Head West, Turn Right

The Joint Blog of the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance: Red State Points of View from a Blue State Point on the Compass.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cowering giants

Google et al. isn't exactly reacting favorably to calls from the Capital to attend a congressional briefing on February 1 about it's cooperation with Chinese censorship:

Microsoft and Cisco Systems have refused to attend the event, while Google and Yahoo are non-committal, officials said.

The firms were asked to attend the February 1 briefing by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus following uproar caused by search giant Google's decision last week to censor websites and content banned by China's propaganda chiefs.

"We have heard from Microsoft that no representative from the company will attend the briefing. So, with Cisco Systems, this makes two companies that have confirmed they're opting out," [said] Lynne Weil, spokeswoman for caucus co-chairman Democratic Representative Tom Lantos.
Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Google: the big engine that couldn't?

Here is a facinating piece from the UK Times--a long read but I was riveted. Frankly it is the best "problem of Google" coverage I have read.

Some excerpts from John Lanchester's analysis:

Until now, Chinese net users who were blocked from accessing a site knew that the information was there and was being kept from them by their own government. From now on it is Google which will be keeping data from them, in direct contradiction of its own declared mission “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. ...

...It seemed that the company’s real motto was something more along the lines of “don’t be evil unless the Chinese government asks you to and there’s serious money in it”. ...

...Google is cool, but Google has the potential to destroy the publishing industry, the newspaper business, high street retailing and our privacy. Not that it will necessarily do any of these things, but for the first time, considered soberly, they are technologically possible. The company is rich and determined and is not going away any time soon. It knows what it is doing technologically; socially, though, it can’t possibly know and I don’t think anyone else can either.
Lanchester weaves in plenty of history and context so it is not entirly a Google bashfest.

Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

Politicizing Sex Predator Legislation

Cross-posted at Respectfully Republican.

This Sunday's editorial in the Seattle PI by Thomas Shapley is a poorly written political hit-piece. Lamenting his receipt of a "sex offender notification" mailer by the Speaker's Roundtable (a conservative PAC?) Shapley begins by calling this mailer "sleazy".

The target of one of the mailers was Rep. Pat Lantz. Shapley explains the "scam" this way:
On the opening day of the legislative session, House Republicans demanded the full House vote immediately on complex legislation to toughen punishment of sex offenders that hadn't even had a public hearing. It was a tawdry try by the minority caucus leadership to grab some limelight and gin up a "gotcha" issue to use against Democrats in this year's election campaign. The postcard hit piece is slam-dunk evidence of that.
Democrats are rallying against the postcards, but at the same time, are replying by saying things dangerously close to condoning certain types of sex abuse crimes (i.e. making a differentiation between known, versus, unknown to the victim). It's not hard to tell that this was an effective move by Republicans, and an ineffective response by Democrats. Knocked back on their heels by this "stunt", Democrats are not used to such brawny leadership by the minority Party.

That is part of the reason they have not been able to effectively mount a response. The second part really boils down to an idiotic attempt to use "moral indignation" at what the Republicans have done, when we're talking about one of the worst forms of crime that destroys the lives of innocent people.

Shapley acknowledges this, and states, "The paraded outrage and pro forma demands for apology are largely parliamentary stagecraft (by Democrats). So why should the rest of us care about such partisan potshots?"

Unfortunately, he then continues by failing to recognize the biggest reason why we should care: Republicans have proposed solid legislation, that would put sex-offenders behind bars for life. Democrats are so afraid of giving the Republicans an inch of the spotlight, that they shunned good legislation, and ended up looking like they were "soft" on crime, and albeit in a round-about way, more supportive of sex-offenders than their victims.

Wrapping up, Shapley asks a no-brainer question, likely trying to give the appearance of an open-minded and un-biased editorialist, you know, typical "media saves the day with a previously unheard of, and brilliant solution:
What the rest of us want to know is why a guy who committed such heinous crimes lives in any of our communities. What are lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, going to do to keep this type of predator locked up?
Republicans already gave it a good shot. Democrats reacted poorly, and are now running their mouths rather than taking up the issue.

My suggestion: rather than apologizing, Republicans should capitalize on this rare opportunity that has been created for them. Take the lead on something momentous, and charge forward! Whether they will do that, is really what remains to be seen.

Fear of a backlash from voters is intuitive, but there is no calculus to measure that. From a strategy perspective, getting the legislation passed in both chambers and signed by "Chris" is the best move for Republicans. Then we can truly lay claim to being: "tough on crime", "protectors of the family", and "shrewd lawmakers".

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Spanking Google

From the Financial Times:

Google will be called to task in Washington next month following a controversial decision by the internet search engine to launch a China-based version of its website that will censor results to avoid angering the country’s Communist government.

The decision by Chris Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey who chairs a House subcommittee on Human Rights, to call for a February 16 hearing to examine the operating procedures of US internet companies in China, represents the first signs of what could become a serious backlash against Google and other internet companies in Washington that are perceived as capitulating to the Chinese government.
I was livid when I heard of Google's decision to placate China for a bigger buck. After canceling my Google ads account, and sending them a letter about it, I sat back and bemoaned my own continuing reliance on such a beautiful search engine.

