January 28, 2004

Franken Fried Chicen Sh--

I wonder... do you suppose the New Hampshire Department of Corrections will allow one of their "guests" to have and use a broadcasting studio?

The reason I ask that is, as you may have heard, Al Franken tackled a heckler at a Dean event. Mysteriously, Franken claimed that his tackling of the heckler was an effort to protect free speech. I suppose that's the sort of thing that passes for logic among DUMB-o-cRATS most of the time.

I'm not a prosecutor... I'm just a law student, and I don't even live in New Hampshire. However, with the magic of LexisNexis, I was able to look up the relevant criminal statutes in New Hampshire. Here, without much legal analysis, is a list of the handfull of criminal offenses that I think Al Franken violated. I doubt he'll be charged (he should be) but he could end up spending a great deal of time behind bars (it wouldn't surprise me if the total possible time could exceed 20 years).

1. RSA 644:1 Riot - It appears that Franken and "the press guy for Dean" may have been working together. That's a CLASS B FELONY.

2. Conspiracy - I didn't look up the RSA number, but the agreement to commit a crime by more than one person constitutes a "conspiracy". Franken claimed to have been "deputized" by the Dean camp. This might even implicate Howard Dean. In this case, Mujahi-Dean could be held criminally liable for all the same crimes as Franken. Since we've got some felonies here, this would also be a FELONY.

3. RSA 644:2 Disorderly Conduct - It's a VIOLATION.

4. RSA 633:2 Criminal Restraint - According to the language of the statute, Franken's actions in wrestling the fellow down would probably count. It's a CLASS B FELONY

5. RSA 631:2-a Simple Assault - MISDEMEANOR.

6. RSA 631:2 Second Degree Assault - This one is a little more of a stretch, but if the actions could be shown to be severe enough and of the sort that would normally be expected to result in serious bodily injury, he could go up the river on this one too. It's a CLASS B FELONY.

Al, when you read this, please note: You're actions are significantly different than, say becoming addicted to painkillers because of a serious medical condition. You're actions were totally volitional. If I were the prosecutor, I would accept nothing less than a guilty plea to at least one felony AND at least 60 days behind bars. So much for your right to vote!

Posted by Bronson at 03:23 PM | Comments (4)

January 21, 2004


I am not a lawyer. I am thankful for that. However living in Hong Kong inevitably exposes you to legal issues because what passes for political discourse in this city revolves around a seemingly simple piece of law. The Basic Law is, in theory, Hong Kong's constitution. It was negotiated between the British and Chinese prior to the handover in 1997 as a way of assuaging British guilt at not introducing democracy to the place in the couple of hundred years they ran it. Like most such documents there is a mix of the bland and ambigious, designed to make it an uninteresting as possible. However it has become an important document to base the aspirations of Hong Kong's democracy movement.

For example, Article 45 in full reads

The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government.

The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

The specific method for selecting the Chief Executive is prescribed in Annex I "Method for the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". (my emphasis)

Annex I and II specifies the interim method of selecting the Chief Executive (only in Hong Kong is the head of Government called CEO) and the Legislative Council. Each Annex finishes with the same rules for changing them from the muddle they currently are:
If there is a need to amend the method for selecting the Chief Executives for the terms subsequent to the year 2007, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the Chief Executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval.


With regard to the method for forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and its procedures for voting on bills and motions after 2007, if there is a need to amend the provisions of this Annex, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Council and the consent of the Chief Executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record.

Reading the English it seems simple: after 2007 both the LegCo and Chief Executive method of selection can be altered by a 2/3s majority in the (rigged) LegCo with approval from the Chief Executive. The NPC (China's Parliament), in theory, has the right to have the decision "reported...for approval" and "for the record."

Problem is China has realised they don't want Hong Kong to be too democratic. It would look like the Central Government is giving in to the voice of the people (500,000 marchers back in July and smaller protests since). It would give the people a voice. It would be the thin edge of the wedge. So the PRC does what anyone in their situation would: they slam the door. From the SCMP

After a week of dominating Hong Kong headlines, two leading mainland legal experts on the Basic Law return to Beijing today having delivered a clear message: go slow on constitutional change. They told the city in no uncertain terms it cannot elect the chief executive by universal suffrage by 2007. Think about 2030 or 2040 instead, they said.

