Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Cranky sure knows how to raise little girls.

Of course, if that were a little boy I'd castigate him for renting anything less than an RPG...

Gay Marriage Advocates Try to Force Hetero Couples to Have Children

This is an interesting bill:

"An initiative filed by proponents of same-sex marriage would require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled."


"'For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,' said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. 'If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.'"

Revenge. That seems like a great reason to enact legislation.

Of course Gadow misses the point entirely. Same-sex marriage proponents never attempt to get what they want through legislation -- they know they'll lose, even somewhere as liberal as Massechusetts, where the governor had to sue the legislature to try to get them to put a popularly-approved petition on the ballot. Instead they use the courts, on the principal that it's easier to persuade five out of nine (or four out of seven) tenured academics to impose force marriage on the population than it is to persuade 50% of the population of any state to voluntarily adopt it. And therein lies most conservative opposition: I don't want judicial tyrants re-casting society to fit their social engineering fantasies.

All that said, I don't have any real problem with Gadow's initiative. He is appropriately trying to use democratic processes to make his point (stunt though it is) to persuade people of his viewpoint, rather than trying to impose it against the will of the vast majority of his state. He'll lose, of course. And he knows that. But the initiative process lets the people of Washington decide how they want their society to look, rather than telling them how their society must be.

"Opponents say the measure is another attack on traditional marriage..."

Well obviously. Gadow's whole purpose is to garner support for gay marriage, which is by definition an attack on traditional marriage (in the sense of an attempt to abolish traditional notions and substitute something in its place).

"...but supporters say the move is needed to have a discussion on the high court ruling."

Since when do you need legislation to "have a discussion"?


The John Edwards campaign is off to a great start. He has hired leftist lunatic Amanda Marcotte to run his official campaign blog. Now if you're anything like me, your first reaction will be either (a) I wish the Simpsons were still funny, or (b) Amanda who?

Pablo at Protein Wisdom has done the world a favor by writing a post that answers question (b) pretty well, although it doesn't even touch question (a). It's an interesting post, in that it mostly features her blog posts that, now that she's a paid Edwards staffer, have an odd habit of disappearing (Dan Riehl also has a bunch of her "disappeared" posts).

Among her claims to fame is her statement that she refuses to be "punished by babies." That's an interesting remark, especially in light of the fact that her new boss' wife has been "punished" with five children.

It reminds me of an interesting argument made by pro-abortion Supreme Court justices. In Carey v. Population Serv., Int'l, 431 U.S. 678 (1977), Justice Brennan wrote that "It would be plainly unreasonable to assume that (the State) has prescribed pregnancy and the birth of an unwanted child (or the physical and psychological dangers of an abortion) as punishment for fornication."

I suppose that would be an odd sort of punishment. The question I have for Mr. Brennan, though, is what criminal act warrants punishment by having a needle stabbed into your skull so your brains can be sucked out by a surgical vacuum?


Monday, February 05, 2007

The Official SobekPundit 1000th Post

I think I'll just link someone attacking Hillary Clinton.

DC Thornton has an excellent take-down of Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign manager, comparing Hillary to Margaret Thatcher. I don't know if Thornton dug up the quotes at the end, but either way, good job. Americans need to know exactly what Hillary stands for.

More facts on McAuliffe, who was the Chairman of the DNC until his party sucked it up in 2004, and he got booted in favor of Howard Dean (ouch):

* He worked on Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign.
* He was the National Finance Chairman for the Gephardt for President campaign
* He's slammed Bush for shady business dealings, conveniently forgetting his own shady business dealings.

I'm feeling better about 2008.

A Message from Harry Reid

I'm not sure how I ended up on Harry Reid's mailing list, but there you have it. Let's see what my esteemed Senator has to say about things.

"Dear Sobek,"

That makes me giggle. The most powerful Democrat in the country is addressing an ancient Egyptian crocodile.

"There are very few men and women in America who believe the Iraq war is not worthy of debate. They are the Republican Members of the United States Senate. Today, they did our country a grave disservice."

They refused to debate the Iraq war? That's horrible!

"Republicans in the Senate voted to tie the hands of Congress and block a debate on the war in Iraq."

Wait a second. Apparently we've got different ideas about the word "debate." I see debate as the exchange of ideas in an attempt to persuade. Reid thinks the word debate means passing non-binding resolutions to undermine a sitting President in a time of war, without having the stones to actually try to intervene in the war.

"By voting against a real debate on Iraq, Republicans voted in favor of the President's plan to escalate the war. Numerous Republican Senators are on the record opposing this escalation. Do these Republicans stand with the President or do they stand with the American people?"

