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1501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Girl forced to give access to her FB password on: March 13, 2012, 12:22:47 PM

A 12-year-old Minnesota girl was reduced to tears while school officials and a police officer rummaged through her private Facebook postings after forcing her to surrender her password, an ACLU lawsuit alleges.
1502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / JFK's planned 11/22 speech on: March 12, 2012, 09:16:44 PM

"Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help."
1503  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prisons on: March 11, 2012, 07:57:30 PM

"At a time when states are struggling to reduce bloated prison populations and tight budgets, a private prison management company is offering to buy prisons in exchange for various considerations, including a controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years."
1504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: UCLA Professor: Without Media Bias the Average US State Would Vote Like Texas on: March 11, 2012, 12:09:47 PM
Groseclose is an excellent source.  I look forward hearing more about the book, and reading it if I get the time.

UCLA Professor: Without Media Bias the Average US State Would Vote Like Texas or Tennessee

Dr. Tim Groseclose is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at UCLA. He has joint appointments in the political science and economics departments and has held previous faculty appointments at Caltech, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Harvard University, and Carnegie Mellon University.
Tim released the book Left Turn recently and was on Hannity with Senator Fred Thompson on Friday night to discuss the book.
1505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: March 11, 2012, 08:35:34 AM

As is often the case, we do not see eye to eye on this issue.  And that is fine.  I'll wait to see what the enormous "bombshell" is that Breitbart and Co. are planning for later in the week. 
1506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: March 10, 2012, 11:14:32 PM
Because you missed an episode?  It has been available for three years, on the secret website of YouTube. 
1507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: March 10, 2012, 10:18:17 PM
Here is a link to the show on YouTube posted 3 years ago.

Is your oversight of the episode a government conspiracy?
1508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Derrick Bell on: March 10, 2012, 09:24:26 PM
"...there’s nothing new about the clip or Obama’s role in the controversy at Harvard Law School. In 2008, as a part of our quadrennial election special The Choice 2008,  FRONTLINE ran the same footage of the speech as a part of an exploration of Obama’s time at Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1991. It’s been online at our site and on YouTube since then."

Here is the entire show:

Sent to me by an internet friend:

Derrick Bell maintained throughout his life that racial minorities in the U.S. were a PERMANENTLY oppressed caste.  Bell endorsed a journal called "Race Traitor," which is dedicated to the "abolition of whiteness," and whose motto is "Treason to the white race is loyalty to humanity." Obama's mentor and campaign advisor from 2008 has admitted they intentionally hid this video from the media during the 2008 campaign.  Stay tuned - this is only the beginning of what Breitbart's staff has uncovered.

Our "mainstream" media has failed miserably to do its job with regard to vetting Obama.  Now the whole truth is finally coming out.  Of course already the mainstream media mantra regarding this is:  "There's nothing to see here.  No big deal.  Move along."

Here is a profile of Professor Derrick Bell - just so you know exactly who Obama's close friends are, and what he really believes:

1509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is today the day? on: March 10, 2012, 11:18:40 AM
A WEEK and a half ago, the day after the school shooting near Cleveland, a student stood in the doorway of my Bronx college classroom. He was eating half a bagel with cream cheese. It was a month into the semester, 45 minutes into the class period. I didn’t remember ever having seen him before.
1510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton and Yoo opine on: March 10, 2012, 11:15:05 AM
OUTER space has become the next frontier for American national security and business. From space, we follow terrorists and intercept their communications, detect foreign military deployments, and monitor a proliferation of unconventional weapons. Our Global Positioning System gives us targeting and tactical advantages, spacecraft create image-rich maps, and satellites beam data around the world.
1511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Riding the Dragon on: March 08, 2012, 08:51:59 PM
From the Norwegian Coast Guard to Israeli drone technicians, 8 surprising winners of China's massive military buildup.
1512  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Beat The Crap Out Of Cancer 2 on: March 08, 2012, 05:34:29 PM
Awesome!  Good work to all who participated!
1513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 06, 2012, 09:25:49 AM
Look here:

"signed 203 pieces of legislation"

Probably not even 1% of the electorate has the remotest clue what these are.  Including myself.

