Saturday, March 26, 2005

UN Resolution for Darfur

The United Nations, my favorite organization has decided to send 10,000 peacekeepers to Darfur. A little too little and a lot too late. Hundreds of thousands displaced and by some counts a genocide of 150,000 has been taking place there and the UN decides to pass a Resolution. That's all this region needs right now, 10,000 rapists and pedophiles to add to their problems.

March 24, 2005


Remarks by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Alternate U.S. Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs, on the Resolution to Authorize Peacekeeping Forces in Sudan, at the Security Council Stakeout, March 24, 2005

Ambassador Holliday: I'd just like to make a brief statement that the United States is pleased that the Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution that is one part of the Council's ongoing efforts to address the peace and stability in the Sudan. Much more work needs to be done, there are critical issues that remain on the table.

We hope that this resolution will help consolidate the North-South peace accord that was an achievement signed in Nairobi, actually witnessed by the Security Council. The North-South Agreement, of course, brings to an end the civil war, which claimed many, lives and has torn the country apart.

We remain very concerned and disturbed by the situation in Darfur, in the western part of the country. And we will continue working with our Council colleagues to address that important question in the days ahead. Thank you.

Reporter: What does this resolution do if anything to help address the Darfur situation? And how can you break the deadlock over your other two resolutions, the provisions of which have been out there for some time?

Ambassador Holliday: Well, among the things that - of course, having a transitional government in Sudan will help provide a political framework that we hope will improve the situation in Darfur. Secondly, we've asked the Secretary General to give us recommendations about how the Council can strengthen the African Union's efforts in Darfur. Finally, the Council also in this resolution is going to see the opening of a UN office in Darfur. Again this is a small part of our ongoing effort to address the Darfur crisis. Thank you.

I hope my cynicism is misplaced but all I have to go on is past history. The history of UN peacekeepers is dismal and the response from the UN has been tepid or non existent. That is all. Have a blessed Easter.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sovereignty and the 1st Amendment

I have been following the lawsuits filed in British courts against publishers in the US, whose books have never been published in the UK nor distributed there. Such is one case profiled in Editor and Publisher .

Sheik Khalid Salim a bin Mahfouz has allegedly endowed and arranged financing for a number of Islamic charity organizations that have been accused of funding terrorism. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Muwafaq Foundation “transferred millions to Mr. bin Laden.” According to Ehrenfeld, “There are currently over 10 lawsuits outstanding by numerous plaintiffs in the United States claiming billions of dollars in damages from Mahfouz's alleged involvement in financing the 9/11 attack of the World Trade Center."

On his Web site, Mahfouz says he is "increasingly angered" over accusations such as Ehrenfeld's. "There is no truth to these reports," reads the statement. "We condemn terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations."

In an attempt to circumvent the First Amendment protection of American writers like Ehrenfeld, Mahfouz has successfully sued or settled with over 30 publications and authors for defamation and libel in British courts for years. "That many legal actions brought in a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction evidences a consistent campaign by Mahfouz to silence any author, journalist, or publication who attempt to analyze or document any role he may have had in funneling the money of the Saudi royal family or wealthy Saudi families to terrorist activities," Korenstein points out.

Now comes this account via Ed Morrissey." Now British courts have laid claim to the entire Internet for libel and slander cases and Arnold Schwarzenegger has become their first target:" [ed.note. apparently the LAT has also been named in the suit]

Schwarzenegger, who is now governor of California, had challenged a ruling by a senior High Court official giving Anna Richardson permission to serve proceedings on him out of the jurisdiction.

The decision today, by Mr Justice Eady, has cleared the way for a libel trial in London sometime this year.

Miss Richardson alleges she was libelled by Schwarzenegger and two campaign workers in an October 2003 article in The Los Angeles Times, which also appeared on the internet.

As Ed points out, the only outlet avaible for the LAT is via the internet for the online edition.
They do not publish in the UK, they have no UK Edition. This type of legal use of foreign courts to venue shop out of our jurisdictions promises to erode the 1st Amendment and the constitution and sovereignty of our country if allowed to stand. This also bodes ill for the internet and bloggers as well. Alarmist? I don't think so. The FEC is already coming after citizen pundits using the McCain /Feingold bill and the SCOTUS is using foreign law and customs to interpret our own constitution. See my posts here and here.
Ed should be read by all. He has been following this as closely as anyone including this post.

