Leave Us Alone!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My Main Concern about Judge Alito

When voting for state court judges, I'm reluctant to vote for judicial candidates whose only legal experience has been working as a prosecutor. Too many judges here in Ohio seem to go straight from law school to the prosecutor's office to the judiciary. While I don't hold prosecutorial experience against a judicial candidate, I prefer candidates who have also seen the legal system from the other side.

The same principle should apply to candidates for the federal judiciary as well, and that's why I'm wary of Judge Samuel Alito. Talk Left points to this summary of Judge Alito's legal career from Legal Intelligencer:

After a clerkship with 3rd Circuit Judge Leonard I. Garth, Alito worked as a front-line federal prosecutor in New Jersey for four years. But soon after President Ronald Reagan was elected, Alito joined the Office of the Solicitor General, staying for four years and helping to decide what position the administration would take in cases up for review by the Supreme Court.

That was followed by a three-year stint at Main Justice as a deputy assistant attorney general. In 1987, at the age of 37, Alito was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, a post he held until he was tapped in 1990 by the first President Bush to join the 3rd Circuit.

In Judge Alito's entire career as an advocate, his only client was the federal government. When deciding between the power of government and the rights of citizens, which side do you think he'll be inclined to favor?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Yet Another Reason to Oppose "Patriot" Act Reauthorization

Gun Owners of America alerts its members:
Gun sales are business transactions, and FFL [federal firearms license] holders must retain copies of the 4473 forms (yellow sheets) filled out on every gun sale. Thus, an anti-gun administration could easily determine that such records would be useful in the fight against terrorism, and demand them all.

But that's not all. More than just your gun purchase records are at stake. Financial and medical records, library records and much more will now be open to FBI fishing expeditions. They won't have to get any prior court approval.

It gets worse. If the gun dealer, where you purchased firearms, is required to hand over your gun purchase records, he is BARRED from telling you about it under the PATRIOT Act.

(entire alert here)

GOA's Legislative Action Center makes it easy to find and contact your representative and senators.

Reform the Patriot Act reports that a bipartisan group of six senators has joined Senator Feingold in opposing the current version of the "Patriot" Act reauthorization, and that the senators "...are saying they have a critical mass to sustain a threatened filibuster if key changes aren't made."

(entire post here)

Friday, November 18, 2005

One More Reason to Oppose "Patriot" Act Reauthorization

The Drug War Chronicle reports that a new law that would restrict access to cold and allergy medicine is hidden in the reauthorization of the so-called "Patriot" Act:

After months of posturing and finger-pointing over the demon drug du jour, methamphetamine, and literally dozens of meth bills introduced, Congress is now set to pass the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This year's anti-meth legislation will make the restrictions on over-the-counter cold medications containing the meth precursor pseudoephedrine adopted by some states the law of the land, but in a partial victory for reformers and their allies, the final version of the bill eliminates draconian enhancements of current mandatory minimum meth sentences that were originally part of legislation sponsored by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) and coming out Rep. James Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) House Judiciary Committee.

The meth bill is folded into the Patriot Act reauthorization measure, which is on a fast track to passage. The measure could have been voted on by the time you read these words or it could be passed over the weekend or early next week -- provided negotiations between House and Senate conferees over the Patriot Act don't derail everything. With Democrats and some Republicans deeply concerned over various Patriot Act provisions, there is talk of a possible filibuster.
(entire story here, link via Hit and Run)

Not only would this measure invade the privacy of cold and allergy sufferers by forcing them to put their names on a government list, it would also be completely ineffective in stopping the use of methamphetamine. Oklahoma was the first state to restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine. KOTV reports on Oklahoma's experience:

State drug agents say a new law that led to a dramatic drop in the number of methamphetamine labs has not reduced overall meth use.

And state Bureau of Narcotics director Lonnie Wright says many meth addicts are now using a Mexican-made version of the drug known as ``crystal ice.''

Wright says the number of meth labs found in the state is down 90 percent since a law went into effect 15 months ago that restricts the sale of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a prime ingredient in meth.

But he says the amount of crystal ice found in the state has increased by five times.

(entire article here, link via The D'Alliance)

Hmm, so this would put small, domestic manufacturers out of business and in turn increase imports from Mexico? Someone ought to get Lou Dobbs on this.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Last Chance to Stop "Patriot" Act Reauthorization?

If you have not yet called your members of Congress to voice your disapproval of the reauthorization of the so-called USA "Patriot" Act, time is running out. Please call your representative and senators today, and urge them to support real reform of the act. The ACLU makes it easy to find your members' telephone numbers, and also provides talking points:

  • Please take a stand for civil liberties. Vote no on the Patriot Act reauthorization bill.
  • This bill does not require a connection to a suspected terrorist for the FBI to get sensitive personal records. And it actually makes the Patriot Act worse by making it nearly impossible to overturn a gag order, creating fines for business people who don’t turn over sensitive records, and punishing unauthorized disclosures that gag our First Amendment rights.
  • Don’t cave in to the White House’s scare tactics. True patriots would vote against this attack on our Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties.
  • Americans want Patriot Act Reform. People from across the political spectrum are opposed to the Patriot Act reauthorization bill, including the over 400 state and local governments that passed resolutions against the Patriot Act.

  • There's still hope to stop this legislation. CNN reports:

    Sen. Russ Feingold is strongly hinting he'll filibuster the Patriot Act conference report because of changes made to the carefully crafted Senate-passed bill.

