Wait, who is responsible in Tacoma?

If you read many of the conservative national blogs, or even a few local ones, you'd think that Mike Huckabee pulled the trigger in a coffee shop in Washington.

But he didn't. A sick, brutal thug did. The only person responsible for the murder of four police officers is the man who actually shot them. Period.

Yes, Mike Huckabee approved clemency for the suspect, Maurice Clemmons, in 2000. Clemmons had been sentenced in 1990 for a series of burglaries and robberies. The details are tough to pin down, but it seems that his original sentence was several decades long. Then-governor Huckabee made him eligible for parole and ultimately it was granted.

Hindsight being 20/20 it was rather obviously a bad decision. Huckabee may well have had a very lenient policy for granting clemency and pardons, but he is not responsible for Clemmons' actions. If one is to look at all the facts around Clemmons and his history of crime, it is a failure of the entire justice system in two states, not that of Mike Huckabee. Still, the justice system is not at responsible for the police officers' murders: only Clemmons is.

It bothers me when conservatives who talk constantly about the importance of personal responsibility want to make a politician they don't particularly care for responsible for the actions of a felon. It amazes me how quickly some people can make something political. Four police officers are dead - killed in cold blood, and their killer is still at large. Let's keep our eye on the ball, the goal is catching, prosecuting and putting this guy away for the rest of his life. Let's get that done first and fix whatever cracks in the justice system he slipped through once we know all the facts.

Graspers, grasping

This blog has, rightly I think, not yet made mention of the would-be-reality-TV-celebrities' crashing of the Obama dinner for Manmohan Singh, but today Anne Applebaum says something about it worth reading:
Over the centuries, some societies have been more susceptible to these sorts of swindles than others. Catherine the Great's Russia, for example, was positively swarming with phony English duchesses and Italian princes: Imperial St. Petersburg was aspirational enough at that time to want the company of "real" European aristocrats but far away enough from London or Naples to make it difficult to check their pedigrees. One also thinks of Edith Wharton's New York, for similar reasons: Her characters are precisely the sort who would fall into a m├ęsalliance with a dodgy Polish aristocrat just off the boat who invariably turns out not to be what he seems.

To that notable group of societies we can now add 21st-century Washington, D.C. Like 18th-century Russia, it is a world of neophytes, a society whose members have only recently "made it" into an elite magic circle and who don't necessarily know the other members all that well. Like 19th-century New York, it is also a world where appearances matter. You get invited to the party—whether the White House Hanukkah party or the state dinner—not just because of who you are but because of what you represent, which costume you wear, which ethnic group you come from.
She gets bonus points for using "bamboozle."

Obama's Afghanistan Decision

As a generation, we might be better suited for self governance after tomorrow night's speech.

"Check out, for instance, the prescient 1761 source on computer file-sharing..."

It's no Westlaw or Lexis.  Or Bloomberg (who just waded into the field), for that matter.  A search for "Tulane Maritime Law Journal" reveals a number of links...to HeinOnline pages that require payment.

But I'm sure it's a foretaste of coming Google dominance in the legal search field.

Excuse me, sir, but...


*(For the uninitiated).


On Foodstamps

The New York Times pronounces emphatically today that the stigma of using food stamps has lifted.

Oh?  Perhaps the stigma is gone in the eyes of a New York Times reporter.  Sure, there is now widespread use across various sectors of American society.  But I don't think the stigma's gone in the eyes of the American public.  And even if it is, it certainly hasn't dissipated in my eyes.

Even if I one day end up on food stamps for some reason, let the stigma stand.  It should.  It should not be "okay" to be wholly dependent upon the government for one's food, the most basic element of sustaining life.  The notion of being independent in any meaningful sense is deeply undercut.  It comes down to a point of personal responsibility to keep one's self and one's dependents from ever encountering a situation where one must resort to the government to provide food.

Lest I be called out as a hypocrite, let me state that right now I'm on a variation of foodstamps: federal financial aid comprises part of the package of funds that is paying my way through law school.  But as I said, let the stigma stand - I do find it somewhat shameful that I had to resort to the federal government to move forward in my life.  Still, unlike food stamp recipients, I will actually repay my loans down the line (and I have a plan and a means in place to do so as rapidly as possible).  I also hope to provide private loans to family members and merit-based scholarships to other students at some point down the road to give others a chance to get ahead without going to the government.

Anyway, here's what really bothers me about the expanded use of foodstamps...it's not just the recession that triggered the explosion in their use.  It was "compassionate conservatism" at its worst:

While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply.

And, if we needed any additional proof that "Obama is like Bush," we can look to his administration's stance on food stamps:

Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.  “I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

Bring us all into the fold.  Please, please take care of us.  Watch over us day and night.  Take care of our health care.  Fix our climate.  And give us our daily bread.

A Quirky Touch in Milwaukee

Galt on the Ganges

Ayn Rand surges in popularity -- in India:
Rand's celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition. Gargi Rawat, a correspondent and news anchor for top tv channel ndtv and a former Rand admirer, says Rand's theory of the supremacy of reason and the virtue of selfishness adds up to "the antithesis" of Indian culture, which explains the attraction for Rawat in her youth and for many rebellious Indian teens today.
Is it really so surprising that Obama's popularity there is plummeting?



I always enjoyed the balconies of Azerbaijan. You never knew what to expect:

 Sometimes they stood out...

...sometimes they were overwhelmed...

...sometimes they were supported....

...and sometimes -- just sometimes -- they held a little surprise...

The RNC's "Purity Test" Resolution


Which of the 10 points do you agree with?  All?  None?

The "purity test" is causing a flap, and I think rightly so.  A few of the items on the list might be worth mandating as dogma in order to have some basic semblance of party unity.  But I think it's foolhardy to discount the prospect of supporting candidates who, while not in perfect alignment, nevertheless might concur with 5-9 of the tenets, perhaps standing for some of them with great intensity.


Making Wisconsin Less Stale

In my return home to Wisconsin this Thanksgiving, I've been paying attention.  How is Wisconsin looking?  How is Kiel doing?  How is the region faring in the recession?  Is this a viable place to live?  Are there indicators of life here?

While I think he may go a bit overboard in painting a dire scene, I think this observation from George Lightbourn raises a legitimate point:

We talk about keeping our talented people, but we give them few reasons to stay. We talk about attracting smart, dynamic workers but we give them few reasons to come.