UPDATE: has the compleat FEC notice pertaining to internet communication. At first glance it look rather benign until you get to those devilish details and it seems downright scary as hell for our 1st Amendment. How in the hell the Campaign Finance bill was signed by Bush and found constitutional is beyond me.

UPATE:Democracy Project has the draft and a good overview of the FEC notice. Check this out and read it in depth.

UPDATE: The Captain has a more indepth look at the FEC notice and he seems to be more critical than some others and in my opinion, rightly so.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What a Crock...

This interview in the Dallas Morning News with U.S.Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza is such a load of crap it doesn't even need Fisking. It is self explanitory and transparent for its lack of specifics and its overdose of spin. I will let it speak for itself. For a taste, I will post the last Q and A:

Question: There have been reports about al-Qaeda using Mexico as an entry point into the U.S. What's being done to prevent this?

Answer: Mexico has been a great ally in protecting our people from terrorist attacks, and frankly, there's some cooperation that we'd rather al-Qaeda not know about. That is the one issue that trumps all others. It's point No. 1 in our list of priorities in this relationship, and I think that's the way it ought to be.

Read it all and you decide.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Roosting Chickens...Roper v Simmons Revisited

Yesterday a 17 year old Neo-Nazi Native American (I'm serious) donned a bulletproof vest, took up several firearms of his police Sgt. grandfather, killed his grandfather and another woman, an unarmed security guard at his school, a teacher and five students along with wounding several more. Asking one student if he believed in God prior to shooting him to death, Jeff Weise, a 17 year old student who refered to himself as Todesengel "The Angel of Death" in German commited suicide after a shootout with police.

If this scum had not ended his own life and was brought to trial for this heinous premeditated crime, he would be given at a maximun life in prison and the probability is high that it would be with the possibility of parole. Why? Because the Supreme Court of the United States passed Roper v Simmons using foreign law and standards.
Thank you Justice Kennedy etal.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Fox is Not The Only One who Needs a Talking To.

Our neighbors to the north needs to take a close look at what is going on up there. Mr. Bush needs to do the same thing perhaps as I suggested he do to Vicente Fox below. This from Deroy Murdock in NRO. (via lgf)

Danger Up North
Canada’s welcome mat for terrorists.

By Deroy Murdock
..."I'm not afraid of dying, and killing doesn't frighten me," Algerian-born Canadian Fateh Kamel said on an Italian counterterrorism intercept. "If I have to press the remote control, vive the jihad!"

Kamel, who jet-setted among Afghanistan, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, was arrested in Jordan on December 15, 1999, and extradited to France. He was convicted of distributing bogus passports and conspiring to blow up Paris Metro stations. He was sentenced April 6, 2001, to eight years in prison.

But after fewer than four years, France sprang Kamel for "good behavior." (What is it about iron bars and German shepherds that mellows people so?) Kamel flew home to Canada January 29...
"There have been a number of instances where Canadians or individuals based here have been implicated in terrorist attacks or plans in other countries, at least a half dozen or more in the last several years," Canadian Security and Intelligence Director Jim Judd told a Canadian Senate panel in Ottawa March 7. "There are several graduates of terrorist training camps, many of whom are battle-hardened veterans of campaigns in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere who reside here...Often these individuals remain in contact with one another while in Canada or with colleagues outside of the country, and continue to show signs of ongoing clandestine activities, including the use of counter-surveillance techniques, secretive meetings, and encrypted communications." Among other things, Canadian-based terrorists have aspired to whack a visiting Israeli official, bomb a Jewish district in Montreal, and sabotage an El Al jet over Canada.

On March 16, British Columbian Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson found Sikh separatists Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri not guilty of planting a bomb that destroyed Air India Flight 182 off the Irish coast on June 23, 1985, killing 329 people. Two baggage handlers also were killed in a subsequent explosion at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

An acquittal is an acquittal. Just ask Robert Blake. Still, the testimony against Malik remains fascinating. One witness quoted him as saying: "We had Air India crash. Nobody, nobody can do anything. It is all for Sikhism."

For his part, Bagri reportedly told the founding conference of the World Sikh Organization: "Yes, there must be our handshake with the Hindus. We will shake hands. Where? On the battlefield."

"This verdict sends a message to terrorists around the world that you can get away with these kinds of acts in Canada," Liberal-party legislator Dave Hayer told the Vancouver Sun. His publisher father was assassinated after agreeing to testify in the trial.