While former Basic Law drafter Xiao Weiyun and jurist Xia Yong say they do not represent the central government, their view that Hong Kong can only contemplate introducing universal suffrage after 2030 is believed to reflect official thinking. Analysts say their visit has been arranged to informally articulate the central government's position ahead of a visit to Beijing by a Hong Kong government taskforce on political reform, and to dampen aspirations for more rapid democratisation.


The mainland experts reiterated Beijing had a decisive say in Hong Kong's political development. At a public forum yesterday, Professor Xiao said the Basic Law drafters never considered election of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2007. Referring to Article 45 of the Basic Law, which says the chief executive will ultimately be elected by universal suffrage, Professor Xiao said it meant this would be achieved in the final stage of the 50-year lifespan of "one country, two systems". But, he said, "it did not necessarily mean that it would not be achieved until the 2030s or 2040s, or [that] it was not allowed in the 2020s".

The Basic Law says the methods for electing the chief executive and Legislative Council should evolve in light of the "actual situation" in Hong Kong, and in accordance with the principle of "gradual and orderly progress".

Democracy isn't Asia's forte. It appears the People's Republic isn't too happy about HK leading the way. No matter what it says in black and white.

The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. Ultimate being within the next 4000 years or so.

Posted by HK Simon at 10:00 PM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2004

Fisking Smith - "Waging War Against a Tactic" is a smoke-screen for a sophist.

The following is a Fisking (My first!) of some commentary by a local radio personality, Ron Smith, of WBAL (1090 AM in Baltimore MD). As a bit of background, Ron prides himself on being the “voice of reason.” His political leanings are fairly conservative, most of the time, but he does not even pretend that there should be a moral foundation for conservativism, only “reason.”

Waging War Against a Tactic
Monday, January 19, 2004 - Ron Smith

This “war on terrorism” is wearing on me.

Poor baby. Is it all the long nights you’ve been up late analyzing data, translating intercepted missives from foreign operatives who want to do America harm? No? Oh, yeah, it’s the fact that after about a year and a half, you’ve been largely unable to convince much of your audience to abandon common sense and adopt you’re “reason.”

The likelihood of any one of us becoming a victim of Osama bin Laden’s henchmen is next to zero.

Really? I suppose it’s true. How much more true did that seem in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 at 8:30AM? By the way, is OBL the only threat? I don’t think so. The point is, some risks you just don’t take if you can at all avoid it. Some risks, though minute, are so horrific that you take significant steps to reduce them even further. I suppose, if you want to use “reason” as you are so fond of doing, it would be tough to justify our proactive use of force where you are comparing billions of dollars to a couple dozen, maybe a couple hundred more lives. Let’s be rational, after all.

Yet we are bombarded with color-coded “terror alerts” designed to keep us perpetually alarmed, and thus willing to suffer whatever our various federal, state and local governments wish to inflict upon us in the name of keeping us “safe.”

Your alternative? I forgot, you don’t ever suggest reform, you only bitch. Let me posit an idea on your whiny ass. IF there are NO superior achievable alternatives, then the system IS NOT broken. You mock the color-coding. OK… Would you prefer obliviousness? In an open culture, such as ours, to function without “undue” prejudices as the general rule, you NEED to be able to let down your guard, to a large extent. With the color-coding, we know that there is a particular type of threat, even if we don’t precisely know what, that we need to look out for. We don't have to live with either undue suspicion of EVERYBODY, nor do we have to blindly trust in the good will of everyone. Don’t pretend to be a civil libertarian concerned about the feelings of the handful of folks who will get a bad vibe because of increased suspicion. Our threat comes from ONE culture, Islamo-facism. If someone starts to meet that description, then TOUGH! They’re going to get an extra look-see.

Terrorism is a tactic, a method by which people with political grievances wage war on whomever they believe is oppressing them.

I see… It’s a tactic. Since that’s the case, we really shouldn’t do anything about it. Now, I haven’t done an exhaustive LexisNexis search, but I did do a quick one. In the text of the state of the union address given to Congress in January of 2002, the president DID NOT say that we were at war with “terrorism.” He did say we were in a “war against terror.” Don’t get smug, the war against “terror” is multifaceted, and involves many avenues of solution, most of them political rather than military. The military is going after the individuals who are causing the trouble, the terrorists. Let me quote the president
“We last met in an hour of shock and suffering. In four short months, our nation has comforted the victims, begun to rebuild New York and the Pentagon, rallied a great coalition, captured, arrested and rid the world of thousands of terrorists, destroyed Afghanistan's terrorist training camps, saved a people from starvation and freed a country from brutal oppression.”

