Thursday, August 31, 2006

Getting rid of street drunks

Seattle Times: State liquor board OKs expanding alcohol-impact zones in Seattle

The democrats in Seattle are at it again. First they ban smoking in bars and now they ban the sale of certain types of alcohol in various neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Malt liquors and fortified wines can no longer be sold in Capital Hill, the University District, Downtown, and several other neighborhoods. The most cited reason for the ban is that homeless individuals will drink these cheap liquors and urinate on the sidewalks. Many of these individuals suffer from alcoholism. Banning the sale of drinks in certain areas will not magically cure their alcoholism. One of three things will result:

A) They will be forced to spend even more of their limited money on alcohol in order to purchase such high-priced items as PBR. As a result their welfare will be worse and the public urination will continue; or

B) By some fate of God their stop being alcoholics and start drinking water instead. Low and behold, they still have to urinate. Without a home, they still piss on the street corner; or

C) They will buy their alcohol at a store outside of the restricted zones. If this happens, the amount of street drunks will not be decreased; they will only be urinating in different neighborhoods or bring their alcohol back to the same neighborhood.

The most likely result is (c). In fact, a study of a similar ban put into effect in Pioneer Square showed little improvement on the situation. Rather than cure any problems, it just hides the problem of homelessness and alcoholism in new neighborhoods. While liberals and democrats debate often about the best policy to reduce homelessness, I think both can agree that hiding the problem is not the right answer.

On a side note: A good argument about hippies for Orrin

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The poorest Americans vs. the poorest Scandinavians

So the conventional wisdom says that while the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, at least in comparison to the rich. I can dig it, though I think that as long as the poor are better off in absolute terms (not relative to the rich), that's probably not as much of a problem as it could be. There are implications for democratic society in income inequality, but I don't think they are as dire for a society such as ours that has a strong middle class, etc.

Still, we could be doing better, it is supposed. Specifically, those who favor income equality look at Gini coefficients* and say "why can't we try to be more like Scandinavia? Look how low their Gini coefficients are!" Well, we could try to be more like Scandinavia, but if we're really trying to make our poor substantively better off, it might not be a good idea. This article has some interesting things to say about the actual income of the poor in the US vs. other rich countries: The most interesting being that the percentage of our median income recieved by the poorest 10% of our households (39%) is on par with Finland and Sweden (38%) and significantly higher than the UK and Australia. The only countries that beat us by more than 4% are Canada, Norway and Switzerland, while most of Europe hovers around 2% to 4% higher than us. The icing on the cake is that our per capita GDP is higher than any but Norway, so our poor are actually better off than those percentages indicate. And our GDP growth is unusually high, so we're getting richer faster. The reason our Gini coefficient is so high is that our rich are much richer than the rich in other countries. So our greater income inequality here is based almost entirely on the fact that our richest are so fabulously rich, while our poorest are just about average for the wealthiest part of the world.

Good news, that. We're going to want to continue looking into the possible ramifications of income inequality and what we can do to mitigate those, but at least we're in good company.

*Gini coefficients are a 0 to 1 measure of income inequality with a 0 being a country where everyone has the same income, and a 1 being a country where one person has all the wealth. We've got a .368, Finland has a .247, for example.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More on Being Pro-Pharmacist-Choice

Our very own Professor Jay weighs in today against the freedom of pharmacists to not dispense medications they find morally objectionable.

We've had this one out on this blog before. And I like Professor Jay, who's been good enough to participate in our events in the past. But at the risk of my grade next quarter in Free Expression (kidding), I think a rebuttal is in order.

Professor Jay argues that the administrative board responsible for such things didn't have the authority to issue that kind of regulation because of I-120, an initiative that had little or nothing to do with contraception - it was an abortion bill. Frankly, I think the characterization of I-120 in the article is misleading. The only mention of contraception in I-120 is a policy statement saying people should be allowed to have access to it, which, of course, they still do. Here's the actual initiative as enacted. It's codified in RCW Chapter 9.02.

Interestingly enough, I-120 specifically envisioned the freedom of people to not engage in what they feel as immoral actions:

No person or private medical facility may be required by law or contract in any circumstances to participate in the performance of an abortion if such person or private medical facility objects to so doing. No person may be discriminated against in employment or professional privileges because of the person's participation or refusal to participate in the termination of a pregnancy.
RCW 9.02.150. If "monopoly" is defined as the entire group of private businesses that fall under medical regulations, private medical facilities could be considered at least as much of a "monopoly" as Professor Jay considers pharmacies in his article. But they are still allowed to listen to their conscience and limit their services accordingly under the law, which is as it should be.