For that matter, as this UK Sunday Times article points out, bloggers in general are guilty of hypocrisy, even without relying on the Google big block engine.

Many of the bloggers who are most critical of China's human rights policies make their voices heard using Chinese-made PCs. Probably wearing cheap Chinese-made trainers while they're at it.
(Cheap trainers? huh? I thought these were pajamas I was wearing!)

Point taken--I can still be mad can't I?

Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Souter v. grassroots

The effort to oust Supreme Court Justice David Souter from his house and property has remained on the march. Although few honestly think it will work--it's certainly a worthy effort since no one is breaking any laws of course.

The effort is in response to the Kelo v. New London case, in which some home owners were evicted from their properties for the "greater good" of having a business established on their property and having higher tax productivity on the area: It's called "eminent domain" in law-speak; another way of stretching the beyond recognition. I thought I posted on this last year when it hit the news...but I haven't been able to turn it up in the archives.

Here's the Associated Press piece on the latest (admittedly retaliatory) efforts.
The group, led by a California man, wants Justice David Souter's home seized for the purpose of building an inn called "Lost Liberty Hotel."

They submitted enough petition signatures — only 25 were needed — to bring the matter before voters in March. This weekend, they're descending on Souter's hometown, the central New Hampshire town of Weare, population 8,500, to rally for support.

"This is in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party and the Pine Tree Riot," organizer Logan Darrow Clements said
Here's a few links for info on the Kelo decision.

A good abstract at Oyez.org
Justice John Paul Stevens, the majority held that the city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause. The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. Such justifications for land takings, the majority argued, should be given deference. The takings here qualified as "public use" despite the fact that the land was not going to be used by the public.

Complete opinions (Steven's majority opinion and Kennedy's concurrence plus O'Connor's dissent and Thomas's concurring dissent)

Crossposted at Meneltarma

Thursday, January 19, 2006

McGavick/Stevens Alliance?

Cross Posted at Respectfully Republican.

That's the latest chatter in the blogosphere (at least from a return search of Technorati for “McGavick”).

Elliot Bundy, a former staffer of Senator Stevens, is reportedly coming to work on the McGavick campaign. That's according to the Washington State Democrats website. Horsesass.org “coincidently” picked up the same exact talking points. In what could be the first tit-for-tat-spat of the campaign, we will have to wait and see if the McGavick campaign takes the bait and fires back.

My feeling is that they won't. With a full slate of upcoming public speaking engagements, McGavick appears to be taking the high road, focusing instead on a positive Republican agenda for Washington State. Here's an interesting column by Joni Balter about the Stevens v. Cantwell dynamic.

Personally, I think it's hilarious that Goldy and the Washington Dems want to paint McGavick as too extreme for Washington State, because all I hear from conservative Republicans is that he's too much of a mainstream moderate. In effect, McGavick's real challenge so far has been reaching out to the grassroots, and placating the conservative elements in the Party. But to win this election, he'll need to bridge the gap between sub-urban moderates and rural conservatives.

I can't wait till Maria starts airing TV Commercials showing oil rigs in the Puget Sound, *enter the seedy voice "Mike McGavick wants to drill for oil - IN THE PUGET SOUND, vote NO on Mike McGavick, he's too extreme for Washington." Believe you me, Cantwell's going to be on the edge come late August, early September, and especially during the sprint to November.

This is one promising race ahead of us folks, I hope you're all tuning in.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Smoke in your eye

Oh? Bellingham isn't so apathetic after all?

One local establishment is under siege for defying the smoking ban passed by voters in November. The Western Front has some good coverage here--take note of the feedback that has already been posted online. Dr. Chris Covert-Bowlds was the primary sponsor and spokesman for the ban campaign.

For what it's worth, I already wrote a piece on the ban last quarter--focusing kind of on the way everyone was falling for the utilitarian arguments of the left. A commenter on that string noted an interesting possible conflict of interest regarding Dr. Covert-Bowlds.

I'll be honest: I hope they keep up the protest (if I can do so without having to think about moral obligations to government)--at least it will keep the issue out in the open. Our constitution was not based on utilitarian "majority rule" ideals.

Do I sound libertarian yet?

Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Possible Junction

I truly don't want to be premature or presumptive, but it seems pretty apparant that the era of Ariel Sharon has closed. That seems to be the inevitable. The blogosphere is replete with concern --even trepidation-- about that fact. What does it mean for Israel? What does it mean for the Middle East? Iran? Israel has been blessed with great leaders throughout its history. One after the other, the right man (or right woman) has stepped forward at the right time. My guess is that it will happen again. The key is that whomever it is, it will have to be someone in whom the Israeli public has overwhelming faith and confidence. Personally, I like Benjamin Netanyahu, but I suspect that the majority of Israelis don't have that overwhelming faith and confidence in him.