“The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay. And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own.”

Sure, Ron, terrorism is a tactic. The people who are using it are TERRORISTS. Maybe we can’t kill the tactic, but I’ll settle for killing anyone who would use it.

Whether it’s the IRA bombers in the U.K., Palestinians blowing themselves up to kill Israelis, Chechen warriors battling the Russian Army in their homeland, or Basque separatists kidnapping and killing Spanish judges, these are men (increasingly joined by their women) who are willing to fight and die in order to change a system they loath.

Well, let’s think about this. They all go after non-combatants, right? Doesn’t look to me like they are all that interested in a fight. As far as I can see, these putzes scamper away like cockroaches whenever an armed opponent shows up on the scene. These murderers are not interested in advance a political cause nearly as much as they want to kill. You see, you can negotiate with someone with a grievance. You can’t negotiate with someone in the throws of a quasi-religious blood-lust. It’s kill or be killed. I know which one I choose, and I suspect that you, Mr. “Voice of Reason,” would come to a similar conclusion, if your house were beset by the maniacs you would have OTHERS negotiate with, if they were convinced that you had a Jew hidden somewhere in your home.

Waging “war” on a tactic doesn’t make sense. Modern history shows that the people who feel themselves political outcasts, oppressed by their government or by alien military and economic dominance imposed upon them stop fighting only when political solutions are implemented.

If, by "waging war on a tactic" we are speaking of actions that will modify the behavior of those who are contemplating using that tactic, then it makes pretty good sense to me. Do you suppose we should encourage the tactic rather than discourage it?

For being the “Voice of Reason,” you don’t seem to be thinking this one through. Let’s assume, argumendo, that these murderes are only “agrarian reformers” with a grievance. (Let’s leave aside the minor fact that terrorists don’t seem to be all that advanced in the agricultural arts and sciences.) How do you motivate people? Carrot… Stick… Those are your choices. For some a carrot will work. For others nothing but a stick will do.

If a homicidal maniac has a gun to your head, and has stated that his sole purpose for showing up is to kill you, are you likely to dissuade him by offering the $20 you’ve got in your pocket? The ONLY possible way to dissuade this kind of confrontation is to demonstrate that should the maniac take the course of action, he will be worse off IN A WAY THAT HE WILL APPRECIATE than if he does not. Neville Chamberlain thought that he could negotiate with Hitler. Churchill knew for a fact that utter defeat was the only message that would mean anything to him.

Have you forgotten that political options have been available to almost all terrorists? Israel, for example, offered to give away about 90% of Arafat’s demands a few years ago. Arafat didn’t want the conflict to end. He made his fortunes by promoting terrorism.

You simply cannot negotiate with cancer. Any attempt to do so merely gives it more time to spread. Likewise, you can only negotiate effectively when the other side knows you have the ability to defeat or destroy what they want.

If military superiority and the willingness to bring it to bear against indigenous guerilla opposition was a workable strategy, France would still own Algeria; Israel would not be suffering bus-bombings in Tel Aviv, and our quick conquest of Iraq would have stood as a clear victory rather than degenerating as it has into a bloody, protracted colonial occupation.

Did you just put “military superiority” and France in the same sentence?


That’s brilliant! I nearly peed myself!

Ron, use your vaunted “reason” for a moment, please. To win a conflict, ANY conflict, requires two (2) elements.
1 – The ability to win.
2 – The will to win.

The ability to win consists of more than military equipment. It also consists of military tactics. Perhaps their ability to think is compromised by the overwhelming odor of their women’s arm-pits, but the French are NOT good military tacticians. Furthermore, the French, being convinced of the superiority of their own language, and ability to out talk anybody else, have not been all that committed to actually winning a war in over a century.

Israel is a different matter. They know what to do, they have the technological ability to bring about an actual victory. They are being held back by OUR carrot and stick. We, and other nations keep applying pressure to Israel to NOT win. We keep making them listen and follow “reason” like yours and present political options to those who only wish to kill them. There ARE Palestinians who can be negotiated with Mahmoud Abbas was one such person. He could not keep his job because the power structure within Palestine does not want a political solution.

You know, a very strong argument can be made that if political solutions had any ability to work, these conflicts would have more peacefully resolved themselves. It’s political crap that keeps solutions from forming.