And I try to stay a bit informed.

No wonder it is so easy to bribe blocks of voters with other people's monies.
1514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel and an Arab Justice on: March 06, 2012, 06:59:12 AM

Politics and the Israeli Supreme Court. 
1515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / fallout of BP oil spill on: March 04, 2012, 06:52:16 PM
1516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama at AIPAC on: March 04, 2012, 06:46:10 PM
1517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: James Q. Wilson on: March 03, 2012, 02:36:31 PM

This is a big loss. 
1518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Moderation no More? on: March 01, 2012, 09:04:43 AM

With Sen. Olympia Snowe’s startling Tuesday announcement that she would retire, the GOP now must grapple with a key question: Did the centrist Republican lose interest in her Conference or did her Conference lose interest in centrist Republicans?

In the shadow of 2010’s conservative wave election, Snowe had become a “lone wolf” who was “adrift” in her own party, Republicans sources said. Snowe herself conceded Wednesday that she had been so focused on her re-election — and staving off a primary challenge since even before 2010 — that she had lost sight of why she was running in the first place.

Those close to Republican leadership insist that the Conference has not become inhospitable to moderates, but Snowe’s statements paint the picture of an establishment Republican frustrated with the direction of her party and unsure it will change anytime soon.

“It’s about the country and solving problems, and that was my final conclusion. ... If we cannot solve problems in this difficult time in our nation’s history, at what point would we? And whether or not that would change, that dynamic. And that’s the problem,” Snowe said Wednesday when asked whether a GOP takeover of the chamber in November would lead to more legislative productivity.

.... Continued on link
1519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy on: March 01, 2012, 09:03:12 AM
So says this article:
1520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / InterPol arrests 25 Anonymous hackers on: February 28, 2012, 09:02:39 PM Europe and South America.
1521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anonymous on: February 28, 2012, 08:57:32 AM
In Attack on Vatican Web Site, a Glimpse of Hackers’ Tactics

SAN FRANCISCO — The elusive hacker movement known as Anonymous has carried out Internet attacks on well-known organizations like Sony and PBS. In August, the group went after its most prominent target yet: the Vatican.

The campaign against the Vatican, which did not receive wide attention at the time, involved hundreds of people, some with hacking skills and some without. A core group of participants openly drummed up support for the attack using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Others searched for vulnerabilities on a Vatican Web site and, when that failed, enlisted amateur recruits to flood the site with traffic, hoping it would crash, according to a computer security firm’s report to be released this week.

The attack, albeit an unsuccessful one, provides a rare glimpse into the recruiting, reconnaissance and warfare tactics used by the shadowy hacking collective.

Anonymous, which first gained widespread notice with an attack on the Church of Scientology in 2008, has since carried out hundreds of increasingly bold strikes, taking aim at perceived enemies including law enforcement agencies, Internet security companies and opponents of the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks.

The group’s attack on the Vatican was confirmed by the hackers and is detailed in a report that Imperva, a computer security company based in Redwood City, Calif., plans to release ahead of a computer security conference here this week. It may be the first end-to-end record of a full Anonymous attack.

Though Imperva declined to identify the target of the attack and kept any mention of the Vatican out of its report, two people briefed on the investigation confirmed that it had been the target. Imperva had a unique window into the situation because it had been hired by the Vatican’s security team as a subcontractor to block and record the assault.

“We have seen the tools and the techniques that were used in this attack used by other criminal groups on the Web,” said Amichai Shulman, Imperva’s chief technology officer. “What set this attack apart from others is it had a clear timeline and evolution, starting from an announcement and recruitment phase that was very public.”

The Vatican declined to comment on the attack. In an e-mail intended for a colleague but accidentally sent to a reporter, a church official wrote: “I do not think it is convenient to respond to journalists on real or potential attacks,” adding, “The more we are silent in this area the better.”