    The Wisconsin Democrat said there are several senators from both parties who agree with his assessment that the changes were "unacceptable in every respect" although he doubts Republican leaders will be open to making further changes to the bill.

    (full story here)

    Please call your members of Congress today! As Edmund Burke once said, "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

    Update: more reasons to oppose the reauthorization of the "Patriot" Act, particularly if you suffer from nasal congestion or are a gun owner

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Urgent - USA "Patriot" Act Update

    The ACLU reports:

    A conference committee tasked to reconcile differences between House and Senate Patriot Act bills ignored bipartisan calls to restore checks and balances on government power and protect privacy and civil liberties, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. The Republican-led conferees also attached several "poison pill" measures to the must-pass legislation, unrelated to the 2001 anti-terrorism law. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill this week.

    (entire press release here)

    Please contact your representative and senators as soon as possible and urge them to vote NO!

    Operation Iraqi Freedom, Part IV

    From MSNBC:

    Conditions — including the use of torture — at a secret Baghdad detention facility run by the Iraqi Interior ministry were so “horrific” that some of the scores of men held there looked “like Holocaust survivors” when they were found, sources in the Iraqi government told NBC News on Wednesday.

    Reporting from Baghdad, NBC News correspondent Mike Boettcher on Wednesday said sources close to the investigation of the facility told him that photos of the detainees show “people covered in welts from torture. They show torture devices. They show men so emaciated they look like Holocaust survivors.”

    (entire article here, warning: graphic pictures)

    Yep, freedom is on the march!

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Dream Ticket

    Goodman-Finkbeiner '08!

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Reform Ohio Now?

    In response to my last post about Issue 1, Logan Ferree commented, "In following the news I certainly think 2, 3, 4, and 5 need backing." With respect to Mr. Ferree, I'm not so sure.

    I'm voting for Issue 2, which would allow anyone to cast an absentee ballot. Under current law, 62-year-olds and up may cast an absentee ballot for any reason, but younger voters must have a specific reason for not being able to get to the polls on election day. Issue 2 would eliminate this age discrimination.

    I'm voting against Issue 3. Whatever one thinks of contribution limits, they shouldn't be written into the Constitution with no indexing for inflation. A $1000 limit will be much lower twenty years from now than it is today.

    I'm voting for Issue 4, though I respect the arguments against it. Audient states that under current law,
    ...the reapportionment game is one that is played by the party that controls the state. Isn't that the way it should be? I need a better sense of what we'd be replacing the system with. I am leaning against Issue 4.
    However, under current law, the elections for three statewide offices every 8 or 12 years determine how the districts are drawn. As a result, the party that wins two of these three elections (governor, auditor, and secretary of state) has a nearly insurmountable advantage in state legislative elections for an entire decade. Control of the legislature should be decided in district elections every two and four years, rather than by three statewide elections every 8 or 12 years.

    Bizzy Blogger Tom Blumer points to a crazy-looking map that could result if Issue 4 passes. Sure, it's not pretty, but I still think that a crazy-looking, neutral map would be better than a map full of compact districts that favors one party or the other.

    On Issue 5, I'm still undecided, a scant 22 hours before the polls close. On one hand, I agree with Audient, who states, "You can't tell me that having Blackwell as a chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign was not a conflict of interest to his election oversight duties as Secretary of State." Issue 5 might de-politicize the oversight of elections.

    However, the issue would leave in place an elected secretary of state who would do little more than chartering corporations. Ironically, if Issue 5 passes and Issue 4 is defeated, the secretary would have no election oversight authority, but would still sit on the apportionment board that draws state legislative districts.

    Well, I'd better get to bed. I have to get up early and put up signs at polling places.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Issue 1 and Kelo

    At Bizzy Blog, Tom Blumer warns that "Issue 1 sanctions eminent-domain abuse." Mr. Blumer points to Paragraph 2, which states:
    2. Declare that local government public infrastructure, and financial assistance for research and development and development of sites and facilities in Ohio for and in support of industry, commerce and distribution (all referred to together as "development purposes") are public purposes.
    (entire ballot language here)

    I hadn't heard this before. I was already leaning toward voting no on Issue 1, but this seals the deal.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Senate Majority Leader Whiner

    Here's Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist whining about being out-maneuvered by Harry Reid and the Democrats yesterday:

    "About 10 minutes ago or so, the United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership!" he announced. Never, he said, have "I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution." Epithets flew from his mouth: "They have no conviction. They have no principles. They have no ideas. This is a pure stunt."

    Dr. Frist was now sputtering. "This is an affront to me personally. It's an affront to our leadership. It's an affront to the United States of America!" Turning sorrowful, he vowed that "for the next year and a half, I can't trust Senator Reid."

    (quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    Shut up, Senator. Don't you have a cat to kill or something?

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    "Fresh-from-Prison Luster"

    Here's an excerpt from a CNBC Market Dispatch on the disappointing performance of Martha Stewart's new television show:

    And as Stewart's fresh-from-prison luster fades, the company is facing increasing competition in home furnishings, fashion, cooking and lifestyle television.

    Fresh-from-prison luster? There's a phrase you don't see every day.

    Urgent - Protect Free Speech on the Internet

    The U.S. House is set to vote tomorrow on H.R. 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which would exempt internet communications from federal campaign finance laws. Please take a few minutes to contact your representative and urge him or her to protect your voice in the internet by supporting this important piece of legislation. Downsize DC's petition makes it easy!