Monday, March 26, 2007
The core facts that the two sides can agree upon are these: when the Olympic torch was being carried along Glacier Avenue in Juneau, Alaska, on January 24, 2002, 18-year-old Joseph Frederick held up a 14-foot banner with the message, “BONG HITS 4 JESUS.” (“Bong hits” is slang for smoking marijuana.) Glacier Avenue runs in front of Juneau-Douglas High School, where Frederick was enrolled as a senior. School Principal Morse crossed the Avenue, and demanded that the sign be taken down; Frederick refused, and the principal grabbed the sign and crumpled it. Later, Morse suspended Frederick for ten days, citing a variety of infractions of school rules. The Ninth Circuit found a violation of Frederick’s First Amendment rights, and found that the law was so clear on this issue in January 2002 that the principal was not entitled to legal immunity to money damages.The school claims that this was essentially a "field trip," but it wasn't. It was not supervised. It was off school grounds. The event wasn't sponsored by the school. The kid was skipping school anyway, and showed up to the rally on his own, and made the banner in his garage. As the Times put it:
With children under its charge, and particularly on its property, a school needs to have a degree of authority, including over speech. That is why, for example, The Seattle Times opposes the bill sponsored by Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, to give editorial control of high-school newspapers to the students.***
But somewhere comes a limit to the school's authority. Outside school grounds, where politics meet the streets, school regulations fade and the rules are the same as applies to citizens generally, including free speech. Within the schools, access to free speech — from gang clothing to graffiti to pronouncements at school ceremonies — is necessarily within the realm of controlled speech.
My only beef with the article (and the rest of the media reports surrounding the case) is the worry about "overruling Tinker v. Des Moines", which I don't think this case necessarily could do. Even if the Court sides against the former student, the compromises that would have to be reached in order to get those votes, along with the Chief Justice's desire for narrow rulings, would probably merely follow existing caselaw which permits schools to control obscene speech. Whatever "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" actually means, it seems difficult to call it "political" like the black armbands clearly were in Tinker, which means it's distinguishable.
But I hope the right outcome is achieved - that this twerp's obnoxious action done for no other reason than to antagonize his principal (and make no mistake, this is ALL it was) is found to be protected.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Its actions in the last few weeks demonstrate it can hold hearings and try to raise a big stink politically to force a resignation/firing.
But what if neither is forthcoming?
Actually, I'm not really concerned about the answer within the current context -- I doubt any of this will matter in 12 months.
But what if there was a truly, inarguably incompetent attorney general serving a second-term President whose VP has no desire to run for office ever again and who doesn't particularly like his own party's leading candidate to replace him. Under such a scenario, the President would be relatively well insulated from political pressure to remove any offending officials no matter how many p.1 headlines there were.
Again, constitutionally, what could the Senate do?
We all know that Art. II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution says the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint" officials like the AG. But the constitution is silent on whether, once given, the Senate has the power to withdraw that consent.
I have never really thought about this before, but it seems like an interesting question.
If the Senate were to vote tomorrow to withdraw their consent to Gonzalez's service (NY Post Headline: SENATE NOT GA-GA FOR AG AG) and President Bush were to insist he remain in office who would the Supreme Court side with and why?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the city cannot prevent people from keeping handguns in their homes. The ruling also struck down a requirement that owners of registered firearms must keep them unloaded and disassembled. The court did not address provisions that prohibit people from carrying unregistered guns outside the home.The court correctly declared that the Second Amendment's use of the words "the people" conferred an individual right to bear arms, and that the - an enormous triumph for freedom, and for the safety of the beleaguered citizens of our crime-ridden capital.
From the 2-1 opinion in Parker v. District of Columbia:
To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.More reaction from Volokh and the Cato Institute. (Cato assisted the plaintiffs in the case.)
My favorite, though, is the D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's take:
"I am personally, deeply disappointed and quite frankly outraged... [This decision] flies in the face of laws that have helped decrease gun violence [in Washington, D.C.]"Ah, yes. I can see why he might be outraged. That city has been sooooo safe since the ban went into effect in 1976. I mean, it's just a coincidence that the city with the strictest gun laws was also crowned the "Murder Capital" of the nation in the 1990s, right? Maybe we just should have just given the mayor a little more time to declare a few more "crime emergencies" - yeah, those seem to be doing the trick.
