UPDATE: While you were too busy enjoying your Marijuana to get a screen shot, I gots one for you in the extended area.
November 29, 2004
November 28, 2004
After decades of argument over whether one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, a group of international “wise men” will this week tell the United Nations to outlaw all terror attacks on civilians or risk losing its moral authority.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to finish the sentence below:
The U.N. risks losing its moral authority like …
My entry: “… I risk losing a full head of hair.”
That one sucked, I know. Do better!
DeoDuce, Patterico, Michael Williams and I have donated, and you should too. The drive technically begins on Wednesday but there’s no need to wait until then; you can donate now. And if you’re a Bear Flag League member, be sure to join the BFL drive as well.
One of the basic rules of constitional law that every first year law student knows it the “state action doctrine,” which means essentially that the Constitution applies only to the government, not to private individuals. For example, if the cops suspected you might be a drug dealer and broke into your house to go on a fishing expedition while you were away, that would be a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, so any incriminating evidence they found as a result of that search would be inadmissible against you. But if a random burglar happened upon your secret stash and chose to testify against you, there’d be no Fourth Amendment bar to its admission. Similarly, if you work for the government and get fired for expressing a political view, you may be able to mount a First Amendment challenge. If you work for a private employer, fuhgeddaboudit. [UPDATE: maybe this wasn't such a good example.]
To be sure, there are some exceptions to the state action doctrine. One exception applies where the acts of a private individual can reasonably be imputed to the state. For example, my hypothetical burglar case only works if the burglar acted on his own, without the knowledge or apparent consent of the police. If the cops put him up to it, it won’t work. Also, there are a few provisions of the Constitution which, unlike the rest, clearly were intended to apply to private individuals. The 13th Amendment prohibition on slavery is one such example; a ban on states and the federal government owning slaves would be meaningless. Ditto for National Prohibition under the 18th Amendment, and for the obscure 21st Amendment ban on the importation of alcohol into dry states. I tend to think the same argument could be made of treason, which the Constitution does not technically prohibit, but which Article III, Section 3 does define.
One exception to the state action doctrine that I did not anticipate, but probably should have, was to the nonexistent emanation and/or penumbrum of the Constitution which, according to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, allegedly protects the right to abortion. I’d long assumed, that if there had actually been a provision of the Constitution that protected the “constitutional” right to abortion, it would read something like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting a first trimester abortion, or prohibiting the free obtention thereof; or abridging the ability to abort a second or third trimester abortion except to protect the life or health of the mother.
Or, if you prefer:
A well controlled Population, being to the status of the United States as a First World Country, the right of pregnant women in the first trimester to obtain Abortions, shall not be infringed.
Then again, maybe we should scratch that second example. The David Souters of the world would end up parsing it wrong, and conclude that individual abortions are only allowable when absolutely necessary toward the preservation of a well-controlled population, and maybe not even then. So let’s stick with the tried and true grammar of the first example. After all, it’s patterned on the First Amendment, which enjoys as much judicial protection as any other constitutional right actually mentioned in the Constitution .
According to the L.A. Times, the Abortion Amendment goes much further than that. According to today’s editorial, while your boss may have an absolute right to fire you for expressing a First-Amendment-protected opinion, he should not be allowed to offer you a health plan that doesn’t cover abortion. For Congress even to allow this option is, in their words, “to shrink the landmark abortion-rights decision Roe vs. Wade to the point where there is no need for judges to formally overturn it.”
By that reasoning, I want my employer to buy me a printing press, a gun, a soldier-free house, a guarantee no cop will ever intrude in it without probable cause, just compensation for the last house of mine that was condemned, a free attorney if I am ever charged criminally, another attorney if I am ever sued civilly, indemnity for any unreasonably high fines I’ve ever been required to pay, other rights not mentioned here, and an assurance that Congress won’t regulate in any area other than as explicitly provided for in the Constitution. Failure to do so would be to shrink all ten of the Bill of Rights to the point where there is no need for judges to formally overturn them.
Cross-posted to Oh, That Liberal Media.
November 26, 2004
Maryland school curriculum director / spokesmoron Charles Ridgell describes his state’s policy of a religion-free Thanksgiving as “teach[-ing] about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective.” Apparently, in this genius’s mind, teaching actual facts about the Puritans or a holiday which our first President officially designated as a “day of public[k] thanksgiving and prayer” is not considered an “historical” perspective. History is whatever our politically correct textbooks say it is, not an account of, y’known, what actually happened or anything. [No, I am not going to re-start a debate over whether the word "historical" should be preceded by a or an, though I have a strong suspicion some commenter might.]
What I want to know is whether Mr. Ridgell has the stones to stand up and say what he really thinks, which is teaching history in public[k] schools violates the constitutional separation of church and state. If so, perhaps he and his cronies at the ACLU can explain why the Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer wasn’t canceled upon ratification of the We Hate Religion Amendment, a mere two years after it was proclaimed.
November 25, 2004
Recently, William Safire has joined the chorus of supporters of the drive to Amend for Arnold. Captain Ed and Kim du Toit say no. Chris Lawrence says yes. Dog Trainer letter writer Julie Tankenson offers a completely retarded argument against the amendment, while O.C. Register letter writer Marilyn V. Moir voices legitimate concerns about dual nationality.
In its present form, Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constution reads as follows:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
First, let’s dismiss some of the sillier arguments on both sides of the debate.
November 22, 2004
Apparenly, Michael Kinsley likes the Iraq/Vietnam parallels so much he is willing to recycle lies about Vietnam to make his point. In this scathing op-ed on the war in Iraq, Kinsley writes by analogy:
An American general in Vietnam famously said, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
Um, no. Peter Arnett, a now-infamous journalist in Vietnam, infamously made the quote up, in reference to the non-village of Ben Tre a non-village that was destroyed by the other “we,” the Viet Cong. That “we” had no intention of “saving” anything, of course, and the soldier most likely quoted by Arnett remembers saying “it was a shame the town was destroyed.” Kinsley probably knows the quote is bogus; if he doesn’t, he certainly should. Nevertheless, he also knows that the average Dog Trainer reader can be trusted not to know any better, so he probably figured what the hell.
In my opinion, knowingly running an apocryphal, long-discredited quote without acknowledging the likelihood that it is false is serious journalistic misconduct. It would be worthy of a complaint to the newspaper’s Reader’s Representative, if only the L.A. Times had one.
Thanks to Sr. Xrlq for the tip.
November 20, 2004
Professor Bainbridge links favorably to this article by Jon Katz, which ignorantly smears two dog breeds and takes numerous cheap shots at dog rescue groups. For some reason, the Professor describes Mr. Katz’s hatchet job as “a sobering article over at Slate on how the animal rights/rescue movements are compounding the problem of dog bites.” I disagree. I find this article neither sobering nor sober. If it’s a “must read” for dog owners, it is for the same reason that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a “must see” for fair-minded Americans who need to know what they are up against.