Thursday, June 30, 2005

Democrats Worried About Democrat Poll

Just a couple of quotes to make the point.
"A poll on the political mood in the United States conducted by the Democratic Party has alarmed the party at its own loss of popularity...

[an analyst] attributes the slippage to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view."

But you already knew that. =;^)

Read the full story here.

(hat tip PowerlineBlog)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Developer Requests Eminent Domain "Help"

Earlier today I posted about a Texas city that was chomping at the bit for the KELO decision. Now I have the privilege of posting a piece, linked here, about a private business that has asked the town of Weare, New Hampshire to "take" Justice David H. Souter's property so they can build the Lost Liberty Hotel. Is this a crude joke? I'm not sure but I do know that I’m still laughing!

Obviously, this request was initiated by a person with a serious point to make about the injustices of government. Is Logan Darrow Clements (the request filer) really serious about building a hotel? I don’t think it matters because the point is made. The KELO decision has the effect of removing any and all constitutional protection for the "taking" of property for a public purpose. While there is the opportunity for state and local governments to step up and protect those rights themselves, the Constitutional protection has been removed. Winning will make that point in excellent fashion. But even if he loses in his bid to build a hotel, he has still shown local government has much to be desired. If I may, here’s a little analysis to make my point.

Let’s assume that Mr. Logan Darrow Clements has the fortitude to move forward with his request. Let’s also assume that New Hampshire law allows for an economic justification in an eminent domain case. Given these two prerequisites, there are really only two outcomes to this story. The Weare Town Council either grants or denies his request.

The first scenario, where the Weare, New Hampshire Town Council grants Mr. Clements request, is especially sweet. The town would then proceed to “take” Justice Souters property, pay him an agreed upon price and turn the property over to Mr. Clements who would raze the Justice’s home and build the Lost Liberty Hotel. Then, I believe, Justice Souter will be keenly aware of how the KELO decision affects private property rights. He will understand how a tyrannical government now has carte blanche to do as it pleases and it can do it in the name of the loftiest of human goals; economic gain.

The second scenario is just as poignant. Suppose the Town Council denies the request. This means that the elected officials in this town did not support his request. The key word here is “support” because the fiscal reasons to grant his request are there. The Council may find technical reasons to deny the request. It may not meet the requirements of the Comprehensive Plan. The traffic may be too great. There may be wetlands on the property. Trust me, I have heard them all. But these types of justifications are always chosen to bolster the argument to deny an application because the elected officials didn’t WANT the project. IF they wanted Mr. Clements hotel and the tax revenue it would bring, the council would find a way to make it happen.

It is in the second scenario the insidious power of government is shown. One of the major charges of an elected official is to ensure the economic health of the jurisdiction. Great effort is expended by jurisdictions everywhere to attract and keep tax paying businesses. The Supreme Court has now given local governments the power to do absolutely anything in the name of the fiscal health of the community. Denying Mr. Clements application will mean either Weare, New Hampshire is in great fiscal shape and doesn’t need the added income or, for some other political reason, the Town Council didn’t like Mr. Clements. I sincerely doubt that it’s the former.

So Mr. Clements has crafted himself a win-win situation. If he can just see the project through until he gets a public hearing he has met the goal. If the town approves his project, it shows how the private property rights of citizens need protected from government via the Constitution. If the town denies the project, it shows how local elected officials really have tremendous power to approve or deny development requests on a whim. Either way, it’s a black eye for government!

(hat tip Rush Limbaugh)

KELO Fallout: Revisited (that was fast!)

I bloviated just yesterday about how states and municipalities have the ability to prevent some of the awful abuses that could result from the Supreme Court KELO decision. Unfortunately it looks like KELO was just what some local governments were looking for. Here is an article about how Freeport Texas has already jumped on the KELO bandwagon and is trying to seize a private business for another private business; all in the name of "economic development."

Please note that this article does mention that Texas law has a provision that:
allows residents of a city to a circulate a petition to call a vote on whether the city can take property using eminent domain.

The abuse "allowed" by KELO can be thwarted at the state and local level. But the citizens must demand the protection.

(hat tip to Eye of Polyphemus)

Carnival Advice

Blog Carnivals. Do you love 'em or do you hate 'em?

