Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Peace: "Not just another top-heavy bureaucratic organization..."

Saddam cheerleader and my district's Representative Jim McDermott has an op-ed today championing Dennis Kucinich's "Department of Peace" proposal.

Essentially, it's a catchall department for universal gun control, socialism, appeasement of foreign dictators, K-12 social engineering - things which apparently "represent[] the ideals on which this country was founded."

(That those "founding ideals" would no doubt come as a shock to the individual-liberty minded signers of the Declaration of Independence doesn't seem to interfere with any of this high-mindedness. I think Rep. McDermott could use a few more civics and history classes...)

Let's take a look at some of the more amusing/troubling highlights:
"In a world torn by conflict, I can't think of a better time, or a greater need, for America to act as a force for good at home and around the world."
By implication, of course, this means we haven't been a force for good either at home or abroad, at least not in recent memory. Riiight. If only we were as benevolent and helpful as France and Russia.
"The legislation, which I am co-sponsoring, would fund, support and coordinate programs already in existence -— in schools, prisons, police departments, educational institutions, charitable organizations and elsewhere -— that are proven to reduce domestic and international violence and enhance the security and health of all Americans."
Schools, prisons, police departments, educational institutions are Constitutionally the province of the states. The federal government already has far too heavy a hand in these plenary powers, and to what end? Success? Improvement? No! Why do we want MORE federal control? Does McDermott, who no doubt is among those fools who thinks Bush is basically Hitler without the dashing mustache, seriously want the President directly in charge of local police departments, schools, and prisons? And government funding and "coordination" of private charities means they aren't private charities any more. It's not like government will make them more efficient. No thanks.
"In my years as a congressman and as a physician in the U.S. military, I have recognized repeatedly that the interests of the one cannot triumph over the interests of the many; that the security concerns of the United States are best served by diplomacy and cooperation rather than brute force."
Yet another way to say, "interests of the one" is "individual liberty." Again, I think the founders would be shocked to discover that their founding ideals included stamping out individual interests. This is nothing more than a call to socialism. And rejecting "brute force" so completely requires the belief that we should have "cooperated" with Hitler. At least he didn't imply he's a Vietnam veteran this time.
"It will create a Peace Academy, on par with the Military Service Academies, to train civilian peacekeepers and the military in the latest nonviolent conflict-resolution strategies and approaches."
Ah, yes - because the UN's success with "peacekeepers" has been so profound. Is there a single example of them actually being successful without a prior military success? Maybe if we had a few Peace Academy graduates to try out their nonviolent conflict-resolution strategies on the animals slaughtering their countrymen in the Sudan, they'd be singing Kumbaya by the end of the year... The sight of a battalion of USPA graduates massing in great strategic drum circles is surely enough to bring dictators, warlords, wife beaters, and terrorists to their knees!

"I've learned there's something about the human spirit, about the spirit of Americans everywhere, that strives for cooperation rather than domination. We all yearn for peace, and for the prosperity that peace brings. We all yearn for a better world for our children and our children's children. We want for them the best education possible; health care that encompasses and embraces everyone; a retirement secure from the plagues and worries that come with inadequate income and support; a healthy environment; and a world freed from the horrors of war.

"By reducing the immense costs of violence both domestically and internationally, a U.S. Department of Peace will help secure these essentials. It will demonstrate to our citizens and to the world that the United States is committed to using its great strength in partnership with all peoples to work for, and champion, peace. And, it will provide a beacon of hope for everyone that the peace we yearn for is not an unachievable dream, but an obtainable reality."

All for just $8 Billion dollars. It's so easy! If only we had thought of it earlier. For $8 billion, we can have universal health care, fix Social Security, implement socialism, and eliminate war and crime forever! Brilliant! If only Bush wasn't standing in the way of this wisdom...

Unfortunately, many humans ARE motivated to dominate and conquer, not to "cooperate." The enemy we fight has no ambition to get along with Christians and Jews, they want us either converted, subjugated, or dead. The only way to achieve "peace" with a group with such ambitions is to kill them, scare them off, or surrender to them. I know which option I prefer. I think McDermott could save the $8 billion and simply surrender now. I'm sure his wife wouldn't mind "cooperating" by putting on a burqua. And the upside is that a more peaceful law enforcement system wouldn't be so darn mean to him when he violates federal wiretap laws.

Stand by for more good ideas. We can have a "Department of Fairness," a "Department of Niceness," and a "Department of Sharing." We can outlaw crime and it will magically go away! We can have a "Department of Un-Biased Media" that will ensure we're only exposed to the correct, fair, and peaceful ideas - Dennis Kucinich would LOVE that! Or we could form an umbrella organization simply called the "Department of Good Things." That would save even more money by covering it all under one (how did Jim put it) "a uniting framework for existing organizations scattered throughout the U.S. currently working to bring peace to our communities and the world."