His argument is this:

Discrimination occurs when a neutral regulation is adopted with the intent of singling out a specific practice for adverse consequences. The proposed rule, which has grown out of a desire to deny women access to Plan B, clearly discriminates against women under I-120.

This is a completely unfair characterization. There are certainly some people who would like to ban Plan B. But the desire of the Board was to find a balance between allowing businessmen to act according to their principles while allowing those who wish to use Plan B the ability to get it. The desire is to allow pharmacists to operate their business with freedom and conscience. Plan B is still widely available, and there is nothing to suggest that a woman who wants it can't get it within 24 hours. Despite this lack of evidence or support, Professor Jay says:

The Legislature certainly could enact such a misconceived privilege but it will first have to listen to the growing number of women turned away by pharmacists who think they are laws unto themselves.

I would like to hear from one single woman forced to have a baby because she could not get Plan B in time because of this new regulation. Anywhere. Even Professor Jay doesn't go that far - he only says they are being turned away. He doesn't say whether they go to the next pharmacy a block away that still does offer the emergency contraception, an omission that I think matters greatly.

Right now, pro-choice people can get all the Plan B they want in a timely fashion. Pharmacies are on practically every block and in almost every grocery store. There are 816 in the Seattle area alone. Pharmacists who don't think it's morally right can sleep at night without having to choose between their job and their conscience. Ones who don't have a problem with it get more business. Everyone wins.

The only reason to oppose this common sense compromise is to force people to conform with the pro-choice agenda - an irony if there ever was one.

Monday, August 21, 2006

UN: Israel Still Bad Guys For Daring To Defend Themselves

Hezbollah, with the help of Syria and Iran, is using the time granted by the UN's cease fire to smuggle arms into southern Lebanon and re-arm. This is not a surprise, as Hezbollah has promised they would do exactly that. It is also not a surprise to anyone who has observed the level of respect given to such documents by Islamofascists in times past.

Despite the awe that should have been inspired by the 49 French troops that landed yesterday promising to shield them from harm, the Israelis correctly decided to protect themselves, and raided the fascists arms cache.

Now - if two sides sign a peace treaty, and the historical aggressor begins secretly re-arming to once again attack their victim, which side has violated the agreement?

But in the Bizarro World of the UN, it is those defending their homes who are guilty. Kofi Annan predictably berated the Israelis for violating the cease fire, despite the fact that the agreement allows Israel to still defend herself.

Annan will go down in history as the Neville Chamberlain or the Jimmy Carter of our time - a craven appeaser that unleashed untold death, suffering, misery, and evil on the world under the banner of "Peacemaker." Fascists and mass-murdering dictators cannot do their evil work without the cooperation of world "leaders" willing to look the other way - or worse, who will blame the victim. The blood of millions is on his hands. And when the Fascists once again attack Israel (and look for that to come sooner rather than later), the blood of the innocents who will die in that conflict will be upon his head as well.

And the Award For Most Unintentionally Ironic Bumper Sticker Goes To...

...the aged hippy my wife and I saw the other day driving his crappy little hatchback, spewing a dark cloud of sick looking fumes, smoke, and pollution from his tail pipe that any semi would be proud of.

The sticker?

"One Less SUV"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

That Movie Poster Looks Even More Ridiculous...

The humiliation that must have been suffered by the hurricane image spinning in the wrong direction to scare those of us in the Northern Hemisphere into suffering through an Al Gore monologue must have been devastating. And now, there is yet another inconvenient truth for the hysterical environmentalists and liberal scaremongers who hate America and want people to think we're the source of all the world's ills - this year's Atlantic hurricane season is now below normal. (In fact, there's not been a single actual hurricane - just three tropical storms.) But how could this be when we've been told that global warming is about to doom us all? According to the data:

Part of the reason for the slow season is that tropical western Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are running about normal, if not slightly below normal. In contrast, at the same time last year SSTs in the same region were running well above normal.

But this is just an anomaly - a meaningless data spike that doesn't affect the larger trend, isn't it? The long term still spells doom, right? Well, not according to that pesky science (always getting in the way):

The cooler SSTs in the Atlantic are not an isolated anomaly. In a research paper being published next month in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists will show that between 2003 and 2005, globally averaged temperatures in the upper ocean cooled rather dramatically, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years.