You see, people who have options end up living and working in vibrant, dynamic places. People haven’t been migrating to the great American cities because life there is predictable and sure. They go there because those places are edgy and full or opportunity. Unfortunately, I’m afraid they can sense our staleness, our insistence that we cling to the status quo.

Wisconsin cities and towns, especially the areas outside of Madison and Milwaukee, need to get to work on eliminating the stale.  Brain drain has been hemmed and hawed over, but what does it actually boil down to in the end?  It does seem to have consequences.  Here in Kiel, for example, the downtown business environment is stable, but no longer robust.  Too many abandoned storefronts dot Fremont Street.  Too many businesses that could inhabit a downtown are now isolated, located along the highway on the edge of town.  New developments aren't all contiguous with the existing cityscape.  Many of my classmates have moved away.  Fortunately, the city is doing a bit better than a number of its neighbors because continues to boast a diverse group of manufacturing companies.

What about the remedies?  Taking Kiel as a microcosm, there's a simple need, first and foremost, for more community gathering places.  The public library is the only place available (at times) where one can access wireless internet.  There's no coffee shop on the main drag.  There's no bona fide restaurant downtown either.  And while there are numerous taverns in good Wisconsin fashion, they don't necessarily cater to the demographic or the mindset necessary to make a place liveable in the mind of creative, ambitious twentysomethings at the heart of a potential economic and cultural revival.  They're not enough, alone, to tip a person into the stay column.

In my experience, Wisconsin's climate (as in weather, aka cold) is already an irreconcilable baseline obstacle when it comes to competing for young talent nationally.  Thus, communities in the state need to bring even more to the table when it comes to incentivizing crucial individuals to join the community.  While communities certainly need to focus on the primary goals of enticing and growing highly attractive up and coming technology-based companies, it's the ancillary things that need attention.  Which questions, when answered in the negative, indicate the surface staleness that will bar vanguard individuals from even considering a move?  Probably a few of those that follow:

Will I ever hear live music in your town beyond a cover band?  Will my friends find anything unique enough about this place to a) visit, b) remember, c) tell others, and d) actually consider moving here?  Are there interesting places I go on any given day and know that I'll find several people in my age group?  Are there a variety of such places?  While the tradition and familiarity is great, does anything new ever happen here?  Are creativity and enterprise valued in concrete, publicized ways in the community?  Are people, even if they disagree deeply with me, going to be tolerant?  Is this an authentic place to live, as opposed to a mere bedroom community?  Is your downtown so restrictively zoned that I wouldn't be able to open up the fledgling establishment I have in mind? 

As I said, these sample questions help talent discern whether a community is hospitable.  They're admittedly ancillary to the outright question of "Do you have a number of great employers to hire me?"  But they're just as important - if not more important - when it comes to addressing the staleness problem Lightbourn raises.  Wisconsin cities and villages have many of the resources necessary to pull off a transformation, but it will require focusing specifically on identifying and reinforcing those resources with an eye to bringing energy back to town.

The Last Pear, Black Friday


The eternal victim

Brad discussed it recently, but I think it bears repeating:
If that three-part narrative has a unifying theme, the theme is that everything – and I mean everything – that has ever gone wrong for Sarah Palin was someone else’s fault.

Sarah’s lackluster performance during her interview with Frank Murkowski when she somehow made the short-list of candidates to succeed Frank in the U.S. Senate? That was Frank and his Attorney General, my friend Gregg Renkes’s, fault. The Troopergate scandal? Walt Monegan and the Democratic members of the Alaska Senate pulled that mean-spirited prank on a blameless Sarah. The nationally televised interview with Katie Couric that branded Sarah Palin as an ignorant and uneducated laughingstock? Katie sandbagged her. The fabulously disastrous Thanksgiving television interview when Governor Palin pardoned a turkey while in the background unpardoned turkeys were having their heads shoved down a funnel and their throats slit? Sandbagged again. That time by a local TV news cameraman.
Clearly she revels in her own victimization -- the Newsweek cover being the most recent example. It's far easier to be a brave victim eternally fighting back than to actually come up with real policy, and in many ways it typifies the recent tactics of the Republican Party, eternally defensive about the liberal media and the war on Fox News. There are moments when simply digging in and opposing bad policy is the right move -- but to win in politics, good new ideas need to be advanced.

The Telegraph declares the death of ManBearPig

or is it man-made global warming? Whatever you want to call it, these are stunning revelations from the UK.

Now I'm not a lawyer

So the police see your facebook photos.  It seems like there would be too much reasonable doubt to find a person guilty with only the pictures after the fact.  Even if you're holding a beer can or bottle, it could be something else inside it.

"an excellent way to escape from the valley of despair -- an escape right into the abyss of despair."

An Althouse commenter homes in on the folly of the increasing number of young people trying to escape the economic downturn by going to law school.

I don't think undergraduates or young workers are fully aware of just how backlogged the legal job market is right now.  It may take years to unclog - if it ever returns to anything resembling its former state at all.  Law students are, unfortunately, finding this out firsthand right now.

Law school is not the silver bullet many portray it to be far too often.  The debt alone is a dizzying prospect.

Back to Wisconsin

Louis Armstrong International must be trying to prep me for a return to the cold.  The air here in the terminal is freezing!

I'm very excited to be heading home for Thanksgiving this year - the first time I've been able to swing it in my law school career.  Although I'll be working for much of the week, it will be a welcome change of scenery.

I'm very much in need of a break.


Possibly Prescient

"The conservative vs moderate GOP civil war will be avoided because you'll be able to run as a conservative in 40 states in 2010." 

Especially with the way the numbers are looking. 


While Ross Douthat ruminates on celebrity, it was one throwaway graph that struck me most:
It’s possible to be a celebrity and a serious politician at the same time: Barack Obama’s career proves as much. But Obama’s celebrity status is frequently a political liability, and he’s (usually) wise enough to know it. That’s why he plays the wonk as often as he plays the global icon.
It's a comment that deserves further elaboration, because I think these two sides of Obama's coin both come up a negative in terms of actually governing.

His celebrity side has been thoroughly critiqued already: he's airy and meaningless, tossing empty phrases to the throngs of cheery fans who don't really care what he means so long as he represents something they think they like. Fame allows him to be hollow, to be invested with ideas he can't or won't carry out in practice. The fame obscures his inability. He becomes an avatar -- a projection -- of good governance, rather than its embodiment.

