Friday, June 27, 2008

D.C. v. Heller: Narrow Victory For Freedom

Narrowly, the Court decided the Constitution says what it means and means what it says after all!

See also the Reuters article.

The Forces Of Good:
--John G. Roberts
--Antonin Scalia
--Anthony Kennedy
--Clarence Thomas
--Samuel Alito

The Forces Of Evil:
--John P. Stevens
--David Souter
--Ruth Bader Ginsburg
--Stephen Breyer

"Justice" John Paul Stevens writes in his weenie dissent.

The [Supreme] Court would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.
Yes, Johnny, that's exactly what they did. Justice Antonin Scalia, in his witty way, rips hard on Stevens:

In any event, the meaning of "bear arms" that petitioners and Justice Stevens propose is not even the (sometimes) idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a hybrid definition, whereby "bear arms" connotes the actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really an idiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried that meaning at the time of the founding. But it is easy to see why petitioners and the dissent are driven to the hybrid definition. Giving "bear Arms" its idiomatic meaning would cause the protected right to consist of the right to be a soldier or to wage war--an absurdity that no commentator has ever endorsed. . . . Worse still, the phrase "keep and bear Arms" would be incoherent. The word "Arms" would have two different meanings at once: "weapons" (as the object of "keep") and (as the object of "bear") one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying "He filled and kicked the bucket" to mean "He filled the bucket and died." Grotesque.
Here is what Justice Breyer had to say in his dissent:

The argument about method, however, is by far the less important argument surrounding today's decision. Far more important are the unfortunate consequences that today's decision is likely to spawn. Not least of these, as I have said, is the fact that the decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States. I can find no sound legal basis for launching the courts on so formidable and potentially dangerous a mission. In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.
This is the Brezhnev Doctrine of Stare Decisis: What the Left gains over time, no matter how fraudulently, they get to keep, because to restore the Constitution would be to upset the precariously stacked applecart of bad law.

And Scalia rips him, too:
(Breyer) criticizes us for declining to establish a level of scrutiny for evaluating Second Amendment restrictions. He proposes, explicitly at least, none of the traditionally expressed levels (strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, rational basis), but rather a judge-empowering "interest-balancing inquiry" that "asks whether the statute burdens a protected interest in a way or to an extent that is out of proportion to the statute's salutary effects upon other important governmental interests." . . .. After an exhaustive discussion of the arguments for and against gun control, Justice Breyer arrives at his interest-balanced answer: because handgun violence is a problem, because the law is limited to an urban area, and because there were somewhat similar restrictions in the founding period (a false proposition that we have already discussed), the interest-balancing inquiry results in the constitutionality of the handgun ban. QED.

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding "interest-balancing" approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government--even the Third Branch of Government--the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges' assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

California Primary Election 2010

This guide presumes a Republican Primary voter, although believe it or not, I do know people who vote in the Democrat primaries for "damage control" reasons.

On that note, there is actually a Primary Democrat I wish to endorse for

US SENATE: Democrat: Robert M. "Mickey" Kaus

US SENATE: Republican: Chuck DeVore

Unfortunately, the Evil Wicked Witch of the West, Soviet Slut and Bolshevik Bimbo, Barbara Boxer has this primary wrapped up, and may well be sent back to befoul us for another six years, but she must be defeated. Not only for the crypto-communist voting record, but also for sheer arrogance mixed with ignorance. And her condescending discussion with the Black Chamber of Commerce official is also revealing.

Anyway, Mickey Kaus doesn't have a chance, but he's a former Clinton Administration official now a reasonably thoughtful web logger "Blogger" journalist, and he comes from a long lost time when Democrats actually stood for working Joes and Janes, rather than (1) decadent and un-American academic, entertainment and media elites, and (2) ghetto parasites who threaten to riot if they don't get their welfare checks.

On the GOP side, the best of the three prominent choices is Chuck DeVore, followed by Carly Fiorina, followed by Tom Campbell, in that order.

Why DeVore? Because Chuck DeVore has worked his way up from the California State Assembly, and hasn't sold out his constituents in the process, unlike a certain Gubernator I can think of.....

Carly Fiorina, for all her money, is a newbie to the Great Game of California GOP politics, and her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was not a very successful one. I think the current and former employees of Hewlett Packard will unanimously vote against her.

Tom Campbell is a sell-out, go-along-with-the-Demunists-to-get-along, RINO (Republican In Name Only), and a three time loser in past Senate races.

But ANY of them would be better than the evil witch who has befouled California for the last 18 years.