Egyptian refugee Mohammad Majoub remains in a Toronto jail — for now. Federal court justice Elinor Dawson has blocked efforts to deport him to Egypt for fear he may be tortured there. Majoub admits to working on Osama bin Laden's Sudanese farm in the 1990s and meeting with members of Canada's terror-tied Khadr family. Judge Dawson's thoughts on the "security certificate," which has permitted his detention without bail or charge since June 2000, highlight the logic that eventually could free someone like Majoub. "When reviewing the reasonableness of a security certificate," Dawson ruled, "at issue is whether there are 'reasonable grounds to believe' certain facts. The issue is not whether those facts are true."...

He has many more and much to say. Read it all.

Note to Vicente Fox...Kiss Off

The illegal immigration problem on our borbers has been a burr under my saddle for some time. George Bush seems ambivelant at best and in favor of it at worst. There seems to be civilians that are willing to give a helping hand to the Border Patrol on our southern border in a legal way and Vicente Fox is threatening to sue in international court to protect the rights of his citizens to immigrate illegally. Bill Preston at Junkyard Blog has a good post on this. And there is this from Senator Jon Kyle of Arizona.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) today urged Mexican President Vicente Fox to respect the United States' right to defend its borders and "demonstrate perhaps a little less disdain for the rule of law north of the border."

"I agree with President Fox that it is unacceptable for civilian groups to take the law into their own hands, and that individuals who volunteer to help the Border Patrol in a lawful way must guard against extremism in their ranks," Kyl said. "But at the same time, President Fox does not appear to grasp the high level of frustration over illegal immigration in states like Arizona, and his pre-emptive threats to file lawsuits on behalf of those crossing the border unlawfully is hardly helpful, since it presumes that illegal aliens have more of a right to break American law than American citizens have to peacefully assist authorities in enforcing it."

He goes on...

Moreover, Kyl called Fox's recent ridicule of border walls, such as a new "triple fence" planned for San Diego, "downright insulting."

"For one thing, the United States is a sovereign nation that has every right to protect our borders, as other countries do, without baseless accusations of 'discrimination'. The process for entering the United States legally is straightforward and not terribly difficult - deterrence measures like walls only discriminate against those who intend to break the law."

Fox recently claimed in an interview that security along the border was "as high a priority for (Mexico) as it is for the United States," and that Mexico has been "very cooperative" with U.S. officials on security measures to create an "orderly flow" of legal immigrants and commerce across the border."

Bill goes even further, maybe to an exteme in his invasion theme..." As for the Bush administration's approach, an administration that actually cares about security would meet Fox's threat to sue American citizens with a heavy sanctions regime, and an escalating system of penalties up to and including threatening a military occupation of northern Mexico."

Preston has much more and one should read the whole thing. Michelle Malkin has more and has been following the illegal immigration issue for a long time.

Obligatory Schiavo Post.

I have not posted on the Terri Schiavo drama thus far. When all the big dogs of the blog world are all over it, I have seen no reason. It is such an emotional subject for one thing and such a legal and constitutional problem for another. I for one, tend to err on the side of the Schindlers, and feel that removal of the feeding tube is tatamount to a State execution of an innocent woman. I am also coming down on the side of those who say that the actions of the US Senate and House were outside their pervue if not outright unconstitutional and is a dangerous precedent to set.

If you want more on this case and the continuing drama, go to Captainsquarters, Wizbang, Powerline, Ace of Spades or most of those in my link list.Scroll down and you will find all of the information and pontification you can handle. Some of it does not agree with me but it is good, well thought out and insightful viewpoints.

I'm saving my rants for something else for now.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

ANWR, Hypocrisy and NIMBY

The gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes that preceded and continues about the opening of ANWR to oil exploration and possible production is truly amazing. We are talking about an area the size of South Carolina and developing a part of it smaller than the Charleston International Airport.

Most of this doomsaying is coming from those who say they support conservation and alternative fuel and energy sources such as wind energy as long as it's NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) such as the denizens of Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod off the coast because it might ruin the aesthetics out the window. These are also the same ones who block at every turn new refineries or nuclear power plants. People who have not just one SUV but several, have limosines and private jets yet want the little people to drive Yugos.

We were told without doubt that the Alaskan Pipeline would devastate wildlife and totally wipe out the caribou herds. The population of those herds have risen from 3,000 to 30,000...a tenfold increase.