But his wonk side does not fill out the void, doesn't give Obama the weight to hold him down and ground him. Instead, it exacerbates his inability to lead. It makes him indecisive. It leads to his inability to press forward on Afghanistan, always waiting for one more expert opinion, always waiting for that one piece of information that will lead to an obvious answer. It leads to his getting so bogged down in the details of the stimulus bill and the health care debate that he ceases making sense, ceases to be able to articulate a broad vision of where he wants to go: the details become everything, the trees overwhelm the forest.

And that leads to a constant dithering, an inability to accomplish. The fame makes him push for tremendous gains on all fronts at once; the wonkiness means that he gets bogged down everywhere.


Competition lives! 


Large Hadron Collider angry! Large Hadron Collider smash!

Better than NASCAR, the Large Hadron Collider has finally started busting stuff up:
Seemingly making up for lost time after years of disasters and delays, the collisions came only three days after engineers had begun shooting the subatomic particles known as protons around their 17-mile underground racetrack. The physicists announced that they had succeeded in making the beams collide, producing what they called "candidate collision events" in the giant particle detectors in the collider.
That's awesome.

"But the biggest economic problem facing the nation is not health care. It's the deficit."

I concur.

Do it yourself, New Orleans

A vigilante takes on trash - with an artistic flair - down on St. Claude.



In the Hullabaloo: 

"If the administration was looking for more parking, perhaps it should have refrained from closing McAlister Drive."

Fire Truck


Ye Olde Tacqueria

"The victim thing is getting old."

Yes, Cal Thomas, Sarah Palin's "victim thing" is getting very, very old. 

"If she can sharpen her intellect"...he says, she'd be a force to be feared in a few years.

Cal, I don't think that's going to happen.  If it was going to happen, it would have had to happen now, as she "re-emerged."

I've watched the sound and fury unfold over the past two weeks, however, as Palin burst back onto the scene along with her new book.

I have not seen anything new, anything that convinces me that I could trust Sarah Palin with power.  Even if I agree with a few of her stances - the ones I can actually discern - her interview with Bill O'Reilly made me cringe all over again.  I don't care about Reverend Wright.  I could care a less about John McCain's campaign staff.  I don't want to hear another word about Bill Ayers.  Good for the AP if they set reporters off fact-checking your book.  

Sorry - I'm not buying what you're selling.  Or, at the very least, I refuse to buy it from you.

Block by Block

A detailed map of the repopulation of New Orleans post-Katrina.  (ht/MK)


It feels like that some days

Andrew Bird has been playing me in to work lately.

Another repercussion of Obama's China jaunt

Relations with India -- good under Bush -- are souring:
The visit comes at a time when the Obama administration is making overtures to China and focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Indians are worried their rank on the White House priority list is falling. While U.S.-India relations are generally strong, in what is often seen as the zero-sum struggle for White House attention, New Delhi simply can't compete with Beijing and is increasingly worried about what that means for power politics in Asia.

"From the Indian point of view, they are very unhappy with Obama," said Stephen Cohen, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, "Indians are really bent out of shape by what they see as a shift of American policy from India to China in Asia. This is complicated by America's dependence on Pakistan."
Obama should be pressing for India's permanent accession to the UN Security Council, but probably won't.

I've argued before that India is a critical ally in SE Asia, and stand by that. It's absurd to see Obama, supposedly the wunderkind who would make America popular again internationally, failing to balance interests and alienating a country that could be a strong source of support down the road. And disengaging with India only makes the situation with Pakistan less stable -- not more. Obama really does seem to be failing spectacularly on the international stage, and it's sad to see.

9-0 was a lot to handle

I hope they're recovered in time to watch 10.

Is the state's unemployment rate really that good?

The state Department of Workforce Development is touting that the Wisconsin unemployment rate has dropped again for the month of October - down to 7.6%

Not bad, especially since the national rate is 10.2%, but the rate reported by the DWD is not seasonally adjusted. The seasonally adjusted rate for Wisconsin is 8.4% and unchanged since September which is important to note because the national unemployment rate is also seasonally adjusted. Still better than the national rate, but let's not sugarcoat it. If we're going to compare rates, we should probably compare apples to apples.

Also, the reason our unemployment rate is dropping is not because we are adding jobs or people are finding work. Our unemployment rate is dropping because more the total workforce is shrinking faster than we can shed jobs.

Sundry Samples

    Online Poll - Old Anthropology Building

    The Tulane Hullabaloo asks for feedback on its sidebar: "How do you feel about demolishing Anthropology building for parking lot?" 

    Yes, it's official - now that the building is almost entirely demolished, the university has informed the paper that it intends to make the site into a tiny parking lot.

    The paper sought comment from me, so the edition that hits newsstands today may have a story on the development.


    The Other Deluge

    Judge Duval's decision yesterday marks the most significant change in the NOLA legal landscape post-Katrina.

    Another showdown looms

    The Democrats probably have the numbers in the Senate to pass Harry Reid's bill, having apparently bought off Mary Landrieu with some nice plump benefits to her state. Interestingly, some seem to be claiming that it would be better to spend more money and opt for the obviously budget-busting House bill instead of a budget that may be somewhere near fiscally neutral.

    But here's the catch:
    CBO also cautioned the bill includes "a number of procedures that might be difficult to maintain over a long period of time."

    The Democrats' cost estimates of slightly below $1 trillion was considerably smaller than a House-passed bill's price tag of between $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion.
    Remember, when you think "Democrats' cost estimates," think stimulus bill:
    The Administration claims to have spent $2.4 billion in the state of Wisconsin, resulting in 10,073 jobs "created or saved." In the Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, taxpayers spent roughly $1.5 million per job. More troubling, millions more of your money has apparently been spent in six congressional districts that don’t exist. Despite promises of unprecedented accountability, it is unclear what has happened to the $1.2 million earmarked for the non-existent 55th Congressional District of Wisconsin, as the Badger State only has eight congressional districts. These false jobs claims are not only embarrassing, but further erode the trust between Wisconsinites and their federal government.

    This exercise illuminates Washington’s fundamental error in its elusive quest for job creation: the belief that only greater government spending can generate jobs. Because every dollar Congress spends must first be taken from the economy, Congressional spending can’t grow the economic pie - it just redistributes the slices. Congress must recognize that real, sustained growth and job creation comes from the work, savings and investment of American families and businesses - not from the federal government.

    What to do with Glenn Beck

    When Glenn Beck first got a show on CNN Headline News, I was a fan. When his Fox News show started, I was a fan. Then Glenn jumped the shark. He became a parody of himself. He went so over-the-top and goofy that he became a joke.