The attack was called Operation Pharisee in a reference to the sect that Jesus called hypocrites. It was initially organized by hackers in South America and Mexico before spreading to other countries, and it was timed to coincide with Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Madrid in August 2011 for World Youth Day, an international event held every other year that regularly attracts more than a million Catholic youths.

Hackers initially tried to take down a Web site set up by the church to promote the event, handle registrations and sell merchandise. Their goal — according to YouTube messages delivered by an Anonymous figure in a Guy Fawkes mask — was to disrupt the event and draw attention to child sexual abuse by priests, among other issues.

The videos, which have been viewed more than 77,000 times, include a verbal attack on the pope and the young people who “have forgotten the abominations of the Catholic Church.” One calls on volunteers to “prepare your weapons, my dear brother, for this August 17th to Sunday August 21st, we will drop anger over the Vatican.”

Much as in a grass-roots lobbying campaign, the hackers spent weeks spreading their message through their own Web site and social sites like Twitter and Flickr. Their Facebook page called on volunteers to download free attack software and implored them to “stop child abuse” by joining the cause. It featured split-screen images of the pope seated on a gilded throne on one side and starving African children on the other. And it linked to articles about sexual abuse cases and blog posts itemizing the church’s assets.

It took the hackers 18 days to recruit enough people, the report says. Then the reconnaissance began. A core group of roughly a dozen skilled hackers spent three days poking around the church’s World Youth Day site looking for common security holes that could let them inside, the report says. Probing for such loopholes used to be tedious and slow, but the advent of automated tools made it possible for hackers to do this while they slept.

In this case, the scanning software failed to turn up any gaps. So the hackers turned to a brute-force approach — a so-called distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack that involves clogging a site with data requests until it crashes. Even unskilled supporters could take part in this from their computers or smartphones.

“Anonymous is a handful of geniuses surrounded by a legion of idiots,” said Cole Stryker, an author who has researched the movement. “You have four or five guys who really know what they’re doing and are able to pull off some of the more serious hacks, and then thousands of people spreading the word, or turning their computers over to participate in a DDoS attack.”

Over the course of the campaign’s final two days, Anonymous enlisted as many as a thousand people to download attack software, or directed them to custom-built Web sites that let them participate using their cellphones. Visiting a particular Web address caused the phones to instantly start flooding the target Web site with hundreds of data requests each second, with no special software required, the report says.

On the first day, the denial-of-service attack resulted in 28 times the normal traffic to the church site, rising to 34 times the next day. Hackers involved in the attack, who did not identify themselves, said through a Twitter account associated with the campaign that the two-day effort succeeded in slowing the site’s performance and making the page unavailable “in several countries.” Imperva disputed that the site’s performance was affected and said its technologies had successfully siphoned the excess data away from the site.

Anonymous moved on to other targets, including an unofficial site about the pope, which the hackers were briefly able to deface.

Imperva executives say the Vatican’s defenses held up because, unlike Sony and other hacker targets, it invested in the infrastructure needed to repel both break-ins and full-scale assaults.

Researchers who have followed Anonymous say that despite its lack of success in this and other campaigns, recent attacks show the movement is still evolving and, if anything, emboldened. Threatened attacks on the New York Stock Exchange and Facebook last autumn apparently fizzled. But the hackers appeared to regain momentum in January after federal authorities shut down Megaupload, a popular file-sharing site.

In retaliation, hackers affiliated with Anonymous briefly knocked dozens of Web sites offline, including those of the F.B.I., the White House and the Justice Department. At one point, they were able to eavesdrop on a conference call between the F.B.I. and Scotland Yard.

“Part of the reason ‘Op Megaupload’ was so successful is that they’ve learned from their past mistakes,” said Gabriella Coleman, an associate professor at McGill University who has studied Anonymous. Professor Coleman said the hackers had been using a new tool to better protect their anonymity. “Finally people felt safe using it,” she said. “That could explain why it was so big.”