Hmmm... An increase in SSTs = Global Warming. So a decrease in SSTs should = Global Cooling. Right? Anyone? Anyone? As I've said before, it's exactly the same logic.

Good thing we have all of the environmentalists' and liberal politicians' hot air to keep us warm during the coming chill.

I'm embarrassed when conservatives embrace junk science like Intelligent Design. Many conservatives are. So why don't liberals, so smug and proud about their devotion to science and reason, stop ignoring significant data that contravenes what they see as a vote getting issue? Ah. That's why.

No political party has a monopoly on subverting science for political gain. But if creationists get their way, the worst thing that happens is that some kids in Pennsylvania have to re-take biology from people who actually know what they're talking about, or just stay ignorant while working in jobs that probably doesn't require an intimate knowledge of how the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs work in DNA. If, on the other hand, the rabid environmentalists get their way, thousands of businesses will fail, the US economy will nose-dive, outdoor recreation will be a thing of the past, energy prices will REALLY rise due to tax increases, inflation will make people yearn for the halcyon days of Carter stagflation, and we will all have to live in crowded, high efficiency apartments unless you become a Democratic candidate for President or a university professor.

I know which group I'll take my chances with.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bush's foreign policy -- a dismal failure

President Bush and his team have consistently, and smugly, indicated that they care nothing for current domestic or international appraisals of the effectiveness of the administration's foreign policy; they will wait, they say with an air of informed tolerance, for the verdict of history. I don't know about the verdict of history, but after five years of watching his deft hand at foreign policy, its impossible to come to any conclusion other than that it's been an abject disaster.

The President has had the right impulses. His decision to attack Iraq was probably the right one. He recognized the danger posed by North Korea and Iran early. He's made articulate and compelling speeches about the role freedom and democracy can play in the middle east.

The problem is that his foreign policy has been, to borrow a Texan phrase, all hat and no cattle. He's made all the right noises, given the grand Churchillian speeches, employed all the gestures appropriate to a no-nonsense, straight-shooting, straight-talking man who gets things done. Unfortunately he really has n't got things done.

His incompetence and laziness have hurt this country, and have hurt the chances of there being a lasting peace in the middle east.

Gerard Baker of the Times of London has an excellent article on Bush's foreign policy failures.

I look forward to a spirited debate with Orrin :-) ...

McGavick Knows How To Handle Dem Stooges

Believe it or not, I'm still undecided on my vote on this Senate race. More on that later. But this video of Mr. McGavick dealing with Democratic kids following him everywhere and trying to needle him into doing something stupid impressed the hell out of me.

It demonstrates clearly who the grownups are. And when it comes to running the country, voters want grownups in charge. Sen. Cantwell would do well to back these guys off a bit.

NYT Iraq Coverage - Dishonest By Omission

The RealClearPolitics blog does a great clarification piece today on the New York Times' doom and gloom front page story on Iraq. Yesterday, the Times led with a story about how that humanitarian organization Hezbollah is rebuilding the shattered lives of the Zionist's victims.

Does anyone still seriously think the NYT does actual journalism any more? It makes this even funnier - and sadly true:

The People's Cube via Michelle Malkin.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Liberal Myopia - Exhibit 5,206

Molly Ivins today managed to write with a (presumably) straight face that all these terror plots are just overhyped nothings upon which Karl Rove and Darth Cheney have built their Prison of Fear. Of course, to do so, she manages to ignore every single serious terror threat that has been thwarted since 9/11, including the very real and very serious failed plot that otherwise would have taken place on this very day. According to her, no serious terror plot has ever been uncovered in this country. ("If, God forbid, a serious terrorist conspiracy is uncovered, there will be a tendency to dismiss it as a backlash to these over-hyped 'plots.'") That, and she had to discount a threat against Canada's Prime Minister because, "Has anyone in all of history ever cared that much about a Canadian prime minister?"

No elitism there.

She posted her column yesterday. I wonder - had our government and the Britons been less vigilant, would she still be laughing in the face of the Islamo-fascist carnage that perhaps at this very moment would be falling out of the skies over the North Atlantic? Would she see the folly of her opinions about the reality of the threat we face?

Of course not. It would all be Bush's fault.