For a new blogger, they are a great way to get your site seen by others and get aquainted with more people. Harvey of Bad Example has a very good post on how to join the fun.

Monday, June 27, 2005

What is This Thing You Call "Separation of Church and State"?

Question: What does the phrase "separation of church and state" mean?
Answer: No one, not even the Supreme Court, really knows!

Isn't it amazing? One simple phrase written 218 years ago by wise men can turn a modern nation on it's head. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

But the problem is not in the wording of the amendment. It is in selfish groups (both liberal and conservative) twisting the plain meaning of the words to meet their own hidden agendas.

In two heavily divided decisions on two amazingly similar cases, the nine Justices of the Supreme Court basically said that each case must be decided on its own merits. Read a quick article on the decisions here. Both cases concerned the display of the Ten Commandments around public buildings. Both decisions were split 5-4. One decision said let the commandments stand. The other said take it down. The “difference” you ask? How heavily the religion was “promoted!”

I say follow the amendment. Keep Congress from passing laws that "establish" a national religion but let them support all religions. Turn the managing of the "free exercise" of religion over to the states and communities. And for goodness sakes people, stop running to the Supreme Court with these silly little cases. They obviously can't make up their collective mind either.

Duck Fudge: Revisited

I made another batch of fudge last night; Of coarse, it's gone already but, hey, that just gives me an excuse to make another batch. The recipe is always handy because I posted it as "Duck Fudge" to the Flaming Duck!

This morning I was just browsing the Internet and I found a site called The Science of Cooking. I thought, "Could they really have a good, understandable explanation of the 'art' of fudge making?" A quick search yielded this fudge recipe. I even learned a little something. This recipe calls for cooling the fudge to 110 degrees before beginning the beating process. I think I'll try it that way. Yes...maybe another batch this evening to test the new method. Testing is always a good excuse to make fudge!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fallout from the Kelo Decision

There are plenty of thoughtful posts about the Supreme Court's KELO v. CITY OF NEW LONDON decision. For a good balance between opinion and fact I would refer you to Local Liberty Blog. Instead, I want to explain how KELO could affect local governments. I know most of us don’t realize how the Constitution affects the actions of our local governments. We think that Constitutional law is about ephemeral things like free speech and the right to carry guns. Maybe a quick explanation is in order.

In summary, the KELO case is about the Fifth Amendment. "What! I thought the Fifth Amendment was about 'self incrimination' and stuff." Well, yes. This amendment is really about personal rights when government (including local government) comes "knocking at the door." The first part of the Fifth Amendment says:
"'No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;..."

The first phrases define your rights when you are accused of a crime but the very last phrase states:
"...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
This phrase was meant to limit governments (especially local government) use of “eminent domain” to “take” land.

To date, "public use" has always meant road, or school or fire station (or other "public good"). It has also been used to help cities rebuild blighted areas. The ground-breaking part of KELO changes that situation. Now, a public use can also be an increase in the tax base. In other words, if a new Wal-Mart (poor Wal-Mart always gets picked on) wants your land then they can ask the city to use it’s power of eminent domain to take your land and give it to them. All of this is because a Wal-Mart will generate more taxes than your home.

All this would be bad enough but KELO goes even further. Remember the Fifth Amendment does allow government to take land from private individuals for the good of the community but it requires that the individual be fairly compensated. KELO also allows reduces the basis for that compensation from “highest and best use” to the prospective use. In other words, your home may be in a prime area where a developer may be willing to pay big dollars to put up a resort. But if this prospective developer wants to build a parking lot, then you would be compensated at parking lot value instead of high-dollar resort value.

Fortunately, the KELO decision was 5-4 with some very strong dissenting opinions. I can still hope that this decision will be short lived.

But never fear dear reader. There is one bright spot in this whole affair. It looks like states recognize the potential problems and there are several ways that this decision can be minimized. Both Texas and Michigan already have laws on the books that reign in tyrannical local governments that might try to take advantage of the KELO decision. You see, KELO only states that taking property from a private individual to give to another private individual is not unconstitutional. But it does not PREVENT states from passing laws that make it against STATE law. In the specific case of Michigan, it already has a law that says a jurisdiction cannot use economics as justification in a takings case. Good on them!