When the French, the Germans, the Spanish and the Italians are victimized by terrorist acts, they treat them as the crimes they are and hunt down and punish the perpetrators. This is what we should have done, in my opinion, after the attacks of 9/11. Instead our government decided to declare itself at war with terrorism in general.

Europeans have proven themselves to be singularly ineffective at combating terrorism and terrorist activity. You have displayed a glimpse of your ignorance of terrorism. Criminal activity is only defined ONCE activity is underway. Usually, we don’t know until AFTER the fact. If terrorism were treated as “just another crime,” we would have done NOTHING about 9-11. Hey, the perpetrators are all dead… nobody to prosecute. Without a confession from OBL, and without a friendly nation to extradite him, we have no ability to do squat against him.

“Terrorism” is war against our culture. You can’t fight “terrorism” directly, but you NEED to fight those who engage in it as enemies of the state in an armed conflict.

Quick question: In the Spring of 2001, what foundation would you have to object to a group of Arab men wanting to learn to fly passenger jets but not being all that interested in the landing part? THAT is not a crime. Being ARAB is not a crime. Flying a plane is NOT a crime. What the hell would you, as a “crime fighter” do? – Not a damn thing, that’s what. Our problem is that we did not treat terrorism as if those who engaged in it posed a national security risk.

This is a war that cannot be won and isn’t worth the blood, treasure and loss of American constitutional guarantees of liberty taking place under the rubric of making us secure. Governments, by their nature, move against individual freedom. That’s why the framers of the Constitution took such pains to limit the powers of consolidated federal government.

CAN’T be won, eh? How many terrorist training camps are Taliban sponsoring anymore? How many Palestinian families are getting periodic support payments from Saddam Husein?

What would you risk to prevent another 9-11?

And for that matter, which “constitutional guarantees,” in particular, have you lost? You’re spouting rhetoric with no substance.

Yes, the Framers did go to great pains to limit the powers of our Federal government. What they did NOT want to limit was the ability of the federal government to respond to actual threats to American People from external forces. As a matter of fact, this is one of the clearest areas where the federal government has virtually unfettered power. Your cynicism is a result of having to stand in line at the airport. I also have contempt for the largely ineffective TSA airport screeners. This, you see, is not a sign of the destruction of the republic so much as it is a sign of Democrat leadership pandering to buy votes. That’s despicable, and it’s annoying to be inconvenienced, but I defy you to find a constitutional guarantee against inconvenience.

We are now, the majority of us, anyway, apparently willing to slip into shackles, to do whatever our rulers decide is necessary, without protest, because it’ll make us more secure; because it’s better to “fight them over there,” rather than on the streets of our own cities. This is a fallacious proposition. There are no terrorist armies plotting to invade our country. In fact, there aren’t that many terrorists loose in the world, and while the 9/11 attacks were dramatic and dreadful; we shouldn’t lose all perspective because of them.

Blah blah blah… Again, you offer no proof. Hell, other than some big words, you don’t even try to support your proposition that “fighting them over there” is not actually better than fighting them here. What are the last “Official Islamo-Fascist Terrorist Census” results that you have? Oh, you don’t HAVE the census? How the hell do you KNOW that there aren’t terrorist armies plotting to invade our country?

Here’s something your high and mighty self-important reason seems to have TOTALLY MISSED. We’ve busted dozens, maybe hundreds of Al-Queda members here in BALTIMORE. I have friends with first-hand knowledge, and I am not allowed to divulge any more than that. I can say, however, that a number of “drug busts” where significant numbers of people were taken into custody were actually Al-Queda cell groups… They had documentation, weapons and money, but you didn’t know about it… perhaps you couldn’t hear the clues over your incessant whining about the ineffectiveness of our "war against terrorism."

Not only should we not lose “all perspective because” of the terrorist attacks, we should never lose perspective of them. They gave us a glimpse of what we face, and ignoring our enemies will not cause them to disappear.

For what it’s worth, we have lost some liberties recently, but they’ve had nothing to do with the war on terror. The Patriot Act primarily allows the government to use RICO tactics on national security threats. Complain if you want. The only real liberties, constitutionally guaranteed ones, anyway, were lost due to the Bi-partisan Campaign-finance Reform Act. That’s another post, and if you want to complain about that, go right ahead, and feel free to use some of my analysis, here, but don’t confuse your selfish reluctance to allow any other people in the world to benefit from our efforts to eliminate those who support and spread terror. I’ll bet you really do think it’s entirely a coincidence that we haven’t suffered another terrorist attack on our soil (other than Muhammad and Malvo) since 9-11. OK… if THAT’s what passes for “reason” for you.

