Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy First Bloggoversary!

This blog has been active for a year now, and it's been a huge success! In that year, there's been 182 original posts and 594 comments. Since I started keeping track on May 31, 2006, we've had 4,584 unique visitors. It's been a ton of fun, and great writing practice.

Remember, if you're a member of our chapter, you're free to post. Send me an E-mail if you need to get registered, or if you've not posted in awhile and need to reset your account.

We'd especially like to thank all the readers who have made it a success, and would like to take the opportunity to ask you what you'd like to see on this site in the future. We're always looking for more readers and more debate. What are your suggestions? Thanks in advance for your input - feel free to either leave a comment below or contact me directly.

Thanks again for a great year!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I-933 Debate - What Did You Think?

I'd like to say thank you to Steve Hammond and Tim Trohimovich for taking the time to help us wrestle with I-933 today, to Greenlaw for laying so much of the groundwork, and to all the people that came to the event. It was fantastic!

Once again, the complete text of the initiative is here.

Please let us know what you thought, and what you'd like to see to make our events better in the future. Thanks again!

Monday, October 23, 2006

BUMP: I-933 Debate this Tuesday

Don't forget...We're co-hosting an event with Greenlaw this Tuesday (10/24) on the upcoming I-933 initiative. Find out - is this initiative absolutely essential for the protection of property rights or an utterly intolerable restraint on planning and land use?

The initiative, if passed, promises to have some pretty dramatic consequences for property rights and the ability of municipalities to plan their growth effectively. You can read the text of the initiative here.

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional."

Justice Scalia said that beautiful little truism earlier today during an appearance with fellow Justice Samuel Alito.

I think much of the press - if it notices the event at all - will probably focus on his statements about the "independence of the judiciary" not being an unqualified good thing, leaving the context out, of course. Here's more greatness:

"Take the abortion issue," he said. "Whichever side wins, in the courts, the other side feels cheated. I mean, you know, there's something to be said for both sides."

"The court could have said, 'No, thank you.' The court have said, you know, 'There is nothing in the Constitution on the abortion issue for either side,'" Scalia said. "It could have said the same thing about suicide, it could have said the same thing about ... you know, all the social issues the courts are now taking."

Scalia said courts didn't use to decide social issues like that.

"It is part of the new philosophy of the Constitution," he said. "And when you push the courts into that, and when they leap into it, they make themselves politically controversial. And that's what places their independence at risk."

I hope Justice Owens was listening...

What's Really Happening In Iraq? And Does America Still Have the Will to Win?

Unquestionably, the violence and seeming endless chaos in Iraq is disheartening to those of us who understand its central importance in the global war on Islamo-Fascism. Failure now - whether due to poor execution or simply surrendering - would have catastophic consequences to our nation and to the world. But is there really no end in sight? Or is there reason for hope?

It is important to remember that most of us (including most politicians) see Iraq through the Western Media, an overwhelmingly liberal conglomeration that is stridently anti-Bush and anti-Republican. This media has now stooped to unfettered airing of Fascist propaganda, consequences to the nation be damned, because they think it will hurt the GOP. And even without their political bent, when was the last time we heard a report on Iraq politics? Successes of any kind? Ba'athist death stats alongside the American death numbers? Most reporters never leave the green zone, and face abduction and beheadings if they do. No thinking person can or should take most news reports from Iraq simply at face value, or think they represent the whole of the situation in that country.

Articles like this one from Amir Taheri give me hope:

Iraq today is the central battlefield in the global war between two mutually exclusive visions of the future. Yet the jihadists now know they can't win on that battlefield. After three years of near-daily killings, often in the most horrible manner imaginable, they've failed to alter Iraq's political agenda. Nor have they won control of any territory or even broadened their constituency.

The jihadists have suffered thousands of casualties, with many more captured by Coalition forces and the new Iraqi army and police. Despite more than 120 suicide operations, and countless attacks on civilian targets, the jihadists have been on the defensive since they lost their chief base at Fallujah last year. Their strategic weakness: They can't translate their killings into political gains inside Iraq.

They kill teachers and children, but schools stay open. They kill doctors and patients, but hospitals still function. They kill civil servants, but the ministries are crawling back into operation. They kidnap and murder foreign businessmen, but more keep coming. They massacre volunteers for the new army and police, but the lines of those wishing to join grow longer.

They blow up pipelines and kill oil workers, but oil still flows. They kill judges and lawyers, but Iraq's new courts keep on working. They machine-gun buses carrying foreign pilgrims, but the pilgrims come back in growing numbers. They kill newspaper boys, but newspapers still get delivered every day.

All Americans must understand that the enemy intends to use our media and our perceived soft impatience against us. Declarations of defeat or calls to retreat behind our porous borders must be seen in the context of this Jihadist goal. Those Americans and other Westerners who make such proclamations do not understand the central strategy of attrition our enemy has employed since Osama was first emboldened by our flight from Somalia. Remember, this strategy worked against us in Vietnam, in Cuba, in Yemen, in Beirut, in Iran (until Reagan), in Somalia, and even in pre-9/11 Iraq. Either we left completely, or gave only token responses.

Not since 1945 have we shown the collective will as a nation to truly defeat a world-wide enemy. Even when Reagan inspired us to victory in the Cold War, he did it with a reluctant Congress and a hostile press drug along behind. Some Democrats and that same press, bitter over the public's choosing of Reagan over them, are now seeking their revenge in what I charitably assume they must not know would be a devastating pyrrhic victory. They cannot see past Bush, and so they are blind to the greater needs of American security. And in part because Bush lacks so many of Reagan's gifts, millions of Americans are happy to follow down this unthinking and unthinkable path.