World. Problems. Solved.

That this un-serious perpetual adolescent is an elected US representative who is routinely reelected with 75% - 80% of the vote is shameful. Is there seriously not a single grown-up Democrat in the entire 7th District Seattle could send instead?

Gore's Carbon Footprint

Al Gore has responded to (without denying) this report that notes that just one of the former veep's mansions uses twice as much energy in a single month than the average American family does in an entire year.

Allow me to summarize by paraphrasing:
"I have enough money to make other people live with even LESS than zero net carbon output. I hate the greedy elitists who try to buy their way out of guilt, unless those people are me, and then they're noble oracles of disaster. Besides, I'm, like, really important. I NEED two mansions, and once I'm living with the resources I need, then my guilt is assuaged. Don't believe me? Doesn't matter - I have an Oscar that proves I'm right! Suckers!!!"
Again - if Gore honestly thought this was a crisis, carbon neutrality wouldn't be enough - he would aggressively be trying to have a net negative carbon footprint. Beware of politicians and activists who will in no way be negatively impacted by the draconian policies they propose.

By the way, same thing goes for the local yokels who think that by recycling their beer bottles and driving a Prius, they're "part of the solution." If this is truly a life-or-death crisis, every TV turned on, every website read, every microwave oven used, every trip taken to the movie theater, every meal eaten out, every CD bought, every A/C turned on, every heater used above 45 degrees, every mile in a car or product purchased not strictly required for survival is another unnecessary nail in the global warming coffin.

I buy none of it. Neither does anyone else, judging by their behavior.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Federalism - Good for Liberals, Too!

Here's an interesting piece in today's Seattle times, where a liberal columnist comes alive to the fact that states are the better platform for a whole bevy of policy issues he prefers. Well - no freakin' duh!

While those of us in the Federalist Society tend to favor more conservative or libertarian policies, our biggest and uniting concerns are structural. Our federal system allows 50 simultaneous experiments with environmental policy, health care, crime control, marriage, etc. That means that a good idea can be adopted and adapted, and bad ideas don't infect the rest of the nation. Liberal or conservative, an adherence to the original design of the Constitution benefits us all.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Euro-Civil Rights and Terrorism

The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens has an interesting piece on the European approach to civil rights in their own domestic fights against the Jihadists:
Consider the powers granted to Mr. Bruguiere and his colleagues. Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects--some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention--at their 1998 trial.
I may be a powerful executive, lock-'em-all-up neo-con fascist, but I just can't get behind this at all. I can't tell if Stephens is endorsing it per se, but he clearly thinks it's worth thinking about.

I think we can fight this enemy without shredding our due process tradition like that. I think we have the tools in our own Constitution to aggressively defend ourselves here at home, especially if we remain willing to fight threats overseas. Despite the problems in Iraq, I firmly believe it has already been (and continues to be) a success for America - if for no other reason than it continues to be a sink for Jihadi money, manpower, planning, and weaponry. I am convinced that our presence in Iraq (and wider robust military approach) is directly responsible for the failure of any terror organization large or small to mount an attack in the US since 9/11 more substantial than a single gunman in Seattle, another lone attacker in Salt Lake City (brought down by a citizen with a gun), and a sidewalk-driver in San Francisco. Despite the wailings of the anti-Bush crowd and self-professed civil libertarians, we've had that success while keeping our basic rights well in tact - certainly no less so than in any past conflict our nation has been involved in.

This is one of the very real ways our military is protecting our freedoms, directly, right here and now. I hope Congress considers this before putting those freedoms at risk by thinking we can simply hide here at home behind our porous borders and our libertarian Bill of Rights.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Quote of the Day

Peggy Noonan, discussing the Hillary-Geffen-Obama political dramatics:
Mrs. Clinton is like the little girl who steals the boy next door's candy and hits him on the head with a hammer. He runs, "Mommy, she stole my Snickers and hit me on the head!" She turns to the mother, hammer in hand, and gestures at the boy. "This . . . is the politics of personal destruction."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Public Funding for Judicial Elections

I missed last week's lawyer's chapter event on money in judicial elections, but yesterday's Seattle Times had a piece by Bruce Ramsey discussing it - and the topic at large.
Seattle attorney Jenny Durkan spoke for the bill at a recent meeting of the Federalist Society, arguing that all the mudslinging undermines the public image of an impartial court.
Ah, yes. "Mudslinging." Yet another way to say "mudslinging" is "stuff that may be true and relevant but makes my guy look bad." And still another way to pronounce "mudslinging" is "freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Up for discussion was a pending proposal in the state legislature to allow public funding for those elections, supposedly because they would then be more high minded, less "political," and would allow each side to look "impartial." Whatever that means. According to Ramsey:

Under this proposed system, if you were an unknown figure challenging a sitting justice, you would essentially be forced to file as a private-sector candidate. You would raise your own money. When your spending topped $84,836, for every additional dollar you spent, the government would cut your publicly funded rival (or rivals) a check for the same amount. If you spent $50,000 on a fundraiser that grossed you $60,000, it would be a gain of $10,000 for you, but your opponent would bank a $50,000 check, because that is what you spent.

If a group friendly to you spent $100,000 to slime your government-financed opponent, your opponent would get a check for $100,000. If a group friendly to him did that to you, you would get nothing.

The government would match the spending on your side up to $678,691 in the primary and the same in the general election, if there remained a contest. Your opponent could continue collecting beyond $678,691 if there were any money left, and if there weren't, he would be freed to solicit his private donors. By that time, your private donors might be tapped out.
This, of course, solves none of the "problems" that are being complained about. Mud would still be slung, sides would be taken, "private money" and "special interest groups" (i.e., politically astute and engaged citizens exercising their Constitutional rights) would still spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. Washington Supreme Court Justices would still be linked to the people and groups who endorsed, supported, and funded their campaigns.

That's democracy. And democracy isn't a "problem" I want to "solve."

What this is really about, of course, is that liberal members of our liberal court actually had to fight for their seats last November, and there were real discussions about issues of judicial activism, the role of the high court, and the extraordinary power of the Justices. And liberals like Durkan and state Senator Oemig (sponsor of the "reform") don't for a second want their hold over the judiciary to be even threatened to be threatened by some moron redneck out in Moses Lake who doesn't even listen to NPR. The concern over the horrors of actually allowing campaigns to influence voters has nothing to do with methodology and everything to do with content of political speech and ideology.

Personally, this is why I think judges should be appointed by the Governor. No judge who must stand for election and re-election can truly look "impartial." The way to insulate the judiciary from political influence is to not let them be politicians. Otherwise, we simply elect a redundant Super-Legislature increasingly signaling their willingness to use their power to mandate their personal policy agendas.

So long as we vote for judges, the state judiciary will be a political (even if remaining officially non-partisan) branch of the government. For better or worse, the people of this state have chosen a political method for checking the power of the judiciary. Until we amend the state Constitution, we need to accept that method of accountability, with all the warts that go with it - including all those dirty, biased, and very partial exercises of our First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DC Circuit: Military Commissions Act Constitutional

Here's the story.

As I've written before, this is the right decision. I hope the Supreme Court agrees.

It also gives me the opportunity to respond to something Professor Epstein said two weeks ago opposed to the MCA - that a military tribunal is unconstitutional because the ajudicator is part of the executive branch. If that were true, then every single court-martial and non-judicial punishment ever imposed by the military in the past 220 years or so has been unconstitutional. And that's just absurd.

America's Baghdad?

This story detailing the spiraling crime in New Orleans is a great example of democracy guaranteeing the people the government they deserve. This line struck me particularly:
Before Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, there was little public pressure to do something about the number of murders, which peaked in 1994 with 425 killings.
Considering they re-elected the incompetent Ray Nagin as Mayor, who thought race-baiting and Bush bashing would be just as effective as filling busses with refugees before the storm, not to mention sending the coldly dishonest William Jefferson back to Congress, one wonders just how much pressure there was after the storm, either.

But taking a cue from the Congressional Democrats, I have a solution to this mess. We should set a date six months from now to withdraw all federal monetary, logistics, and personnel support from Louisiana. This will send a signal to the corrupt state and local officials that the American People's patience with incompetent government, rampant corruption, and out-of-control violence is not limitless. If we set a date to withdrawal, they will know they have to get on the ball themselves.

Any takers? Didn't think so. So why does this sound logical when people are talking about retreating from Iraq? And as far as I know, no Cajuns have threatened to blow up landmarks in New York, if only they were left alone by the feds long enough to hatch an appropriate plot.

Yes, yes, I know New Orleans is in our country, and Baghdad isn't. But isn't it a liberal argument that international borders are outmoded, and that humanitarian efforts should not be determined by geopolitical considerations?

The idea that withdrawing from Iraq will motivate the Iraqi democratically elected government as opposed to destroying it is a pipe dream, a preemptive salve to the consciences of the Democrats who can't bring themselves to face the fact that their policy proposals will result in wholesale slaughter for years to come. If they're OK with that, fine - but let's be honest about the results of our actions: Freedom lost, democracy stillborn, millions dead, thousands more dead in vain, and a victory which will embolden the Islamofascists for generations to come.