The chance of any of us being killed or injured in a terrorist attack, I repeat, is infinitesimal. We are at far more risk every time we get behind the wheel and venture onto our streets and highways, every time we’re exposed to a flu bug, and certainly every time we are hospitalized, since hospital-caused illness kills tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Is it that you do not grasp the difference between terrorism and accident?

There is a certain amount of risk that we can avoid, and a certain that we cannot. As a point of law, it is not the government’s responsibility to protect us from the pervasive individual risks of life. The government IS responsible to PROVIDE a national defense. In your world, should the government stop bothering terrorists until after we have secured a cure to the common cold? After the perfectly safe car has been developed and provided to each and every American? Why wouldn’t that same logic have attached after the attacks of Pearl Harbor? Heck, there, mostly it was the military that took the hit, and civilians weren’t targeted.
I could see the President Ron Smith speech “My fellow Americans, we have been attacked. We must avenge our losses. The Empire of Japan will feel the brunt of our political might, but only after we cure cancer!”

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was done for many reasons, which have been debated heatedly for many months. But the idea we are propagandized with incessantly – that this will make us safe from terrorism – is so preposterous that it is simply amazing that the bulk of the American people apparently believe it.

Well, Ron, do you feel like a better person for attempting to lower American morale? You spout all sorts of crap about reason and rights, but you aren’t willing to recognize that the actual motivation of those who would destroy us is NOT founded in reason. Perhaps fighting “terrorism” is the most brilliant tactic America has ever employed. It provides NO disincentive to B if we attack A only because A did a particular thing. It disincentivizes the hell out of B if we attack A for engaging in the hostile course of action which B is also engaged in, even if B has not actually attacked us yet.

What will protect America? The CREDIBLE threat of complete destruction of our enemies who engage in terrorism will deter those who might contemplate hurting us. Funny, this is precisely the thing that will eventually starve “terrorism,” as it is currently propagated, to death. Anything less is an invitation to those who engage in terrorism to do better next time.

Posted by Bronson at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)

Smoking Ban is Banned (Temporarily)

From Syracuse Post Standard:

Damon's Party House in Cicero is the first bar in Onondaga County - and possibly the first in the state - to win a waiver allowing tobacco smoking inside its premises because of financial hardship.

Damon's was granted a one-year smoking-ban waiver Friday by county Health Commissioner Dr. Lloyd Novick after presenting evidence it had lost approximately 40 percent of its bar business in three months. The state's smoking ban took effect July 24.

This is a common problem facing restaurants, bars, and other establishments who have had draconian regulations enforced upon them in the name of public health.

These public health zealots are forcing these privately owned establishments to disallow smoking. Many of these establishments are bars who cater to a professional after work crowd. These people enjoy a cigar or cigarette with their cocktail, and with the enforcement of these laws they are required to either smoke outside, or just go home to smoke.

If he would allow smoking to be present, his bar would be subject to highly punative fines, and possibly even revokation of their liquor license.

Before getting a waiver, Damon's was one of five bars in Onondaga County to be fined for violating the law, which prohibits smoking indoors at almost every worksite in the state. Damon's was fined $250 earlier this month after health department inspectors said they saw customers smoking cigarettes in the tavern. Damon said he will pay the fine.

His tavern, which is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, lost most of its regular customers after the smoking ban became effective July 24, Damon said.

His patrons - generally an older happy-hour crowd - drifted away as the weather got cold because they didn't want to have to go outside to smoke, said Damon, who smokes just under a pack a day. Damon said he hopes his regulars return now.

Is smoking bad? Yes. Though I sometimes smoke cigars. Other times I appreciate a place to eat where they do not allow smoking. But when I want to smoke, I want to be able to find a bar or restaurant that allows smoking.

The point is, it should be my choice. My choice to choose an establishment that allows or disallows smoking. It is also up to the owner. He or she owns the place, and THEY should make the decisions on things like this.

It is not the government's or public official's place in this world to watch over and regulate every possible thing that can hurt us. The world is full of danger, it is my place to watch out for it, not Uncle Sam's.