The Inuit who live on the coastal plain of ANWR are solidly for the development. This item from the Nunatsiaq News says much:

IQALUIT — Inuit on Alaska’s North Slope have found themselves at the crux of an international clash over oil and the polar environment.

The battlefield is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a vast plain of pristine tundra along Alaska’s north coast, rich in polar bears, birds, caribou — and crude oil. Under U.S. law, the 7.7 million hectare refuge is protected from oil exploration and development. But over the last decade, Alaskan Inuit have tirelessly lobbied the president and Congress to change the law.

And this is from the Christian Science Monitor by George N. Ahmaogak Sr. mayor of North Slope Borough in Barrow, Alaska. He is an Inupiat Inuit leader.

Many people oppose drilling because they fear that human impact on the land, the wildlife, and the native Gwich'in Indians will forever change the Gwich'in culture. The Gwich'in live south of this area and subsist on a caribou herd that migrates from the Arctic coastal plain through the mountains into Gwich'in territory each year.

As a native leader who lives on the Arctic coast and also hunts caribou, I share their determination to protect the health of the herd. But I believe their fear for the future is unfounded.

Like the Gwich'in, my people - the Inupiat Eskimo - depend on wildlife for our dietary and cultural sustenance. Like the Gwich'in, we hunt and eat and share with our families a small portion of the animals that God has put on our land.

Our relationship to the land and its bounty makes us who we are. It has enabled us to survive in this harsh climate for thousands of years. Like the Gwich'in, we would not betray our responsibility for stewardship of the land.

But unlike the Gwich'in, my people have seen oil development in our region. Prudhoe Bay - North America's largest oil reserve - lies under our land.

When it was discovered in the late 1960s, we instinctively assumed that oil production would destroy our traditional way of life. But we have learned it is possible to open the land to drilling and protect our way of life, too.

When it became clear that we could not deny the national interest in Prudhoe Bay, we accepted a land-claims settlement that conveyed title to us for some of our lands in exchange for our consent to extract oil and ship it through a pipeline across our region.

In order to ensure our influence over development, we established a regional government whose boundaries encompass our traditional lands, including Prudhoe Bay. This gave us authority for planning, zoning, and issuing permits in the oil province. We have used this authority aggressively to prevent the endangerment of wildlife.

Nearly 30 years later, I can tell you how this experiment has worked: The oil companies have had to accept us at the decisionmaking table and incorporate our concerns in their development plans.

While neither they nor we are always satisfied, this balance of power has led to oil development that is respectful of our land and its wildlife. Caribou still roam the pipeline corridor in large numbers.

Native people in the 21st century are not well served by the attitude that indigenous cultures cannot survive unless their world remains untouched. That attitude only weakens native people in the face of change.

We must exercise leadership so that our needs and traditions are honored in the process of change. If we simply say "no" and fail to adapt, we will not survive.

I believe that the Gwich'in - together with experts from wildlife agencies, the oil industry, and our people - can craft a plan that will protect the animal migrations and deliver needed oil to communities in the south. Such a plan would improve the quality of life in Gwich'in villages, so that their children would want to stay and raise families there. It would also incorporate environmental controls to protect the land and the caribou.

All healthy cultures continually adapt to changes in their environment. Native people are not "noble savages," and neither we nor the non-native people who seek to save us from a changing world should cling to that Hollywood stereotype. The Gwich'in Indians and the Eskimo are survivors, however. If you don't believe me, come visit us in the middle of winter.

Our people have thrived despite the harshest climate on the planet. We can protect our traditional culture even as we respond to the demands of the larger world. The Eskimo have done it. We look forward to the partnership of the Gwich'in as we adapt and progress into the 21st century.

The detracors of drilling in ANWR use such time worn phrases as "This will only produce x% of our needs" Pick a number for the x, they do. They then argue that it is not enough to bother with considering the harm it will do. How much is enough and with enough teaspoons, one soon has a cup and enough cups one get the picture. If we refuse to even consider that first spoonful and just whine about what we should do about alternatives, there will not be a cup and soon not a pot to pee in as well. I am for conservation and use of renewable energy sources and alternatives but I consider myself a realist and not an idealogue. Some may disagree. Whithout a coming together of the environmental movement and the economical side of these issues, there is not going to be much progress. We can't even get a national energy policy.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Giulana Sgrena Reminds Me of...