    The problem is that he is an undeniable media star. Despite being in a horrible time slot he pulls better ratings than everyone on cable news except for Bill O'Reilly. The substance of his commentary - in terms of the dangers of ever-expanding government - is more often than not correct, but his style often makes any salient points irrelevant.

    Charles Murray, writing for the American Enterprise Institute has a great take on the "Unbearable Paradox of Glenn Beck:"
    I don’t really want to shut him up. I want him to change. Take those enormous talents and make all the arguments that he can legitimately make. Keep the cutesy gimmicks (I understand that we’re talking entertainment here), but have an iceberg of evidence beneath the surface. Fox is making so much money from the show that it can afford the staff to do the homework.

    Absent that change, and I’m not holding my breath, let me suggest to my colleagues who want a better public policy debate that we’ve got to avoid the if-I-were-God fallacy. It’s not in our power to decide whether Glenn Beck’s show continues. He will save the Republic or fail to save it whatever we do. All we can do is be honest about what we think. I’ll go first. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it. What Beck does is propaganda. Maybe propaganda has its place, but let’s not kid ourselves. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are brothers.

    Quick thoughts on Palin's book

    What fascinates me is the coverage of the book. I was watching Morning Joe on MSNBC this morning and one of the reporters made a big point of the book "looking backward" rather than forward. She even grilled a few people at a book signing about why they like Palin. Apparently, only 14 pages are dedicated to Palin's political beliefs and the preceding 380-some odd pages were about her early life, being Governor of Alaska and running for VP.

    Last I checked, that's what an autobiography is. How is this different than Dreams from My Father? Going Rogue is about Sarah Palin's life, not her political philosophy. Personally, I'm more interested in her politics and her ideas if she's going to be in the political arena, but there's nothing wrong with writing an autobiography if people are going to buy it.

    If the media continues to focus on actively trying to take down Sarah Palin, they look petty and obsessed. Instead of fact checking Palin's book, how about some investigations into the stimulus fraud or Major Hasan's attempts to contact terror groups? Heck, how about some time reading and reporting on the health care bills?

    Sarah Palin will either run for president or not. People will read her book or they won't. The media needs to quit obsessing about it and asserting that anyone who likes her or reads her book is some kind of idiot.


    Would Bin Laden get Miranda rights?

    The answer is no, Mr. Attorney General. The answer is no.

    This is the problem with treating a war like a civil police matter.

    H/T Althouse.

    President Obama warns us against...his own policies?

    "It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession," he said.

    Pipelines and rights

    The leaders of Turkmenistan don't need to worry about human rights -- they have a trump card:
    "There is a risk that the Turkmen regime is learning to play to Europe's need for 'progress' on human rights by making small cosmetic reforms that could be reversed in the future," the Global Witness report said.

    Western nations' plans to tap into Central Asia's vast gas supplies hinge on the success of Nabucco, a pipeline project backed by the U.S. and the EU but whose commercial viability is threatened by rival routes proposed by Russia.
    Unfortunately, European leaders can't apparently see the writing on the wall -- Nabucco is hopelessly mired in Turkish-Armenian politics, and going nowhere fast. Europe is selling its moral authority for nothing.

    Meanwhile, the director of communications for the Nord Stream pipeline is fighting claims that that pipeline will be used as a tool of Moscow's foreign policy:
    The Nord Stream pipeline is not just intended to supply Germany: it will supply customers in many European countries, including Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and France. Long-term contracts have been signed.

    Nord Stream is not in competition with either of the new pipelines planned for Europe’s so-called “Southern Corridor”—it will be a new northern route, primarily serving northern Europe. All three pipelines will be needed if the EU is to meet its energy security and climate protection goals.
    Of the "other two pipelines" mentioned, one is Nabucco, the other is South Stream -- another Russian venture that would continue to tie Europe's energy stability to the whims of Moscow's foreign policy. And of course, no one mentions Russia's human-rights record when talking about its Streams.

    A political Rorschach test

    If the facts in this press release are correct and middle and low income families really are paying a higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes than rich families, what is the proper response?

    I'm betting that many liberals will use these "stats" to justify higher taxes on the wealthy. The better reaction would be to cut spending so that we can ease the tax burden on those least able to afford it. Of course that would take political will and courage.

    As a practical matter though, there is a problem with the Council on Children and Families' numbers. I'm not going to quibble with the percentages they use - I've long thought that most state and local taxes and fees are very regressive - but rather the brackets they use.

    Certainly families earning less than $20,000 are poor and unable to absorb any significant amount of taxes or fees. But then they use families making $35,000 to $57,000 as their measure of "middle-income" Wisconsinites. I'd like to see how they arrived at that figure. Also, what about the families making between $20,000 and $35,000?

    The real problem I have is that they jump from households making $57,000 all the way to taxpayers who average $1,116,000 a year. The first two categories have specific ranges, what was the range used to arrive at this average? Again, what about the families in between the "middle-income" and the rich? If those families also pay higher than 8% of their incomes in state and local taxes wouldn't it reinforce the Council's point? Even if they paid less than the richest Wisconsinites would it change the fact that poor families pay more?

    Based on the conclusion of the Council of Children and Families research director that "Wisconsin lawmakers could make the state’s tax system fairer [by] restoring the state’s estate tax and eliminating income tax breaks that primarily benefit the wealthy, such as the preferential treatment of capital gains" I'm guessing that the Council isn't much interested in lowering spending and taxes. They're pushing a political agenda and makes the questions I raised earlier more important to answer.

    Still, even if the figures are correct, my point at the beginning of this post remains the same: wouldn't we be better off cutting spending and then lowering taxes for everyone? Or maybe we should just go to a flat tax for all state and local governments. That would at least solve the problem of making sure everyone pays their share.

    Every day the world is becoming more like GI Joe

    Battles with laser guns against terrorists usually demanding large sums of money!
    Other systems include a military-grade laser that can cause temporary blindness.

    The SeaLase, which has been developed by the Finnish company Lasersec Systems, is advertised to have a range of four kilometers (2.5 miles) and becomes harder to look at the closer an attacker comes.

    Lightning, er, pirates strike twice

    The MAERSK ALABAMA, famous for its climactic fight with pirates in the spring, found itself under attack yet again. 

    But this time - with armed guards on board - the ship repulsed the assault.  And injured one of the attackers.

    In line with my earlier support of the concept, I'm very glad to hear that armed private security helped stave off the pirate attack.