Posted by TomCat at 09:15 AM | Comments (3)

January 12, 2004

Is That a Regulation Banana in Your Pocket


From "The fruit police" by Roger Kimball at The New Criterion's weblog, Armavirimque:

"David told us how his family had been planting a certain type of potato for decades at their farm in Wales: no more. The EU ministers decreed that type of spud verboten. They had rules for hedges, lawns, sausages, and comestibles of every sort. It became a crime to sell a pound of . . . well, of anything: one had to adopt the metric system or go to jail. Bananas that deviated too much from the perpendicular were illegal. I am not sure what happened to bananas that were overly curvaceous: perhaps they were required to take Pilates.

It all seemed so . . . absurd. And so it was. Unless you were caught selling pound of beef or a bendy banana.

I had more or less forgotten this episode until my friend sent me an article from the December 19 issue of the London Times. The headline tells the tale:

Why is this banana legally curved instead of just crooked?
Because it is the fruit of the finest judicial minds in Europe.
Unfortunately, the article is available on-line only for a fee, but here is the gist:
GOODBYE bendy bananas. Farewell curved cucumbers. So long chunky carrots. The European Union has finally triumphed in its quest to tame nature and keep unusually shaped fruit and vegetables off our shop shelves.
The House of Lords yesterday ordered greengrocers across the country to obey every EU horticultural regulation passed over the past 30 years concerning fresh produce and conform to the myriad of rules covering size, length, colour and texture.

The law lords rejected the argument, put forward by the supermarket Asda, that a legal blunder in 1973 had made the EU laws unenforceable. Now greengrocers will have to ensure that under EU regulation 2257/94 their bananas are at least 13.97cm (5.5in) long and 2.69cm (1.06in) round and do not have "abnormal curvature", as set out in an eight-page directive drawn up in 1994.

The ban on bendy bananas was necessary, according to an EU Commission official at the time, to prevent them from being mistaken for a "bicycle wheel".
I have often had occasion to quote Tocqueville's warning about the process of "democratic despotism," which proceeds by extending
its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.
Of course, the behavior of the EU does not conform exactly to Tocqueville's scenario. To be sure, it covers the surface of society "with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules"--the last time I checked there were 185,000 pages of rules and regulations; the EU "does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes" and so on. But Tocqueville was talking about democratic despotism, and the EU presents the novel spectacle of its bureaucratic, or soft-totalitarian alternative. It is (so far) less brutal, but no less infantilizing, no less an enemy of freedom.
It may seem silly to get worked up about bananas; edicts about potatoes may seem like small potatoes. Does it really matter that one's favorite sausage or cheese is now deemed illegal? The EU has declared "racism" and "xenophobia" crimes--but who in his right mind would wish to express racist or xenophobic attitudes? Exactly what are racist or xenophobic attitudes? Well, that's for the ministers in Brussels to determine. You don't like that? A pity, because, if you're a European, you're stuck with it. The ministers are not elected by you, they are appointed by each other. They meet in secret. They issue diktats that affect the lives of the whole European Community. Once upon a time, you could have criticized this sort of tyranny, but the ministers in their wisdom have decided that dissent is unprogressive. Consequently, it is illegal for journalists to criticize the decisions of the EU. Is that an infringement on the right of free speech? Who said anything about a right to free speech? This is the new, multicultural Europe. Health care and welfare and an early retirement for everyone. And a 35-hour work week. Want to work longer hours? That's a crime too."

Read it all here.

Posted by Noel at 01:15 AM | Comments (11)

January 07, 2004

Mary, Mary; Quite Contrary


Mark Steyn does in the British Gun-Control/Radio Poll story:

"A "listeners' law" is, of course, a pathetic gimmick. Judging from the reaction of Stephen Pound, MP, the modish proponents of "direct democracy" believe in letting the people's voice be heard only so long as it agrees with what their betters have already decided. So, having agreed to introduce the listeners' choice as a Bill in Parliament, Mr. Pound was a bit shocked to find the winning proposal wasn't one of the nanny-state suggestions (a ban on smoking, compulsory organ donation, mandatory voting) or the snobby joke ones (a ban on Christmas decorations before December), but the right to defend your home."

"Why, the People's Champion himself, Stephen Pound, dismissed it as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation. I can't remember who it was who said, `The people have spoken, the bastards'."