Please remember, there is a role for government in our lives. But it’s not to to charge us for services that are already funded through tax dollars and it’s not to bow to menial demands of whiny citizens. We will get the government that we ask for. Let’s be sure to demand the best!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Property Rights Bomb

A heavily divided Supreme Court has rendered a decision in KELO et al. v. CITY OF NEW LONDON et al. which basically gives government free reign to take property for any reason at all. Essentially, they said that if government perceives ANY benefit to the community (specifically increases in tax revenue in KELO) they have the right to take your property. I am reading both the Local Liberty Blog and Powerline for their insight. I also intend to throw in my local government 2 cents worth this weekend.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"Proof" We Are On The Right Track

Jaime at Eye of Polyphemus lead me to a great article from Victor David Hanson.
"In a single day last week, in various media ��� the liberal International Herald Tribune and the Washington Post ��� the following information appeared.

A Syrian smuggler of jihadists to Iraq, one Abu Ibrahim, was interviewed. He made the following revealing statements:

(1) that the goal of the jihadists is the restoration of the ancient caliphate ('The Koran is a constitution, a law to govern the world')

(2) that September 11 was 'a great day'

(3) that two weeks after the attack, a celebration was held in his rural Syrian community celebrating the mass murder, and thereafter continued twice-weekly

(4) that Syrian officials attended such festivities, funded by Saudi money with public slogans that read, 'The People ...Will Now Defeat the Jews and Kill Them All'

(5) that despite denials, Syrian police aided the jihadists in their efforts to hound out Western influence: They were allowed to enforce their strict vision of sharia, or Islamic law, entering houses in the middle of the night to confront people accused of bad behavior. Abu Ibrahim said their authority rivaled that of the Amn Dawla, or state security. 'Everyone knew us,' he said. 'We all had big beards. We became thugs.'

(6) that the Syrian government does not hesitate to work with Islamists ('beards and epaulets were in one trench together')

(7) that collateral damage was not always so collateral: 'Once the Americans bombed a bus crossing to Syria. We made a big fuss and said it was full of merchants,' Abu Ibrahim said. 'But actually, they were fighters.'

(8) That once Syria felt U.S. pressure, there was some temporary cosmetic change of heart: 'The security agents said the smuggling of fighters had to stop. The jihadists' passports were taken. Some were jailed for a few days. Abu Ibrahim's jailers shaved his beard.'

(9) that supporters in Saudi Arabia always played a key role: 'Our brothers in Iraq are asking for Saudis. The Saudis go with enough money to support themselves and their Iraqi brothers. A week ago, we sent a Saudi to the jihad. He went with 100,000 Saudi riyals. There was celebration amongst his brothers there!'"

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"I'd Rather be a Koran in Gitmo than a Bible in Saudi Arabia"

From Ralph Peters in the NY Post Online.

"The Gitmo controversy is about many things, from jealousy of the United States and outrage that we refuse to fail, to residual anger that we won the Cold War and exploded the left's great fantasy of a dictatorship of the intellectuals. But the one thing the protests aren't about is human rights.

Except, of course, as a means to slam the United States.

Torture? Who and when? Koran abuse? I'd rather be a Koran in Gitmo than a Bible in Saudi Arabia. Illegal detentions? Suggest a better way to handle hardcore terrorists. Maltreatment? Spare me. The food the prisoners receive is better than what I had to eat in the Army."

Ralph quacked it better than I ever could.

Reading the whole column will require a free registration but is well worth the effort.

Go read it! New York Post Online Edition: GITMO COCKTAIL By RALPH PETERS

(hat tip to Rush Limbaugh)

Feelings on Felt

Mark Felt. Mark "Deep Throat" Felt. The official at the FBI that was charged with finding Deep Throat. And HE was Deep Throat.

Mark Felt betrays the trust of his administration and then obstructs justice in the administration investigation to find the leak. This stuff is better than the movie!

Jamie over at Eye of Polyphemus has a quick observation and then a link to a really good article at The Nation. Go read it.

The NEW Common Sense Runs Wild

Question: How do you rebuild a blog after a major crash?
Answer: It only takes a little Common Sense Run Wild.