The American peope are retards, sir. They think America lost the Tet offensive. They think that 3,000 American casualties is comparable to Vietnam. There's a reason the Constitution was drafted to give the Executive the sole power to conduct war, and that's because the framers had the foresight to realize you can't wage war by polls.

"Help me send a message to Republicans in the Senate. Tell them: Stop blocking debate on escalating the war in Iraq - let's have an up or down vote on the President's plan."

Uh, does anyone else see the irony in a Democrat demanding an up or down vote on something? Let's go ask all of Bush's judicial nominees what they think about the merits of an up or down vote.

What a tool.

Does Reid seriously think no one remembers that just a few years ago he voted against "debate" by supporting unprecedented judicial filibusters?

"Senate Republicans are obstructing the very change Americans demanded last November."

Interesting take on that election, Senator. Here's the thing: in 2004, Dems tried to make the election a referendum on the War. They were soundly smoked. They were crushed. They were humiliated. So then in 2006, when Dems take back Congress, they suddenly decide that 2004 didn't count, and 2006 was the real referendum on the war. That, in spite of messages from Reid about how people needed to vote Dem because of Republican corruption, because of Republican ethics, because of Mark Foley, etc.

Hey, I guess you make of your statistics what you will.

"This was the first time they had the opportunity to debate this war, but it will not be the last. Democrats will not back down or let this issue fade away. The consequences of inaction are far too dire."

The consequences of inaction? You're trying to pass a freakin' non-binding resolution. You can't tell me with a straight face you consider that "action." Look, if you oppose the war, man up enough to do something about it. Don't pretend that a non-binding resolution constitutes serious action, and then hope to be taken seriously.

"55,492 of you signed our "No Escalation - No Way" petition."

Maybe that's because they didn't realize you were for escalation before you were against it. As in, a couple of days before you were against it. No matter -- why waste a good chance to bash the President?

And I get a real kick out of the insinuation that 55,000 is a lot of people.

"I read through many of your comments. They were thoughtful and heartfelt, expressing concern for our troops and our nation. Especially touching were the pleas from the parents of soldiers currently serving in Iraq. One of them wrote: 'My son is a Marine and has been in Iraq 11 months . . . Let him come home and out of harms way. Don't make him serve another term.'"

So does that mean the guy is in Iraq against his will? That he was drafted and dragged, kicking and screaming, to Iraq? That's wierd, because the only people to propose a draft in Congress in the past 30 years or so have been Democrats.

Still, I can't say I disagree with the sentiment. Show us what you're made of, Harry. Don't give us this non-binding resolution crap. Let your liberal freak-flag fly. Vote the way you really want -- to cut and run and force America into capitulation in the face of a fanatical enemy that wants us all dead -- and see what that does to your political future.

More: Note that Reid is complaining that Republicans want to stifle debate by refusing to allow a vote. Here's a link to Reid in 2005, arguing that Republicans wanted to stifle debate by trying to force a vote.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jews to the Rescue

For some time now, I've despaired of America's ability to take the threat of radical Islam (and especially nuclear-armed radical Islam) seriously. Americans simply don't have the stomach for the fight, and the jihadis obviously do. This situation won't be fixed unless (a) Iraq transforms into an indisputably perfect paradise, and quickly, or (b) a nuke goes off in Boston, and it can be traced beyond any doubt to Tehran. The first won't happen (it has to be "indisputable" because if the media can spin it as a failure, it will sap our national will no matter how good the situation is, and no country on earth is that indisputably successful), and the second will be too late. And even if an American city goes up in flames, while many Americans will blame the jihadis who set off the device, many different Americans will blame Bush.

So I've wondered if maybe our friends the Jews could help us out. After all, they've got far more skin in this game than Americans (or rather, than Americans realize they have), a history of killing people who need killin', and possibly the means to do so. Plus they don't have any compunction about bucking international opinion, because the international opinion people tend to be of the opinion that maybe Hitler should have done a better job of things.

Along those lines, I've speculated about Israeli airstrikes on Iranian nuke facilities. I'm not too worried about hardened targets, because in the war between munitions and armor, munitions will always eventually win. I'm not worried about the nuke program being scattered, because if you need pieces A, B, C and D to make a nuclear weapon, and someone blows up piece C, what difference does it make that you still have A, B and D? At the very least, you buy yourself enough time to go drop another round of bombs. But there are serious logistics problems -- Israel can't fly a plane to Tehran and back, and borrowing someone else's airstrip is problematic when Iran is surrounded on all sides by Muslims. The logistics problems have caused me to despair of Israel solving a problem America lacks the cojones to solve.