Monday, February 12, 2007

SCOTUS: The Movie?

Senator Arlen Specter has once again introduced legislation to put cameras in the Supreme Court, citing the increased willingness of Justices to speak with the media.

I think it's a bad idea. It's not as if the transcripts of oral arguments are unavailable, or spectators excluded, or the reasoning of the Justices concealed. But it would mean that video clips would be shown - necessarily out of context due to time constraints - nightly on the news. And lawyers may attempt to play more to the audience at home than to address the specifics of the legal questions to the judges. In how many political ads might an out-of-context reducto ad absurdum hypothetical posed to an attorney appear?

And frankly, I think any courtroom cameras invite a profound collapse of dignity. Think Judge Judy. Or the OJ trial.

Limiting the public access to either live attendance or easily available transcripts limits the contextual problems unique to video without sacrificing transparency - or dignity.

Other thoughts?

What Flags Are OK To Desecrate?

What do you call it when a group selectively uses the mechanisms of the State to suppress expression of a point of view they find politically objectionable?

If you're the San Francisco State University administration, the SFSU student council, Students Against War, the International Socialist Organization, or the General Union of Palestinian Students, you call it "protecting diversity," "preventing violence," or "promoting tolerance."

This story starts with an "anti-terrorism rally" held last October on campus by the College Republicans. To emphasize their point, students stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags. According to the college paper, the Golden Gate (X)Press, members of Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization showed up to call the Republicans "racists," while the president of the General Union of Palestinian Students accused the Repubs of spreading false information about Muslims.

In November, the Associated Students board passed a unanimous resolution, which the (X)Press reported, denounced the California Republicans for "hateful religious intolerance" and criticized those who "pre-meditated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence."

Now you know that there are students who are opposed to desecrating flags on campus -- that is, if the flags represent terrorist organizations.

But wait -- there's more. A student filed a complaint with the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development. OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell wrote to the College Republicans informing them that his office had completed an investigation of the complaint and forwarded the report to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will adjudicate the charge. At issue is the charge that College Republicans had walked on "a banner with the world 'Allah' written in Arabic script" -- it turns out Allah's name is incorporated into Hamas and Hezbollah flags -- and "allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment," as well as "actions of incivility."

At an unnamed date, the student panel could decide to issue a warning to, suspend or expel the GOP club from campus.


The university's response? [SFSU] Spokesperson Ellen Griffin [said], "The university stands behind this process. [...] I don't believe the complaint is about the desecration of the flag. I believe that the complaint is the desecration of Allah."

So what if it is? If a student put a crucifix in a jar of urine, they probably would have gotten a scholarship from the art department. And if people will be uncontrollably driven to violence because someone expresses disgust with a terror organization who acts in the name of Allah, maybe they aren't ready to be Americans. At the very least, they should have had to re-take high school civics.

I oppose American flag burning legislation, because, as much as I'm offended by such action, real Americans respond to expression with either expression of their own, or by walking away. That's what it means to live in freedom. I imagine the SFSU folks also oppose laws against American flag burning, but considering the flag-selectivity of the administration and the complaining student organizations, I have to wonder if their reasons for that opposition have more to do with an approval of the message than any free speech principles.

Alas, this isn't limited to the rarefied atmosphere of San Francisco. At our own institution, the College Republicans had their "Affirmative Action" bake sale shut down by the University. Minute Men and their supporters were shouted down last October and ousted from their speaking event at Columbia. And speakers who violate the campus orthodoxy often face pies, disruption, and threats. At some law schools, new students are publicly warned away from the Federalist Society, and no faculty member will serve as their advisor.

None of this is new or surprising. But this kind of thuggery deserves to be exposed and mocked again and again and again. As often as it takes.

The Futility of War?

Clint Eastwood, on the message of his two new movies, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima":
"I think every war has a certain parallel in the futility of it and that's one of the reasons for telling these stories -- they are not pro-war stories." ***

"I grew up in the war pictures in the 1940s where everything was propagandized. (In) all the movies, we were the good guys and everybody else were bad guys," [Eastwood] said. "I just wanted to tell two different stories where there were good guys and bad guys everywhere and just tell something about the human condition."
Except that WWII wasn't futile. It was a life or death struggle for freedom, against the forces of evil. And had the US and the Allies (who really were the "good guys") chosen not to fight the fascist Imperial Japanese, or Nazi Germany, (who really were the "bad guys"), the world undoubtedly would be a darker place.