In recent weeks, Anonymous has made increasingly bold threats, at one point promising to “shut the Internet down on March 31” by attacking servers that perform switchboard functions for the Internet.

Security experts now say that a sort of open season has begun. “Who is Anonymous?” asked Rob Rachwald, Imperva’s director of security. “Anyone can use the Anonymous umbrella to hack anyone at anytime.”

Indeed, in the last six months, hackers have attacked everything from pornography sites to the Web portals of Brazilian airlines. And some hackers have been accused of trying to extort money from corporations — all under the banner of Anonymous.

“Anonymous is an idea, a global protest movement, by activists on the streets and by hackers in the network,” the hackers said through the Twitter account. “Anyone can be Anonymous, because we are an idea without leaders who defend freedom and promote free knowledge.”
1522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tecumseh on: February 28, 2012, 08:54:29 AM
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to foolsand robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weepand pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
1523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 27, 2012, 07:37:12 PM
I would guess one of three things:
1.  Question wording.
2.  One of the two polls happens to be outside of the confidence interval.
3.  The universe from which the respondents were selected.  For example, I will admit to looking at either since reading it originally, I think the Politico poll was taken from battleground states, or at least it was advertised that way.
1524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: polls all over the place on: February 27, 2012, 12:06:09 PM
Rasmussen says that both Romney and Paul are leading Obama for the first time.

This is NOT what they report, however.  What they report, below all the headlines, is that "The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence."  This means a statistical tie.

Politico headlines Obama approval at 53% and kicking the behinds of all Republican comers.

Rasmussen on Drudge has hime losing to most Repubs and getting less than I think 45%.

I suspect Rasmussen is closer to the truth. 

To me Brock is getting more and more desperate.

We heard "class" card now "race" card on Drudge.  These are desperation moves IMO.

Anyone want to wager that once Romney gets the nomination and he gets to focus he will win in November?

I'll make that bet now.  How about the cost of one postage stamp?
1525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral organization on: February 27, 2012, 05:29:20 AM
This, primarily, focuses on the GOP presidential hopefuls.  It is a good discussion about the importance of the electoral organization, not just the "attractiveness" of a candidate.
1526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb on: February 25, 2012, 09:01:00 AM
1527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10 things you didn't know about Vietnam on: February 25, 2012, 07:22:09 AM
An interesting discussion of the last decade or so in Vietnam, which appears to be advancing at a surprising (to me, anyway) rate.
1528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: February 23, 2012, 09:29:26 AM
I wonder if this is the deterrent effect that the state was looking for. That is, was he wrong to take the law into his own hand, or has decided he was wrong due the implications of the arrest and pending prosecution?  And if it is the latter, the consequence, intended or not, goes far beyond the discharge of a firearm.  It is more likely to make good, moral, upstanding citizens look out for their neighbors, friends and family in times of distress. 
1529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cyber Security Act of 2012 on: February 23, 2012, 07:27:41 AM
Discussion of the Cyber Security Act of 2012, written by a former DHS general counsel.
1530  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 23, 2012, 07:06:07 AM
Apparently, this guy has polio, and has lost the use of his legs.  He dances for Cirque de Soliel.  Watch the video; he would be challenging at the Gathering, given his double "stick" skills and ability to move.  

1531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 23, 2012, 05:19:23 AM
The point, asserted by some at least, is that the judiciary is an institution for minoritarian protection.  As I've noted previously, I think that care has to be made in assertions, such as your first one, in particular, because it ignores history.  The push for civil rights in the 1950's and 1960s was extremely unpopular.  But, in cases such as Brown, Loving, Heart of Atlanta and many others, there was a devotion to racial equality not seen in the populace at large.

I think that it is important to dispell the myth, that I know you do not adhere to based on previous discussions elsewhere, that this country has "majority rule."  That is patently absurd and falseafiable on its face.  For example, there are many elections, in particular elections where there are three or more parties involved, in which someone is elected with less than 50% of the vote.  In the current GOP primaries, how many times has the "winner" won 30% or so? 