But then they go and do something like this. Mossad is poisoning their scientists? That's what I get for doubting the power of the evil Jew death rays.

U.S. v. Extreme Associates, Inc.

This post is a review of U.S. v. Extreme Associates, Inc., 431 F.3d 150 (3d Cir. 2005), in connection with my post below about cases prosecuted and appealed by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. It is a follow-up to a few back-and-forth posts concerning an article at Reason by Radley Balko who, I am informed does not smoke pot even though he is a libertarian. If none of this sounds interesting to you (and I can't blame you if it doesn't), you can feel free to browse other, more intellectual sites, like this one.

First, let me make a few admissions. I argued elsewhere that Buchanan has to follow instructions issued by her boss, Alberto Gonzalez, who announced in July of 2005 that the Department of Justice would make obscenity prosecutions an administration priority. This decision was widely criticized:

"His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections."

But the indictment handed down in this case was done in August, 2003, long before Gonzalez was even made the AG. Second, I thought the Third Circuit agreed with the District Court that the statutes are unconstitutional. That was incorrect, as it turns out. The Third Circuit upheld the statutes and remanded (I don't know what happened back in the District Court).

So that's the policy background. The legal background is this: two folks in California operate Extreme Associates, Inc., which runs a web site. For purposes of the litigation, Extreme agrees that its product is "obscene" within the meaning of the law. See id. at 151, n. 2. (A portion of the web site is available to the general public, and another portion is only accessible if you pay $89.95 for 90 days. In other words, they are catering to people too stupid to type "Paris Hilton naughty pics" into a Google search engine, and who have far too much money for their own good). Anyone who forks over the 90 bucks can then order videos and whatnot, which is shipped by mail.

The two statutes used by the feds read as follows:

18 U.S.C. 1461: "Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance ··· [i]s declared to be nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier. Whoever knowingly uses the mails for the ··· delivery of anything declared by this section ··· to be nonmailable ··· shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, for the first such offense, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, for each such offense thereafter."

18 U.S.C. 1465: "Whoever knowingly transports or travels in, or uses a facility or means of, interstate or foreign commerce or an interactive computer service ··· in or affecting such commerce for the purpose of sale or distribution of any obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, film, paper, letter, writing, print, silhouette, drawing, figure, image, case, phonograph recording, electrical transcription or other article capable of producing sound or any other matter of indecent or immoral character, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

Wait a second ... you can't use the mail to send obscene silhouettes? Okay, that's illustrative of part of the problem, here. These statutes are obviously remnants of a long-past age. No one has taken obscenity laws seriously in a long time. For whatever reason, the feds decided to see if they could get back into the dirty pictures business here, and this is the statute they used.

At this point, the federalism and libertarian aspects of the case become interesting, although not exactly on-point to the question presented (i.e. whether Buchanan has done something improper). The First Amendment never protected porn until the Supreme Court invented to right in Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969)(holding that the right to look at nekkid ladies is "fundamental" under the Constitution). You'd think that kind of judicial over-reaching would offend libertarian sensibilities, but apparently you'd be wrong. Second, the challenge made to the statutes by Extreme was not based on the First Amendment, but on the Fifth Amendment "substantive" due process clause -- a clause which does not, technically, exist. Again, you'd think that libertarians would be happy to see a judge ignore substantive due process arguments, but not when there's porn at stake. Of course a federalist can well ask where the feds get the power to regulate pictures of naughty bits -- well we have a clear case of interstate commerce here (person in Penn. sends money to Calif., person in Calif. sends goods to Penn.). Much as I dislike the Supreme Court's habit of ignoring the "commerce" and "interstate" portions of the interstate commerce clause, this case seems to fall right in line.

So we've got Constitutional authority for the statute, and we've got nothing to defeat the statute except for judicially invented "rights" (fundamental, no less) to view obscenity and a judicially invented "substantive" due process clause. At least on the face of things, I can't imagine there's much of anything to complain about in this prosecution.

The Third Circuit agreed with the District Court that the statutes are unconstitutional. It held that:

1. Extreme Associates can challenge the statute on behalf of its customers. Note that there is a fundamental right to look at porn -- not to sell it. So Extreme is in a better position if it can stand in the shoes of a hypothetical buyer. That's what happened here.