No terror attack? Bush is the evil genius puppet master, personally manipulating all the intel data to scare our votes out of us. Successful terror attack? Bush is incompetent. There's no reasoning with "logic" on this scale. If Bush was the guy Ivins thinks he is, she would be in Gitmo and the planes would have been allowed to be destroyed to "prove" the threat.

Why does anyone think these people should be listened to when it comes to national security? Why would anyone vote for the candidates that are on board with these willfully-nearsighted and un-serious fools?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How the Enemy Uses - And Is - The Media

Our enemies are barbarians and evil, but they are not unsophisticated. They know how to plan their attacks for sympathetic cameras, including many western press outlets. And more, they know those media people are sympathetic to them.

Here's the latest in western media being used for Jihadist propaganda:

Many, including grisly images from the Qana tragedy, clearly are posed for maximum dramatic effect. There is an entire series of photos of children's stuffed toys poised atop mounds of rubble. All are miraculously pristinely clean and apparently untouched by the devastation they purportedly survived. (Reuters might want to check its freelancers' expenses for unexplained Toys R Us purchases.) In some cases, the bloggers seem to have uncovered the same photographer using more than one identity. There's an improbable photo by Hajj of a Koran burning atop the rubble of a building supposedly destroyed by an Israeli aircraft hours before. Nothing else in sight is alight. (With photos, as in life, when something seems too perfect to be true, it's almost always because it is.) In other photos, the same wrecked building is portrayed multiple times with the same older woman -- one supposes she ought to be called a model -- either lamenting its destruction or passing by in different costumes. . . .
Here's more.

Much has already been said about Hajj and his doctored photos, and they have been purged from Reuters' servers. But it's not the obvious photoshopping that worries me. It's not even the brazenness with which they publish the obviously photoshopped pics - although that's troublesome all by itself.

The worst propaganda are the undoctored or even unstaged photos, that convey a completely false sense of the event being covered. It doesn't even take fakery. Clever editing and cropping can do it all. Consider this example from a protest last year, where this fairly innocent picture (above) was all that was shown at this pro-Palestinian, Communist run rally in San Francisco:

Complete details on the SF rally and the San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of it.

I wrote a few days ago about the need to not just read the news, but know how to read the news. Same goes for pictures as well. As long as the MSM in this country is more interested in undermining Bush than in keeping Americans safe from the threats we face, vigilance is the key to protecting ourselves from anti-American propaganda - both foreign and domestic.

Al-Qadea's Integrated War on the West - Iraq Included

The London Times is telling us more about the Iraq/al Qaeda connection. The American (and Western) left may think each nation in the Middle East can be segregated and looked at individually, and that there is no such thing as a global, integrated Islamo-fascist threat. They are dead wrong:

The investigation into the suspected Al-Qaeda leader in Britain and his UK associates was considered by Eliza Manningham-Buller, MI5'’s director-general, to be the security service'’s single most important line of inquiry.

He is suspected of being behind two "pipelines"” which saw potential terrorist recruits being sent for training at camps in Pakistan and to join the "“holy war" in Iraq.

The Al-Qaeda leader -— who cannot be named for legal reasons - acts as a suspected hub in a network of extremist groups. These include Kashmiri and north African groups based in this country. He is linked to a second suspect also in Britain who has "“played a major role in facilitating support for the Iraq jihad”."

A third associate is an Iraqi who came to Britain in 2004 and worked on providing support for British extremists who wanted to travel to Iraq to fight the "“holy war".

It matters that we're fighting in Iraq. That we're being aggressive. That our enemy must divert significant resources to try to fight there. And that we have boots on the ground, our eyes and ears all over the country, and our own allies in the region.

The enemy understands this is a World War, and is fighting it as such. Adolf Hitler was a white supremacist who allied himself with Asians because it served his needs. Why do people think fascists would suddenly eschew hypocrisy now when it can allow them to kill more people and stay in power? And when so many people so willingly accept their lines?

Iraq is not a "distraction." It is the theater we chose to fight the fascists in, as opposed to our old Carter/Reagan/Bush I/Clinton policy of letting them choose the battlefield. Because we have been there, their ability to strike world-wide has been diminished. (Did anyone really think in 2001 that we would not suffer another major terror attack on US soil in the 5 years since 9/11?) It is always better to choose the time and place of the fight, than to let the enemy do it for you. Just think how much more aggressive the fascists would be against our multitude of soft targets in our free societies if they didn't have to divert any of their resources to fighting democracy in Iraq.