Is our enemy right? Have we given up?

America is the only nation with the power, strength, and influence to stop the millions and millions (and growing) adherents to the Jihadist Culture of Death, dedicated to world wide imposition of Sharia law. Europe is under assault, has already all but capitulated. Israel has lost their first war. The UN is in the pocket of the enemy, and Russia and China care nothing for American safety. We stand alone.

But just as we are the only nation who can win this clash of civilization against barbarism, this conflict is also ours - and ours alone - to lose. Far too many of us are bent on doing just that, even while blind to the peril they are putting us all in.

I am still optimistic that our great Republic and our Constitution have many more centuries of life, and that this grave threat shall be overcome by the forces of good. But I have for many years now given up the notion that victory is a foregone conclusion.

It's up to us. All of us. Up to CNN not to demoralize us with needless and newsless snuff films; up to Republicans to stop being stubborn and be more flexible and more ruthless; up to Democrats to shake of their hippy past and stop letting the enemy use them for their rhetoric, or to think more cargo inspections will keep us safe; up to our security agencies not to leak classified information to the press for any reason. We don't need to grow victory gardens or ration rubber, but we do need to stand up and say to the Islamo-Fascists with one voice that we will stay in Iraq because they are there, and will not leave until they are gone. And we will stay in Afghanistan because they are there. And we will stay on Iran's case because their belligerence is incompatible with Democracy's survival.

It's up to us. Can we do it?

More 1974 Than 1994

Ordinarily, divided governments don't bother me - a measure of infighting and inefficiency can be very good for individual freedom. But these are not ordinary times. John O'Neill does a fantastic job recounting the devastating consequences the last time Americans insisted on a wholesale replacement of inadequate Republicans with self-loathing liberal Democrats - millions of lives lost abroad, real abrogation of our world wide reputation, and a strong economy reduced to shambles. And Jimmy Carter wasn't able to appoint a Supreme Court Justice...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Al JaCNN

Apparently Al JaCNN has aired jihadist propaganda today, a collection of footage of American soldiers being shot, compiled by muslim terrorists operating in Iraq.

This move can only be viewed as the media's collaboration with the islamic terrorists. I expected this from Al Jazeera, but I guess the American press is in the act now too (although this trend perhaps started with the incessant and repetitive coverage of Abu Ghraib). The footage was clearly shot for propaganda purposes - and CNN is more than happy to further that end. Indeed, the terrorists' best allies may be American liberals and their press.

I can accept the American press not being a cheerleader for our military or government, even though in the past it has been, but would it be too much to ask that they not be a cheerleader for our blood enemies? Imagine the howling that would come if Fox News were to air a montage of American soldiers killing Iraqis put together by the Pentagon.

What's saddest, other than the idea of grieving American families seeing this rubbish, is that CNN is doing this to aid the Democrats in the coming election. There have about about 5 October suprises already...all coincidentally cutting against the administration (has there ever been an anti democrat October surprise?).

It's just another bit of evidence that the Islamic Fascists are counting on, and not being let down by, the American left.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Stranger Praises the Federalist Society

Whoduthunk? The hippy tabloid sent a rep to cover last week's Lawyer's Chapter DOMA event, which was indeed phenomenal. I think they came to some different conclusions than I did, but it was nice to see praise of grown-up, nuanced debate - no matter what side of the issue one happens to fall.

Naked Judicial Elitism on the Washington Supreme Court

In the Seattle Times, State Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens elucidates her respect for the wisdom of the people to choose their government, and by extension, democracy itself.

Johnson and other critics say Owens' position in both cases is proof that she is a liberal "activist" judge who is too willing to decide policy matters that should be left to the Legislature.

But Owens suggests there are times the court has to play such a role.

"The Legislature is really behind the times socially," she said during a recent interview with editorial writers at the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Wow.

The Legislature defines where we are socially, because they represent the "social" body that is our entire electorate. Who is she to say who's "ahead"” or "“behind"” that? And even if we are "behind,"” that'’s explicitly not the role of the judiciary to make those changes. This is tyranny of the elite stripped bare for all to see.

It's ironic that liberals are wailing and gnashing their teeth over conservatives "buying" seats on the Supreme Court, just because they dare to fund and run a competitive campaign. Do you think Owens' financial support from gay-activist groups had anything to do with her extra-legal votes in In re L.B. or Andersen v. King County? Nah... Not that I'm blind to the probable influence the BIAW would have on Johnson (among many reasons I think judges should be appointed), but at least he's not openly advocating judicial policy making. And frankly, I contend that the BIAW and Johnson's other bi-partisan supporters (as opposed to Owens' exlcusively liberal ones) support him because they know that the statutes as writen and the popularly elected legislatures that enact them are already on their side. All they need is a Justice who will follow the law instead of her predetermined policy predilictions.

The Post-Intelligencer calls the "legislating from the bench" attack a "slur" that threatens a "fair, impartial and independent judicial system." But Justice Owens is legislating from the bench - by her own admission. And you can't be "fair" or "impartial" if that's what you're doing. What's more, it's disturbing to see the P-I so ignorant of the larger danger of upsetting the careful balance of our government's seperated powers. A Judicial Superlegislature does nothing to protect our rights.

Justice Owens openly declares that she thinks it's perfectly appropriate for a Justice to make policy from the bench, when she and she alone decides where we should be "socially." For that reason alone, she's unsuited to be there.

Prosperity amid the gloom

"[E]very election year -- meaning every other year -- brings an epidemic of dubious economic analysis, as members of the party out of power discern lead linings on silver clouds." George Will on the economy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jimmy Carter and I Agree on Something...