"That would be Dick Tuck, a long-ago California state senate candidate, in an unusually pithy concession speech. It's an amusing remark as applied to the electorate's rejection of oneself. It's not quite so funny when applied, by Mr. Pound, to people impertinent enough to bring up a topic that you and the rest of the governing class have decided is beyond debate. As used by Mr. Tuck, it reflects a rough'n'tumble vernacular politics; as used by Mr Pound, it comes out closer to "Let 'em eat cake"."

"The Independent's Joan Smith recalled that, when she spied a burglar on her porch, she had no desire to "blow him away". Nor do I, if I'm honest."

"But I do want to have the right to make the judgment call. You can call 999, get the answering machine rerouting you to the 24-Hour Action Hotline three counties away, leave a message, and wait for the Community Liaison Officer to get back next week if he's returned from his emotional trauma leave by then."

"...you're there, the police aren't. And, even in jurisdictions whose constabularies aren't quite so monumentally useless as Britain's, a citizen in his own home should have the right to make his own assessment of the danger without being second-guessed by fellows who aren't on the scene."

"And, once you give the citizen that right, he hardly ever has to exercise it. Take Miss Smith's situation: she's at home, but the burglar still comes a-knocking. Thanks to burglar alarms, British criminals have figured out that it's easier to wait till you come home, ring the door bell, and punch you in the kisser."

Most gun-control is not crime-control, but citizen-control. And goes hand-in-hand with the abolition of the Death Penalty. In response to a brutal shotgun-slaying of 3 policemen 40 years ago, the liberal answer was to abolish the Death Penalty, and to register, and later ban, most gun-ownership.

If the State says to criminals "There is NOTHING you can do that is vicious enough for us to execute you!", even after a long & deliberative process, then it certainly isn't going to let individual victims make that determination on the spot. Though you'd never know it, many European publics support the Death penalty.

The English jurist Blackstone, who is to Law what Edison is to electronics, asserted the right to armed self-defense is an 'Absolute Right'; one that pre-dates & supersedes even Constitutions & societies. So when Steyn says "... once you give the citizen that right, he hardly ever has to exercise it.", he is quite right on the deterrence point...but the State cannot 'give' you that right; it can only honor or dishonor the right previously given by one's Maker.

British gun-control cannot be looked at apart from several other bad liberal ideas; the disparagement of traditional morality and the introduction of massive numbers of third-world immigrants, a certain number of whom have no loyalty or respect for British culture. And elites have never appreciated Thomas Jefferson's formulation: "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Or perhaps they've appreciated it all too well.

Steyn points out one more unintended consequence; criminals now wait for victims to arrive home and turn off their burglar-alarms; can burglar-alarm-control be far behind?

As for the alleged slaughter that would take place; was there a slaughter when the people were allowed to defend their homes years ago? Did I miss this scene from "Mary Poppins"?:

Winifred Banks: "George; what ARE you doing?"
George W. Banks: "Hello, dear; I'm going to shoot a burglar...it's the English way, you know."
Winifred: "But that's no burglar, darling; that's Bert---our chimney sweep!"
George: "One can't be to careful these days, dear,"...BLAM! BLAM!..."Sorry, Bert, but I haven't shot anyone for King & Country all day. Chin up...way to keep a stiff upper lip, old boy!"
Tony State: "I'm afraid you're under arrest for the murder of Rob Petrie, Mr. Banks."
Mary Tyler Moore: "Oh, Rob!"
George Banks: "Who are you, sir...and where is Mary Poppins?"
Tony State: " I'm your new Nanny...Nanny State. Your wife elected me when she got the vote. And Mary is fine. She fought off two purse-snatchers in the park with her umbrella; she should be released soon...it's her first offense, after all."
Mr. Banks: "Oh, thank Heavens; for a brief, terrifying moment, I feared she was in the waiting room at National Health."

Instead of criminals living in fear, the Elites seem fear only one thing:


Can pun-control be far behind?

Posted by Noel at 02:18 AM | Comments (3)

January 03, 2004

The Law vs. The Courts: Entrenchment of the Incumbent Party

It may seem like old news now, but when all this talk of election campaigns starts raging, my thoughts often turn to that travesty of a New Jersey Supreme Court decision made in October 2002.
You remember the one: Robert Torricelli--in a scandal induced freefall in the polls--bowed out of the race in order to be replaced on the ballot by a Democrat who had a chance of winning. The one where State law was tossed aside by the Democrat-packed bench. The one where the so-called "two-party system" was officially codified into law.