Giulana Sgrena Reminds Me of...Bagdad Bob. She has more versions of a story and even less credibility with every telling. LGF points us to this latest from the Italian media about this darling of the day.

(AGI) - Rome, March 11 - “I want the government to investigate on what happened”, said Giuliana Sgrena, in an interview with Spanish TV broadcast by Sky TG24, her first ever since she was freed. “The government is looking at various accounts of the facts”, she said, “but my account coincides with the one provided by the car driver, who also survived. We demand concrete answers on what really happened. Obviously an inquiry commission will be set up. I do have faith in them. What happened was just terrible. Our questions need to be addressed. And not only by the Italian government, but by Mr Bush himself. Sure, we won’t come to the truth, but let’s hope that at least this time around, they do everything in their power to have a plausible account. The man who was killed was Nicola Calipari, one of Italy’s best secret services agents. His death has moved the country”. To this regard, she further added, “I don’t know whether (the US soldiers) did it on purpose. I just think their behaviour was unacceptable. And not just cuz I was in that car, but cuz Nicola was killed. We were in an area monitored by American troops, close to the airport. Obviously Iraqi guerrillas couldn’t get there, and even if there had been any of them in our car, the soldiers’ behaviour would still be unacceptable. You can’t shoot point blank on a car and on the people riding in it. We weren’t given any notice, nor were we told to stop. Had they told us to and had we refused to comply, then their reaction would have been explainable. But that just wasn’t the case. Similar episodes occur every day. Americans shoot at cars, for no reason. This time, though, they had no excuses. They should have known we were riding. That’s why I demand answers. I’d like to know why the US tank was not informed we were passing through. We didn’t even notice it”, she concluded.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

What once was...

While cleaning out my stacks of stuff I came across this article by Cornel Nistorescu, the managing editor of the Romanian "Evenimentlzilei" ( News of the Day) and wondered what Mr. Nistorescu thinks about the "United" States today with our Kennedy, Kerry, Dean and some of the other "patriots". Romanians know what the lack of freedom is and what it means more than we seem too. Americans (some) have a short memory and have reverted to eating our own and finding fault with everything in the world as being Americas fault. This article gave me a memory of what should never be forgotten. It is translated by the author.

Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!".

Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different tv channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stalone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American's solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert. I don't know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn't sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren't able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests. I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds or thousands of people. How on earth were they able to sacrifice for their fellow humans? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Another Italian reporter update from Germany

An Open Letter to the Editors and Staff at

(Please note: has positively responded to our open letter. We have translated their letter and posted it below. The original German version of the letter has been published next to the German version of our open letter at Medienkritik Online.)

By using the word “murdered” you are once again rushing to judge the United States and its citizens. You are declaring US soldiers guilty of murder with absolutely no factual evidence to back your assertions. It would seem that to Stern, the US soldiers involved in the incident are guilty until proven innocent. And, in a broader sense, it would seem that Stern is portraying Americans are a suspect race of “Tätervolk” not be trusted
...(there's more)

Here is the letter we received from, translated by Ray. quickly made the right decision. Kudos!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

We just received your critique of the named article “Fire and Bullets
Rained Down on Us.” We thank you for your critical accompaniment of our online offering.

Your critical objection to the use of the term “murdered” in the context of
the, to this point, unresolved death of Nicola Calipari is absolutely
appropriate. We would like to apologize in the name of the editorial
staff for the lack of care in the editing of the text.

The article has been worked over in the meantime and the choice of
words has been accordingly corrected.

For this clear – but hopefully one-time mistake – we would like to
request once again that you excuse us and remain with friendly greetings,



Update Heh.

Another hole in the dike.

Apple Computer has the right to subpoena the electronic records of a Web site that published items about unreleased product, a judge ruled Friday.

This is from ZD Net news and does not bode well for the blogger world or for free speech in general. What is this going to do to the 'whistle blowers" and news in general. If this were a national security question I would have maybe a different outlook on this.

Code for journalists--however defined--or anyone else."

The judge delayed the enforcement of the ruling for seven days to provide time for an appeal. An attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing two of the sites being sued, said he would ask a higher court to overturn the ruling.

"Case law shows that subpoenaing a journalist must be a last resort," said EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Apple did not use this as a last resort, but did only a perfunctory investigation before going on to subpoena the journalists."