But not in the way he might think:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday night that an agreement he brokered 12 years ago for North Korea to halt nuclear weapons development is “in the wastebasket."
Yeah. No kidding, Jimmy. Of course, Carter blames it on Bush for not appeasing the trollish dictator. What he can't seem to understand is that the deal was in the wastebasket because North Korea threw it in there before the door had even hit Carter in the wrinkly little pooper on his way out the door.

Carter says that talking to your enemies isn't appeasement. That's true. But what IS appeasement is what our nation's Worst President wants us to do - respond to nuclear provocation by giving Kim Jong Il billions of dollars in food and fuel while extracting promises we won't verify or enforce, and that we can be certain he'll violate.

Carter has a long history of acting as a shill for evil of all kinds - Hamas and Hezbollah, Castro, and now Kim. He responded to the larger evil of the Soviet Union by bravely not going to the Olympics. His entire presidency was quite simply a disaster in every possible arena. , no matter how noble his intentions may have been (and I don't even give him that benefit of the doubt any more). Why in the hell does he think he should be given any credibility now?

Sadly, this is the guy the Democrats think we should emulate on foreign policy. Not the lefty bloggers, the actual DNC. Something to think about when pulling that lever this November.

Chapman Federalist Society Blog

I got an E-mail from a Chapman University Law alum, who after graciously pointing out the Olbermann Watch link to our blog, noted her alma mater was missing from our "Other Federalist Society Chapters" links. It's added, and they have a fantastic blog. Check it out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It Could Be Worse...

...we could be the University of New Mexico School of Law's FedSoc Chapter. Whatever irritations do come up, it's nice to be treated with respect here at this school. All the more evidence to show how a strong Federalist Society - and faculty encouragement of it - benefits all law students.

The Life and "Death" of Habeas Corpus

I just read Juvenal's post below, and my comment took on a life of its own. We've talked about this before, but it's worth doing again. And as a preview, remember that we'll be hosting an event on this very issue this November.

First of all, Kieth Olbermann's vile little piece of journalism propaganda to which Juvenal was referring was bad. Profoundly bad. It wasn’t even good from a purely rhetorical standpoint, not to mention the factual inaccuracies. Fortunately, more people watch O'Reilly's third re-run than Olbermann's prime-time show. His impact is limited, as it should be. I still have faith in the American people’s ability to know when they’re being BSed, and I think Olbermann’s ratings attest to that. But to the merits:

Here’s one particularly good rebuttal.

Habeas Corpus is disallowed only as to alien UECs, who ARE subject to the military commissions. Before that, all detainees are processed through an initial administrative fact finding to determine why they're there (to separate out the grudge cases from the terrorists). It’s called a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, and includes with it a right to an appeal. It’s not a habeas writ, but it does provide an avenue for alien detainees to challenge their detention (with an appeal), which is what everyone is hyperventilating over. And it's not even new with the new bill - that provision was passed by Congress last December. And as I understand it, the CSRTs weren't new, either, but merely codifications (important, I think) of pre-existing policies already in place in our detention facilities.

Citizens can be UECs, but they may still bring the writ of habeas corpus to challenge their detention. Anyone who says or implies differently either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is lying to your face. The people can decide for themselves which one Olbermann is guilty of.

Interestingly, we only keep the worst of the worst - we let the Iraqi and Afghani government keep the run-of-the-mill baddies. Any guess as to where the detainees would RATHER go?

Congress has the clear Constitutional authority to suspend HC in times of “invasion [when] the public safety may require it.” And that goes for citizens, too. I’m not surprised that neither John Kerry, Arlen Specter, nor Patrick Leahy understand we’re at war, or that foreigners are attempting to enter our country to do us harm, but that’s why none of those guys could get elected President, or should be listened to now.

Suspending habeas for alien combatants in a time of war seems to me not only fully constitutional, but clearly the right thing to do. When have POWs ever been granted trials? And why should we grant trials to murderous scum who wouldn't even qualify as POWs for their penchant to bomb children and not wear uniforms? Besides, since this is not only not an across-the-board suspension, but a carefully considered limitation far less onerous than in virtually every other military engagement this nation has fought in, something tells me Olbermann’s unencumbered-by-fact “obituary” is a bit premature.

To me, there’s an even larger policy consideration that seems to be missed in the larger debate. If we determined that only enemy combatants that played by the rules, wore uniforms, didn’t target civilians, etc. could be held without trial, in their case as POWs, then as a matter of policy we would be encouraging our enemies to “fight dirty.” “The Americans are coming! Quick – strip off your uniform! You get a lawyer and a trial that way, with the ACLU’s finest lawyers who will believe all your lies! It beats summary and indefinite detention, and you might even get a signed picture from Susan Sarandon before you're let go to kill more Americans...”

Here are some actual Constitutional scholars talking about the issue, with many of their far better reasoned (and real) legal concerns. Thank God Congress ignored the Constitutional Chicken Littles and did the right thing to keep the country safe.



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UPDATE: I just got called a "legal scholar" on the Olbermann Watch blog. I'm a little embarassed to be sandwiched between Andrew McCarthy and Mark Levin, but I'm honored anyway. Thanks for the link, and thanks for reading, everyone.

Immigration, Precision, and Casebook Authors with Agendas

In my Immigration Law class, the author of our casebook, Stephen Legomsky, has an agenda. That's probably not surprising, but I don't know when I've seen it quite so blatent, or done with such potential for misunderstanding the subject matter because of it.