    Oretha and Thalia


    Orin Kerr over at Volokh muses about the prospects of a Supreme Court archeological dig down into the foundations of The Slaughter-House Cases, the 1870s New Orleans legal fights infamous for effectively snuffing out the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges and Immunities Clause.

    Petitioners in the Chicago handgun ban case seek to reopen the way that was shut.  But it doesn't sound like many justices want to tag along with Justice Thomas in a descent back into the dusty past.  As Kerr notes, it would be a rather dramatic break with stare decisis.

    I've been aware of the P&I excavation site for some time...before all the halogen lights were set up at the entrance as of late.  Just over a year ago, a friend brainstorming for a paper on the legal ways forward for the gay marriage debate was chatting with me via email, and I suggested, half jokingly, half seriously:

    Why not assess under privileges and immunities?

    Yes, yes I knew it was dead.  And then:

    You could still call for a strengthening and reinvigoration - or expansion to finally give teeth - of the Privileges and Immunities clauses. The precedent that might stand in the way (defining the clause into a much narrower meaning) is ancient - 1860s 1870s - and parts of the case have been overturned in the 1940s.


    At the Helm

    Lately, I've felt I have not been able to keep up the normal standards and pace I'm wont to uphold here on the blog.  There's so much that I would like to be discussing, so much we should at least be touching upon in a post now and then.

    Fact is, I've been extremely busy for the past month or so.  Heading up the law journal this semester has added a fun, challenging, but undeniably time-consuming factor to my already full academic life.  It's a responsibility with consequences that demands first priority on a daily basis.

    I make no promises going forward and I seek no pity; I'm just letting you know where I'm at these days.

    That's bad news for Obama

    When even Dave Obey is calling you out, you know you're in trouble:
    A powerful House Democrat used unusually harsh terms to blast the Obama administration's manipulation of stimulus data Monday night, and demanded an honest accounting of results from the $787 billion government program. [...]

    "Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We've got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen," Obey said in a statement. "Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now."
    I'm a little surprised I haven't seen more from Paul Ryan on this, but it's really worse for Obama that this criticism is coming from his side of the aisle.

    But the health care bill needs to be passed -- there won't be any loopholes of irregularities with that! Everyone who voted on the bill has read it -- indeed, they've all picked over it with a fine-toothed comb, and made sure that there are no tricks here!

    Soul Knights

    TLS has gone a bit drier

    No more 2 Account money for alcohol:
    "the proposal to prohibit 2-account funding of alcohol passed by a vote of 15-9 at tonight's meeting"
    I planned to attend last evening's meeting - and attempted to - but unfortunately Twitter failed me.  This tweet, seemingly from a reliable source, noted the wrong time for the meeting.

    There's a Party "In The Footprint" This Weekend

    And you're invited.


    Just another day in Russia...

    ...where they brawl over philosophy:
    A fight broke out between delegates at
    an international philosophy forum being held at the Russian Academy of
    Sciences' House of Scholars in downtown Moscow, a police source told
    Interfax on Monday. [...]

    An argument between delegates developed into a fight, with a man
    and a woman getting hurt.

    Something to Think About

    Or, at the very least, think you're thinking about.


    Driving Down St. Charles Avenue

    On Friday morning, I didn't take my normal route, and I noticed a series of new signs on the telephone poles as I drove down the grand arc of St. Charles Avenue.

    They were simple signs, pieces of white printer paper with two lines of black lettering prominently displayed in the middle of each sheet.  They were stapled onto nearly every pole.  Some poles had numerous sheets.

    "Thank You Cao"  Interesting, I thought.  Someone was clearly a very adamant supporter of the Obama health care bill and Joseph Cao's vote in favor of it across party lines.

    But as I drove on, I noticed that a few of the sheets were torn away or blown half back.  Underneath, a second sheet, equally plain, emerged.  After driving a few blocks farther, I pieced together the gist of the other sign, seemingly the original sign that had been on every pole:

    "Recall Gao"

    I have no idea why the person mispelled Congressman Cao's name, even if it does approximate the phonetic pronunciation of his name.  But in all the heated debate playing out on the telephone poles, I found it most interesting that the person or people who put up the Thank You posters decided to cover up the first set of signs rather than merely add a second voice to the poles - say, off to the side, above, or below.

    What I'd rather be talking about

    The continuing fractures wrought by the cynical orthodoxists of the religious right who have hijacked the Tea Party movement.

    Debtors and their bankrollers.

    The other 1989s.

    Danger and insecurity.


    Moving to Georgia.

    The geo-strategic importance of Nepal.

    How great this feature is when I'm really busy but need bite-sized news.


    Squirrel on a Wire

    Probably not the next color revolution

    I have another post up over at Registan.net -- talking about the possibilities of a new revolution in the offing in Kyrgyzstan.

    The post after the jump -- comments are welcome here as well as there.


    The man who will make us more popular in the world

    Remember how President Obama was going to make the US the popular kid at the table again?
    Hatoyama has promised to halt a Japanese naval mission supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan, review basing agreements for 47,000 US troops stationed in Japan, and explore the possibility of a new Asian trading block that would exclude the US.
    But Obama knows he's too cool to worry about those kids:
    Robert Bianchi, a visiting professor at Qatar University's international affairs programme, said that the "tenor" of US-Japan relations had already been changing.

    "Japan is being a bit more demanding with the United States and more accommodating with China. That is perfectly logical, I think they are bending with the wind and the US understands that and is not getting in the way," he told Al Jazeera.
    Meanwhile, remember -- China is not a threat!
    Calling for greater U.S. engagement in Asia, Obama said Americans should not fear a robust China, but he cautioned that all nations must respect human rights, including religious freedoms.

    "We welcome China's efforts to play a greater role on the world stage, a role in which their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility," Obama said.

    Trial Date Set

    Today, we head down to the Federal Courthouse (Eastern District of Louisiana) for oral arguments in State v. Stone, our final trial for Trial Advocacy.

    It should be fun.


    Mark Neumann's kung-fu is weak

    A little while back, Mark Neumann tried pulled the eternal kung-fu move of the non-front-runner -- challenging his opponent to lots of debates:
    With the goal of encouraging a dialog with the citizens of Wisconsin while presenting specific plans to address job creation and economic development, gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann today challenged his primary election opponent to a series of town-hall style joint appearances that cover every Congressional district by March 31, 2010.
    In one sense, it's a clever move. This is an old tactic -- if Neumann can be seen frequently with Walker, he gains legitimacy; he's presented as an equal opponent, not as second-stringer. And as such, Walker had exactly no reason to accept. But it's clear where Neumann was going with this: trying to paint Walker as the Milwaukee candidate, someone who doesn't give a rip about the rest of the state.