Jeff Jarvis at the Buzz Machine has thoughts on this as well.

McCain-Feingold, a not so funny joke

Ryan Sager has a good overview of the campaign finance law titled "Free Speech for Me but not for Thee" at TCS.

Consider a report just out from the folks over at Political Money Line, "Campaign Finance Reform Lobby: 1994 to 2004." Ignored by the media to date, it details how the supposedly grass-roots campaign-finance reform movement has been funded over the last decade to the tune of $140 million. Of that $140 million, the vast majority ($123 million) came not from retirees scraping together their last nickels for the cause of democracy, nor from schoolchildren collecting deposits on cans plucked from dilapidated playgrounds.

No, the money came from just eight ultra-liberal foundations (including the Ford Foundation and George Soros' Open Society Institute), the same folks who fund: the Earth Action Network, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Naderite Public Citizen Foundation and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Sager goes on to make the connection between the law and it's intent and the attack on the freedom of bloggers to participate in election commentary and free speech. The left and the right sides of the blogger world are indeed coming together to express more and more concern for this attack with good reason. At this point it is more the right side of the aisle in this cyber world than the left but even they are coming around.

No wonder McCain-Feingold contained a "media exemption." The media -- on top of having their voices amplified when private citizens, labor unions and corporations are barred from speaking -- are relatively easy to write some checks to. (Millions of bloggers, on the other hand, might be a little harder to corral -- hence the calls for a crackdown.)

I'VE JUST SIGNED ON TO THIS BLOGOSPHERE LETTER TO THE F.E.C. on regulation of political blogs. You should too.

Italian Reporter update

I told you in the previous post that this story didn't pass the smell test. It seems to be a stench instead of an odor and makes one really proud of some of the reporters who sucked it in hook, line and sinker. The AP has a report that says even the Italian General didn't know of the rescue.

U.S. forces in Iraq were only partially informed about last week's Italian intelligence mission to release a hostage, which ended with a shooting on the road to Baghdad airport and the death of secret service agent Nicola Calipari, Italian newspapers said Friday. ...

Both newspapers cited a report by Gen. Mario Marioli, an Italian who is the coalition forces' second-in-command. The report has been given to Rome prosecutors investigating the killing.

According to the newspapers, Marioli informed U.S. officials that Calipari and the other Italian officer were there, but not that the mission was aimed at releasing Sgrena.

The papers had conflicting versions over how much Marioli knew: Corriere said he knew the Calipari was working to have the hostage released, La Repubblica said he didn't.

Captain Ed has more and he has been following this unraveling saga from the start.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Italian Oxymoron?

From the Washington Times (via LGF)

ROME — Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a cash-for-freedom deal with gunmen holding an Italian hostage for fear that Americans might block the trade, Italian news reports said yesterday.

The decision by operatives of Italy’s SISMI military intelligence service to keep the CIA in the dark about the deal for the release of reporter Giuliana Sgrena, might have “short-circuited” communications with U.S. forces controlling the road from Baghdad to the city’s airport, the newspaper La Stampa said.

That would help explain why American troops opened fire on a car whisking the released hostage to a waiting airplane, wounding Miss Sgrena and killing the Italian intelligence operative who had just negotiated her release.

Captian Ed has more as does almost all the blog world.

More on Roper v Simmons

John Hinderaker of Powerline, in an excellent article in the Weekly Standard has critiqued the Roper v Simmons ruling by the Supreme court.

Justice Kennedy tried to articulate

a rationale for referring to the laws of other countries. It is not unfair to say, however, that his attempted rationale consists of nothing but fine words, which contain no explanation of how, why, and when the opinions of non-Americans become relevant to our Constitutional jurisprudence:

It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime.

Kennedy continues:

The opinion of the world community, while not controlling the outcome, does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions.

He concludes:

It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the express affirmations of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom.

Which raises two questions: Isn't weighing the "instability and emotional imbalance of young people" exactly the kind of thing that legislatures--the peoples' elected representatives--are supposed to do? And why, if the Court's conclusions are based on the Constitution and laws of the United States, is "the opinion of the world community" a factor in the Court's conclusion?

It does "lessen [the Court's] fidelity to the Constitution" when the Court gives the actions of foreign governments priority over the text of the Constitution, the laws enacted, in this case, by the legislatures of 20 states, and the clearly expressed preferences of the majority of Americans. With all due respect to the Court's majority, there is simply no coherent rationale for counting the "enlightened" opinion of foreign governments as a factor in Constitutional jurisprudence.