In 2000, Sen. John McCain threatened court action in the case of the New York state Republican primary--where George W. Bush was the only one of the several contestants listed since, by law, the Republican Party of New York had the right to list only the candidate(s) it wished to list. Steve Forbes, in a televised debate, spoke against the practice as the institution of "a Soviet-style" forced party conformity. Shouldn't Republican primary voters have a choice among willing candidates? While the inner-workings of a political party may seem out of the jurisdiction of a state court; the outer-workings of a general election are clearly subject to existing statute.
If McCain had decided to seek a "third-party" nomination in '04, he may have found his tussle with the New York Republicans to have been inadequate preparation for what might have laid ahead.

There are many reasons to protest the 2002 NJSC ruling. Sure, they ignored the statutory 51-day deadline for a party to change it's Statewide ballot. Sure, they substituted their definition of a "right to vote" for the Legislatures Constitutional authority to proscribe the voting process. Sure, they invoked their "duty" to divine the legislative intent of a statute that was wholly unambiguous. But those aren't my main concerns with the ruling. (Those are, of course, important concerns. But, for the sake of this post, I'll confine myself to the most unprecedented aspect of the ruling.)

Consider this seemingly high-minded portion:

"...the Court being of the view that -(it) is in the public interest and the general intent of the election laws to preserve the two-party system and to submit to the electorate a ballot bearing the names of candidates of both major political parties as well as all other qualifying parties and groups." "And the Court remaining of the view that the election statutes should be liberally construed --to allow the greatest scope for public participation in the electoral process, to allow candidates to get on the ballot, to allow parties to put their candidates on the ballot, and most importantly, to allow the voters a choice on Election Day."

Since they are claiming that this ruling, on the clear and unambiguous election law, is to "preserve the two-party system", and to make sure that candidates "of the two major parties" get on the ballot, they are stating in no uncertain terms that the Democrat and Republican parties (the Incumbent Party) are to be treated, in a court of law, with priviledge and deference not to be extended to any other party.
The "Soviet-style" establishment of political parties has taken root in the New Jersey Judicial branch.

Political parties are not government institutions, they are associations of citizens pooling their resources and working together toward a common cause. The candidate on the New Jersey ballot was Bob Torricelli, not the Democratic Party.

Their defense of voter choice, as they consider that to be "most important", is completely indefensible. The voters had, as allowed by law, a Democrat candidate on the ballot--and his name was Torricelli. There were also six other candidates on the ballot. The fiat that there would have been no choice without both major-party's fronting of a candidate establishes that "third-party" candidates are henceforth functionally illegitimate; they offer no choice: they are not an option.

One can only conclude that if the 17th Amendment were repealed and the New Jersey Legislature were to exercise their constitutional authority and appoint their Senators, the NJSC would have to rule that action unconstitutional.
Also, if the justices of the NJSC were instead in Massachusetts, or Virginia, or any of hundreds of other states, towns and districts, that had uncontested elections (such as the uncontested re-election campaigns of John Kerry [D-Ma] and John Warner [R-Va]), those elections would have had to be ruled unconstitutional.

Has the NJSC effectively mandated that political parties must sponsor a candidate in order to guarantee the voters' newly found Constitutional right to have a choice between the two "major" parties? Should that mandate be restricted only to the "major" parties?. Is that any of the Courts damn business?

New Jersey may have saved the Democratic Party from defeat in the last cycle, but they've paved the way for all "non-major" parties to be lawfully discriminated against in the future. These "third parties" are also associations of citizens pooling their resources and working together for a common cause, and entitled to equal protection under the law. Yet the NJSC -- by virtue of the stated rationale that formed it's judgement in the Torricelli case -- has ruled against them.
Perhaps it's just that, while settling election disputes, Supreme Court justices -- who have all been appointed by members of the Republican and Democrat parties -- are more loyal to their Incumbent Party patrons than to their sworn duty to apply the Law.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:08 PM | Comments (2)

January 02, 2004

Consenting Adults

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."-- Abraham Lincoln

"All attempts by the State to bias the conclusions of its citizens on disputed subjects are evil." --John Stuart Mill, 'On Liberty' 1859

"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."-- William F. Buckley, Jr.

"Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom." -- F.A. Hayek

"There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, showers its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."--Andrew Jackson

"It would be an absurdity for jurors to be required to accept the judge's view of the law, against their own opinion, judgement, and conscience."--John Adams

Posted by Noel at 12:06 AM | Comments (22)