Misunderestimated

Monday, October 24, 2005

The NY Senate Race...

might just become more interesting:

NEW YORK - Prominent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said last week she could not bring herself to vote for the re-election next year of US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) unless HRC first publicly admits her vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. That subsequently prompted NY Libertarian Party State Chair John Clifton to issue a statement inviting Sheehan to seek the party's US Senate nomination next year as a peace candidate. The Libertarian Party has already called for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Clifton was the LP's US Senate nominee against Clinton in 2000.

I wonder what the libertarians think about having Sheehan represent them in a Sheehan-Clinton-Pirro contest--a contest which at the very least would not have a paucity of outspoken female voices.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hissssssssssssss




Guess what we good ol' repubs are in Senator Boxer's new book?


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Those darn purple fingers are back.

Iraqi's have finished voting on the constitution:




The purple fingers are conspicuously visible again--reports are that a larger number of Sunni's also voted.



The election day was made into a 4 day holiday in Iraq.



The constitution in question provides a more progressive treatment of equality.



The Iraqi Security Forces have taken the lead in protection, and did an excellent job, as there were few incidents of violence around the country.



President Jalal Talabani, who spoke at Columbia only a little while ago, casts his vote.



Perhaps more remarkable is the fact that a new generation of Iraqi's will now grow up in a country where the only thing they will have known is democracy.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Earthquake in South Asia


An article from the BBC about the devestating earthquake in South Asia. Links where you can donate are on the bottom.

The dems blog also has a helpful post on where to donate.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

College Democrat Leader Can't Quote Things Honestly

What I find particularly amazing with the new College Democrat President, Seth Flaxman, is his inability to actually quote documents or statements accurately. I already have noted this in the past on this blog (see "Funny College Democrat Mistake") a way down. In a letter to the editor in the Spect today, though, Flaxman asserts that:

According to the College Republican’s Constitution (Article III Section II) they require that “Formal votes, pertaining to internal College Republicans policies and procedures, go to a vote at the next general meeting, with the majority of members present being sufficient to pass the proposal.”

What Flaxman ignores, however, is a small section in the middle of that line that he conveniently removed without even adding a "..." to indicate anything was cut. In reality, the section reads:

"Formal votes, pertaining to internal College Republicans policies and procedures, shall be initiated by any member of the general body. The proposal shall then go to a vote at the next general meeting, with the majority of members present being sufficient to pass the proposal."

It pertains to votes that originate from the general membership on ideas they might want to raise. It is intended to get a vote on any issue and to encourage new ideas, not to make every decision the result of a vote of the general board. Indeed, directly after that section, the constitution establishes the authority of the Executive Board to take decisions in its own name to recognize policies or groups, provided that it is established as a vote of the board:

"If such policy positions are initiated by the Executive Board and are not brought up for a vote, these positions must be stated as the position of the Executive Board of the Columbia University College Republicans, not as of the group as a whole."


And then he asserts how Democrats let anyone hear their speeches and question them, which, of course, is crap. When Hillary Clinton was running for NY Senate, she came to my High School and I could hear her alright, but when it came time for questions her staff insisted on filtering them first and allowing the ones they liked. Some openness.

And notice how Flaxman never refutes my point that the College Democrats stifle anyone who is not in their majority? Instead, he confirms it.

Rather than take aim at Columbia College Republicans for stifling its members, he cites a claim about the RNC. I won't argue that, even though I could. I will point out to Flaxman if I ever meet him, though, that the College Republicans are not the RNC, and that the College Democrats are not the "Big Tent." That we can prove beyond doubt.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Maybe Bush isn't as pro-life as we thought.

Abortion is obviously a heated topic, as both Victor and Chris' posts have shown, so considering that there isn't even a concensus on this blog about the issue, it may be interesting to see what messages President Bush is sending out on abortion with his supreme court nominees.

One of Bush's campaign promises was to nominate judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas--meaning strict constructionists/originalists. With regards to actually legislatively fighting to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which would be a divisive, controversial and probably a politically unpopular move, Bush has indicated that he feels the country simply isn't ready. While this may obviously just be political posturing, it is certainly an indication that Bush is not in the Santorum/Brownback camp on abortion. Consequently, the other less confrontational avenue of placing limitations on abortion would be to place justices on the supreme court whose philosophy would cause them to be critical of Roe vs. Wade. While some originalists/constructionists may not even believe in a right to privacy, it is also quite possible that judicial conservatives who do believe in a such a right still feel Roe is wrong on its merits (even some minimalists and liberals feel the ruling is on tenuous ground).

Thus, Bush's job if he were looking to overturn Roe vs. Wade would be clear, appoint judges who he could count on with regards to overturning the decision. So far, looking at Bush's first pick and the speculation over the next one along with possible future picks, it appears Bush may not be dwelling solely on overturning Roe vs. Wade. While Roberts has called abortion a 'tragedy' (though many who are pro-choice such as Senator Kerry have made similiar remarks) he does still recognize a right to privacy and even believes it can be applied to uphold Griswold. Roe is of course different than Griswold, and the argument can be easily made that the right to privacy does not extend to Roe while it does to Griswold. Even if Roberts would overturn Roe however, he would still only keep the most recent count on the court, which was 6-3 in favor of Roe.