Read the whole thing.

New Sisyphus has a long essay on the case and the ruling but it is well worth reading in its entirety.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What a Difference a Day Makes

The "Roper v Simmons" case and opinion by the SCOTUS leave as many questions as it answers. A synopsis of the case and the dissenting opinions can be found here. Professor Bainbridge has several post on this decision here, here, here, and here. He is opposed to the death penalty but has a serious problem with how and why the Court came to its majority opinion.

I'm increasingly opposed to the death penalty on both pragmatic and moral grounds, but I nevertheless found much to agree with in Justice Antonin Scalia's scathing dissent from the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision striking down the death penalty for offenses committed by juveniles (text of opinion):

  • In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Kennedy essentially said that legislatures may not base laws on moral judgments. Hence, it was unconstitutional for legislatures to ban sodomy because legislators thought it was immoral. For the majority in Roper v. Simmons, however, Justice Kennedy claims that its perfectly appropriate for the Supreme Court to consider morality in deciding whether something is unconstitutional. Could there be a clearer example of how judges have usurped the legislative function in our country? As Scalia put it:

Worse still, the Court says in so many words that what our people’s laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: “[I]n the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.” The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation’s moral standards, and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures.

  • In the past, the Supreme Court has held that someone under the age of 18 can be mature enough to make the decision to abort a baby. Yet, now, the Court says a person under 18 is too immature to be executed following a fair trial. So minors are allowed to kill, but not to be killed? What kind of logic is that? As Scalia put it:

In other contexts where individualized consideration is provided, we have recognized that at least some minors will be mature enough to make difficult decisions that involve moral considerations. For instance, we have struck down abortion statutes that do not allow minors deemed mature by courts to bypass parental notification provisions. ... It is hard to see why this context should be any different. Whether to obtain an abortion is surely a much more complex decision for a young person than whether to kill an innocent person in cold blood.

Once again, nine old men and women in robes have elevated themselves into a super-legislature in which they have exercised privileges they deny to our elected representatives. So much for having a democracy. Indeed, at this rate, so much for having a republic.

Orin Kerr at Volokh has more and he is not a happy camper either. He writes:

Roper v. Simmons and Capital Litigation: I have just finished working my way through the opinions in Roper v. Simmons. As someone who greatly values stare decisis, I was disappointed by Justice Kennedy's majority opinion. There just isn't much there to justify overruling a 16-year-old precedent and striking down 18 state laws. I'm not sure about the juvenile death penalty as a matter of policy, but I found Justice Scalia's powerful dissent pretty tough to refute as a matter of constitutional law

There is more, read it all. The Deacon at Powerline is also looking at this SCOTUS decision and is less than complementary.

My comments yesterday about the Supreme Court's decision overturning all statutes providing for the execution of juvenile murderers focused on the Court's reliance on foreign sentiment -- or, more precisely, on the treaties that foreign governments have signed that relate to the issue. The Supreme Court's propensity to defer to what foreigners think is a disturbing trend about which we have occasionally commented. However, it is not our only, or even our primary, objection to Justice Kennedy's opinion. Indeed, I noted that the majority's reference to foreign practice is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The underlying problem is that the Supreme Court is "just making it up."

He also has a view on Court nominees and the past as well as the future.

One of our local D.A.s in Randall Co., Texas has some more to add. There are two individual cases in that county that this impacts.Via the Amarillo Globe News.

Randall County Criminal District Attorney James Farren called the justices' decision sophomoric and silly.

"We don't have to draw a line," Farren said. "We can evaluate each case for the maturity of the defendant and the evidence of future dangerousness. Age does not equal maturity."

Farren said Soriano and Dickens likely will be eligible for parole soon.

Farren said the justices' decision disregards the decisions of jurors who evaluate each case and give the death penalty if appropriate.

"They don't just crank out death penalties," Farren said. "They look at it on a case-by-case basis and not simply based on a date of birth."

Farren said it's likely now older gang members will use younger gang members as "designated killers" because they won't face the death penalty.

"It just expands the pool of people who don't have to worry about the death penalty," he said.

He said other provisions in the law, like those allowing juveniles to be tried as adults and those disallowing death penalty for the mentally retarded, show that the system considers factors other than age. But this new decision shows the opposite, he said.