Specifically, I find it very troubling that in the very first pages of the book, anounces that he will henceforth refuse to use the term “alien,” except in direct quotes, as he feels it “str[ikes] a disturbing chord,” and that it (even without the “illegal”):

"...connotes dehumanizing qualities of either strangeness or inferiority (space aliens come readily to mine), and that its use builds walls, strips human beings of their essential dignity, and needlessly reinforces an ‘outsider’ status. Some believe that its constant use and repetition also solidify racial and cultural stereotypes." Stephen H. Legomsky, Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy, 4th Ed. (2005), Pg. 1-2.

Ridiculous. And remember, this is even without the “illegal.”

“Alien” is a term of art with a precise legal meaning. It is central to the language of our statutes and our case law on immigration. It has nothing to do with racism, ethnocentrism, “basic human dignity,” or any other euphemism for “bigot” people use to vilify their opponents when the facts aren’t in their favor. Instead, he uses the term “noncitizen,” which he fully acknowledges to be less precise. Political Correctness just won another battle against Academic Integrity.

To refuse to use a term which describes a legal status that is central to the topic of the book you are writing does a grave disservice to those of us who are more interested in understanding the current state of the law than in the author’s policy preferences. It is like refusing to use the word “husband” in a family law class, because one thinks gay marriage should be legal.

Even worse is the refusal to use the term “illegal alien,” and the attempt to demonize those who do. Logomsky complains it is a “pejorative, irritating, and technically meaningless term,” ironically complaining that it has no “statutory or legal warrant.” He even stoops to the meaningless “no-person-is-illegal” meme – not that he insists on calling them “criminals.” Legomsky at 1192.

Again, “alien” is a legal term of art which refers to a certain legal status, not unlike the word “husband” in that sense. “Illegal” isn’t modifying the person, but the status descriptor noun “alien.” Their status is indeed illegal, as they are here in contravention of the law. Just as one could accurately be described as an “illegal husband” for marrying a girl too young to consent, the term is both useful and accurate.

With accuracy as the goal, compare “illegal aliens” to “undocumented migrants,” Legomsky’s preferred euphemism. A “migrant” can refer to anyone. It doesn’t tell you if they’re coming or going. It doesn’t tell you if they’re moving across state lines or international ones – citizens can be, and are, migrant farm workers. It doesn’t even tell you if they’re an alien – not all aliens are “migrating.” It has no “statutory or legal warrant,” which is so selectively important to the author. And it implies that people move all over international boundaries all the time, almost as if there’s as many Americans sneaking into Mexico as the other way around.

As for “Undocumented,” it can have so many meanings that it’s meaningless. Does it mean you don’t have documentation with you, or never got it at all? De minimus immigration violations? The implication certainly is that it’s merely a technical violation. “Undocumented” makes me think of driving with my license and insurance information at home, as opposed to “illegally” driving after never having obtained a license in the first place. The second is far worse, and is far more analogous to the situation of people sneaking across the border.

What’s more, there are plenty of illegal aliens who are documented to the nines – it’s just forged or stolen documentation. And there are plenty of perfectly legal undocumented aliens, such as those commuting back and forth from Canada or Mexico, or people awaiting status determinations.

If “Illegal” has pejorative or negative connotations, it’s because it should. We live in a society that respects the rule of law, and looks down upon those who ignore it. That’s part of American culture. It’s a reason people come here – they flee the lawless regimes of their home where their property and fundamental rights exist only at the pleasure of the corrupt government, or worse, of mob rule. Subverting the laws via that same mob rule (such as those who help illegals sneak across) instead of voting to change them is the surest way to destroy a free society, which is why people here illegally raise so much ire in most of America – and should.

“Undocumented migrant” is designed to do one thing – imply that violating immigration laws – and by extension, our immigration laws themselves – are just no big deal. And that attitude is as dangerous as it is absurd.

But Legomsky’s flexible quest for accuracy isn’t limited to muddying legal terms for aliens. Creative language can be employed to vilify an opposing ideology just as easily – and as inaccurately – as it can serve to excuse the lawless.

He refers to “anti-immigration lobbying organizations” when referring to any advocates of a more controlled border – another gross inaccuracy. Even Pat Buchanan (whom I’m not defending) isn’t “anti-immigration.” It’s the illegal immigration that we’re “anti.” To imply that the 80% + of Americans who want tougher border enforcement are against any immigration at all, or are racists, is simply dishonest and insulting.

Immigration law is complex enough without the casebook author deliberately attempting to muddy things by substituting what he thinks should be the law instead of describing what it actually is. Worse, it makes me have to wonder what else Legomsky is spinning or leaving out entirely that's less obvious to me. It's unfortunate that legal academics can't resist such PC madness, and instead stick to the language of the statutes, case law, and common sense.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Keith Olbermann, constitutional scholar

Media dishonesty taken to a new level : Keith Olbermann (video clip) discusses the recent detainee treatment act that passed Congress. No attempt to inform here, just rank misrepresentation. There are plenty of valid reasons (constitutional and prudential) to dislike the recent act, but this hatchet job by Olbermann does a disservice to those who have serious and principled objections to the act.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Worst Economy Since Hoover, Part III

This is a great rundown of the falling deficit, rising wages, rising tax revenue, and the reasons behind them (hint: it rhymes with "flax cuts"). Now, if ONLY we could get the Republicans on board to actually cut spending...

UPDATE: Yes, the link is correct now. No, I didn't mean to link to Hillary's warplans. I'd feel sheepish, but instead I blame Bushitler McHaliburton for the mistake.

Camera Shy?

So it looks like Darcy Burner isn’t so hot for free speech or transparency in government after all.

Contrast this with how Mike McGavick handled the camera stalker from the Democratic Party. I wonder where Darcy’s outrage was back then?

