Thursday, June 12, 2008

Evil

More evidence that ending the British Empire was a horrible mistake.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Absolut inaccuracy at the L.A. Times.

Sigh. There's nothing like accuracy in the Los Angeles Times. Which is to say, this article is nothing like accurate.

The map in the Absolut ad does not show the "U.S.-Mexico border lies where it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848."

Contrary to the delusions of the Los Angeles Times, Mexican sovereignty over much of that land had ceased more than a decade earlier, when the revolutionary government of Texas defeated Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto.

Nine hundred and ten Texans led by Sam Houston, in a twenty minute battle, defeated the Napoleon of the West and caught him, literally, with his pants down.

If they taught history in Alta California, the writer of this article or his editor might have caught this.

Thank goodness for those layers of editors and fact-checkers in the MSM, eh?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Disingenuous Senator Watson?

In a blast e-mail to constituents today, Senator Kirk Watson (D-Travis County 14) wrote about his newly Senate-approved bill SB 1688:

“If voters approve it -- and only if voters approve it -- Austin would be able to do zoning and land-use planning in the district with heavy input from residents and landowners.”

Which, if true, would be nice.

Apparently, it’s not true. Sen. Watson’s bill as currently posted on the Texas Legislature's official website, allows the Austin City Council to create a new taxing authority outside the City limits. (See section 432.053) No voters, inside Austin or inside the taxing authority boundaries, get to vote on the creation of the district at any time.

Taxation. Representation. No linkage.

The Senator has improved the bill since its introduction. Previously, people in the district didn’t get to vote for or against their taxing overlords even after the creation of the district, and now they will get to vote for city council, and in some other city elections, AFTER the creation of the district (in which they have no say).

Also, City of Austin voters don’t get to vote. And if you think that this new district won’t cost the City anything, I’ve got (as the country song goes) some ocean-front property in Arizona, and if you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Brooklyn Bridge in, free.

So—to recap—Watson’s bill would create a taxing district without allowing any voter input, and he (or someone in his office claiming to speak for him) appears to be misrepresenting the bill.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Third Party Charm?

Texas Rainmaker (and Pegggy Noonan) have some excellent points regarding the likelihood of a third party eruption over Washington elitism, the budget bloat, and most saliently, immigration enforcement. (h/t Instapundit.)

I think the start-up and time and money (particularly money) required is less now than it was when Perot ran. And there are nascent independent movements (in Texas we have two credible independent candidates for governor, both of whom are likely to out-poll the Democratic Party nominee) which can be co-opted or cooperated with as a source of volunteers. While many of the Perotistas have returned to their natural home in the GOP (including Perot's 1992 campaign manager, who made an unfortunate pit stop as the 1994 Dem Senate nominee against Kay Bailey Hutchison, but who is now a prominent Republican, and ranking Federal Reserve official in Dallas), they and other disaffected voters are primed to move over the illegal immigration issue.

But when will they move? In many states, including Texas, the filing deadline has passed. Some of them may vote Dem this fall out of frustration, but the Democratic Party is no longer the natural home of anyone opposed to increased Balkanization of America. In effect, I believe this gives the GOP two years to make a substantial move to the right on immigration enforcement. The GOP may lose the House in the meantime, however, and that means that the amnesty forces will be the only Republicans with national power.

The combination of these effects should propel Tom Tancredo (or someone very much like him) into the front rank of GOP presidential candidates in '08, though he will ultimately prove unsuccessful. The question then for the GOP is: do they put Tancredo on the ticket in the number two spot, or do they risk the emergence of a third-party challenger on this issue, and lose enough votes (a la Perot) to guarantee a Hillary victory?

In any event, given the onerous requirements of signature gathering, a third party candidate (Chris Simcox, perhaps?) would have to begin organizing his/her efforts no later than the last quarter of '07.

Tying this issue to the bloat in the federal government, and making the point (as has been made recently by a number of Washington think-tanks and some conservative columnists and bloggers) that amnesty and increased immigration will bloat the welfare state and balloon its costs might give the third party not only more echo of Perot on the issues, but it would also serve to lance the claim of Republicans that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. This would also bolster the candidacy of Hillary, as Bill presided over years of fiscal surplus.

In any event, it seems virtually impossible for the GOP to win in '08 without adopting the current House bill on immigration enforcement or something quite similar. Amnesty (heavy or light) appears to be High-Caliber suicide.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Consent of the Governed

Ann Althouse compares hers and Glenn Reynolds reviews of the book Electing Justice: Fixing The Supreme Court Nomination Process., and both react negatively to the idea of electing judges.

The idea of electing judges is not so outrageous as some have suggested. Most states have some form of election for judges - retention, non-partisan, or partisan. California, for instance, has retention elections, and went for more than half a century without turning out any statewide judges. So the idea that any form of election will authomatically disrupt the judiciary is specious.

Texas, in contrast, has partisan elections. Despite that, the Texas judiciary was extremely stable from the adoption of partisan elections in 1876 until 25 years ago, when Texas plaintiffs' lawyers decided to run candidates in the Democratic primary in order to shift the direction of Texas law. In response, insurance companies and defense lawyers joined forces with a then little-named political consultant named Karl Rove to put judges less friendly to plaintiffs' lawyers on the bench. 60 Minutes ran an aggressive expose of the plaintiffs' lawyers-Democratic judges connection, and Republicans began a decade-long march to dominance of the Texas bench.

Electing judges forces judges to defend their decisions, either directly or (in some states) by proxy. And part of the process of defending their seats (or seeking to take seats) is about qualifications, in addition to legal and political ideology. In essence, electing judges ensures that the consent of the governed is required for judicial lawmaking, as well as for the legislative kind.

In a world in which judges did not legislate, such a check on their power would not be necessary. As experience has shown, judges do legislate. They claim to do so under the guise of interpretation, but no serious scholar will claim that judges never make it up on the fly (e.g., Dred Scott v. Sandford).

I have worked on Texas Supreme Court campaigns and for the Court. In my experience, the candidates are civil, the discourse is generally conducted at a high level, and a significant number of the voters are well informed. And the results are generally pretty good, both in the quality of the judges and the quality of the jurisprudence.

Periodic retention elections, like California's, will allow voters to reject manifestly unqualified or extreme candidates. It may be conceiveable that Presidents and Senates might place such candidates in the lifetime sinecures of the Court. In the event such a person were placed on the Court, it would be advantageous to have an opportunity to remove him (or her).