the House to flip. His main reasons:

  • The incumbency advantage is a powerful one, and less than 5% of House members are not seeking reelection in 2006. Even people who don't like generic Democrats like their Democrat, and vice versa. Look at how long Tom Daschle was able to hold on in conservative South Dakota, and how tenuous his ouster really was.
  • House members have the advantage of controlling their districts to a degree. The Senate is actually more receptive to national moods than the house, because they don't have the advantage of gerrymandering their legislative districts. Thus, House seats tend to be safer for incumbents than Senate seats. And if the Senate isn't at risk...
  • The first two points are backed up by the historical fact that ever since Senators started being popularly elected in 1914, control of the House has never changed parties without a corresponding switch in the Senate.
  • In looking at several different regions of the country and their actual races with the actual candidates, things just don't look that gloomy for Republicans.
His logic is hard to refute. And I think that there's yet another issue he's missing. The issues still favor Republicans, especially if they do ANYTHING but squabble through to November. Consider:

  • Immigration: It's not right wingers who were out in the streets last week demanding amnesty of illegals. And if Republicans wake up and finally exert some leadership on this issue, this issue alone will secure their victory. It's the Democrat's only chance, but I just don't see their current leadership taking advantage of it in the right direction.
  • Iraq and the GWOT: Democrats have dreams and platitudes, but no plans. They speak of "re-engaging our international allies" (unless it's "outsourcing diplomacy" with Iran), "catching bin Laden", and somehow forcing North Korea to give up its nukes (like Bill Clinton did, I guess), but have yet to explain how. Whatever dissatisfactions people have with the status quo, people are concerned about national security and don't want to replace something with nothing.
  • The economy: The economy is blazing away, and unemployment is still incredibly low. Personal income and consumer spending is up, despite gas prices. People are doing well economically, and people vote their pocketbooks.
  • Gas prices: The party blocking drilling in ANWR, championing high gas taxes, and containing rabid environmentalists has very little credibility on this issue. And because the economy is otherwise on fire, and real incomes are up, the impact is just not substantial enough.
  • Taxes: Democrats have repeatedly said they want to axe the tax cuts "for the rich". The problem is that a lot of people who don't consider themselves "rich" would see their taxes shoot back up if the tax cuts are not made permanent. It's hard to not call this a tax hike and still keep a straight face, and harder still to justify to people when they're already paying a lot for gas.
  • The "Culture of Corruption": The legal attacks on prominent Republicans have been transparently political (with a few exceptions). But the Abramoff scandal was an equal opportunity, bi-partisan affair. And the Democrats have had their own high profile power-hubris issues of late that in very large part nullify this clumsily offered non-issue.
  • Spending: The Republicans have been atrocious on this issue, but does anyone really believe the Democrats will spend less? Each Republican running for Congress will pledge to cut spending, and/or will highlight his/her own record on "limiting Congressional spending." This line of attack favors Republicans attacking Democratic incumbents more than Democrats attacking Republican ones, and let's not forget that Dems have seats to defend, too. Once again, a side by side comparison will not favor Democrats.
If the Democrats had real plans to address these issues, they could re-take both houses of Congress. But they don't. (In fact, they're actively trying to prevent progress on any of these issues so the GOP won't get credit - a transparent and short-sighted calculus that will burn them.) "Goals" and "platitudes" don't count - the success of the 1994 Contract with America was its specificity and smaller, realistically achievable legislative agendas. When actual candidates are held up side-by-side, the Democrats will look weaker on each one of these issues that are weighing on voters' minds. And their continued flirtations with the far, far, far lefties like the Daily Kos have been and will continue to be self-sabotaging acts.

And there are issues to motivate the Republican base. Nancy Pelosi is already hinting at what their real focus will be if they regain power - politically motivated attacks on President Bush and Republicans. It's a true testimonial to the stunning political flat-footedness of the Democrats that their leadership says things like this out loud. Americans want serious people addressing their problems, not slap-fighting over their own self-importance, even if they disagree with the proffered solutions. (Look how Clinton's impeachment helped him and hurt Congress in the polls.) And right now, the Democratic leadership simply aren't serious people.

The Republicans will lose some seats, there is no question. People are frustrated with their lackluster leadership, and rightfully so. And Republicans can lose if they try, and don't take Mr. Mehlman's warnings seriously. But absent some huge, unexpected happening, the stars are simply not aligned for them to lose enough seats to actually lose control. And dissatisfaction with the current Republicans does not, fortunately, signal a yearning by Americans for a leftward shift.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

John McCain takes on Free Speech

I love John McCain. I've talked to people across the political spectrum who said they would vote for the guy if he ran for President. I probably would too, because I feel like he believes what he's saying, and he seems like a reasonable guy. But there is one issue on which I completely disagree with him. John McCain happens to be the McCain of the McCain-Feingold Act which severely limits the amount of money an individual or corporate entity can give to a political candidate or party, as well as regulating campaign finance and political advertising in new and interesting ways. This raises all sorts of free speech concerns, since supporting candidates with which one agrees is an essential form of political expression. How can John McCain justify significantly infringing on my first amendment rights just to "get the money out of politics"?

Turns out John McCain has slightly different priorities than the U.S. Constitution. In a radio interview with Don Imus McCain stated his preference in unambiguous terms:

“He [talk show host Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform….I know that money corrupts….I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.”

So McCain sees clean government as more important than respecting first amendment rights. I guess I don't really want to argue with him about it. My question is this: If he runs for President and I vote for him, is he (as President) going to make any progress on further stripping my right to free speech? Or is he going to busy with other stuff? As I say, this issue is my only real beef and if I thought he was going to spend his time fixing social security, balancing the budget or engaging in astute foreign policy I probably wouldn't worry about it.

New blog over at Cato

Mandatory reading for Libertarians! The Cato Institute has a new blog.

The True Impact of Yesterday's March

After thousands of people who went to great effort to escape their socialist and lawless crappy homelands and sneak into this one protested that our country isn't socialist and doesn't ignore laws on the International Day of Communism, the real impact is summed up in a single image.


The impact would have been a net positive if the illegals actually dropped out of our country for a while day.

Let the backlash begin. Build a wall, and punish the companies who exploit poor workers who can't seek legal protection. Tyson Foods didn't close their plants because they actually give a damn about "illegal immigrant rights" - they did it because they desperately want to keep their cheap labor.

(And by the way, where are all the "labor and justice" liberals who are all fired up about the plight of the worker?)

This is the most capitalist, and as a result, the most successful, country in the world. We have a culture and tradition I am very, very proud of. I'm proud that millions of people desperately want to be part of it, and I welcome them (to come legally). It's a better, more successful culture and tradition than Mexico's (or any of the other places illegals come from) which is why they come here in the first place. If they're truly here to become Americans, let's at the very, very least honor that by ensuring it's still America that they're coming to.