It has to be really irritating to be under that kind of constant scrutiny – I don’t blame her for not loving it. I think it’s a lame and rude tactic, frankly. But she chose to thrust herself in the public sphere for our consideration – no one twisted her arm. And voters have the right to access and parse her public statements, irrespective of her desire to tightly control the “message” and the means by which it's distributed.

And she should have stayed in law school a little longer. Her argument that RCW 9.73.030(1)(b) prevents a citizen from recording a public political event is absurd. But even if she had some remote legal standing, if her ideas are strong enough, she should welcome any forum that will give them time. McGavick’s not afraid. What is Darcy afraid of?

This is just one more indication that she’s not ready for prime time. This reeks of petulance and elitism, without even a whiff of commitment to open and transparent access to government officials. How sad to see two days after her strong words in the debate about needing a free and open marketplace of ideas.

The Average Poor American

This from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank:

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# Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
# Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
# Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
# The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
# Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
# Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
# Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
# Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
***

The post then goes on to talk about the complements to those percentages:

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Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all of the nation's poor: There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. In contrast to the 25 percent of "poor" households that have cell phones and telephone answering machines, ap-proximately one-tenth of families in poverty have no phone at all. While the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.
***

The Heritage Foundation thinks that with full employment for one parent in a two parent household, child poverty could be largely eliminated. They think that the best solution is for all of the poor people to get married before they have kids. I'm not really willing to make that kind of recommendation, but I think their other suggestion, making sure at least one parent is fully employed, is a good one. How to make that happen is of course open to debate, and I'm not sure anybody has a ready answer.

But what I like most about this article is that it helps distinguish between the government definition of poverty and what I would consider actual poverty. If we conform our definition of poverty to include only those actually experiencing material hardship, that'll allow us to focus on those people who actually need it. That job seems much more manageable.

I should note, although I don't find any support for it in the article, that I believe these percentages are probably much different than the percentages you would get if you just reported on the urban poor or the rural poor. I imagine that for the rural poor home-ownership is prevalent, while for the urban poor it is non-existant. Conversely, air conditioning has got to be more widespread in the city than in the countryside. At the same time, a dollar goes farther out in the country, and I'm not sure if poverty statistics apply any cost of living adjustment for different areas. So it's possible that we could get a better picture of the actual prevalence of poverty by running everything through the lens of cost of living. We might find that the rural poor aren't so poor after all, while the urban poor might be in worse shape.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Darcy Burner and Her Thugs "Debate"

Just a disclaimer - remember, the Federalist Society doesn't endorse candidates. These opinions are my own.

Last night's debate between grown-up Dave Reichert and our own 1L luminary Darcy Burner was shameful. Reichert was mediocre for the most part, but he was an adult, talking seriously and directly (without obvious prepared talking points) about the real world. Although the "balanced" news reports state that both sides were "bare knuckles," by the end of the first question on Iraq it was clear that Darcy brought her thugs along to intimidate her opponent as opposed to having a serious discussion of real issues. It made me angry, and embarrassed for even her temporary affiliation with our law school (and glad she doesn't mention it much). From the liberal P-I:

The Meydenbauer Center auditorium was filled to capacity with hundreds of people, many vocal and sometimes combative Burner supporters.

Burner never had Reichert, the former King County sheriff, on his heels, but he did get visibly angry as she and the crowd vented their frustration about issues ranging from the Iraq war to health care.

He countered with measured responses to her campaign's criticisms and consistently tried to redirect the debate away from the broader direction of the Bush administration and back to his own accomplishments and policy decisions.

"This is the United States of America, and at some point, Ms. Burner, you are going to have to come out from behind the bushes and recognize I am your opponent," Reichert said. He said his experience and 35 years of community service made him the best candidate for the job, drawing a stark contrast between his long public record and Burner's lack of one.

"I understand independence. I understand taking a stand. I understand firing people. I understand hiring people. I understand promoting people. I understand discipline. I understand terrorism. I understand the law. I understand your rights," Reichert said in an increasingly strident voice.

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The audience jeered when Reichert said he "worked 19 years to catch a serial killer," a reference to his work apprehending Green River Killer Gary Ridgway, but he held his ground.

"It's not comic to the victims and their families," he said.

I counted at least 4 times that Reichert was heckled or jeered at during the debate. Her thugs try to drown out their opponent instead of hearing him out. They belittle the capture of a brutal serial killer. Anyone wanna take bets on how many of them actually even live in her district? These brownshirt tactics are unacceptable from any candidate. And who your supporters are matter.

And then was the bizarreness of her attack on Reichert for being "unprincipled" because he broke with Bush on several occasions. Either he's Bush's puppet (making him unprincipled) or he's not (making him unprincipled). You can't have it both ways, but then, when the veracity of your arguments rely on how loud your MoveOn.org supporters are, I suppose it just doesn't matter. Reichert's comeback about how many "Bush Democrats" there were based on her logic was priceless.

It should be troubling to any of her potential constituents that in Darcy Burner's world, you're either with her, or you'll be screamed at. You either swallow and regurgitate her talking points whole, or you're a liar. How does she expect to actually accomplish anything in Congress, when she has to work with 534 other Legislators, not to mention lobbyists, other people's staff, the media, the entirety of the executive branch she intends to "stand up to," or her constituents?