2. The District Court had no right to find the statutes unconstitutional. In spite of Stanley, the Supreme Court has refused for well over thirty years to find the federal obscentiy statutes unconstitutional. The District Court believed that after Lawrence v. Texas (in which the Supreme Court held that gay sex is a fundamental right), the Supreme Court would not longer uphold such laws. The Third Circuit reversed, noting that only the Supreme Court can decide what the Supreme Court considers to be good law.

3. Controlling Supreme Court precedent holds that while there is a right to observe pornography in one's own home, there is no correlative right to distribute porn. The Court rejected analyses under the First, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, finding that the Supreme Court's controlling and consistent precedent showed that the obscenity statutes are all within constitutional boundaries.

In conclusion, Buchanan decided to prosecute a party that admits it produces obscentiy, admits it ships obscene materials through the mail, and admits it violates a federal statute by so doing. The only argument -- that the statute is unconstitutional -- has been roundly rejected over and over again for decades. The Third Circuit agreed with Buchanan.

What, exactly, is the problem here? I'll stipulate with Balko that the statute is dumb. But so what? "Dumb" does not equal "unconstitutional." And nothing about this case supports the central premise of Balko's article -- that Buchanan is diverting resources from important cases to unimportant ones -- unless we first see some evidence of the cases Buchanan declines to prosecute. Obviously an analysis of published cases won't provide any data on that. Finally, I simply see no reason why any prosecutor should be faulted for prosecuting violations of the criminal laws, however outdated or foolish they may be.

Saudi Judge Sentences Defendants to Jail, Whipping for Partying

Story here. Holy crap. 433 foreigners attend a party in Jiddah (a "resort" town on the Red Sea), get arrested, and so far twenty have been sentenced to unspecified jail terms and an unspecified number of lashes.

Multiculturalism. Catch the fever!


Friday, February 02, 2007

San Fran Scandal

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome had an affair with his campaign manager's wife.

Am I missing something here? Since when is illicit sex in San Francisco out of the ordinary? I mean, it's not like anyone there is going to vote for a Republican, so I can't see this hurting his career.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Reported Cases by U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania

Jack M. criticizes an article he found on Reason, attacking the Bush justice department in general and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. This post is a follow-up on some research into Buchanan prosecutions based on a Westlaw search. I've broken these down by year, because I think a more accurate picture emerges that way.

Health care fraud – 1
Immigration and deportation – 33
Drugs – 2
Interstate transportation of stolen goods – 1
Criminal contempt – 1
Transportation of illegal alien – 1
Weapons offenses, witness tampering – 1
Carjacking, felon with a firearm, use of firearm in federal offense – 1
Bank robbery –1
Mail fraud, copyright infringement – 1
Fair Housing Act – 1
Arson – 1
Wire fraud – 1
Possession of machine gun – 1
Civil conspiracy – 1
Habeas corpus – 1
Damages against federal government – 1
Sentencing – 1
Gender discrimination – 1

The obvious outlier here are the immigration cases. To the extent the author of the Reason article thinks the feds are spending too much time on drugs and not enough time on terrorism, I'd say the government's efforts to expel people who shouldn't be here (undoubtedly part of national security) speak for themselves.

Habeas corpus – 1
Employment discrimination – 2
Distribution of obscene materials – 1
Immigration – 3
Bank fraud – 1
Arson – 1
Securities fraud, false tax return – 1

Not a single drug case. The Reason article criticizes the obscenity prosecution, based on the Justice Department's announced intention to prosecute these cases. The case was dismissed at the district court level, and you'll note the U.S. Attorney didn't try again after the 3d Ciruit found the statute unconstitutional.

bank fraud – 1
drugs – 5
false claim – 1
possession of homemade bomb – 1
interstate transportation of minor for criminal sexual activity – 1
fraudulent checks – 1

This is the biggest year for drug prosecutions, but even here it's not what I'd expect, considering the basis for the complaint by the Reason folks. Of those five prosecutions, we've got 1 for anabolic steroids, 1 for ecstasy tabs, and 3 for crack. Not exactly a weed jihad.

drugs – 1
mailing a threatening communication – 1
felon with a firearm – 2
social security – 2
bankruptcy – 1

The drug case here was 10 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride

mail fraud – 2
drugs – 1
child pornography – 1
felon with a firearm – 1

The drug case was cocaine base (crack).

child pornography -- 2

Before 2001, I've got few random cases on bank robbery, perjury, bankruptcy, and tax stuff. Buchanan was an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the time, and so she wasn't making any prosecuting decisions.

Based on the foregoing, I concur with Jack M.'s conclusion that the Reason article is really motivated by anger over the Tommy Chong prosecution, because big "L" Libertarians are a bunch of pot fiends pretending they have a political philosophy.