I do agree with your larger point, however.  I would add when the legislature does the same.  In my home state there was a ballot inititative whish was lawfully on the ballot, which recieved more than 50% of the vote, and was promptly overturned by the state legislature.  Given the signage on the roads leading to the capital city, people are still mad about this over a year later.

I would add that the more and more the courts overrule the vot of the people (e.g. Prop 8 here in CA) the less motivation there is to participate.

I would add that the more and more the fourth branch of government, the burueaucracy, determines what the rules are either quasi-legislatively or quasi-judicially the less people can keep vote on what they do.

I would add that the more bureaucracies are beyond the reach of even Congress (e.g. the new Consumer Finance Protection agency the exact name of which I forget but which is now funded by the Fed instead of Congress!!!) the less even truth there is to the idea of a government of for and by the people.
1532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 22, 2012, 04:55:38 PM
Thank you for the kind words.  I think "the people" do have a say.  First, they elect (sort of, at least ) the president who nominates.  Second, they elect the senators who confirm.  Third, they have the ability, especially through interest groups or other bodies, to file amicus briefs with the Court.  Fourth, federal judges are appointed for life... with good behavior.  There is an impeachment mechanism in place, if "the people" were willing to push it.  Fifth, as noted elsewhere, Congress can change (appellate) jurisdiction.  The people could push for that.  This is a list off the top of my head.  I am sure I am missing something(s).

There is a difference in not paying attention and not having a say.  People don't care.  I realize that we, the participants of this forum, care a great deal.  That is the best part of coming here.  But, no matter our views or ideologies, we are decidely anomolous. 


No offense taken and your posts are very informative.

"law, writ large, has said that they... and people and political institutions have accepted and acquiecsed." 

My only question would be have the "people" really accepted and acquiesced.

The people don't have a say in Court decisions.   Most don't even know what is going on.  And I don't recall ever being asked if it was OK to hoist on the "majority" requirements for wheelchair parking spots and wheelchair ramps.

As for the disabilities thing I guess it is part legislative and part judicial.

As for the gay marriage issue I suppose it is part "the squeaky wheel" - gay infatada, mass media opinion, demogaguery, party politics.
I do not beleive most people in the US believe in gay marriage or adoption.  I do believe that most probably don't care about bothering gays otherwise.  A poll that is announced that most believe gay marriage is ok?  Oh comon!

But that is media manipulation. 

I am rambling here.

"the Constitution, and also that it has holes, and also that there has to be interpretation"

Back to your point - agreed.

1533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 22, 2012, 01:28:10 PM
ccp (and Doug),

I hope you know that I am not trying to offend either of you.  I am also not saying, necessarily, that gay marriage is "right" or "wrong."  What I do want to say it that to understand "the Constitution" you need to understand the Constitution, and also that it has holes, and also that there has to be interpretation.  I do not think that the USSC has the only word, or even the last word... and not the best word, even.  But, if you ignore the interpretations of the Court, and that fact the Constitution must be interpreted you miss much of the necessary information.  Why is it the case that these entitlements are present?  Because the law, writ large, has said that they... and people and political institutions have accepted and acquiecsed. 
There is no end to the situations that can arise.

One aspect of the the disability situation is the requirement for disabled parking places mandated.  And wheelchair access.

I was thinking a lot about this.   While it is a "nice" and compassionate I still don't get why everyone else is required to circumnavigate these accomodations and business entities must pay for all this for the minority disabled.

Yes, if I ever get stuck in a wheelchair I will think differently due to emotion...

I don't get the "entitlement" adjective to this.  Why are there so entitlements that cost many people money to pay for?

Why are not the payers entitled to their money?
1534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BS in NH on: February 22, 2012, 06:26:41 AM

I hope my neighbor would do the same.
1535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is there a right to lie? on: February 22, 2012, 05:22:59 AM


This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the "Reprints" tool that appears next to any article. Visit for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now.



February 19, 2012

Is There a Right to Lie?