I was glad the Reichert came ready to blow her out of the water with the utterly false claims that he'd "cut funding for veterans." Being one such veteran, those ads of hers instantly infuriate me, both for the utter falseness of her claims, and for the fact that she uses her (Republican) family's service as if that made her a national defense expert. It's condescending, too - it's an important campaign issue, but when it comes off as "those poor victims of Bush need us to speak out for them because they clearly can't do it themselves" it really torques me off (doubly when it's not even true). As if vets weren't a powerful voting lobby who can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. As a veteran, I'm personally and deeply offended by her comments. And I wonder how her brother felt when he was standing ready to invade Iraq knowing that Darcy's good friend Baghdad Jim McDermott was in Iraq propagandizing for Saddam, and implying that Bush (and by extension, Darcy's brother who was there ready to kill the poor innocent Iraqi children) was a war criminal. This, I think, more than anything is what takes me from bemused annoyance with Darcy to full on rage, and why I spend the time typing.

The rest was the usual vapid, empty, and fact-free talking points from the left. "We need a plan." (Still don't have one of your own?) "We need answers to our questions." (Even after all those Woodward books?) "We need leadership that will hold themselves to the highest standards of ethics and accountability." (Like Clinton or Kennedy or Studds or McDermott or yourself?) "As a business woman..." (As if she and Bill G. sat and discussed the direction of Microsoft together - I know a ton about her family from her ads, but I have no idea what she actually DID at Microsoft. I understand she wrote a blog, started chaired (correction -OJ) a women's group named after Admiral Hopper (another claim to military fame, I guess), and that's about it. At least she can't be held responsible for Windows ME.) "I don't support guest workers because I don't believe in a two-tiered society." (Yeah - those open borders will keep us safe, Darcy.) "We need the rich to pay their fair share of taxes." (Does she not understand they're shouldering the heaviest percentage of the tax burden, and that because of the tax cuts she would repeal, the bottom 50% of tax payers only pay 3.3% of the taxes, the lowest in decades? Is this ignorance because she's ignoring the facts, or because she can't be bothered to research them in the first place?)

And then, of course, after providing nothing more than the most obviously canned of answers (and frankly, since her well rehearsed and memorized lines didn't always neatly comport with the questions asked, non-answers), liberally sprinkled with manufactured outrage, she called Reichert a liar. Which is interesting coming from Darcy Burner.

This is typical of how Darcy "debates." It's worse when there's no cameras or handlers around. We got into a discussion once during her brief and unheralded foray here in law school. She was explaining to me how AWFUL the economy was, and how no one could get housing, blah, blah, blah. She explained that her college educated (nurse) sister and brother-in-law couldn't find a single place to live anywhere within commuting distance of Olympia, whereupon I offered to find one that day. She started getting mad, and told me I didn't know what I was talking about, although she didn't bother to explain how I was wrong.

That led to a larger discussion on poverty, with Darcy trotting out the tired, tired talking points about how many Americans lived in poverty, they can't get ahead, etc. When I told her that I was one of those Americans who had come from poverty and that I had grown up in a trailer park, and was glad she wasn't around to tell me what a victim I was, she impatiently and condescendingly explained that my success was essentially an accident because I just happened to be smarter than most of the poor people. The implication, of course, is that those poor, dumb Proles need us smart, enlightened people to take care of them. How condescending. How wrong-headed. How socialist. How Big Brother. And how typical of liberals who don't understand that freedom means freedom from government bureaucrats who think they know better than you how to live your life.

But when I pointed out that being in "poverty" in America was a misleading term at best, and that half of Americans below the poverty like actually owned their own homes, she screamed (literally) at me that I was a liar. No support. No rebuttal evidence. Just that I HAD to be a liar, because it didn't comport with the liberal talking points about how terrible life was in the US for all but "The Rich." (To be fair, it turned out I was slightly wrong - it was only 46% who own their homes.)

It's also a pretty ironic charge coming from a Microsoft executive manager.

Frankly, I found the whole thing that day really amusing. She wouldn't even look at me after I dared her to prove me wrong about my poverty stats - she's a grudge holder, that one. But it's less amusing that she might actually face real responsibility some day, carried to power by a bunch of jeering college know-it-all hippies who can't sit through a public event without hooting and hollering like soccer hooligans.

Darcy Burner just isn't qualified for a Congressional seat - she was a low level manager at Microsoft, where virtually everyone but the janitors are "managers" of some kind. Her Ames Lake "community leadership" apparently consisted of her leading one meeting (coincidently in conjunction with a campaign photo op), if "leading" can be used to describe shouting down her neighbors who disagreed with her. Her interest in her community and "community activism" is so deep that she can't be bothered to vote on local issues that affect her potential constituents far more often and directly than the US Congress. She promised to raise taxes and complained about people not being able to find jobs, completely (willfully?) oblivious to the fact that our unemployment rates are at record lows, or that the tax cuts continue to drive growth, and hence, tax revenue. She's flatly unhinged (although her script from the debate is nearly identical) when before a friendly audience, in all seriousness equating the Republican "threat" with the real one coming from the terrorists.

I know Darcy has a lot of friends and supporters in our law school class - many of them are my friends, too, and I hope they don't take offense. But her rudeness, lack of a grasp of the facts beyond what she's been given to memorize, and the thuggery of her supporters was too much for me to handle today. Whatever the merits might be to punishing the Republicans for their lackluster record, this woman has no business anywhere near any kind of real power. It's a shame that a good and successful public servant like Dave Reichert had to suffer the indignity of sharing a stage with this poster child of the New Unserious Daily Kos Democrats. And heaven help us if she's representative of a new majority in Congress.

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UPDATE: The video is here.

Also, Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics graciously linked to this post.

CORRECTION: I don't know that Darcy ever actually claimed to have "started" Hoppers - this was an impression I was left with last year from her website. There's no mention of it whatsoever on there now. Current bios state that she was elected to chair the organization. I corrected it above, and am going on the assumption that the mistake was mine.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NSA Wiretap - What Did You Think?