GOVERNOR: Steve Poizner

Originally I was going to go with Meg Whitman, as she appeared to have a more polished campaign and primary rival Steve Poziner was floundering at first. Meg originally had a very positive campaign, with her "Talk To Meg" advertisements. But then two things happened. First, Meg Whitman started smearing her primary rival Steve Poizner, even though she had a comfortable lead and plenty of war chest money. I am sad to see Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner both beating each other up and getting nasty. But since Meg started the nasty smears, I have to primary vote for Poizner.

Second, Steve had the courage to support Arizona’s decision to enforce and in fact mimic federal immigration laws when Meg Whitman cut and ran in the face of the usual racial demagoguery.

Either one, however, would be better than former Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown rising out of his political crypt, with his "era-of-limits" (for individuals, but not for nanny-state government), "small-is-beautiful" (but not for the almighty State), "don't build things and people won't come", new-age nonsense. A political vampire indeed. But to defeat him, either Whitman or Poizner will need to stock up on the Holy Water, silver bullets, garlic and wooden stakes.


There are two prominent candidates here: Sam Aanestad and recently appointed by Ah-nold, Incumbent, Abel Maldonado. Abel Maldonado betrayed the solid GOP stand against even more tax hikes for what is already the most taxed state in the land. Abel Maldonado broke his signed taxpayer pledge and bears responsibility not only for the biggest tax increase in California’s history, but also for lack of serious spending restraints in the budgets that ran California off the fiscal cliff. Abel Maldonado also supports the half-baked and demented Proposition 14 (see below). Sam Aanestad is the better choice. He is well liked among his constituents, and like Chuck DeVore above, served them well without selling them out.


John Eastman is a legal scholar at the Claremont Institute – a public policy think tank devoted to restoring American founding principles to the public policy debate. John is a nationally renowned Constitutional advocate and scholar whose leadership is desperately needed in the Attorney General’s office. Imagine having an Attorney General who not only respects the Constitution but who understands and reveres it, and doesn't give us the "living breathing document" crap which means a rule of whims, not a rule of originally intended Constitutional Law.


Brian's primary rival, Mike Villines, was another of the sell-out Republican votes on the massive tax increase that crushed what was left of our state’s economy last year, after signing a no-new-taxes pledge.


Prop. 13 YES - No property tax increase for earthquake-retrofitting old buildings

What Prop. 13 would do: Current law allows owners of masonry buildings only 15 years of exclusion of higher property taxes that are triggered when they do earthquake retrofitting. This policy was viewed as a disincentive by California legislators who unanimously placed Prop. 13 on the ballot. This proposition forever exempts commercial property owners from higher property tax assessment on the basis of retrofitting masonry buildings to survive earthquakes.

Why YES on Prop. 13: Current law financially punishes property owners who do the right thing and reinforce old masonry buildings. Passing Prop. 13 will protect property owners’ wallets and restores basic fairness by exempting these property owners from higher taxes. The result will be more buildings that survive the next big earthquake.

Prop. 14 NO - “Jungle primary” system causing more corruption in California

This half-baked idea was soundly defeated as Proposition 62 back in 2004, but unfortunately this half-baked idea got money for slick and deceptive radio ads, and is rising up again.

What Prop. 14 would do: Prop. 14 eliminates the party primary system and replaces it with a single “jungle primary” ballot for primary elections for most state and congressional offices. The top two vote-getters on the primary ballot would advance to the general election, regardless of party. There would still be partisan primary elections for presidential candidates and political party offices. Prop. 14 was placed on the ballot in exchange for the Feb. 2009 vote of former state Senator Abel Maldonado in favor of increasing the state sales, income, and car tax.

Why NO on Prop. 14: This measure denies choice to voters by allowing general election ballots with no Democrat or Republican candidates. It also allows mischief, for example, by permitting sabotage voters of one party to go urinate in the other party's primary voting pool. More deception will occur when existing Democrat or Republican office holders utilize Prop. 14’s “No Party Preference” designation in both the primary and general elections.

Proponents claim that Prop. 14’s “jungle primary” system will get rid of entrenched incumbents. However, currently, only two states --Washington and Louisiana--use “top-two” elections. In 2008, Washington State had 139 races, but only one incumbent lost a primary. In 1992 Louisiana, the corrupt and entrenched incumbent Governor Evan Edwards used some of his money and supporters to throw support to, and in effect "choose", his primary opponent, the loathsome David Duke. Edwards took the political entitlement and patronage machine that he had built over the previous decade and a half, and had a number of his supporters vote for and donate to David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan in Louisiana. The open primary system allows sabotage voters from one party to go urinate in the other party's voting pool, and Edward's political machine did just that. The decent Republican and likely winner in a normal "closed" primary system, Buddy Roemer, was outfoxed in the primary election, and Edwards "chose" David Duke his general election opponent. The voters were faced with the choice of a crook or a neo-Nazi in the general election, and they reluctantly had to choose the crook. Manipulated by Edwards, the Louisiana primary system, which elevates the top two vote getters to the general election, regardless of party, had selected these two slimy creeps to be the choices the voters faced in November.