O'Connor's replacement would then be the next step, and if it was a justice who would overturn Roe, there would still be a 5-4 majority in favor of Roe (unless Roberts manages to persuade Justice Kennedy--which is unlikely but still possible). However, with the names that seem to be floating around currently--Owen, Gonzales, Thompson, Estrada--there is no solid paper trail which would indicate that any of those possible nominees would definitely overrule Roe. Even Owen's most controversial ruling on the issue has been one where she did not allow a bypass of a parental notification law which had already been passed by Texas, and which has widespread support around the country. While this may indicate that Owen is a conservative on abortion, it certainly doesn't even definitively place her to the right of Kennedy. All the other 3 names, along with a whole host of other less well-known names, have even skimpier records on which to base such a characterization. The other possible nominees who may have a sufficient paper trail showing they would overrule Roe--Luttig, McConnell, Janice Rogers Brown, Alito, Garza--would all face bruising nomination fights especially because it is known they would probably overrule Roe. While Bush was particularily clever with regards to deceiving the press and public over who the first nominee was until the last minute when he named Roberts, it does appear that he wants another Roberts-like easy confirmation, and thus the latter groups' chances may be slim. However, even if any of them is nominated, confirmed, and then does vote in a way to overrule Roe (three big ifs), the court would still be one vote away from overturning Roe.

Assuming a hypothetical 3rd vacancy, in the event it was one of the court's more liberal justices (Ginsberg and Steven's names have been floated) the pressure from both sides of the spectrum would be overwhelming. While social conservatives would be drooling over the possiblity of finally overturning Roe, many liberals, moderates and likely much of the media and academia would press for a moderate. If you've already heard cries that Bush should try to maintain balance on the current court, the departure of a liberal would only amplify those. This pressure would be further complicated by the fact that Bush obviously would not have to run for another term and both he and Rove seem to be big proponents of Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales has been a lightning rod for controversy amongst conservatives who fear he's neither an originalist or anti-roe. Even if the President does not nominate Gonzales for a hypothetical 3rd seat, a nomination like Edith Joy Clement or Larry Thompson could likely not result in the 5 vote majority to overrule Roe. Thus, while much of this is based on rumors, looking at Bush's actions so far and the nominees who've also been listed as possiblities, its possible that republicans could see 3 new justices appointed without any change in the standing of Roe as precedent(If Bush had 4 vacancies to deal with--an outside possibility-- much of these predictions would probably change).

While constitutional law is certainly much, much more than just abortion, the President has already proved in the past that he is a very shrewd political thinker. His choice of nominees, past, present and future, may be indicative of the fact that he is purposely overseeing a major rightward shift on the court without necessarily overturning Roe.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

For those who are enamored with Billary

all you need to do to see the type of United States we would be living in is to look at the struggles of Germany today. Weighted down by a social system that not only oppresses any drive to succeed, but has bogged down the entire economy to a point where the international community is saying fix the incredibly burdensome social system or have your credit rating trashed.

This is a preview of the US we would live in under Hilary. nationalized health care, increased social services paid for by taxing the middle class and discouraging entrpeneurship and success. All for the benefit of staying in office by bribing those who may benefit with social programs.

do not be fooled by her "move to the center", an Hilary presidency would result in massive government intrusion, unless of course you are an unborn child or trying to put lecivious (sic) act on television during the dinner hour when children were watching because of course these are both intrusionary acts that inhibit ones freedom, and we cant have that. Of course one wonders what forcing someone on to nationalized health care is, or taxing someone to death in order to ensure that chronically unmotivated people do not feel slighted.

So take a look at Germany and see if this is the America you desire.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Elections galore!

The Afghan elections appear to have gone off very well:

"I am so happy, so happy," says Khatereh Mushafiq, 18, her black veil decorated with white flowers pulled back from her beaming face.

"Because, you know, we (women) are also now taking part in the government and in society. People must take part, people must have a say."

"Before, there was no democracy, now there is democracy," says 36-year-old Mohammed Twahir, who sells cold drinks from a roadside stall, after voting. "Democracy means freedom."

Reuters
AP


In Germany, it looks like the CDU (the center right party) won a slimmer victory than they had hoped, and that both the CDU and SPD will have trouble forming a ruling coalition without involving the other. Merkel is likely the new chancellor, though Schroeder may still be able to retain the position if he can form a coalition with the New Left Party (this is pretty unlikely and even then its possible the SPD, Green, New Left coalition may not have enough). There is also the outside chance the FDP, generally a CDU ally, may join a coalition with the SDP and keep Schroeder as chancellor.