Thank you, everyone, for coming out to our NSA Wiretap discussion, and making it a huge success. It's unfortunate that we only had a short time to really explore these issues. We would love to know what you think - of the topic, of the speaker, of the venue, of the pizza... Feel free to comment below!

We've discussed this topic before - here are some of our past blogs on the topic. One goes deeper into the 4th Amendment implications, which is very interesting and worthy of its own.
If this talk interested you, please note that we have a tenatively scheduled event later this quarter on the Constitutional framework which makes legal (or not) our detention of various detainees at Gitmo.

We hope you enjoyed our event, and hope to see you at more! For more information on the Federalist Society or our events, please subscribe to our mailing list.

A Little Political Science: Polls

Today, USA Today displayed a poll proclaiming "Dems Gain Big Lead." Now I'm not saying I'm quite as confident now as I was before that I would win my bet with Publius, but it is interesting how un-useful generic "party control preference" polls really are. Take a look.

The pollers only actually polled 622 people who were self-proclaimed "likely voters" nation wide over the weekend. I'm assuming they cold called people, which is the standard method. There are 435 House races this poll purports to encompass. That means that they only polled an average of 1.43 people per Congressional district. It is likely many districts aren't represented at all. And there is no mention of how people see their OWN Representatives, who even now have approval ratings which average over 60%.

Also, publishing this poll during a major national crisis is just bad journalism. The North Korean situation is sure to re-focus voters away from the Foley situation, and as such, the data was already obsolete by the time they went to press.

I still think the GOP will retain the House, although it will be a much closer call. The Democrats overreached on Foley, and cannot answer the question, "What will YOU do about North Korea - try to bribe them again and just trust that they'll finally act in good faith?"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

NSA Wiretap Discussion This Tuesday



Free Speech, "Fighting Words," and What Gets Left Out in Class

Yeah, I did it. This is why.

In my Free Expression class yesterday, we were discussing "fighting words" and incitement. At issue in one of the cases was a "gentleman" who indicated his distaste for conscription by having in large letters "Fuck the Draft" on the back of his jacket, which he wore in a court room. (His jacket was found to be protected speech.) The class discussion, of course, included liberal use of the F word by the professor, both verbally and on the power point slides, presumably to make clear what the issues at hand really were.

Now, I don't have any problem with swearing. I'm a former sailor, after all. In fact, I really quite enjoy it in appropriate settings. But I don't think it's appropriate in public in most cases, if nothing else as a matter of decorum and of just plain being grownups. I like that the FCC bans certain words as a condition of broadcast licenses over airways owned by the public. Swearing on a picket sign or hippy jacket may be hip, but it doesn't exactly impress upon me that I should take you or your position seriously, since it's more about juvenile "rebellion" than anything else.

But then the discussion turned to inciting riots, and whipping up a crowd. And the the Danish Cartoon Riots throughout the Middle East earlier this year came up - should we have allowed censor of these pictures for the sake of public safety? But at no time did the "speech" involved ever make it to the screen. We weren't getting an idea of the causal relationship supposedly at play.

Worse, it followed the Conventional Narrative: The pictures from a tiny, locally circulated Danish paper that had been published six months before "just happened" to find themselves circulating around every Muslim nation, without the benefit of a free press, simultaneously. And then, just as spontaneously, people became outraged, leapt from their homes and businesses and kite flying, and started destroying everything and killing fellow Muslims in a state of rage they didn't have the mental capacity to control. We were told earnestly that depicting an image of Mohammed is blasphemous, and always has been. And the discussion in the Western liberal press was how much fault should we lay at the feet of the alleged provocateur. How dare these insensitive, racist, white, male, non-culturally sensitive, and probably not even capitalist cartoonists!!!

Rubbish.

The "riots" were carefully orchestrated and planned by Islamofascists who wanted to test the depths of western capitulation and spinelessness. The actual cartoons weren't bad enough, so they manufactured their own. They likely knocked on doors and "suggested" that people muster at the previously scheduled spontaneous riot at a given place and time. They told lies about where the cartoons came from. They made no distinction between governments and independent publishers, because they are allowed no such distinction or freedom in their country. They ignored that pious Muslims had been respectfully drawing and painting Mohammed for centuries. Had anyone chosen not to "spontaneously" riot, they most likely would have gotten another knock on their door the next day. This is how actual fascism - as opposed to liberal fantasy Bushitler AmeriKKKan fascism - actually works.

In other words, there was only the most distant causal connection between the speech at issue and the societal harm. The real causal agent were the imams who set up and executed the well orchestrated events. At one point, the professor asked me (while I was pointing out the above facts), "But you would agree that this wouldn't have happened without those cartoons." My answer, of course, was "no." If not those, then it would have been something else. An episode of South Park. A kind word from anyone about Israel. And even if our capitulation was complete, they would have just made some more stuff up.

What context is more important? Why discuss the foreign riots as they relate to speech and "incitement" without the even remotely correct background or factual details of that incitement?

The professor has been very strong so far, acknowledging, for example, that Communists really were a real threat to the United States during the Cold War - something I think it takes real courage to say out loud in a group that thinks McCarthy was the 20th Century's greatest villain. He also has few kind words for the WWI Socialists who would have brought untold violence and harm to the war effort, businesses, and the nation in general; or for civil rights groups who resort to violent extortion and threats to strengthen a boycott. The approach has been blessedly balanced.

But this was a major disappointment. I can't say for sure he didn't show the cartoons because of political correctness. But given the free use of attention-getting images and offensive words in nearly every other context, and the time he spent getting other images of the riots the cartoons supposedly "caused," I have a hard time coming to any other conclusion.