Not only is this a profound victory for individual liberty and the Constitution, but it's about time the criminals plaguing our nations capital no longer can safely assume their victims can't fight back. Good law and good policy - God bless conservative Constitutional law.
The article then goes on to describe how the school successfully Marx-ized these budding little robber barons. At least according to the school. What they did is take all the legos away, force the children to play with them in a certain way, and ensuring that (while children are supposedly encouraged to follow their own passions) they could never control their own destinies because The Grownups were in charge, and that was how to run a society. Essentially, they're teaching the children all the benefits of fascist tyranny the Soviet Union once enjoyed, and now serves the people of North Korea and Cuba so well. But at least they have "social justice" in the new, improved People's Republic of Legotown. Ah, the equality of universal poverty! How noble.
[T]he students had been building an elaborate "Legotown," but it was accidentally demolished. The teachers decided its destruction was an opportunity to explore "the inequities of private ownership." According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."
The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society -- a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."
What's sad is that these "teachers" are just plain too wilfully dumb to realize that a) humans (including children) are naturally possessive, b) it's both important and natural for kids (especially boys) to stake out their own turf, c) "ownership" and "power" are inherent human traits, irrespective of culture, and d) no matter how many times it's tried, socialism just plain doesn't work alongside freedom, democracy, or prosperity.
Here's the full article the school submitted to "Rethinking Schools," the magazine for all those folks who think kids, like, just need to like, BE, man. MAN! It is priceless. Be careful, though - it is a concentrated and unvarnished look at the socialist mind. It can be painful to those with a pre-existing condition of common sense.
I wonder what John Edwards thinks about all of this...
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The skinny is she represented a convicted Islamic terrorist, intentionally broke some rules regarding her contact with him, got prosecuted and convicted for it (and, if justice prevails, will be going to jail soon) and is now being lionized by some on the left as a symbol of courage in a time of tyranny.
Here's how I would try to explain to my more liberal friends why I find Stewart (and her story) so unappealing:
Let's say I represented an anti-abortion activist who happened to primarily speak a foreign language.
And let's say he was convicted of plotting to blow up an abortion clinic and running a group that had successfully pulled off several of these mass murders.
And let's say that as a precaution against more bombings occurring at his direction the government was keeping my client in maximum-security lock up and not allowing him any contact with the outside world.
And let's say they made an exception for me as his lawyer, and told me I could bring support staff (translator, assistant) but our conversations with my client had to be limited to issues surrounding his legal defense and under no circumstances could I (or my staff) communicate on his behalf with his followers either personally or via the media.
And let's say I agreed to all of this in writing.
Now let's say I decide to patently disregard this agreement.
Let's say the "staff" I choose to bring for my client meetings are people who have ties to my client's demonstrably violent organization.
And let's say I allow my client to talk to these associates in their shared language (which I don't speak or understand) about issues wholly unrelated to his legal defense -- and I know they're talking, not translating, because the entire time they're doing it I'm making loud remarks about nothing, presumably to make it harder for the government to listen in to their conversations which it has informed me it might be doing.
And let's say a few months later another abortion clinic is bombed, killing or maiming dozens of doctors, nurses, staff, patients and bystanders...and my client's organization takes responsibility and demands his release.
And let's say even after this tragedy I continue to allow my client to meet with these conduits to his organization and speak with them as he chooses.
And let's say I issue a press release on my client's behalf wherein he urges followers to reject any peace with the "baby killers".
Again, let's say I did all this.
Would you praise me as a "zealous advocate"? Would you laud me as a "civil rights champion"?
Let's just say I wouldn't.
Bottom line, Lynne Stewart deserves to go to jail.
If she thought the restrictions the government was placing on her contact with her convicted-terrorist client were unconstitutional she could have challenged them. I might even have supported her in some of her objections...
Instead she made an agreement with the U.S. Government in obvious bad faith, broke it intentionally, and (at the very least) endangered innocent lives by doing so. (During the period when she was facilitating her client's communication with his organization it murdered 60 people and issued a demand for his release.)
I'll say it again, she deserves to go to jail.