Now, here in California, some "reformers" want to import this system to California, through Proposition 14, as if we didn't have enough trouble already. These folks claim that our current system is insufficient-that, when you vote in your party primary to choose the person in your political party that you want to represent you in the general election, you don't know what you are doing. So-they want to use the Louisiana-style primary to choose the top two vote getters in the primary elections, regardless of party registration, to go to the general election.

Prop. 15 NO - Government funding of candidates for public office

What Prop. 15 would do: Establishes a new candidate fundraising system where candidates for California Secretary of State can qualify to receive “base funding” and “matching funds” from the state government in exchange for limiting their private fundraising, participating in debates, and submitting campaign expenditure records to the state. This new program would purportedly be funded by increasing lobbyists’ annual registration fees by 2,800%. In effect, this is "Welfare for politicians".

Why NO on Prop. 15: Government funding of political campaigns is not the purpose of government, and opens the door to abuse. Prop. 15 wouldn’t prevent these tax-funded Secretary of State candidates from raising other funds from lobbyists and special interest groups. The measure specifically allows these tax-funded candidates to raise money for “separate accounts” to pay for officeholder expenses, legal defense fees and inaugural parties. And it probably allows these tax-funded candidates to benefit from independent expenditures, another potential loophole. What’s more, if the weren’t enough revenue raised from increased lobbyist fees, this proposition allows the state general fund to be raided to make up the difference and send that money to candidates. Finally, Prop. 15 allows the California Legislature to expand government funding of campaigns to every state campaign, including those of incumbent politicians. Bottom line, Prop. 15 is the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent” that sets the stage for incumbent politicians and their big-government “farm team” of candidates to dip their hand deep in the public trough and make off with state treasury funds.

California voters have consistently rejected taxpayer-funded campaign financing. In 2006, 74% of voters opposed Prop. 89. In 2000, two-thirds of voters rejected public campaign financing when they defeated Prop. 25. They should say “no” again. (Gee, how many bad ideas keep rising up like zombies who don't get that one shot to the head? California--State Of The Living Dead.)

Prop. 16 YES - Require 2/3rds voter approval for local government-run electricity

What Prop. 16 would do: This measure makes it harder for local governments to start up electricity entities which local residents are responsible to pay for, in addition to their normal utility bills.

What triggered this initiative is when the public power monopolies in Sacramento, San Francisco and Marin tried to take over some PG & E turf. My own public power utility, the Sacramento Metropolitan Utilities District (SMUD), tried to take over utility service from PG&E in the City Of West Sacramento. Where I live in Sac, this was bitterly opposed by we the existing SMUD ratepayers; we didn't want our rates raised to finance this empire building exercise. Nor were the people of West Sacramento (SMUD's targeted conquest area) happy with the proposed change. I'm not sure what happened in Marin County or San Francisco.

The mammoth utility therefore went to the ballot with Prop. 16 to propose that a two-thirds voter approval is needed before local governments get into the electricity business. Taxpayer's right to vote" (on this one little issue only) is an overblown and deceptive slogan, but it is shorter than "Taxpayer's right to shoot down bureaucrats who want to expand their turf and ream their existing ratepayers to do it."

Why YES on Prop. 16: I was initially very skeptical of Prop. 16 due to the self-serving interest of Pacific Gas & Electric. However, Prop. 16 DOES NOT affect private energy companies entering the market should a competitive market for power ever emerge, as it did with telephone service. Moreover, the public power areas are also monopolies in their own little fiefdoms, so the claim that PG&E is somehow squelching public power "competition" is just bunk. As for public-power always being cheaper, nearby Roseville dwellers in the clutches of Roseville Electric might beg to differ, and forcing PG&E and other private utilities to divest their generating capacity back in the late 1990's has a lot to do with that claim.

I'm not thrilled with PG&E. I remember how PG&E financed attempts to destroy marriage and overturn Proposition 8, presumably to curry favor for its power projects with leftist Gay politicians.

However, watching bureaucrats think they can expropriate a private utility, even a regulated quasi-public one like PG&E, is straight out of Hugo Chavez's bandito-land.