War is a dark, terrible, awful thing. It destroys families and often shatters the lives of the soldiers on either side. Innocent people die, and cities are demolished. At no time in the national debate should we loose sight of that. But as terrible as war is, sometimes the alternative is worse. As John Stewart Mill said,
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Some wars are futile. The one we currently find ourselves waging is not. The choices we make now will determine the fates of millions for centuries to come. Life or death? Freedom or slavery? Theocratic Fascism or liberal secular democracy? Calling these choices "futile" is to discount these differences; and to declare our disagreements illegitimate. It is to say that our history is no more noble than that of the USSR's. Or to Nazi Germany's. It is the worst kind of moral relativism.

The veterans of WWII were fighting for more than futility, as the millions they liberated can attest to. I am a fan of Clint's movies, and I even look forward to seeing these. But I can only shake my head that the disappointing simplemindedness of this American icon.

Quote of the Day

Czech President Vaclav Klaus in an interview on his loud derision of the Global Warming cultists:
Q: Isn't there enough empirical evidence and facts we can see with our eyes that imply that Man is demolishing the planet and himself?
A: It's such a nonsense that I have probably not heard a bigger nonsense yet.
He goes on to wonder if the interviewer is even conscious, and if "Mr. Al Gore" is even sane. The whole thing made me laugh out loud. I love this guy.


I honestly can't think of anything more evil than the people who attempt to downplay or deny the Holocaust. While it's good science to re-study history to ensure our shared narrative is a true one, those who claim Nazism wasn't "that bad" or worse, that it was all a setup by those nefarious Jews to steal land from the poor, innocent Palestinians, are excusing, justifying, and in some cases even promoting the great evil of fascism. (Now, if only we can get similar outrage directed at people who didn't think Communism was all that bad...)

So, having been compared to one of those excusers of evil by Ellen Goodman last week because I happen to think most of the Global Warming "science" is a lot of political hooey, I felt moved to respond. Goodman said:
I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.
She then, of course, breaks her arm patting herself on the back for using three whole fluorescent lightbulbs. (I have at least 5 in use in my condo, Ellen. NOW who's Hitler!?!)

Unfortunately, minor things like "bar applications" and "homework" were getting in my way. So fortunately, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal summed it up brilliantly for me:
Imagine if someone in 1937 had foreknowledge of the Holocaust and began sounding the alarms, describing in detail what was going to happen just a few years later. Most people probably wouldn't believe him. They would be, to use Goodman's phrase, denying the future. But would they be "on par" with people who deny the Holocaust after it has happened?

That seems a stretch. There's an enormous difference between doubting an outlandish prediction (even one that comes true) and denying the grotesque facts of history. Because we are ignorant of the future, we can innocently misjudge it. Holocaust deniers are neither ignorant nor innocent (though extremely ignorant people may innocently accept their claims). They are falsifying history for evil purposes.

To Taranto's wisdom I would add only this. Iran has, in fact, denied the holocaust, and at the same time, not-so-subtly threatened a new, nuclear extermination of Israel (and, incidentally, of the US). Many on the left have their heads in the sand over this threat, and deny that Ahmadinejad really means it, deny that Iran has the ability to make good their threat, deny that the UN is incapable of responding (and in fact is complicit), deny that Iran is currently making war on the US, and has been since 1979, and deny that there is no negotiating with a fascist madman who uses the language of Der Fuher. (Goodman herself thinks Ahmadinejad is nothing like Hitler, because... he denies the Holocaust!)

To me, this is a much closer parallel to the Holocaust deniers. But it would still be absurd to claim the modern Iran-ostriches are "on par" with Illinois Nazis. Almost as absurd as believing that three fluorescent lightbulbs and a Prius are the moral equivalent of liberating Auschwitz.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Great FedSoc Events Next Week

One on the death penalty, another on race - should be extremely interesting if you can make it! Note: I wasn't clear before - the two events advertized below are at Seattle University. Also, don't forget about the lawyer's chapter discussion this Wednesday on money in judicial elections with none other than Justice Sanders.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Watada Played Chicken - And Won (For Now...)

Yesterday's mistrial of Ehren Watada will no doubt be taught as a case study to new JAGs, new military judges, and base commanders for years to come as an example of how to most effectively botch what should have been a five minute court martial.

He missed movement. He admitted it. After assuring his superiors that it was about him, and would face the consequences quietly, he broke faith and began touring around the country bragging about his crime. He didn't just "speak out against the war" (which hundreds of soldiers HAVE done legally, without legal consequence), he urged soldiers to join him in open insurrection against the elected civilian leadership of the military, and did it in public. He attempted to foment a coup. By declaring that merely getting on a plane to Iraq would be a war crime, he accused the hundreds of thousands who have served there of being war criminals. I personally witnessed his remarks, as did thousands of others. Many of his proud admissions were recorded on videotape (posted on Watada's own website, no less!), and made available to the court officers.