Also, all the burritos were vegan.
Here's what happened:
Josh Wolf, a 24-year-old blogger, has spent more than six months behind bars in California -- the longest contempt-of-court term ever served by someone in the media -- for refusing to turn over a videotape he shot of a violent San Francisco demonstration against a Group of Eight summit meeting. Unless a mediation session today can break the impasse, he will likely remain imprisoned at least until the current grand jury's term expires in July.The First Amendment makes us ALL journalists by birthright, and the Internet gives reality to this great promise. Some journalists are professionals, but enough of us are part-timers (especially now) that any definition that would include this guy would necessarily include more US citizens that it would exclude. The Constitution and subsequent amendments made no provision for an insulated journalist class, nor should it have. Creating standards to define "real" journalists only limits the proliferation of a robust, diverse, and free information distribution system that is accessible to all.
Wolf taped the anarchists' San Francisco protest, against a G-8 summit meeting in Scotland, in July 2005. One police officer, Peter Shields, had his skull fractured by a hooded assailant with a pipe or baseball bat. Three people were charged in the attack. Police say protesters also put a mattress under Shields's police car and tried to set it on fire.
In other words, journalist shield laws passed in the name of a free press would actually abridge that free press, in direct contravention of the clear language of the First Amendment.
We are all citizens with the same rights to see, report, publish, and disseminate information. We are also all citizens with the same responsibilities to our justice system - to report for jury duty when asked, to answer subpoenas when served, and to testify truthfully at a tribunal when properly summoned. No penumbra emanating from anywhere grants an exception just because you happen to own a New York Times press pass - or a blog URL.
I'm just glad the judge in this case has the fortitude to keep him in jail, refusing to let justice take a back seat to big-media pressure groups.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
If Libby had a suspiciously selective memory, jerked investigators around, and fibbed under oath, I'm glad he was found guilty, no matter how stupid the original cause of the investigation was. I don't know enough to say he wasn't, and so I'll leave the outrage to others better informed. I'm not one of those people (say, for example, Clinton apologists) who thinks perjury is less serious just because the thing lied about isn't serious (say, for example, sex) - perjury is a direct assault on the entire system of due process, and should be mercilessly weeded out, no matter what the lie was about. I don't care which President or party or elections it hurts. I don't have any sympathy for perjurers no matter how sympathetic the witness or how obnoxious, overbearing, or abusive the prosecutor.
But I am bothered by some of the juror comments. I'm bothered by some of the legal rulings, and bothered that the jury seemed to be confused about some material facts and the narrowness of the issues they seemed to have considered. I'm bothered by the political nature of the original investigation. But that's why we have an appeals process.
Whether Libby is guilty or not, I don't know. What I DO know is that the fact Joe Wilson is running around doing Vanity Fair pictorials while Libby faces jail time is absurd. David Frum puts it best:
Frum also noted the penalties Clinton suffered for his perjury, including all the jail time HE had to serve.
Scooter Libby is convicted in the Plame leak case. The man who actually did the leaking continues to earn millions of dollars, go out to dinner, and be respectfully quoted by attentive journalists.
Scooter Libby is publicly branded an oath-breaker on the basis of diverging recollections. Yet it was the man who set this case in motion, former ambassador Joe Wilson, who was caught in lie after lie by the Senate Intelligence committee.
More cogent (if partisan) running reax on NRO's the Corner.
Michelle Malkin has updating reporting and more links.
A more diverse smattering of opinion compiled at RealClearPolitics.
Monday, March 05, 2007
"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs. I think he would be appalled, actually."...said John Edwards, the man who just spent $4.3+ million on a 28,000 square foot mansion for his family of four. (Yup - that's his actual palace-in-progress.)
I don't presume to know the mind of Jesus, but I don't know that he would define "selflessness" as "attempting to simultaneously pander to religious folk your campaign just offended while attempting to shame them into spending other people's money, all while spending millions of your own money on yourself." I could be wrong - I'm no priest - but I've read the Gospels and that's just my take.
Not that I begrudge John Edwards on his success. Just don't tell me I should be ashamed if I want to achieve some of that myself.