Berkeley, Calif.

XAVIER ALVAREZ is a liar. Even the brief filed on his behalf in the United States Supreme Court says as much: “Xavier Alvarez lied.” It informs us that he has told tall tales about playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, being married to a Mexican starlet and rescuing the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis. But as the brief reminds us, “none of those lies were crimes.”

Another of his falsehoods, however, did violate the law. In 2007, while introducing himself at a meeting of a California water board, he said that he was a retired Marine who had been awarded the Medal of Honor (both lies). He was quickly exposed as a phony and pilloried in the community and press as an “idiot” and the “ultimate slime.”

But his censure did not end there. The federal government prosecuted him under the Stolen Valor Act, which prohibits falsely claiming to have been awarded a military medal, with an enhanced penalty (up to a year in prison) for claiming to have received the Medal of Honor. Mr. Alvarez was convicted but appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that the act violated the First Amendment.

The government has taken the case to the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear arguments this week. The question before the court is not whether there is a constitutional “right” to lie. Rather, it’s a question about the scope of the government’s power over individuals — whether the government can criminalize saying untrue things about oneself even if there is no harm to any identifiable person, no intent to cheat anyone or gain unfair advantage, no receipt of anything of value and no interference with the administration of justice or any other compelling government interest.

The court should rule in favor of Mr. Alvarez. Harmless fibbing should not be a federal offense.

The Justice Department argues that the Stolen Valor Act serves an “important” government interest: preserving the integrity and credibility of the military medals program. False claims, it maintains, dilute the reputation and meaning of the medals.

But the government has offered no evidence that lies by crackpots like Mr. Alvarez have in any way damaged the honor or prestige of medal recipients. A few instances of dubious characters lying about medals does not require the government to deploy the heavy artillery of criminal sanction. The United States has had military medals since the Revolutionary War, but the founding fathers didn’t seem to think such legal protection was necessary, and neither did Congress until 2006, when it passed the act.

Nor has the government shown that the law is necessary and narrowly tailored to protect any valid government interest. Those who lie about being awarded medals could easily be exposed if the government maintained an online database of medal awardees; the government could even shame known liars by publicizing their names.

The Stolen Valor Act is also dangerously broad: it puts satire and parody at risk of criminal prosecution. The comedian Stephen Colbert could not safely perform a skit in which his blowhard patriot persona claimed to have a medal. The act doesn’t require proof that anyone believed or was deceived by the false claim.

If the Supreme Court were to accept the government’s argument, other disconcerting legislation could easily follow. Congress could enact a law that criminalized false claims by political candidates about their qualifications for office, or false claims about their opponents. Surely the government has an “important” interest in preventing voter deception. But as much as we want to encourage factual accuracy in our politicians, do we really want the government to prosecute, for example, Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who falsely stated on his Senate Web site that his parents moved from Cuba after — rather than before — Fidel Castro took power? Who among us has not said things about ourselves that are untrue? Who has not exaggerated or embellished details to tell a better story?

The public humiliation that follows such exposure is punishment enough. The recognized constitutional remedy for false speech, as Justice Louis D. Brandeis famously said, is not suppression but “more speech.” The court should reject Congress’s attempt to police what we are allowed to say about ourselves.

William Bennett Turner teaches a course on freedom of speech at the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of “Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains.”
1536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian: Constitutionality of marriage? on: February 21, 2012, 08:27:00 PM
I had to go before I had a chance to reply to all of these issues.  Apologies.  And thanks, Doug, a nice synopsis of the discussion. 

Wishing to drop the cultural issues for this election cycle, but so many questions are unresolved.  Jumping around with some quotes/excerpts here, hopefully keeping the original meaning as posted.

bigdog wrote: "You gents don't seem to get that marriage laws, like any other laws, can be changed."

This is a good point.  It is separate from the question of whether existing marriage laws are unconstitutional.

Agreed.  It does not, by it self, answer the question.

bigdog wrote:

"Gay marriage does NOT have to be compelled by the Constitution for it to be accepted by the Constitution."