But this is a powerful, determined enemy. They will strike back. They are patient. They are evil. They only have to succeed a fraction of the time - we must always succeed in defending ourselves. That's the price of a defensive war. The enemies are trying to win our hearts and minds by painting themselves as victims, and they know the American left - a group enthralled and enamored of all self-styled victims - is 100% on their side. They want us to feel guilty for having a more successful and prosperous society than they could ever have under their corrupt theocracies, because they know guilt makes us weak, and the left obliges. They want us to leave our chosen theater so they can once again establish it as a base of operations free of molestation from a freely elected Iraqi federal government or US and British forces. And the "out now," appeasement-is-sure-to-work-this-time left wants to give it to them.

I fear we're loosing our will. Our economy is too good, we are too fat and happy. The terror threat - due in large part to Bush's successful policies - seem far away and not impactful on us here at home. I'm not sorry we're successful, but we need to remember that our success comes with the responsibility to protect it. America will destroy this enemy, but how long it takes is up to us. The less aggressive we are, the more we seek "diplomacy" with people who refuse to negotiate in good faith, the more we allow the corrupt and anti-US United Nations to be our brokers, the more we accept the lies told to our faces, the longer it will take. And the longer it takes, the more costly it will be.

Americans can be short sighted people, and politicians are even more so - too often looking only at the next election. I just hope we don't require a nuclear bomb in NYC to make us regain our will, and to remind us of the real threat we face.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Global Warming - Not As Bad As It Was In The 40's

If increasingly powerful hurricanes are proof that global warming is real and that it's a threat, as opposed to cyclical cycles that have only been able to be adequately studied since we've been able to launch satellites, does that mean that this year's less severe season is proof that the planet is getting cooler? (By the way, the Washington Post article linked in the last sentence talking about the 2006 Season revisions didn't mention Global Warming. They merely noted the Atlantic temperatures were cooler than expected. How very, very odd.)

It's the exact same logic. 5 years of increased hurricanes = runaway global warming. Reduced hurricanes SHOULD = global cooling. Except when it hurts funding requests and tenure applications.

China's getting into the act, too:

[Chinese Vice Minister of Water Resources] E [Jingping] said the typhoon season in China normally starts around July 27, but this year the first typhoon hit the southern province of Guangdong on May 18.

"This is the earliest typhoon to hit Guangdong since 1949," he said in a speech.

Emphasis mine. So does that mean that global warming was worse in 1949? And how long have exact stats been kept on typhoons?

If Al Gore wants to convince me to implement socialism and tank our economy to prevent us from becoming nothing more than a few "breeding pairs at the poles" in 100 years (excepting him and his three mansions, of course), his and his ilk's science is going to have to go beyond hysteric and unsubstantiated post hoc ergo propter hoc scare mongering. And. It. Hasn't.

And I thought it was the conservatives who were supposed to be anti-science to serve their political agenda...

So There WAS Ohio Voter Fraud...

The liberals were right. And I guess they would know. Because they were the ones who committed the fraud.

Somehow, though, it'll all be Karl Rove's fault...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Why Is Israel Not Pressing Their Advantage?

The UN, in their latest resolution, has once again condemned Israel to decades more of attacks by an entrenched enemy. Israel, by accepting it, has guaranteed that she will once again be brutally attacked as soon as the Iranian/Syrian forces have a chance to regroup. What are they thinking?

Every time Israel has made a good faith concession in the name of peace, the other side has exploited it and used it against them. Israel originally occupied Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Southern Lebanon precisely because those places were being used as bases of operations to attack Israeli citizens, not because they were being "imperialistic." (Which the moronic "peace" activists who talk about "ending Israeli occupation" willfully neglect to think about.)

I recently read some liberal commentator snidely say that Israel should stop their "aggression," because their violent past hasn't brought them security. But what would have been the result had they not so unflinchingly defended themselves? They wouldn't exist. Each and every Jew in Israel would have become either a refugee or a statistic. The UN would have wrung their hands, but done nothing. The US would have been exhorted to not get involved.

For all their love of death and ruthlessness (perhaps because of it), the Iranian/Syrian units are still far inferior military force that has exposed themselves. Once out in the open, the superior Israeli forces would normally press their advantage, routing and destroying the enemy, not giving them the chance to get re-dug in. There could be no more welcome gift imaginable for an overextended and weakened military force about to be decimated than to be able to have some vast super power call a "time-out" so they can regroup and rearm - which is exactly what the UN does. (Does anyone seriously think Hezbollah and Hamas will use those time-outs for any other purpose? Their lack of good faith has been amply demonstrated.) The ONLY side a cease fire helps is the weaker side. In this case, that's the evil side. Whatever the different intentions of the UNSC member states, their resolution will serve to postpone - at best - the conflict, and give the side sworn to kill every last Jewish man, woman, and child a chance to recover and kill again more quickly. Time favors guerrillas.