And honestly, I can't imagine our law school's mindlessly politically correct administration being very supportive of a professor if someone complained about a possible offense against the Religion of Peace. And so as an employee, it's hard to say I blame him.

How sad that an important lesson in Free Speech concepts in a First Amendment class would fall victim to censorship by foreign fascist intimidation.

And now the cops

Religious scruple at the forefront again. First it was Christian pharmacists in Washington refusing to dispense the morning after pill, then it was Muslim taxi drivers in Minneapolis refusing to take passengers who were carrying alcohol, and now a Muslim police officer in London refuses to guard the Israeli embassy on moral grounds.

I'd be interested to see Orrin's and Publius' defense of this latest efflorescence of piety :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Law and Economics Lecture This Friday

Professor Steven Shavell of Harvard's Center for Law, Economics, and Business will be in town this Friday, October 6 at 3:30 in room 119. He will be giving a talk on "When is it socially advantageous to change legal rules in the light of altered circumstances? - Optimal Legal Change, Past Behavior, and Grandfathering." The public is welcome. For more information on L&E, click here.

This is not a FedSoc sponsored event, but I'm passing it on because I think it will be of particular interest to our members, especially those who aren't able to take the class this year. It's a true shame that the sponsor, our own Law and Econ Professor Steve Calandrillo, is on sabbatical this year. I hope he'll be here next year for his Law and Economics class - not only is he one of the absolute best professors at this school, but the material is fascinating. And Prof. Shavell wrote our textbook, so I expect this event will be very interesting and informative.

L&E isn't a conservative/libertarian doctrine per se, although it is very attractive to many FedSoc members in that it forces people to look quantitatively to actual impact of policy and the law, as opposed to just feeling like something is, like, justice, man. I had to even bring a calculator. But I highly recommend the class if it's available next year. It will challenge a lot of assumptions, and you will look at law and policy differently after the experience, and there's nothing else like it in law school.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Worst Economy Since Hoover, Part II

The Dow's record high clearly shows how awful Bush is. Or is it that he's to blame when it falls, but that it's out of his hands completely when it rises... Either way, it's terrible. Just terrible. I mean, if you're not outraged, you're just not paying attention.

Just wait for the left side of the bloggosphere to spin this as negative, because, after all, the middle class Americans that own stock aren't getting as rich. Yawn. Rising tides really do lift all boats, and to think our continued strong economy is anything but a positive for the nation is an indication of partisan loyalties trumping healthy patriotic good feelings for the success of our country.

What Process is Due for a Non-Citizen Suspected Terrorist?

Congress finally passed the terror suspect detainee bill, setting up military commissions to determine the status of detainees. Is it enough? Are we being too nice? Are they POWs? Join the discussion already in progress...

The Anti-Federalist Society and "Fair Trials"

Lately I've seen a couple of pieces in various press sources about our erstwhile rivals and student office mates, the American Constitution Society, and thought they were worth commenting on.

The first is this amusing piece in the Weekly Standard about how imitation of the Federalist Society is the sincerest form of flattery, along with some tongue-in-cheek suggestions on how to further capitalize on more of FedSoc's good ideas.

But second and far less amusing is their participation in an event advertised in Eat the State, an angry socialist rage-against-the-MAN,-man! rag of little note and picked up for its laughter value. But the events they advertise are wider and more main stream in scope. The one I'm talking about in particular is The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, also sponsored by such self-styled non-partisan, Islamo-fascist apologist luminaries as the ACLU and Amnesty International.

Here's the description of the event:

The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld is an educational event that will feature nationally recognized speakers and dramatized trial testimony. Speakers include Jennifer Harbury, author of Truth, Torture and the American Way; Ron Slye, Professor in International Comparative Law, Seattle University School of Law; and Pramila Jayapal, Founder and Executive Director of Hate Free Zone Washington. Trial vignettes will include stories by detainees and the cross-examination of Donald Rumsfeld. Please join us for this historic event and help us hold senior U.S. officials accountable for facilitating torture. Through this event, we will call on the U.S. Government to:

(1) close all torture camps,

(2) provide due process rights to all detainees, and

(3) prosecute war crimes.


It's ironic to me that they're calling for (what I can only assume are) full US Constitutional due process rights for non-citizen terrorists captured on the field of battle while denying the Secretary of Defense his own. Look again. The "trial" they're putting on only has prosecution witnesses and a prosecution cross examination. There is no defense direct examination, witnesses, context, re-direct, cross examination of the "victims" of "torture" who are the accusers, jury of peers, etc.

And there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever what the outcome will be.

What is an event where a person's guilt is pre-determined, where he has no lawyer, where he cannot confront his accusers, where he cannot appeal to his peers, and where he cannot call witnesses in his defense?

This is not a trial, but a show trial - a well-worn method used for centuries by despots who wish to claim legal and moral legitimacy in extra-legal and profoundly immoral systems. I have my own concerns about lacks of any kind of fact findings in US detention facilities in some limited circumstances, but feel far better about the protection of my rights under the Bush Administration than if the ACLU, ACS, or a law professor at Seattle University were in charge. For mainstream organizations supposedly worried about "America Fascism," it's a disappointing - but unfortunately not surprising - turn of events.

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UPDATE: A good discussion about what trial rights detainees SHOULD have grew out of the comments on this post, but it just wasn't that relevant to what I wanted to discuss here. As such, I saved the comments under its own post above.

Also, I forgot to mention that the Eat the State rag was also lionizing Hugo Chavez, a guy who knows a little something about show trials and lack of separation of powers.

Sunday, October 01, 2006