But he didn't understand what he was admitting to. Really! Right...

His intended defense was clearly inapplicable, and his activist lawyer (who I think cares far more about being a liberal activist than being a realistic advocate for his client) no doubt knew that Supreme Court precedent would clearly bar the judge from considering an "illegal war" defense. (Parker v. Levy, et al.)

Why would the prosecution make a deal? Why would they sign a sloppy factual stipulation - which they KNEW would for all intents and purposes be an admission of guilt - without making it clear to the defendant that such a stipulation could be used as a confession? Why did the judge, knowing its importance, not question him on the "meeting of the minds" before the jury had heard the Government's case in chief? In fact, why did the prosecution make a deal at all? Did they not have enough videotape? Did they need him to urge a military led rebellion at a few more "peace" rallies? Was he seriously going to be able to argue that he hadn't missed movement after all, or that he REALLY meant to go but simply forgot to set his alarm that morning?

The sad truth is that the most powerful military history has ever known is being cowed by the likes of Sean Penn. Despite the fact that this case has nothing whatsoever to do with free speech or political opposition to policy, the DoD is deathly afraid to be accused of creating a political prisoner. A more senior and experienced officer should have been appointed to prosecute the case - one who would less intimated by the high profile and public nature of this trial. And there should have been no deal struck unless it included an out and out guilty plea. It's not as if the evidence was ever in any meaningful dispute.

Indeed, from the absurd double jeopardy arguments now being made, one has to wonder if this wasn't the strategy all along. Sign a stipulation that could later be used as a dodge. That a lawyer who specializes in defending draft dodgers and deserters, a loose ethical foundation is to be expected. But still...

For their timidity, the military officers overseeing this debacle have guaranteed that the media will shield all future deserters from punishment, and have made the maintenance of a well disciplined force that much harder. Their last hope is to do it the right way in March, if they haven't blown it completely already. If that fails, then they should order him to re-join his unit, or another one in Iraq, wait for him to refuse again, and then try him for the second refusal. We'll see if the military leadership has enough courage to tell all the tens-of-thousands of war criminals currently in Iraq that Watada's slander of them won't go unpunished.

Ehren Watada is not a coward in the sense that he is any more or less afraid than anyone else to head into a combat zone. I truly don't believe that's the case. But he is a moral coward in that he has made his bed, and now refuses to lie in it. His central argument is that no one should be held accountable for their actions, as long as they really, really mean it, and that civil disobedience is a legitimate form of protest that, when undertaken for a really good reason, should be protected. And that just isn't the case.

If he were a man of moral courage, he would have plead guilty from the start, saying he'd rather sit in jail than do something he felt was illegal. He probably would have been given a suspended sentence and an Other Than Honorable discharge, but even if not, he would be accepting the consequences of his decision. But instead he ran behind the skirts of socialist anti-American activists, seeking to avoid negative consequences at all costs while courting celebrity political clout - all at the expense of the Constitution he swore to uphold, his country he swore to defend, and his fellow soldiers he swore to bear true faith and allegiance to.

This is not a matter of conscience. It is a matter of honor and of law. Watada has no respect for either.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Candidates, Judges, and Social Conservatism

There is a lot of discussion surrounding the two GOP Presidential front runners (if such a thing can exist 21 months away from an election) about their conservative bona fides. For John McCain, this relates mostly to his assault on political speech, opposition to tax cuts, and his amnesty-esque stance on immigration. For Giuliani, it has to do with his checkered love life, support for civil unions, gun control stance, and pro-abortion views.

But do these things matter? What do conservatives really want - and what do they really need - from a President?

Ultimately, it comes down to judges. A president's personal views on abortion are less important to abortion foes than his willingness to appoint judges and justices who understand Roe v. Wade is a terrible abuse of judicial power and needs to be overturned. The executive's inclination toward gay marriage or even civil unions is far less relevant than his understanding that the Constitution doesn't require those outcomes via the Fourteenth Amendment. The fear is that the social liberal will, in order to protect his or her policy preferences, are willing to appoint judges who are willing to flex and stretch the Constitution to fit those notions, whether the Constitution actually applies or not.