And what to make of Pat Robertson? On his television show, "The 700 Club," Robertson said, "Sharon was personally a very likable person, and I am sad to see him in this condition, but I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' "

One thing I won't do is jump onto the bandwagon and bash Robertson. It's not because I agree with or like what Robertson said. It's because I don't like the people --the usual suspects-- who routinely bash Robertson, and I choose not to be lumped in with them.

What I will do is point out the comments of another anathema and pariah for the left, radio talk show host Michael Savage. On his show yesterday Savage made the observation that Sharon, being almost 78 years old, and 5' 7" tall, and weighing in at 260+ lbs, the argument can be made that God actually went out of his way to keep Sharon alive and healthy 10 years longer than he really deserved, and maybe God did that precisely so Sharon could give Gaza to the Palestineans.

Savage is one of those guys that is reviled by both the left and the right. The left hates him for his ideas. The right is embarrassed by him. I admit that he is bombastic, even incendiary, often to a cartoonish degree. But if you listen patiently, with willing suspension of disbelief, you will not be disappointed and will find genuine pearls in what he says. Just about every day in fact.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

You Say You Want a Revolution? Well, Alright.

If you look closely at the rights extended to us by the US Constitution, you will realize that several of them are not just rights, they are the duties of free peoples. This is because the very EXERCIZE of those specific rights helps us maintain them and all other rights. The first two amendments of the constitution stick out foremost in my mind -- by worshiping as we see fit, we are reminded that our rights are endowed to us by our Creator, not the whim of the state. It is by speaking freely that we keep the flame of freedom lit in the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, and it is by assembling that we can communicate and coordinate any and all efforts to protect our freedom.

But the second amendment is even more essential, for an unarmed populace is powerless to do anything to protect itself or its freedoms except to call upon and trust in the good graces of the powerful. That is not a bet I care to place. You see, while I do not intend to downplay the usefulness of firearms as a way of securing food (hunting) or self-defense, I believe, as many of us on the right do, that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect us all from Tyranny -- and not just to arm the military to proterct us from foreign tyrrany, but to arm the populace against domestic tyrrany. The Founding Fathers had taken up arms in such a cause once, they intended to provide for the possibility of a repeat performance in the future.

I came to the above realization while pondering the recent brouhaha regarding the Christmas Cross that Lars Larson was planning. At least on poster at Portland IndyMedia made comments fantazizing about doing bodily harm to Lars. I supported Lars' decision not to go through with the cross raising, believing he had taken the moral high ground. But two things about the incident struck me: One was that I found it highly ironic that those on the Left (Let's be clear here, I'm not talking about liberals, I'm talking about THE LEFT -- people whose politics make Howard Dean seem centrist) would call Lars a Fascist and in the same breath threaten violence to silence him. But while I was bemused, I was not surprised.

The Left's fringe has become stronger, louder, and more openly embraced by the "Party" in general. And it's become apparent to anyone paying attention that the Left is becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of doing anything they must to further their views, including using violence and lawlessness. They also seem more than willing to do what they must to silence the expression of opinions contrary to their own. And while they might believe they are "Freedom Fighters", they are striving for a political and social order that is frighteningly oppressive in its tolerance of personal freedom. It seems more and more apparent that what the Left wants is Revolution, or at least Civil War. Case in point, note the tone taken by the reader "Unapologetic Liberal" in the comment thread of this post at Ace of Spades HQ.

But the left may be biting off more than they can chew.

This was the second impression I got from the Christmas Cross incident. As one conservative (I can't remember who or where) pointed out that this would be unwise, ever since a leftist idiot revealed Lars' home phone number at Michael Moore appearance and Lars began receiving death threats, Lars has had a CCW permit and actively exercizes his Second Amendment rights. While Lars decided to back down to prevent violence, if any of the PDX IM crowd really tried to do Lars bodily harm, I'm sure they would regret it -- if they lived.

There's a lesson about the Right to be learned by the left from that angle to the story, just as we are learning about them from their reaction. You see, while there is a fringe element to both sides of the political spectrum, it seems that in recent years, the Right has more and more marginalized its fringe, distancing ourselves from it, rejecting its extremes in a way that the Left has failed to react to their fringe. And while it's popular to cast the Right in the light of being the oppressors, we have for the most part shunned violence and domestic unrest as a means to our ends. We have tried to take the moral high ground, abide by the law, distance ourselves from unscrupulous allies and distinguish ourselves from unscrupulous adversaries.

But we can only be pushed so far. And if we find ourselves in a position where our own ability to push back is all that stands between us and being overrun by those who wish to oppress us, we will push back -- and our push is harder. We strive to uphold and respect the Rule of Law. But if you finally get what you want, if you achieve revolution in the streets and open conflict between us, remember this: We're the ones who believe in and exercize our right to bear arms as a means of protecting our other rights. Usually that means from the random criminal who would mug or rob or rape us or our families. Strategically that means from a tyrant who would invade our country from without. Theoretically, the Framers believed it could mean from a corrupt government that would usurp its authority from within. But make no mistakes. If you try to impose a Marxist order on us through violent overthrow of the Government, we are highly likely to decide that you are a greater threat to our freedom than the Government ever could dream of being.

And you won't like what happens when we take sides.