Thursday, June 26, 2008

Originalism At Its Finest

Today the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision struck down the Washington D.C. ban on handguns in a landmark case. I've read quite a few Supreme Court opinions, but Justice Scalia's majority opinion in todays case might be the best I've ever read (a close second would be his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas). Justice Scalia perfectly dissected the 2nd Amendment by taking each phrase and explaining what it meant when the amendment was adopted. I wasn't going to write about this case but I stubbled over a column by E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and I had to write about it. Dionne's title is "Originalism Goes Out the Window", and he is obviously against the decision, but why is what interests me. Dionne writes "Conservative justices claim that they defer to local authority. Not in this case. They insist that political questions should be decided by elected officials. Not in this case. They argue that they pay careful attention to the precise words of the Constitution. Not in this case." Conservatives do want deferment to local authority in many cases, especially for moral or ambiguous questions which judges are no better then answering then anyone else, but nobody has ever argued that all questions be left to local authority. What if a state legislature banned printing newspapers, would Conservatives simply say "Well, we differ to the state."? No, when a political body violates the Constitution the courts must step in, that's what they're there for. Dionne also writes "Thursday's narrow majority spent the first 54 pages of its decision, written by Scalia, trying to show that even though the framers inserted 13 important words in front of the assertion of a right to bear arms, those words were essentially meaningless. Does that reflect an honest attempt to determine the 'original' intention of the Constitution's framers?" Did he read a different opinion then I did? Justice Scalia spent page after page examining the words in the text, what they meant in 1791, the history of those words, the history of the commentary on those words and what the framers said about them outside the Constitution. It not only reflected an honest attempt to determine the original intention of the Constitution but it could frankly be used as a guide in original intention interpretation. Next Dionne writes "But these pragmatic judgments underestimate how radical this decision is in light of the operating precedents of the last 69 years. The United States and its gun owners have done perfectly well since 1939, when an earlier Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as implying a collective right to bear arms, but not an individual right." First off you tell the scared citizen of Washington D.C. who knows that if someone breaks into there house they won't be able to defend themselves that they have "done perfectly well". Also the 1939 reference is one of the case of United States v. Miller where the Supreme Court validated a law banning sawed off shotguns. As Justice Scalia pointed out "Miller stands only for the proposition that the Second Amendment right, whatever its nature, extends only to certain types of weapons. It is particularly wrongheaded to read Miller for more than what it said, because the case did not even purport to be a thorough examination of the Second Amendment." E.J. Dionne simply won't face the facts the Constitution does grant an individual the right to bear arms. Since the 2nd amendment refers to "the people" one would conclude that it's granted to an individual, like Justice Scalia said “Nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to ‘the people’ refer to anything other than an individual right.” Justice Scalia also points out that "[T]he people,’ refers to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset." If it only referred to a right of the militia then it would, in 1791, be a right of only white males from ages 18-45. The Court got it right today in their interpretation of the text, and Liberals need to admit it when the text doesn't support there wishes. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

To drill or not to drill

The question all over the news and the political world is what to do about gas prices. Conservatives argue that we must drill in Alaska and off the coast and Liberals argue that drilling isn't environmentally friendly and would take years and years before they would affect gas prices. Liberals instead call for developing alternative fuels and weaning off oil all together. Now the big problem with this debate is that everyone is looking for a silver bullet to solve the gas problem, but sorry to say there isn't one. There is nothing the government or the private sector can due that is going to bring down gas prices tomorrow, that is just the reality of the situation. Liberals are correct that drilling won't have an effect for a long time, but they have been saying that for a long time. If President Clinton wouldn't have vetoed opening up ANWAR in 1995 we would be by some estimates drilling there now. Just because something is going to take a long time doesn't mean we should just dismiss it. Drilling has to be apart of our long term strategy for oil independence, along with alternative fuels. I believe America can become independent but it is the work of a generation (hopefully mine) not one administration or a single bill. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum sadly will continue to offer false hope of fixing this problem to win votes instead of actually working for a long term solution. The answer to this problem, like so many others, isn't easy but it is simple, and we must achieve it. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What's ahead

So Barack Obama is without a shadow of doubt the Democratic nominee for president, the showdown for the fall is set McCain vs. Obama. I've heard people giving their predictions for the fall but that is extremely difficult since these races are so fluid, but I give it a try. This will be a close race, unless some unforeseen scandal erupts. Obama will do better then Kerry did in 04', I believe he will win Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and maybe Nevada. The last two elections the key battleground states have been Florida and Ohio, I think that both the states will end up going for McCain, the new battle states will be Michigan (this state could make or break the election) and Wisconsin. Michigan hasn't gone Republican since Bush in 88' but most polls have McCain in a statistical dead heat with Obama. There also could be some animosity among Democrats over Obama not even putting his name on the ballot in Michigan during the primary. Although history doesn't look favorably towards McCain in Michigan if he can get a lot of independents and Hillary supporters to jump to his side he could bring Michigan into the red. Wisconsin only went to Kerry in 04' by 11,384 votes and Gore in 00' by 5,708 votes and most polls have Obama and McCain very close. McCain shouldn't stand a chance against Obama with the economy is bad shape, Bush's approval rating in the low 30's and party id. going overwhelmingly to the Democrats. but Obama in my opinion is a flawed inexperienced candidate that white rural voters and older voters will reject. Although more Americans identify as Democrats, that hasn't led to a Democratic presidential victory in 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, or 2000 all years where more more people identified as Democrats. The problem is for Democrats is that the keep nominating flawed candidates like George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and now Barack Obama. This election will be a vital one for this nation and I think, and hope, that Americans won't elect the most liberal member of the US Senate who has little experience and the same leftist policy ideas that we have been hearing since the 60's over John McCain, but we will have to wait and see...   