    But even still, it's a weak move, and betrays desperation on Neumann's part. The man has run out of ideas -- ideas that were thin in the first place. His announcement was all about using technology to lower costs to the state, and thereby save money. It all seemed a bit mystical to me -- a lot of hand-waving about the magic of technology; it makes no appearance on his official bit about taxes on his site. Instead we get a lecture about economics, and no concrete solutions.

    Contrast that with Walker, who lists five concrete steps he'd take to lower the budget. When you've got actual plans, and have them listed, there's no need to legitimate your opponent by appearing with him. There's no need to distract from you campaign, to take time off from your battle plan to play with your opponent. There's no need to take time to debate ad-nauseam, letting your opponent figure out live which responses hurt you best. Walker got that, and Neumann is looking increasingly desperate.

    A sad end

    The saga of Emin and Adnan ends in Azerbaijan:
    The prosecution said the arrests had nothing to do with the video. Mr. Hajizade received a term of two years in prison, and Mr. Milli received two and a half years. In Washington, the State Department assailed the verdict.
    A few bloggers attended the trial; Ali Novruzov mourns:
    Despite the huge success of lawyers and huge failure of "prosecutors", "judge" simply ignored Aristotelian logic and common sense and sentenced Adnan Hajizade for two and Emin Milli for two and half years. No rationale was offered to explain term difference.

    Our special thanks to the Azerbaijan government for they showed to whole world our "justice" at work. Otherwise, those today-here-tomorrow-at-home foreign officials from international organizations were not believing our veteran human rights activists when they were lamenting sad state of Azeri "justice."
    Meanwhile, Arzu says:
    But this is not an end, this is only the beginning. Don't forget "future is what we do know" and that "in order to change the society we must first change ourselves"!

    Today at the end of the hearing, Emin said he is feeling proud and thats why he is ready to accept the verdict given to him. Though his speech was short, he called on the audience to use all means possible- internet (blogs, facebook, youtube); sms- to spread the reality of the situation in the country regarding freedom, justice and their case.

    The Kelo Opinion...Now Looks Even Worse

    Pfizer announces it's pulling out of New London, Connecticut.

    This means the egregious use of eminent domain approved in 2005 by the U.S. Supreme Court was all for naught. (ht/CA)

    Absolutely infuriating.  Let this be a lesson for us about the dangers of flagrant use of eminent domain.


    Gold Brick Rising

    Hasan to be charged in military court

    Following up on our earlier conversation about how to charge the Fort Hood gunman, I thought I would share this development: Hasan, the gunman, will be charged in military - not civilian - court.

    I am not intimately familiar with the UCMJ, so I'm interested in how this plays into the possible charges that can be brought.  While the linked version is not the official version of the UCMJ, here's a look at the possible charges I can see:

    Aiding the Enemy (I think this will be difficult to prove unless links with radical islamists tied closely to al-Qaeda can be solidified in a meaningful way)


    Mutiny and Sedition  The "levying war" facet of the Constitutional crime of treason seems to have its analogue in this charge.
    The penalty of death is in play with these charges, as it is with treason.  Treason, being the only Constitutionally-defined crime in American law, would seem to entail a charge brought through an Article III civilian court, not a military court.


    Raw Collectivism

    Straight from the horse's mouth.

    My Hometown Through Another Person's Eyes

    New Orleans is a place that's mediated.  It's a place that, before anyone arrives, they've read about and heard about - there were not only preconceived notions, but also wholly formed images in one's head.
    Kiel, my hometown, does not fit in the same category.  A non-native might have an inkling of what he or she might find, but the city doesn't register in the public consciousness nationwide.  It's a place that's normally off the map.
    That's why I found it interesting, for the first time ever really, to read about my own hometown through the eyes of others, through the eyes of people who weren't familiar with Kiel before the attack on Fort Hood.
    Mike Nichols of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attended the vigil for Amy Krueger on Sunday night:
    "From across the banks of the Sheboygan River, after night fell in tiny Kiel, there was a final beauty in the flickering lights spread across Veterans Memorial Park.
    This is a place, a small town far from Fort Hood, Texas, where the 29-year-old soldier's memory will be held forever - where the monument near the dais where they cried and sang is for all those "who gave their today for your tomorrow."
    As sad as it is to read about Kiel through the prism of a terrible tragedy, Nichols did an admirable and respectful job of bringing to life the people and the setting that I know.  I know Bob Schoenborn, the man quoted on the bridge.  I stood on that same white dais in that same tiny park years ago on Memorial Day.  I've skated and canoed on that millpond.
    But most of all, I know the sentiment that Nichols captured - the true sadness and grief born of a place where, above all else, every person matters. 

    Let the Shortsighted Blunder Begin

    I saw the 10-foot high chain link fence going up last Wednesday, and I knew something was up.  Demolition of the Old Anthropology Building commences this morning here at Tulane:

    In addition, demolition of the Anthropology building is scheduled to
    begin on Nov. 10.

    Work on both sites will take place during normal hours of construction
    operations between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Weekend work
    will be limited.

    There's nothing left for me to do.  I will state, quite soberly, that President Scott Cowen, and the Tulane administration in general, demonstrated remarkable short-sightedness in simply scooping up FEMA money to raze the structure given its distinctiveness.  I also fault the Tulane campus for failing to even generate a discussion about the building beyond the last minute one I forced it to have.  The administration's steamroll-it-through attitude coupled with student body apathy is all too symptomatic of the campus dynamic.

    We will never get this building back.

    The Edmund Fitzgerald

    It haunts me wherever I go.

    I saw this car on Friday, just four days before today's anniversary of the sinking of the Mighty Fitz, as if to remind me.


    More gasline politics

    Now it's Hungary in the line of fire:
    Budapest has asked the real owner of Surgutneftegaz – the buyer – to step forward. Yet whispers continue that Hungary could experience "technical difficulties" along the Druzhba [in one of those charming Newspeak coincidences, druzhba means friendship] oil pipeline if the government continues to resist.

    20 Years Ago

    I remember seeing the fall of the Berlin Wall on TV. I wasn't old enough to know what was happening but from my parents' reaction I knew it was something very important.

    Today, knowing the importance of those events and having seen the remnants of the wall myself in 2001, I understand - at least a little bit - the joy and relief that was felt throughout the world two decades ago. I think it is wonderful that the German Chancellor marking this anniversary is one of those who came through the wall on this day.