The sponsors of the event are radical socialist groups and an otherwise respectable University down town. She's endorsed by a cop killer. But she's simply a "civil rights attorney," "acclaimed for defending the poor." There's no mention of the crime her legal defense fund is attempting to defend her against, nor of the 60 dead people she helped to kill in the name of world-wide imposition of Sharia law and the oppression of all women. That the "Radical Women" are one of the prime sponsors of this is a sick joke.Celebrate International Women's Day with special guest Lynne Stewart speaking on “My fight for justice in Patriot Act America”Acclaimed for defending poor people, radicals of color, and controversial figures, Stewart, a civil rights attorney, was sentenced to 28 months in prison on charges of abetting terrorism in a trial described as “a triumph of fear over reason” by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Stewart will discuss her appeal and the inspiration she draws from the legacy of female resistance to repression.Co-sponsors: Radical Women, Seattle University Departments and Programs: Anthropology, Sociology & Social Work, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Pre-Law, Women’s Studies; the Black Panther Party Reunion Committee, National Lawyers Guild - Seattle and SU Law School Chapter.This free event is at Seattle University, Pigott Auditorium. Enter campus on East Marion at 12th Ave. Continue straight past the visitor parking lot. The auditorium is in the Pigott Building, the first building on the right. For more information call 206-722-6057 or email RWseattle@mindspring.com.
Here's some background on Stewart I put together last year, from a side comment thread on this blog on another topic.
Why do you think some people are so eager to cast you as a beneficiary of affirmative action?Read the whole thing. The more I read and learn about this man, the more respect I have for him.
That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say and your industry. They had a story and everything had to fit into their story. It discounts other people's achievements. Ask Ted how many all-nighters he pulled. It discounts those. It's so discouraging to see the fraudulent renditions of very complicated and different lives of people who were struggling in a new world for them. Everything becomes affirmative action. There wasn't some grand plan. I just showed up.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Even the best intentioned government run health service can break down. And when it's the only game in town, and the bureaucrats in charge of it are about as accountable for their performance and at risk of being fired as a professor with tenure, that breakdown is inevitable.
To all the liberals who see the Walter Reed scandal (rightly) as an example of government failing its people, why do you insist on foisting such a system on the whole of the American public (except those rich enough to buy foreign insurance, as Canadians have been doing in droves for years)? And wounded war vets tend to get the attention of the public, and thus Congress - how about the rest of the regular schlubs who aren't as useful as political props? Do you want George W. Bush in charge of your health care decisions? Why is it that listening to international phone calls to Afghani caves is the historically unprecedented trammeling of our civil rights and is proof of a sinister American fascist state, but demanding that all US Citizens be forced under penalty of law to turn over ALL control of their medical records and treatment options (among the most personal and private of our lives and choices) to the Federal Government isn't?
Specifically, the left has been making charges against the Army's logistical, financial, and materiel support (this time around) since 2002. Not enough pay, not enough armor, not enough medical support. Some of them have been important and valid criticisms. Many (especially more recently) have been flatly ridiculous. But because the universal conclusion of these bomb throwers was, "So that means we shouldn't fight terrorists at all - run away!" the complaints were ignored for what in many cases they really were - an attempt to be anti-war and anti-military without sounding anti-war or anti-troop. Most telling was that almost none of them couched their critiques in terms of how to better improve the fighting efficiency and efficacy of the Army - They were nothing more than calls for pre-emptive American surrender. As a result, no one who took seriously America's crucial role in battling tyranny, fascism, and Islamo-terrorism world wide took any of the complaints seriously - even when they deserved to be soberly addressed.
Usually, I don't mind "partisanship" or "politicization." I usually consider those synonyms for "standing firm on principle" and "robust debate and democracy." But this is a case where the line has been crossed, and the team sport mentality causes substantial harm to those we can least afford to hurt - the volunteer bulwarks of freedom.
The absurdity of many of the left's complaints allowed the right - who "knew" that their status as the only serious party when it came to national security was secure - to ignore ALL the complaints. The were entrenched in power - why should they bother with introspection? Why should they give any ammunition to their political enemies, who they (not incorrectly) feared would only use it to further undermine the American war effort?
And so it was that the conditions at Walter Reed continued to deteriorate, American heroes were left to fight through the red tape of the world's largest HMO on their own, and those who have sacrificed for our freedom were given lip service instead of real help.