Janette has also finished her rebuild. Forced by an unfortunate event :( she rolled out the new site with just enough "haircut" that it makes you say "You look really good today! Is it the new shoes, or the new dress, or maybe..."

Check out Common Sense Runs Wild

The NEW Truth Laid Bear

Question: What happens when you cross a Bear and a Squirrel?
Answer: They conceive a great new site design!

Mr. and Mrs. N. Z. Bear have done a great job with the redesign. Lots of new stuff and the old stuff looks better than ever! (Now it's up to me to raise my ranking a little...)

Check out The Truth Laid Bear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jackson "Acquitted" not "Innocent"

Question: Did another guilty person go free?
Answer: I don't know.

I normally have very little to say about celebrities on trial. I just am not interested in movie and TV stars that choose to put their life in jeopardy with silly choices. Beyond that, I choose not to participate in the frenzy. This morning, however, after a lengthy story on Fox News about the Jackson verdict, my son asked an interesting question that lead to topics that do interest me, justice, the media and constitutional rights.

Number 2 Son: So, Dad, do you think that Michael Jackson is innocent?
Dad (me): I don't know. All I know of the case is what got reported in the media.
Number 2 Son: So you can't tell because Fox may not tell the truth?
Dad: The media, not just Fox News, may not lie but no media can present everything that the jury hears and all that matters is what the jury hears.
Number 2 Son: From what you heard, do you think he is innocent?
Dad: Nobody likes child molesters and that tends to color the way any human beings feel about someone accused of molestation. Reporters tend to report the things that are "news worthy" and they may miss stuff that is very important to a jury. And the opinion of the jury is all that counts.
Number 2 Son: All right, Dad, quite dancin'! Do you think Jackson is innocent?!
Dad: I don't know about this case. I think that he lives a very bizarre life. I don't know if that extends into his sex life.
Number 2 Son: So you think he "could" be guilty.
Dad: Yeah, maybe, but the jury didn't find him innocent. They only acquitted him of these charges.
Number 2 Son: That doesn't mean he is "innocent?"
Dad: It only means that the state couldn't show the he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Number 2 Son: So he could be guilty but they couldn't prove it?
Dad: Yep.
Number 2 Son: Why would we set up a system like that?!!!
Dad: Remember the situation that our founding fathers were in. They had come from a system where anybody could be thrown in jail for almost any crime. You only had to make the wrong person angry and the sheriff would come and arrest you. Our system is designed to make it hard for the state to prove it's case and hard for innocent people to be convicted of something they didn't commit. Unfortunately that also makes it hard sometimes for guilty people to be convicted of a crime they did commit.
Number 2 Son: So that's why forensic evidence is important, isn't it.
Dad: Yep. And there was no forensic evidence in this case.
Number 2 Son: Wow
Dad: I agree.

Michael Jackson Verdict News

Please let us remember:

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
House of Commons speech,
November 11, 1947.

Monday, June 13, 2005

.:. WitNit .:.: Childhood Meme

Meme's are fun. Meme's are fast. Meme's tell you a little bit about the person. A meme is all I have time for today.

Name 5 things you miss most about your childhood:
  • Getting an allowance to take out the garbage.

  • Having an allowance that was all "disposable."

  • Spending an entire Saturday racing Hot Wheels in the garage.

  • Popping a wheelie on my bike, landing (hard) on my back and then getting up to try it again! (and again and again and...)

  • Roasting ants with a magnifying glass.

The rules:

Remove the #1 item from the following list, bump everyone up one place and add your blog's name in the #5 spot. (no... this is not a pyramid scheme...sorta...but it's fun not profitable... only "linky"!) You need to link to each of the blogs for the link-whorage aspect of this meme to kick in.

Feisty Repartee
Chaos Theory
the tincanman
Flaming Duck

I think that I want to tag Eye of Polyphemus and Political Yen/Yang. Don't know if these guys want to join the fun but thought I would ask. And I'll invite anyone else that might want to hop on. Just let me know in the comments.

(hat tip to .:. WitNit .:.: Childhood Meme)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

WuzzaDem: The McCain Zone

No time to write something original but I do have time to laugh (hard) at a great piece produced by WuzzaDem
WuzzaDem: The McCain Zone

(hat tip: WitNit)