Prop. 17 YES - Allows auto insurance companies to offer “continuous coverage” discounts to new policy holders

What Prop. 17 would do: This measure deletes a small part of the state law that currently prohibits automobile insurance companies from providing “continuous coverage” to new customers. This prohibition was a strange part of Prop. 103, which was narrowly passed in 1988 to establish a number of insurance regulations). Even Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature agreed with removing the ban several years ago, but the courts struck that down, ruling only the ballot voters can amend a ballot initiative like Prop. 103.

Why YES on Prop. 17: If you have been a long-time customer of an automobile insurance company and want to keep your "good driver" and “continuous coverage” discounts, passing Prop. 17 will mean you won't lose those when you change insurance companies. The opposition to this claims that people who let their insurance lapse and stop driving for an extended period of time will get rate hikes, but really, how many people like that are there in California???
Why is Mercury Insurance, one of the smaller California insurance companies, funding Prop. 17? Probably because they think they can win new customers, and that’s just fine. Let’s open up more competition among private insurers, which benefits consumers.

McClintock's Upset Victory--Wall Street Journal Notices

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal says "Bravo" for Tom McClintock's victory in the 4th Congressional District race.

He attributes McClintock's upset victory over Doug Ose in California's 4th Congressional District to principled conservatives disgust with pork barrel excess, of which Doug Ose was very much a part. True and Fair enough. Ose's heavy-handed smear campaign also generated a backlash among fair-minded conservatives.

However, Mr. Fund and the Wall Street Journal omit the immigration issue as a factor in McClintock's stunning upset victory. Then again, perhaps that is not surprising, given how utterly out of touch the Wall Street Journal is with the Republican base (and the American public in general) on that issue.

Just so Mr. Fund knows, Tom McClintock is very much a "restrictionist", or even a "nativist", to use the Wall Street Journal's own epithets, while his primary opponent Doug Ose continued to condone the "open borders" debacle. Tom McClintock opposes swarms of illegal aliens overcrowding schools, hospitals and other public services, causing crime as rootless migrants are prone to do, and driving blue collar wages down.

I suppose that means that the Wall Street Journal will now write editorials excoriating Tom McClintock. The Wall Street Journal simply refuses to get a clue about the problem that California and many other states are having with excessive legal immigration, let alone illegal immigration, which is per se evil and an undermining of the rule of law and property rights, which ostensibly the Wall Street Journal champions.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cesar Chavez Unmasked

Facts always get in the way of myths. Cesar Chavez is a good example. Here was a rather vicious man, yet the world thinks he did wonders. His followers are still true believers—yet even they support the myth not the man:

So, the federal government will spend countless tax dollars to seek out Cesar Chavez-connected sites for inclusion in the National Parks System ("Law orders search for Chavez landmarks," May 27). Will they include the many fields and buildings that were torched or burned by Chavez and his followers during their years of "nonviolence"? Will they mark the spots where Chavez looked the other way when heads were smashed because field workers did not go along with him?

That man, a man not to be respected and honored, is the one I recall from my years growing up in the agriculturally rich Coachella Valley.

My father worked at a box-making company and packing houses. We were not rich; we did not own the companies. My parents worked hard for every penny they received. I recall many late-night phone calls. On several occasions, my sister and I went with my dad to see the blazing infernos that were once his places of business. Now, they were ash piles after the "nonviolent" UFW members got through with them. Many people were out of work because of their tactics - many people who had no quarrel previously with the UFW. Now, though, there was no sympathy, no support - only anger.

Ironically, Cesar Chavez was one of the first to argue and fight illegal aliens, yet now the next generation of Chavez followers are supporters of illegal aliens. What is now forgotten is how Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers were the first "Minutemen". Actually, that's not fair, they were far more violent than the utterly peaceful Minutemen, who use nothing more than 2-way and CB radios. Not only did Chavez and his goons regularly patrol the border and were vigilant about reporting illegal aliens to law enforcement, they also beat them up when they caught them.

Why? For the very sensible reason that these laborers were undermining wages for US born Mexican American farmworkers, just as illegal aliens today undermine wages for American workers in the building trades and other service sector industries.

But somewhere, "La Causa" of better wages and working conditions took a backseat to "La Raza" attempts to import a new lumpenproletariat, of which the radical communists in academia hoped (and still hope) to be the vanguard. And so the legend of Cesar Chavez was reinvented, or should I say fabricated. A strong-arm brawler who was really another Jimmy Hoffa now has his picture featured at pro-alien rallies with the stupid slogan "No One Is Illegal". That is certainly not a sentiment Cesar Chavez shared in his heyday.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

There Is a Military Solution to Terror.... brainwashed liberal dupes!

...the best way to end an insurgency is, quite simply, to beat it.