I'm glad that heads have rolled at the highest level. I'm glad that the Bush administration has begun taking action to remedy the situation. I hope that the Republicans have gulped enough humble pie to take the time to sort the serious complaints from the chaff thrown up by pacifist appeasers of tyranny. And I hope that Democrats, now under the weight of leadership, will tamp down the shrill and the dishonest, so they can better serve the American military.
But I'm not going to hold my breath. Thanks be to the bloggers and the few reporters who wouldn't let this problem simply melt into the roar of partisanship.
Two hundred twenty-one thousand kilowatt-hours? What's he doing in there? Clamping Tipper to the electrodes and zapping her across the rec room every night? No, no, don't worry. Al's massive energy consumption is due entirely to his concern about the way we're depleting the Earth's resources. When I say "we," I don't mean Al, of course. I mean you -- yes, you, Earl Schlub, in the basement apartment at 29 Elm St. You're irresponsibly depleting the Earth's resources by using that electric washer when you could be down by the river with the native women beating your loin cloth dry on the rock while singing traditional village work chants all morning long. But up at the Gore mansion -- the Nashville Electric Service's own personal gold mine, the shining Cathedral of St. Al, Tennessee's very own Palace of Versal -- the Reverend Al is being far more environmentally responsible. As his spokesperson attempted to argue, his high energy usage derives from his brave calls for low energy usage. He's burning up all that electricity by sending out faxes every couple of minutes urging you to use less electricity.But what about those carbon offsets? Don't those make it OK?
How do "carbon offsets" work? Well, let's say you're a former vice president and you want to reduce your "carbon footprint," but the gorgeous go-go Gore gals are using the hair dryer every night. So you go to a carbon-credits firm and pay some money and they'll find a way of getting somebody on the other side of the planet to reduce his emissions and the net result will be "carbon neutral." It's like in Henry VIII's day. He'd be planning a big ox roast and piling on the calories but he'd give a groat to a starving peasant to carry on starving for another day and the result would be calorie-neutral. (emphasis added)It's a moral issue alright. Just not the way they say it is.
Read the whole thing. I just about fell out of my chair.
In this recent interview with the New York Post, he lays out a great deal of the problems - and solutions - facing the country and conservatives. Take this tack on the War on Jihad:
For example, we should be talking about women's rights. I mean, women's rights is the easiest, cleanest single fight worldwide in taking on [the most radical forms of Islam]. . .What better way to mobilize and/or shame liberals into understanding the dangers we face? He understands that there are a thousand good reasons for fighting this fight, and all of them resonate differently with different groups. It's ironic that this icon of divisiveness (admittedly an unfair caricature largely inflated by the MSM) understands so well how to build a broad coalition. I just don't think he's the one to do it.
Nominating Newt would guarantee the inauguration of President Hillary in January 2009. I wouldn't vote for him. But I sincerely hope he enters the race. His presence will force serious attention to serious issues that need to be faced by the Republican party - lest conservatism fall into irrelevance and the US becomes just another Eutopian Socialist society slowly committing cultural suicide.
"This year we are told to be horrified by the fact that by November 2008 the presidential contest will have cost $1 billion. Which means that the two-year process will cost half as much as Americans spend every year on Easter candy."Exactly.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I'm also annoyed as hell that, in spite of the ethical hot water our Dean has found himself in recently with regard to using University resources for private use, and the admonitions we've received against using those same University resources for political lobbying, I'm getting several E-mails a week blatantly doing just that. Have we learned nothing?
Well, I took the advice of the E-mail and wrote my legislator - just not in the way they probably intended. My arguments against this absurdity are contained there. My opposition letter is reproduced below in the comments section.
I also intend to write to the Dean, registering my irritation with the Law School's role in this purely political lobbying effort. Maybe I can get some equal time...
(As always, the opinions are my own. The Federalist Society itself does not lobby for particular policies, nor does it endorse or oppose any specific legislation.)
Even our most successful wars witnessed far more lethal stupidity than anything seen in Baghdad. Thousands of American dead resulted from lapses like the Confederate surprise at Shiloh, Japanese surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, and the German surprise attacks in the Ardennes.