I've always been worried that a President McCain, when interviewing judges, will sit them down and say, "Here's the thing - campaign finance reform is my baby. You aren't going to consider any part of McCain-Feingold (or anything subsequent I do to make it even tougher) unconstitutional, are you?" While it certainly can be fairly said that there are too many lawyers in government, one of the downsides about not having a legal education is not fully understanding how judges fit into the conservative scheme. And that leads to nominating Republicans (like Souter, Kennedy, O'Connor, and Harriet Miers) instead of conservatives - not exactly a formula for consistent or conservative jurisprudence.

What's more, I haven't heard anything from McCain about judges. What kind of justices will he appoint? What does he look for in his potential appointees? What is his understanding of the role of judges in the Constitutional scheme?

Giuliani, on the other hand, is an attorney. And he's correctly downplaying his more liberal social views and talking about what kind of judges he'll nominate. As he recently said in South Carolina,
On the Federal judiciary I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am. I'm a lawyer. I've argued cases in the Supreme Court. I've argued cases in the Court of Appeals in different parts of the country. I have a very, very strong view that for this country to work, for our freedoms to be protected, judges have to interpret not invent the Constitution. Otherwise you end up, when judges invent the constitution, with your liberties being hurt. Because legislatures get to make those decisions and the legislature in South Carolina might make that decision one way and the legislature in California a different one. And that's part of our freedom and when that's taken away from you that's terrible.

President Bush has the great model because I think as the President he did appointed some really good ones and both of them are former colleagues of mine - Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Justice Scalia is a former colleague of mine. Somebody that... I think Chief Justice Roberts is a great chief justice and he's young and he can have a long career and that's probably the reason the President and Vice President chose him. I think those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -– Scalia, Alito and Roberts. If you can find anybody as good as that, you are very, very fortunate.

I think voters - especially Republican primary voters - are smart enough to understand the balance and tension between personal social views, the role of the judiciary in social issues, and which is more important. (Indeed, I believe the failure to make this a campaign issue last year likely cost the GOP control of the Senate.) The question will be who broaches the subject the correct way - or at all.

Bump: The Return of Professor Epstein - TOPIC UPDATE

*** Update! ***

TODAY - February 6, 2007, 4:00 PM, Room 119

Room change - note it is now in 119, not 118.

Professor Epstein will be discussing his view on war powers and executive authority as it relates to the War on Terror. He has a very different take from our last speaker, but from a legally (as opposed to politically) conservative point of view.
Here's a preview.

It also looks like we won't have the food, per the Academic Services rules about not befouling the classrooms outside of the lunch hour. However, several of us are planning to grab some food and perhaps a tasty mug or two at the College Inn Pub after the event, and the FedSoc will pick up the first couple of pitchers in lieu of food at the event. All are welcome!


World renowned University of Chicago Professor Richard Epstein will be giving a talk next Tuesday, February 6th at 4:00 PM in room 118. The topic and possible debate adversary is TBD (check back here for updates), but we can tell you for sure that:

a) it will be from a very different point of view than the standard conservative/liberal camps,
b) it will be an extremely interesting talk, and
c) there will be free food.

See you there!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Law School - A Waste of Time (And Anti-Competitive)?

Maybe it's just the malaise of being a 3L, but this piece arguing just that struck quite a chord with me.

I've argued since law school began that the actual schooling portion should be about half the time, with some kind of apprenticeship/"residency" requirement at an approved training firm (some sufficient breadth of practice area, and training for the partners in the firm). And the monopolistic self-appointed ABA gatekeeping has always troubled me. But the investment in the status quo by the academics-in-chief has always left me with the conclusion that things aren't going to change any time soon.

But who knows? Maybe this report is the start of something new...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Global Warming - Betting Our Life(styles) On It

The Canadian National Post has a phenomenal series profiling the so-called global warming "Deniers," which put the lie to much of the slander heaped upon the scientists who dare to defy the groupthink and junk science that has become the new Religion of the Left. Indeed, more and more and more scientists are coming forward with the courage to stand up to this nonsense.

Indeed - it's difficult to figure out why this global "consensus" exists in the first place in the face of so little supporting evidence, until you understand the agenda of the pushers of this insipidness - anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism. Why would China, India, France, Russia, and the multitude of nations who want strong economies sign off on this suicide manifesto? Easy - they are either exempt from the proposed regulations or can ignore them without consequence, and they know that because of our integrity, the US will suffer the most from these policies. And the socialists have the perfect excuse for overarching government control of our property. It's like a perverse version of Ronald Reagan's outspending of the Soviets - our economic and political competitors (even the ones here at home) may suffer, too, but they know we'll suffer more. And they're gambling it will hurt us so much that they can gain supremacy before we come to our senses.