Why was this not obvious before? When military strategies fail – as they did in Vietnam while the U.S. pursued the tactics of attrition, or in Iraq prior to the surge – the idea that there can be no military solution has a way of taking hold with civilians and generals eager to deflect blame. This is how we arrived at the notion that "political reconciliation" is a precondition of military success, not a result of it.

There's also a tendency to misjudge the aims and ambitions of the insurgents: To think they can be mollified via one political concession or another. Former Colombian president Andres Pastrana sought to appease the FARC by ceding to them a territory the size of Switzerland. The predictable result was to embolden the guerrillas, who were adept at sensing and exploiting weakness.

The deeper problem here is the belief that the best way to deal with insurgents is to address the "root causes" of the grievance that purportedly prompted them to take up arms. But what most of these insurgencies seek isn't social or moral redress: It's absolute power. Like other "liberation movements" (the PLO comes to mind), the Tigers are notorious for killing other Tamils seen as less than hard line in their views of the conflict. The failure to defeat these insurgencies thus becomes the primary obstacle to achieving a reasonable political settlement acceptable to both sides.

This isn't to say that political strategies shouldn't be pursued in tandem with military ones. Gen. David Petraeus was shrewd to exploit the growing enmity between al Qaeda and their Sunni hosts by offering former insurgents a place in the country's security forces as "Sons of Iraq." (The liberal use of "emergency funds," aka political bribes, also helped.) Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has more than just extended amnesty for "demobilized" guerrillas; he's also given them jobs in the army.

But these political approaches only work when the intended beneficiaries can be reasonably confident that they are joining the winning side. Nobody was abandoning the FARC when Mr. Pastrana lay prostrate before it. It was only after Mr. Uribe turned the guerrilla lifestyle into a day-and-night nightmare that the movement's luster finally started to fade.

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 2008 Election Guide

Fellow blogger
Denham Recall:

Summary: NO on recall

First, this won't be on everyone's ballot but, for people in Jeff Denham's California Senate District 12 (Merced, San Benito, and parts of Madera, Monterey, and Stanislaus counties), vote "no" on the recall. Little needs to be said about how the recall attempt is unadorned political persecution to punish Denham for refusing to vote for a bloated state budget and an effort by state Democrats to make legislation "Republican-proof" in the state Senate.

People in District 12 have doubtless heard that the Democrats have pulled official support for the recall. Nevertheless, it is still important to actually show up and vote (or absentee vote) NO on the recall, since it remains on the ballot. It would be ridiculous if a recall with so little public support succeeded because the people who oppose it forgot to go to the polls.

That aside, this is a larger lesson about the recall process. People of any political bent need to be judicious in supporting future recalls, because they will tend to leave us with spineless and populist politicians, of all stripes. When such a recall succeeds, it sends the signal that anyone who votes against a bad bill backed by powerful interests is at risk of being recalled. Denham isn't a marginal candidate - he's popular in his district and won re-election by a wide margin in 2006. Recalls make it tougher for legislators to stand their ground on any issue, knowing that they will have to waste time and money fighting a recall.

Propositions 98 and 99:

Summary: YES on 98, NO on 99

Aftershocks from the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo v. New London decision are still being felt and this is one tremor, though potentially a good one. Neither Proposition 98 nor 99 is perfect but, having read the texts of both bills, there is a big difference between them.

The summary: Proposition 98 puts actual curbs on the government seizure of private property for non-government use whereas Proposition 99 is papier-mâché shaped to look like eminent domain reform. It undermines the legitimate reform of Proposition 98 and does almost nothing to curb most eminent domain abuse.

Proposition 98 puts real limits on the ability of city and county planning boards to use government power to take private property and give it to a private developer. And most of it is accomplished by simply defining the government's eminent domain powers to be what most people understand them to be anyway: when government needs property for a legitimate government use (like a police station, roadway, etc.) and it cannot come to an agreement with that property's owner, it can take the property via eminent domain by paying fair market value for it. It cannot take property for "development plans" that are not for public use, essentially taking one owner's property to give to some other private developer.

Proposition 99 is the city/county planners' answer to Proposition 98. These planners are the people who use eminent domain and want free reign to continue to do so. 99 proposes a very narrow restriction on use of eminent domain, tailored to make sure it can still be used for transferring property from one private owner to another in the vast majority of cases. It essentially does nothing, providing no protection to rented homes, to farmers, to small businesses, etc.

Is it OK to vote yes on both? No. Proposition 99 contains a provision such that if it gets more votes than the competing proposition, only 99's ineffective provisions will go into effect. Essentially, 99 exists only to undermine 98. Vote YES on 98 and NO on 99.