Either way, it looks like an increase of the VAT tax, as Merkel openly advocates this and Schroeder and some SDP folks have flirted with the idea of a two percent hike. The FDP, the only liberal economic party and a CDU ally, is the only party that has serious criticism of the idea. The reasoning behind the increase would be that it would be offset by cutting wage costs, supposedly stimulating growth. Unless Merkel gets an SPD-less coalition however, it appears unlikely that she would be able to do much else.

Reuters
AP


One thing that is notable is the recent strength of center-right parties in elections worldwide with regards to countries where that distinction is most clear. Labour lost power in the most recent election, with the Tories gaining much of what was lost. In the US, Bush was re-elected and republicans gained in both legislative bodies. Howard remains as the leader in Australia. In Japan, Koizumi and his center-right party rode comfortably to victory this month. Karamanlis led the conservatives to victory in Greece over a fragmented left. In Germany, the CDU looks to have ended the SDP's coalition rule. Villepin has just become the new PM in France in the center-right controlled government. Paul Martin's Liberal Party lost their majority in Canada and had to form a minority government. Poland looks to have an overwhelming conservative majority ahead of their elections this year.

There have been some gains for the left, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, but the general trend has obviously generally been good for the center-right. These types of definitions are generally trickier in Africa, South America and Asia, but overall it appears as though economic liberalization (as the libertarians ears perk up) has been securing at least some type of support as a general philosophy.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Scotus Nomination Two

The hearings this week revealed a number of things:

Senators, even those with law degrees, don't necessarily understand constitutional law.

Judicial nomination hearings have become little more than a spectacle so that senators recieve airtime.

Most importantly, that John Roberts, an eminently qualified judge, will probably be confirmed as chief justice.


One note though- (and this will be one of the rare times I will give suggestions to the esteemed democrats on the senate judiciary committee)
It makes much more sense to ask a nominee more open ended questions if their paper trail does not already create sufficient traps. Roberts (despite what those on the left may contend) did not have a damaging paper trail and consequently there was no advantage to asking questions intended to trap him. A nominee as intelligent as a John Roberts, Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, etc. will be intelligent enough to evade those questions (see Clarence Thomas on the nearly identical answer to the Griswold question Roberts answered) while keeping their own philosophy relatively ambiguous. Consequently, like some have suggested, it may be advisable that these senators ask general questions on overarching constitutional ideas. For example, instead of asking, do you believe in a general right to privacy, it may more fruitful to ask a nominee what their conception of the constitutional right to privacy is (or for example how they believe the commerce clause would be applied under originalist doctrine). While these questions may produce more softball, theoretical answers, they at least provide basis for tougher questioning based upon recent and direct opinions by a nominee. At the very least, senators will also sound more credible if they claim they cannot vote for a nominee with whom they disagree on overarching constitutional ideas as opposed to nakedly partisan single issues (see abortion and euthanasia).


Finally, I just wanted to address a name which has been mentioned as a possible O'Connor replacement: Priscilla Owen.

Reportedly, Harry Reid has already told Frist that she would be filibustered if she were nominated (though the question now is probably who wouldn't be filibustered and whether the nuclear option would be sustainable). Like Roberts, she will be a very intelligent and highly regarded nominee. She recieved the gold standard, a unanimously well-qualified rating from the ABA for her circuit court nomination and graduated 1st from her Baylor law class. She was voted in as a Texas State Supreme Court justice with winning margins ranging from 13% to almost 70% (she recieved almost 85% of the vote and no realistic opposition in her most recent race), indicating she probably isn't that far out of the "mainstream" if at all.

Finally, the opposition to Owen has been based on very poor grounds. The opposition to her has been at the behest of Pro-Choice interest groups over the issue of parental notification by minors on abortion and waving such a standard. Parental Notification is required by the law in Texas and consequently her tendency to be critical of bypasses are what has driven these groups wild. The main thing opposition groups seize on is an embarassingly bad reading of a case where they claim that then fellow Justice Alberto Gonzales claimed she engaged in "an unconscionable act of judicial activisim." This is very obviously wrong. Outside of that, the case against Owen has been very weak until now, and wasn't even enough to derail her nomination during the "gang of 14" compromise earlier. Consequently, the case against Judge Owen does not even come close to a plausible objection versus all her other glowing attributes.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Question to those who are Pro-abor... I mean Choice

So heres the scenario.

A doctor is attending to a woman who is 6 months pregnant in an operating room. At six months this child would be completley functional outside its mothers womb and is "viable". The child passes through the birth canal and upon exiting the woman the doctor punctures the childs skull sucks its brain out and tears off the arms and legs. Immediately this doctor is arrested, charged with murder, and in most states after being convicted is given the death penalty.

Same doctor, same women, same baby, same operating room.

Instead of waiting for the child to pass through the birth canal the doctor goes into the uterus, punctures the skull, sucks the brain out, and tears the limbs off of the child. This time though the doctor is not arrested, in fact, some in society laud him.

My question is simply this.

What is wrong with this picture?

What it clearly demonstrates is that Liberals, who consider someone that condones or accepts this practice as mainstream and rational and someone who opposes it as extremist, are really those who have no sense of compassion.

It makes one wonder what choice that viable entity had.