And I wonder if the academics, who twist their data to a pre-ordained conclusion so as not to lose next year's grant money (and to justify more of it) understand that without a robust economy, society won't have the tax revenue to fund luxuries like insulated, ivory tower intellectuals making 6 figures? (Judging from academia's decades-old love affair with militant socialism, this question unfortunately answers itself.)

Not that there aren't true believers, just as there are in any religion. And they fulfill every stereotype of the naive and hypocritical evangelical adherent - basing their own "science" on anecdote (whether they remember more or less snow growing up 10 years ago in Minnesota) and blind allegiance to every word of The Prophet Al. With a straight face, they exhort people to conserve energy by (not kidding) unplugging their cell phone chargers when they aren't actually charging their phone - while burning uncountable carbon atoms powering their amps, riding in their busses and private jets, and keeping the lights on in their many mansions.

If a single one of these mindless celebs (and that includes Al Gore and even - dare I say it - His Royal Dumbo Ears the Prince) actually feared that humanity faced immediate danger to its very existence, they would all move out of their mansions and into one bedroom flats and keep their thermostats at 60 all winter. None of them would travel unless absolutely necessary - and then certainly not on private jets! None of them would heat their pools - or even have pools. Every Ferrari and tricked out Cadillac would be abandoned. Never again would they buy foreign made luxury items - Armani suits, BMWs, and Italian marble slabs take a lot of marine diesel to cart across the sea (not to mention the overboard discharges that taint the oceans with waste oil). Every dollar they made beyond the $30,000 needed to live day to day would be donated to environmental causes, European governments, the UN, and buying controlling stock in oil companies so as to shut them down. They would donate their estates to build new nuclear power plants. They would all switch to acoustic guitars, and beg people to stay home and read books instead of driving to the movie theater or even turning on their TVs. Democrats would denounce NASCAR fans.

You see, our true priorities, fears, and agendas are shown not in what we say, but in what we do. And none of the global warming cultists, by their energy gobbling, lavish lifestyle supporting, conspicuous consumption actions, are actually afraid of global warming. It's not a priority to them. Their agenda is not to stop polar ice from melting, it's to look cool and feel like they matter beyond the fantasy worlds in which they live.

Environmental policy is important. Pollution choking the air we breath and the water we drink is a serious threat to our health and economic vibrancy, as well as to the inherent value our natural places provide to our souls just by existing. There are plenty of very good reasons to limit dirty emissions and discharges, and to regulate our industries so we don't expose entire communities to deadly chemicals. And the climate is not stable - it will warm and cool, maybe even dramatically, and humans will have to adapt. Just as we've always done. But none of this justifies the Global Warming absurdity currently underway.

Understanding what the true threats are - and more importantly, what they aren't - is crucial to crafting policies that actually solve problems as opposed to making rich celebrities feel good about themselves. And in solving problems, we must recognize that when we monkey with the economy, it doesn't just hurt the profits of millionaires working for Exxon - it stifles job growth, entrepreneurship, tax revenue, technological innovation, and class mobility. It destroys the ability of the third world to improve their living conditions, leading inevitably to more poverty, disease, famine, war, fighting over resources, ethnic strife, and violent tribalism - conditions not easily remedied with a dike. And the solutions offered thus far involve more epherial (but no less destructive) dangers, threatening individual freedom, state and national sovereignty, and property rights.

That's right, environmentalists. No free lunch. Your proposals are, if implemented, going to doom millions to poverty and early death. All for a problem even the UN Doomsday Report says is "unstoppable." Just so everyone's clear what the tradeoff is.

The global warming fad is a frightening harbinger of Western un-seriousness. We half heartedly (or not at all) fight against the rising Global Jihad - a REAL clear, present, and immediate threat to our existence and to our freedoms - instead choosing to spend billions of dollars (usually of other people's money) to combat something which even if it actually exists can't be stopped at this point (at least not without dooming ourselves to the poverty of a pre-industrial existence). We're willing to stifle foreign investment that would substantially reduce the risk of military conflict just so John Kerry will have nicer things to say to fascist Mullahs about us the next time he takes his wife's private jet to Europe.

The enviro-cultists are ironically betting their lives and lifestyles that they're wrong, and that they'll fail in their lobbying efforts. I'm also betting my life (and my own lifestyle), but on the assumption that I'm right. I'm going to continue to participate in the US industrial economy, use electricity unnecessarily to do things like watch TV and use this computer. My wife and I are going to buy more house than we absolutely need, and heat it in the winter. I will buy things I don't need that were delivered to the store by a truck burning fossil fuels. And in 50 years when emissions are tripled and the Florida peninsula still exists, I'm going to say "I told you so."

Hopefully, the cultists won't have to apologize for having needlessly tanked our economy in the meantime.