Recently in Politics Category

I've generally liked what I've heard so far in the confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court, but one thing caught my attention and does bother me.

Judge Roberts, speaking about interpretation of the Constitution to Sen. Orrin Hatch :

In terms of the application of the law, you begin, obviously, with the precedents before you. There are some cases where everybody's going to be a literalist. If the phrase in the Constitution says two-thirds of the Senate, everybody's a literalist when they interpret that.

Other phrases in the Constitution are broader: unreasonable searches and seizures. You can look at that wording all day and it's not going to give you much progress in deciding whether a particular search is reasonable or not. You have to begin looking at the cases and the precedents, what the framers had in mind when they drafted that provision.

In questioning about the recent Kelo v. City of New London decision and the government's power of eminent domain, Judge Roberts had this to say:

Well, in the first year in law school, we all read the decision in Calder against Bull, which has this famous statement that the government may not take the property of A and give it to B. And that certainly was quoted in the dissent -- in Justice O'Connor's dissent.

The Kelo majority, though, said if the legislature wants to exercise that power, basically that the court's not going to second- guess the judgment that this is a public use.

And I do think that imposes a heavy responsibility on the legislature to determine what they're doing and whether it is a public use or if it's simply transferring from one private party to the next.

The Supreme Court does not allow Congress to determine what is or isn't an 'unreasonable search'. Why is it proper then for the Supreme Court to defer to Congress on what is or isn't a 'public use' for the purposes of eminent domain?

This is precisely where I think the Supreme Court failed in Kelo. The Court was asked for an interpretation of the 'public use' clause, and the Court basically ruled that a 'public use' is whatever Congress or a state legislature says it is. In this case, the Court refused to perform its constitutional duty to check the government's power of eminent domain against its citizens.

Where does Judge Roberts stand on this issue?

ROBERTS: Well, the Kelo decision, obviously, was just decided last year and I don't think I should comment on whether it was correct or not. It stands as a precedent of the court.

It did leave open the question of whether it applied in a situation that was not a broader redevelopment plan. And if the issue does come back before the court, I need to be able to address it without having previously commented on it.

Who knows? I'd probably vote to confirm him though, and hope that an eminent domain case would come before his court sooner rather than later. He clearly has a very sharp knowledge of the law and understands the divisions of power within the branches of government better than most of the Senators who were questioning him (Senators, who by the way, are tasked with actually making our laws).

I normally watch the 'Today' show in the mornings; NBC broadcast Condolezza Rice's appearance before the 9/11 Commission live this morning instead. I was working on some other things so I didn't catch all of the hearing, but a few things stood out:

I had not heard Condoleeza Rice speak before. I thought she presented herself very well - professional, articulate, and intelligent - and gave the 9/11 Commission the best answers she could, considering that a lot of what she knows is privileged and/or classified.

Richard Ben Veniste's questioning of Condi irritated me a lot. He sure had an ax (partisan?) to grind. I thought maybe it was just me, then I read Jeff Jarvis' remarks "Richard Ben Veniste, on the other hand, is an ass, acting like a prosecutor getting his moment in the TV sun.". An even better quote in the comments: "Yes, Ben Veniste was trying to have his Law & Order moment."

Bob Kerrey felt the need to make a statement before beginning his questioning. Funny - I didn't know the 9/11 Commission hearings were being held to take statements from its members. The most any of the 9/11 Commission members should have said before their questioning was to thank Condi for appearing before them.

In Kerrey's statement, he says, "It's not a war on terrorism. It's a war on radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic." In just a few sentences, Kerrey demonstrated amazing ignorance on live TV before the entire country.

The terrorists we are at war with are radical Islamists. We need to know all we can about the enemy to defeat them, and that is a significant piece of information. But we're not at war with them because they're radical Islamists - we're at war with them because they're terrorists.

Kerrey's statement could easily inflame (anger) or intimidate (alarm) Islamists in general, and it gives the true enemies (the terrorists) a reason to keep fighting and not give up trying to attack us: If our enemies believe our intentions are to destroy them for what they believe, rather than for what they do, why should they abandon their fight?

Donald Sensing was pretty disgusted with the whole affair; I certainly was disappointed by some committee members' behavior and I agree with him about the playing for the camera.

Is the 09/11 Commission just a witch hunt? The audience applause at some of the commission's questions and remarks (not to mention the questions and remarks themselves) certainly had me wondering.

Condi's appearance before the 09/11 Commission was voluntary. Some of the committee members seemed to forget that. I know I'd certainly be thinking twice before volunteering to appear before such a committee again.

The Tweezer's Edge has moved!!

The Tweezer's Edge has outgrown its free space on Earthlink and has been migrated to a new domain hosted by LiveRack. Please update your bookmarks, links, RSS feeds, etc., to reflect the new location:

http://tweezersedge.com/

Dean's World has come up with a great rule for handling spammers and trolls who leave messages in his blog comments:

From this point forward, if you leave either a trolling message or a spam in the comments to Dean's World, my wife Rosemary will edit your message. Purely for the purposes of correcting your grammar and making sure you said what you really MEANT to say, as opposed to whatever deranged psychobabble came out of you.

What spurred this policy? "Laura in DC" has been spamming blogs to drum up support for presidential candidate Howard Dean, and made the mistake of spamming Dean's World. Jeff Jarvis (BuzzMachine) has a sample in his comments (and Daniel Drezner has one too):

Cool site! Check out my new blog, Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope - The Great Grassroots Campaign. Also, check out my Dean stores, The Great Grassroots Campaign and You Have The Power. The proceeds from the shop will be given to the new Generation Dean chapter on campus. If you feel like linking to any of the sites I gave you, I'd be happy to add a link to your site on my blog. Keep up the good work with your site.