Current state law prohibits seeking the death penalty for those younger than 17. Tuesday's decision adds those who are 17.

Sleep tight ya'll.

UPDATE: Another view from a James Piotrowski, self described "lawyer who practices constitutional law among other things." ( is mainly involed in labor law and personal injury) states:

The phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is inherently subjective. It's not like the S.Ct. can go looking for some objective definition of the phrase and simply apply it. For nearly 50 years the law in the US has been that "cruel and unusual" must be considered in the context of "evolving moral standards." I think this formulation reflects the reality of human moral development. What we, as a nation, were willing to do in 1791 is substantially different than what we are willing to do today.

The dispute between Justice Scalia and the majority in Roper v. Simmons has at least two distinct aspects. First, Justice Scalia disagress with the majority's method of determining whether a national consensus exists on the question of executing minors. Second, he finds fault with teh majority's consideration of international standards.

As to the first disagreement, Scalia would, in essence, disenfranchise the citizens of 12 states. He actually argues that in trying to determine whether a national consensus exists on the question whether it is ever appropriate to execute minors, that we should not even consider the opinions of citizens in those 12 states which have abolished the death penalty altogether. In Scalia's view, when we try to decide whether executing minors is within or outside the boundaries of national morals, the dispute must be resolved by ONLY considering the views of those states that believe in the death penalty. In other words, Scalia's opinion is that only 18 states both have the death penalty but prohibit exceuction of minors, while 20 states permit the execution of minors, and on that basis there's no consensus. For some reason, the other 12 states, which have concluded that it is NEVER proper to execute ANYONE simply don't matter. Since they disagree with Scalia on the very first premise (that execution is ever permissible), Scalia entirely discounts their opinion.

On the second issue, Scalia tries to do some good PR (and some horrendous jurisprudence) by finding fault with the majority for even discussing international ethical and moral standards. He actually claims that "the views of other countries and the co-called international community take center stage" in the majority's opinion. This is a complete mischaracterization of the majority's opinion. The majority looked to international standards only AFTER it had reached a conclusion as to a national consensus within America. And it looked to international standards ONLY to provide further confirmation that human moral standards on this issue are, in fact, evolving in the direction the majority asserts. If one entirely removed the majority's discussion of international standards, the opinion would reach exactly the same conclusion. Far from center stage, international opinion was a mere sideshow in the majority's opinion. Scalia delivers his scathing dissent mainly, it appears, for the purpose of casting aspersions on the majority and of providing grist for the conservative commentators' mills. Good PR, but abysmal jurisprudence.

He follows up with this:

I think your understanding of the role of the Court and of state rights is far too limited. Yes, the Court overturned the laws of 20 states that permit execution of children. But they did so based on their construction of the constitution. That is precisely their constitutional power. You may disagree with the result, but not with their right to find that certain state laws violate the constitution. That is the Court's power, and only its power. I dont' quite know what you are saying about reversing the prior opinion without reversing the prior opinion. I thought it was pretty clear they were reversing the prior opinion, and had no confusion on that front, myself. They are permitted to reverse themselves, and have done so many times. There are good reasons why they should use that power sparingly and they do, but still they have the power. Also, they aren't "making laws." They are interpreting the laws that exist. Your argument seems to assume that the law is clear and all we need do is apply it. If that were the case, we would barely need courts. The law is rarely clear, and when it is, someone will come up with a scheme to take advantage of a previously unseen ambiguity in it. Do you think "cruel and unusual" is an objective standard? If so, you are either substantially smarter or substantially less-informed than every single one of the justices to sit on the S.Ct. for the last 50 years.

The reference to international law is called dicta. The decision didn't turn on it, it has no real precedential value, it is more in the nature of external verification of an opinion already reached.

As to a bio, you can just call me a "lawyer who practices constitutional law among other things."

James just clarified his practice "Tom, I don't actually do any personal injury law as you've stated on your blog. You are correct though that I mainly practice labor law. Wouldn't want to mislead anyone as to my practice areas, which are mainly labor and employment law, with a healthy dose of constitutional law. I don't presently have any personal injury cases, and it's been a long time since I did."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Still alive

I have not died, just been gone. There is so much to consume and digest that it will take some time to get back in step. Thanks for the e-mails and I promise I will put my nose to the grindstone and post some more insightful and inciteful words of wisdom shortly.