Most UN resolutions are merely useless. This one is deadly. The UN resolution is not the path to peace, it is the strategy of the enemy. By seeking a cease fire, we are killing future Israelis and helping our shared Islamo-fascist enemy.

Israel can never "win" in the sense that the only way to make the current Islamo-fascist Bloc happy is to die. (We don't need anymore "understanding" of this enemy - they've been quite clear, in writing, about their intentions.) Thus, Israel and all free nations will always find themselves under attack. They will never have complete security until democracy takes root in the wider Middle East, and Arabs taste freedom and find it sweeter than their hatred of Jews.

But they can achieve secure borders. They can carry a stick big enough to give her enemies pause. They can kill thousands of evil men. They can make it known that an attack on Israel will be a painful affair to the attacker. They can keep their country alive and prosperous and abloom, even while the barbarians are at the gates. They can ignore UN resolutions that allow their enemy to rest and re-prepare for attacks on their civilians.

And they should.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Reading Between the Lines

"Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.'"

- Autobiography of Mark Twain

I first learned this lesson my sophomore year of high school in beginning Debate, when the topic was Homelessness. Every advocacy group and most media outlets repeated, citing multiple sources with authority, that there were about 3 million homeless people in the United States. But when you did a little research and drilled down, every single one of those sources derived from just one person - a homeless advocate named Mitch Snyder who testified before Congress in 1982 the results of a study that was later discredited. He later admitted to fully making the number up out of whole cloth. The 1990 census, the first to do a full scale "find 'em and count 'em" study, could only find about 250,000. Still a problem, but 1/12 of the problem advocates claimed. Of course, that was far more about attacking Ronald Reagan than addressing the homeless issue, but then, that's no surprise to anyone.

No one who claims to be serious about trying to responsibly prioritize and address society's problems with other people's money can do so without understanding how organizations from scientists to NGOs to PACs to governmental departments themselves warp their data to support their preconceived notions. One of the few valuable things I learned while getting my political science degree was how polls work and how they don't work, and how questions can be skillfully asked and the pool carefully chosen to arrive at The People's ("correct") Opinion.

We see it all the time in global warming scares, economic statistics, polls, Jihadist propaganda, military stories, education studies demanding more money, affirmative action stories, race relations, etc. It colors everything we read.

To that end, Thomas Sowell recently published a three part must read on how pervasive the problem is, and how important it is to truly understand any news article from any source. (Part I | Part II | Part III)

Drilling skepticism is crucial to good science (which is why global warming is not), good legal reading and writing, good journalism, and most importantly, good citizenship.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What the ABA Talks About

The American Bar Association just finished up its conference in Honolulu. Thanks to the Federalist Society keeping tabs on them and keeping its membership updated, here's a sample of what the conversation is:

Professor Elaine Chiu of St. John's School of Law discussed "The Criminal Law in an Age of Multiculturalism." Chiu bemoaned that, right after 9/11, race relations dropped into the "dark ages" due in part to an "unassailable public support" for racial profiling and deportation. This was due to an increased commitment toward national security at the expense of "equality, respect, and dignity." However, changing demographics will lead to an "age of multiculturalism" that will in turn lead to other, new questions about the substantive criminal law. According to Chiu, "As awful as selective enforcement and racial profiling are, their effects are compounded if individuals are prosecuted on the basis of laws that are themselves inherently unequal and unjust."

Chiu describes current criminal law as "assimilationist," as it "expresses the values and norms of the dominant Anglo-American culture to the exclusion of other minority cultures." Although some may protest this characterization, "their failure to appreciate the presence of culture in our penal codes is the result of their moral absolutism and legal centralism." An example of this phenomenon is the use of deadly force to defend a home from a burglar. Chiu describes this as an "alarming trend of valuing self-defense over retreat." Not all cultures, she emphasized, value property over life. Property rights are a very Anglo-American concept. This "assimilationist" approach leads to outdated criminal laws out of step with the American populace. To have criminal laws (based on British laws) that reflect the beliefs of only half of the American populace is "preposterous." A second consequence is the "loss of justice and equality for defendants of minority descent." Ultimately, "assimilationism is a recipe for disaster."