Posted by Laura in DC at September 17, 2003 04:41 PM

So what did Laura really mean to say? Here's the re-written comment:

I just want you to know that I used to love Howard Dean. This is my website. But I just found out that Howard Dean fantasizes about being a 13 year old girl in bondage and wishes he could be Ronald Reagan's sex toy. He hates the Jews and the darkies, but especially the jews because he thinks they have all the money and won't give him any.

I really hate him now. If you hate him too, please come to the website and tell me just how much!!

He is a real rat bastard.

Email me your thoughts on this stinkin' racist anti-semite. I'd love to hear from you !

democrattotheend@yahoo.com

Posted by Laura in DC at September 17, 2003 05:26 PM

If the opportunity ever comes up, I'm going to have a lot of fun with this!

Update 20-Sep-2003: Laura hit Calpundit's comments yesterday.

Glenn Reynolds for President in 2008!!

I'm all for it and I'd vote for him. There's even a blogger cabinet being assembled over at Smallest Minority. Some of my favorite nominations:

VP: Rachel Lucas - With her guns, you can bet she won't be hiding out at some "undisclosed location".

Attorney General: Eugene Volokh - I can't quite put my finger on why, but he just seems like an excellent choice.

Sec. of Defense WAR!: Donald Sensing - Retired Army artillery officer and ordained minister. I agree that this combination is a plus.

Sec. of State: Steven Den Beste - This choice is borderline genius. Also nominated for Head of the CIA/NSA, he would serve well in either position.

Sec. of Treasury: Mindles H. Dreck - Not bad, but I wonder if Mindles wouldn't serve better as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

There's also a table listing the current nominations here. (Hat tip: One Hand Clapping)

Wired magazine has an article discussing the "Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2003", introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). I had a feeling something like this was coming, with many states crying about how much money they're "losing" to online cigarette sales.

The rationale for the law: "[C]oncern that contraband cigarettes contribute heavily to the profits of organized crime syndicates, especially global terrorist organizations." According to Hatch, "The Internet has 'exacerbated' the problem, as crime syndicates purchase cigarettes in states with low tobacco taxes and sell them to customers in states with high ones."

Some nice highlights from the bill:

1. Records of sales must be kept on file for 5 years. Record keeping requirements in general for cigarette sellers would become more stringent.

2. Violations of this law are punishable as a felony by up to a $100,000 fine or up to 2 years in jail. An additional civil penalty of up to 2% of gross sales of the previous 12 months may also be imposed.

3. Delivery of cigarettes through the U.S. Mail is prohibited.

4. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is charged with enforcing this law. Currently, the FBI is charged with enforcing federal cigarette tax laws.

The only "organized syndicates" I am worried about here are Congress and the state legislatures. Smokers make an easy target for taxation since they are in the minority. People are trying to evade cigarette taxes because they are too high. The obvious solution is lower cigarette taxes - not even higher taxes and more laws with jail sentences and hefty fines (as Congress and the legislatures would like to believe).

Political Parties

I've been wondering lately about what the Democrats and Republican really stand for in their platforms. I consider myself to be generally conservative, but from what I've seen in the news and political discussions, I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with either parties' platforms. I don't think I really know beyond just some vague generalizations. I was thinking about registering to vote for the first time in my life. I took a look at the California voter registration form and was surprised when I got to the part about choosing a party affiliation. Here's the choices for political parties in California:

American Independent Party
Democratic Party
Green Party
Libertarian Party
Natural Law Party
Peace & Freedom Party
Republican Party

There's also unaffiliated / undeclared / independent ("I decline to state a political party") and other (write in your favorite party if its not in the above list). I know a little bit about Libertarians. The others I've never heard of, let alone know anything about them. I guess I'm going to have to make up a list of issues and try to find out where each party stands on them. Could be interesting, but I doubt it. I have the feeling that the other parties are "fringe" parties. I saw some figures showing that the Dems and Reps have memberships in the millions of voters here in California, while the others have less than 100,000 each.

Politics

I have a pretty keen interest in politics and the areas that it is intertwined with - law, economics, tax policy, morality and community standards, rights and interests of individuals, businesses, property owners.....the list seems endless. Then there's also the different levels of politics: city, county, state, federal. For reasons I don't fully understand, I am most interested in national politics and issues. My interest decreases as the political level gets closer and closer to home.

The more I watch politicians in action, the more disappointed I am in their performance. Politicians don't seem to understand their proper role in government, do not truly represent the interests of their constituency at large, and make wrong choices at every turn. Just as long as they get re-elected.

Sometimes I get the idea that I should get involved and try to make a difference. Then I think about the extremely low probability that I would actually succeed in this. So I have never gotten involved in politics even to the extent of participating in a single election. Kind of sad, considering that I've had the right to vote for over 20 years.

Texas Democrats Running to Oklahoma

51 state Representatives (Democrats) fled the state of Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma to break quorum and prevent the Texas House of Representatives from voting on a redistricting bill (which the Democrats would lose). They've been camping out at a local Holiday Inn for most of this week and making a nice little spectacle of themselves.

A lot of words come to mind. Sore losers. Chickenshits. Pussies. I understand that they have *serious* objections to the redistricting bill, but this was the wrong way to fight it. Many thanks to the governor of Oklahoma for not granting Texas state troopers the authority to arrest them and bring them back to Texas. (The same thanks also should go to the governor of New Mexico, but it would seem that none of the errant Democrats ran into that state.) I sincerely hope that someday the state of Texas can repay the favor in spades.