    This has always been one of my favorite Reagan speeches, and I think appropriate for today.

    China in Africa

    TIME points out that it's about more than mere oil.

    Welcome to The East

    Since talking about Joseph Cao is all the rage these days, I thought I'd share this photo, which illustrates but one pastoral corner of his district.

    Very Interesting

    The case could have a significant impact on the ability of the federal government to exercise power over individuals.


    Religion in Britain and health care in America: parallels should have Dems worried, too

    Two pieces in today's New York Times, when taken together, should make Democrats leery about passing a universal health care bill.

    The first article concerns religion in Britain, where the government, having control over many aspects of religion that should rightly belong to the individual conscience, is now deciding who is a Jew
    On the surface, the court was considering a straightforward challenge to the admissions policy of a Jewish high school in London. But the case, in which arguments concluded Oct. 30, has potential repercussions for thousands of other parochial schools across Britain. And in addressing issues at the heart of Jewish identity, it has exposed bitter divisions in Britain’s community of 300,000 or so Jews, pitting members of various Jewish denominations against one another.
    And then there's religion in America. The greatest sticking point in the Pelosi bill was abortion:
    The results of that fight, waged heavily over two days, were evident as one liberal Democrat after another denounced the health care plan because of abortion restrictions, even though they were likely to hold their noses in the end and vote for the bill itself.

    "If enacted, this amendment will be the greatest restriction of a woman’s right to choose to pass in our careers," said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, one of the lawmakers who left Ms. Pelosi’s office mad.
    Now, the free market has handled religion fairly well: if you want religious schooling, you can pay extra for the privilege; if you want an abortion, you can pay for a health plan that covers them. This has the charming side effect of not forcing the government to decide if Ahmadinejad qualifies for Jewish schooling in London; it also puts me in the odd position of wanting to spare Nancy Pelosi some grief.

    But once the government starts deciding what are rightly problems of the free market and individual conscience, things get absurd right quick. And when health care, already a 2000-page boondoggle, starts touching on religion, the Democrats too are going to find they have a very nasty mess on their hands.

    Candelight Vigil for Sgt. Amy Krueger, Kiel, Wisconsin

     Photos courtesy of Shari V
     UPDATE: Here's a story reporting on the vigil from the Tri-County News.

    Why are so many people searching for the "Croquet Commission"?

    The most recent search that led someone here was "tulane secret society croquet commission."

    I thought it was supposed to swing before it hit Louisiana?

    Kiel Vigil Tonight Honors Sgt. Amy Krueger

    Tonight, friends and family of Amy Krueger, killed in the Fort Hood attack, are holding a community candlelight vigil in my hometown of Kiel.

    The vigil starts at The Gravel Pit tavern on the outskirts of town at 7 p.m. 6 p.m. tonight and marches down to Veterans Park, shown here next to the millpond, where the vigil itself will be held at 7 p.m.

    Elsewhere around town, such as here at Kiel High School, flags fly at half-staff:

    Photos courtesy of Shari V.

    Hurricane Ida

    It's almost out of season, but it's worth watching if you're in New Orleans.



    The big news is on the domestic front tonight, as it should be, and I'm still too exhausted from a full day of work today and lack of sleep after the incredible Mountain Goats show at the High Noon last night, but if you're interested in democracy abroad, do check out this report from the trial of the two arrested activists in Azerbaijan. It's well worth your time.
    As the trial of video blogging youth activists Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli continues in Baku, two English-language bloggers from Azerbaijan react to yesterday's aborted court hearing. Both seem pessimistic and unhappy with how the trial has been conducted to date, but nonetheless say they will continue to fight for the two men's release.

    Reflected glory

    Mountain Goats at the High Noon Saloon, last night.

    1 Republican "Yea" on the Health Care Bill

    Joseph Cao?

    UPDATE: Yes, yes it was.  It makes sense...in a calculating sense - he didn't vote until after the Democrats had their requisite 218, and Eric Cantor was sitting next to him through the vote.  I'm sure Cao's thinking about keeping his tenuous spot as a Republican here in New Orleans in the old William Jefferson seat.

    But as of tonight, a small crack has formed...I will no longer count myself as a fan of Cao's on facebook, for what that's worth.  Regardless of his political vulnerability (he's still probably just as vulnerable) and district composition, this was a fundamental issue vote that was mostly about first principles.  There may as well have been a liberal Democrat in the seat.

    UPDATE 2: Cao has an open facebook wall up (not advisable) and people are going crazy in the comments.   I left a note, a respectful but disappointed one amidst all the vitriol and praise.

    UPDATE 3: Nola.com still, at 11:01 p.m., does not have anything up on the site about Cao's vote.

    Well Said,

    Paul Ryan.

    Well said.

    Health Care Bill Moves to the Floor

    "What's in our grasp right now is a chance to prevent a future where every day, 14,000 Americans continue to lose their health insurance, and every year, 18,000 Americans die because they don't have it."

    What's also in our grasp right now, President Obama, is a chance for an unprecedented federal government intervention into the lives of Americans and into the market.   It's wrong.

    Passage of the health care bill will mark a repudiation of any remaining notion of individual responsibility.  Ours was a government of limited powers.

    "This is our moment to deliver," Obama said.

    Yes, this is your moment to deliver another program on top of the ticking entitlement time bombs of Medicare and Social Security.  This is your moment to deliver a program that will likely grow, forcing an increase in government spending.  This is your moment to deliver a measure that will expand government, that will make more people dependent upon government.  This is your moment to deliver a program that does not address the economy or the loss of jobs or the wars overseas.  This is your moment to take final advantage of a national atmosphere of crisis after shifting our national attention from more pressing matters.  This is your moment to prove many of my original fears about you to be true.

    Emerging from a closed-door meeting with the president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted the bill will pass. "We can associate ourselves with the work of those who passed Social Security, those who passed Medicare," she said.

    Yes, Madam, Speaker, you can put yourself in the history books.  By sending people to jail for failing to procure insurance against their will.  By passing a bill that nobody can possibly understand or read in full.  By continuing to be one of the most tone deaf politicians I've ever witnessed on the national stage.

    I oppose passage of the health care bill.  And if it passes, I'm going to have to start getting much more involved in politics.  This legislation would take us down the wrong path.

    Our Recovery In Progress

    The Gert Town Pool.

    Obama Puts Pressure on Joseph Cao

    Interesting.  Organizing for America, the administration's activism arm, is targeting Congressman Cao on the health care bill through the "grassroots":

    Last November, Louisiana's 2nd congressional district -- your district -- voted to elect Barack Obama, to change how things are done in Washington, and to deliver real reform to our health insurance system.