Monday, June 2, 2008

Will we return to normalcy?

Many in America and especially liberals have been deplored at the foreign policy of the present administration. They have ridiculed our policies as unilateral, dangerous and even immoral. I have heard often that George W. Bush hijacked our foreign policy. If this were true the foreign policy of George W. Bush would have to be an anomaly in our history, it is however far from it. Liberals tend to have this idealistic notion that America has a long history of a cautious non-interventionist foreign policy and Bush is the antithesis to that history. The reality is that the idealism of Bush's foreign policy is an extension on the policies America has had since before it's inception in 1776. America started out as 13 small colonies along the Atlantic coast in the 17th century and has expanded into a nation stretching the length of North American continent with military bases on all 7 continents on Earth with operations by the U.S. military in 170 countries, it didn't do this with the foreign policy liberals advocate. The U.S. military has for better or worse has been in involved in by my approximate count 280 military actions (265 before Bush took office) in its history, the vast majority of which were unilateral and aggressive. The United States was defending it's interests abroad and fighting to expand its influence around the world long before Bush ever took office. Obama and the Democrats however promise to open a era of cooperation with other nations unlike Bush who has been attacked for being unilateral in his liberation of Iraq, besides that fact that 39 nations have contributed forces to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I don't know what the magic number of nations is when a unilateral action becomes lateral but apparently 39 isn't enough. This notion of the necessity of multilateral action is quite new in American history and isn't even pragmatic since the more nations in a military action the harder it is to coordinate. The U.S. has conducted countless unilateral actions with great success over the years. The Democrats also have attacked Bush for not getting U.N. approval for action in Iraq, even though Clinton didn't get U.N. approval for U.S. actions in Kosovo in 1999, but this isn't surprising since Democrats are the kings of selective outrage. This notion of the necessity of U.N. approval is the also new, a post Cold War and post-modern construct simply meant for smaller weaker nations to tie the hands of larger more powerful nations and usher in a period of cooperation and understanding among nations, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that pipe dream. Another complaint lodged at Bush is he has violated the Westphalian notions of sovereignty of the nation-state, but since the Treaty of Westpahlia in 1648 the sovereignty of the nation-state has been violated so many times by so many different nations that it is hard to take those notions seriously. America's foreign policy will continue to dominate the world and be involved the in the affairs of other nations regardless of whether or not McCain or Obama takes the White House in November. Obama will not suddenly overturn 400 years of American policy and even though he says he will be different his ideas are ambiguous on purpose. Obama isn't stupid, he knows that our foreign policy is crucial to keep the world stable and although he might say some punch lines to make some Liberals feel all warm & fuzzy inside he isn't going to change a thing, thankfully....    

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain's Goals

In the speech above John McCain today laid out his goals for his first term as President. They are ambitious and represent the direction McCain wants to take this country. To highlight the goals

  • End of combat role in Iraq by end of first term
  • Kill or capture Bin Laden
  • Diminished nuclear threats
  • Increased overall size and quality of our military
  • Reform/increase benefits for veterans
  • A multi-national force in Darfur to keep peace
  • A Reduction in capital gains/corporate taxes
  • A reformed tax system with 2 flat rates and simpler filing method
  • An end to earmarks by using veto power
  • Reduction in wasteful spending
  • Expanded free-trade agreements
  • A reformed unemployment insurance and worker retraining programs
  • A reformed education system through charter & private schools along with merit pay for teachers
  • An expansion of health care for all Americans through choice
  • A form of personal retirement accounts
  • Begin development on 20 new nuclear reactors
  • Judges appointed who don't make law but interpret it
  • A secured border and a severe reduction in illegal immigration
These goals show change that can work for America and make it stronger. I look forward to the debate between Senator McCain's vision listed above and Senator Obama's vision of bigger government, bigger spending & higher taxes. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Pick for V.P.

The question of who should John McCain pick for V.P. is a tuff one. There is no clear candidate who would be perfect each one has his or her ups and downs. On the Democrat side I think the choice is clear with Kathleen Sebelius, the Governor of Kansas, simply because she is a Democrat in a blue state, with executive experience, and has bi-partisan appeal. For my party the choice isn't as clear. There are certain traits the V.P. needs to compliment McCain, executive experience, needs to be young but not too young, should come from a battleground state. There is one who jumps out as someone who meets all these traits, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. The state of Minnesota, although a Republican hasn't won there since Nixon in 1972 (longer then any other state), the Republican Convention will be in Minneapolis and some think McCain can carry the state. Pawlenty also has a executive experience with a record of reform, turning a $4.3 billion deficit into a $700 million surplus without raising taxes, he is a solid conservative who has backed McCain for a long time. He is also the right age,47, to complement McCain. He is the son of a truck driver and comes from a working class neighborhood in St. Paul. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college and started out in politics as a city council member and worked his way up from the state legislature to the governorship. There are a couple honorable mentions such as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Louisana Governor Bobby Jindal, who I think will be great for 2012 or 2016, but still need more experience, even though Jindal has more experience in many respects then Obama.In the end I think a McCain/Pawlenty ticket would be great for the party and America. Below is a picture of Pawlenty talking to our troops.Photobucket

Obama & Gas Prices

This is a great ad showing the stupidity of Obama's windfall tax plan