Instead, Chiu advocates a combined pluralistic/individualistic approach to criminal law. Minorities would be able to receive a hearing for their side of the case. Chiu maintains that a "respect for a defendant's culture is respect for the defendant itself." She supports a "cultural defense." Minorities must demonstrate that they are "deadly serious in their cultural commitments...The majority's refusal even to consider minority practices as an alternative is intolerable."

So. A "cultural defense." Does that mean that white culture is different than black culture, and that we should treat black people differently in court than whites? What was the civil rights struggle all about anyway?

This kind of talk is profoundly anti-American. (Yeah, I said it.) We are a nation of laws, not of people. Lady justice is blind to color and "culture," and rightfully so. America is about taking personal responsibility for our actions, and about being treated equally under the law. We are an exceptional nation, and our "Anglo-American" culture, which respects property rights and personal liberty, is demonstrably supreme over any other in the world.

The American culture, economy, and way of life has produced the most successful and prosperous nation that has ever existed on the face of the earth. People from all over the world come to this country because they have rejected their culture and have chosen to become a part of ours. Why on earth would we want to backslide and make our laws conform with whatever defective cultures people have expended so much energy to escape?

Imagine if Professor Chiu were to get her way. Does that mean domestic violence among certain cultures should be excused? What if a Muslim killed a Jew? What counts as "black culture?" Should we allow slavery? Polygamy? Cannibalism? Bribery? Forced female circumcision of teenage girls? Arranged marriages of 12 year olds? (So much for international feminism...) I doubt that any Chinese immigrant, despite their Communist upbringing, respects property rights so little that they wouldn't think it was a big deal if someone broke into their home.

The ABA will always lean left. Most people go to law school because they want to save the world using government, and are thus big believers in big government. Fair enough. But this kind of thing (and there was plenty more ridiculousness) is beyond the pale. Until this stupidity is rejected, the ABA will never get one thin dime of mine.

By the way, one of the benefits of the $5 per year Federalist Society membership is that they have a reporter at all such ABA events, and E-mail out updates to the membership. (If anyone missed the last round and wants them forwarded, just shoot me an E-mail.) They also publish the ABA Watch, which keeps you apprised of what lobbying efforts they're spending the dues they're asking you for on.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Moral Equivilancy

I have a lot to say about the terror attacks on Israel and their righteous response, but alas the summer has been busy. (That and I had a great post I didn't save - stupid rookie blogger mistakes...)

But it really all boils down to this. There is a clear good guy, and a clear bad guy.

One of the parties has the capability to annihilate every last man, woman, and child on the other side. They chose not to.

The other side has stated expressly, in writing, that they want nothing more than to annihilate every last man, woman, and child on the other side and around the world. They do not have the capability, but if they did, they would make good on their promise.

Do we get it now? No reasonable person can draw moral equivalence here.

Despite Israel's capability, they do not intentionally target non-combatants. They isolate and cut off supply routes, and spend millions of dollars on precision munitions so they can get the enemy rocket battery that has been purposely set up next to the school without killing children. Their army wears uniforms to distinguish themselves from the civilian population. They pamphlet target zones before they attack to warn people to take cover and to get away. Their army attacks from positions far away from the civilians they protect, in an attempt to draw the violence of war away from homes and children. They try to protect their people, despite the propaganda value dead Israelis might have. They show their faces. Their names are embroidered on their uniforms.

And all this even though their very survival is at stake. Only a just and moral nation acts this way.

The Hamas and Hezbollah units of the Iranian and Syrian military, on the other hand, intentionally target civilians. The only good Jew is a dead Jew, after all, and because they're only apes, there's no difference between killing a soldier and a Jewish baby. And because their own people are worth less than scoring points with the UN, they go out of their way to make sure their own civilians are killed for the cameras. They do this by intentionally placing military batteries in and around schools, markets, and houses. They don't wear uniforms, and hide behind civilians to fire their rockets. When they do come out in the open, they wear masks. The men running the war claim neutrality like cowards while they pull the strings from afar, and the complicit international community goes out of their way to participate in the lie.

Not since the Third Reich has there been such a clear and aggressive bad guy. And all parties who talk about "disproportionate responses" and "killing on both sides" are complicit in the evil of the Islamo-fascists.