    The House of Representatives is debating real health insurance reform right now and may vote as early as this evening. Your representative, Rep. Cao, faces a stark choice: Vote with their district and support the bill, or stand with the insurance companies and oppose.

    Call Rep. Cao at 202-225-6636, to say that you and Louisiana's 2nd district voted for change -- and that means it's time to support health reform.

    Then click here to report your call and tell us how it went.


    Kiel High Alum Amy Krueger Killed in Fort Hood Attack

    Amy Krueger, who was a senior at Kiel High School when I was a freshman at that school, was one of the 13 soldiers killed in the attack at Fort Hood.

    While I did not know Amy well, I do remember her from school.  Kiel High is not a very large school.

    I am so deeply sorry for her family and friends back home.

    I hope the gunman is charged with and convicted of treason.


    UPDATE: The Manitowoc Herald Times is updating with coverage as the day progresses. 

    UPDATE 2: The New York Times speaks with staff at Kiel High. 

    UPDATE 3: My friend Sabrina Nucciarone interviewed Amy in 2003 upon her return from service in Afghanistan.  The interview formed the basis of this Mike Mathes piece at the Kiel Tri-County News' website.  Sabrina took the photo of Amy in her uniform that is now being disseminated to national news outlets.  Mayor Werdeo has ordered all flags in Kiel lowered to half-staff.


    Should the Fort Hood gunman be charged with treason (since he survived)?


    Constitutional Definition:

    Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason,

    U.S. Code Definition:

    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

    Case law on the meaning of "levying war" against the United States focuses on very early affairs in the Nation's history, such as Aaron Burr's scheming. Chief Justice Marshall and company laid out a requirement that there be a conspiracy, "an assemblage" of men.  But in Ex parte Bollman and Swartout the Court was focused on the Burr-related facts at hand, where the attack did not fully unfold:

    the Chief Justice had said that it was not the court’s intention “to say that no individual can be guilty” of treason “who has not appeared in arms against his country.”

    so it's unclear to me whether the conduct of the Fort Hood gunman could fit within the definition of levying war against the United States as...an"assemblage" or a "body" of one.  Bollman focuses mostly on the distinction between plotting to levy war and actually levying war, but the case cites an earlier case by Judge Chase approvingly, though, noting:

    they are guilty of the treason of levying war; and the quantum of the force employed, neither lessens nor increases the crime: whether by one hundred, or one thousand persons, is wholly immaterial.'

    While it appears he was acting alone, the gunman's attack - as a U.S. military officer killing and injuring a significant number of fellow military personnel on a military base while the U.S. is engaged in conflicts overseas - seems to rise to the level of heinousness that the treason charge is intended to capture.  It involves the wickedness and betrayal of turning on one's fellow soldiers, even if the gunman did not realistically believe he would overthrow the U.S. government, another focus of some of the early cases.

    My heart goes out to the families of those killed in the attack at Ford Hood.  What a despicable thing.


    I'm talking tango over at Registan.net, where I'm now a contributor:
    The politics of hydrocarbons in Central Asia has been a regular ballroom lately, with strange partners pairing up and then dancing apart.

    And a commenter there brings up specters of the Manic Street Preachers!

    The rest of the post after the jump -- your comments (and clever references) are welcome here, too.

    A couple of thoughts on this "Civil War" we're having

    Tuesday night's election results really are stunning. The GOP victory in Virginia was nothing short of a rout. Governor-elect McDonnell was incredibly well focused on jobs and the economy and ran a great campaign.

    Likewise, in New Jersey, Chris Christie pulled off an incredible win. Not only did Corzine outspend Christie by a huge amount, but Christie was able to pull off wins in what are traditionally Democratic strongholds in key areas of the state. Granted, most of the problems for Democrats in the Garden State were tied to corruption and Corzine's own inability to keep spending and property taxes in check so it is difficult make too much out of this win for national politics.

    What both victories tell us though, is that a clear and concise message for limited government and reigning in spending and taxes and a pro-growth economic agenda can and will win. Republicans have the right message, we have about 9 months to prove to the American people that we mean it for 2010.

    As for the NY 23rd, I don't believe for one second that this election is a defeat for conservatives. The Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava was a ridiculously liberal choice and I think correctly challenged from the right by Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava's endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens - who himself had criticized her for being too liberal - only proved Hoffman's point. But why then did Hoffman lose?

    Well, he lost by about 5,000 votes and he doesn't live in the district. My understanding is that he lives right on the edge, but not actually in the NY 23rd. Now, while it's perfectly legal, who thinks that anyone trying that in Wisconsin, Louisiana, or any other state where people read this blog would have a snowball's chance in the Sahara of pulling off a win?

    I didn't know until after the election that Hoffman didn't reside in the district, but had I known, I certainly wouldn't have thought that he had a chance. It may seem as though it's a technicality to some national folks, but at the local level, it's a very tough thing to overcome.

    So that said, what does Hoffman's showing mean? To me I'm glad Scozzafava was forced out. Not because of any social issues, but because she supported big government programs like the stimulus bill and card check. I heard Rudy Giuliani give a great rationale for not endorsing her when he was pressured to do so. Giuliani - who is pro-choice and at least somewhat accepting to the idea of gay marriage or civil unions - refused to support Scozzafava because she didn't meet what he called Ronald Reagan's criteria. Reagan often talked about the need to support candidates with whom we agree 70 or 80 percent of the time. Giuliani explained that wasn't possible with Scozzafava, adding that it is still important to have candidates that fit the area in which they are running.

    In New York, Giuliani is a conservative and governed like one. In the South, Giuliani would be a moderate, but no one - at least no one being honest - would ever confuse him for a liberal. The same cannot be said for Scozzafava.

    There may still be a civil war within the party - in Senate primaries in Illinois and Florida - but it will play out as it should with primaries where the people decide. I hope that the RNC makes the right choice and stays out of these races and let the people decide the future of the party. That didn't happen in NY and a virtual unknown third party candidate who doesn't live in the district almost won. That's not a loss for conservatives, that's a victory.

    The Last Camp

    In Little Woods.

    What I'd like to be chatting about...at greater length


    Just how ridiculous "Cash for Clunkers" actually was.

    What Maine means.

    The debt tsunami building deep below the waves.

    My disagreement with a costly proposal for public financing of judicial races in WI.

    How good this song is...