Very true.  My question: is it compelled by the constitution?

It might be, at least in some ways.  As GM and I (and I think Guro)noted elsewhere, for different reasons, but you did not take up here, there is a constitutional understanding that marriage is a contract.  If so, there is a strong argument to be made that states must recognize homosexual marriages performed in other states (in the same way that cousins are married everywhere if they are legally married somewhere).

bigdog continued: "... the 9th Amendment leaves open the possibility that there are other, unenumerated rights.  Privacy, of course, is one that has been recognized.  I know, from prior discussions with you (Crafty), that you acknowledge the right to privacy.  As JDN states, there could be an argument made that gay marriage could be allowed, based on privacy precedent. 

Public recognition of a gay union is the opposite of a right to privacy, is it not? 

Not necessarily.  Part of the rights of privacy are the rights of married couples to do as they will sexually (assuming consent, etc. etc.).  To this end, homosexual marriage rights and homosexual sexual rights are intertwined, though there may be a public component to their privacy... if that makes any sense.

bigdog:  "But, there could be, at least in theory, a stand alone right found in the 9th."

This is a good point. Some certainly see it that way.  Depends on which 9 people you ask.  It seems to me that if a standalone right is found for any citizen to be offered the designation of married, not just gay couples, isn't that the same as ending the public designation of married? 

I still fail to understand what rights are denied to a gay American who is in a loving, committed gay relationship that are also not denied to a single person who does not have a heterosexual partner consenting to marry.  In all cases you have the right to marry one person of the opposite sex with certain conditions applied, if and/or when those specific circumstances apply to you.

There are many, if I understand your point.  Insurance, legal visitation rights, and several other types of rights that are assumed by the legally wed man and wife.  These are, and have been, withheld from gay, committed life partners.

I asked JDN to no avail, but why does the 'equal protection under different circumstances' concept apply to all other areas of public policies including taxing, spending and regulating (see 2012 SOTU), but not apply to marriage? 

bigdog: "in some areas of civil rights, such as handicapped, special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to."

Very true, but they are entitled to certain accommodations because a federal law was passed by the people's representatives and signed by the President.  It was not an unenumerated right found in the constitution. 

See earlier post.
1537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian: Constitutionality of marriage? on: February 21, 2012, 04:36:24 PM

bigdog: "in some areas of civil rights, such as handicapped, special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to."

Very true, but they are entitled to certain accommodations because a federal law was passed by the people's representatives and signed by the President.  It was not an unenumerated right found in the constitution. 

This is only sort of true, DMG, not "exactly" as ccp asserts.  Please see the link for several cases in which the Supreme Court clarified the meaning of the federal law.  Also, please note that these cases have actual policy impact.  This does not mean that they are legislating from the bench, it means that they are applying the law as it is written.
1538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 21, 2012, 12:09:02 PM
Supreme Court Justices are NOT the only government officials sworn to "...preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Agreed.  This is why the OLC, White House Counsel and various attornies working for Congress are some important.
1539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SCOTUS takes affirmative action case on: February 21, 2012, 12:06:27 PM,0,7177633.story

The Supreme Court cast doubt Tuesday on the future of affirmative action at the nation’s colleges and universities, agreeing to hear an appeal from a white student in Texas who seeks an end to "racial preferences" in college admissions.

The decision could either limit the use of affirmative action or broadly forbid using race as an admissions factor.

However, because the court’s calendar is filled through the spring, the court will not hear arguments in the case until October, weeks before the presidential election.

The Obama administration could choose to weigh in on the issue, but it need not do so. The court’s intervention nonetheless is an ominous sign for defenders of affirmative action. Justice Elena Kagan also announced she will not take part in the decision.

The court has been closely split on affirmative action since 1978. By a 5-4 vote then, the justices said universities may consider a minority student’s race as a plus factor when choosing new students so as to bring about more diversity in the class. Eight years ago, the court reaffirmed that view in a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The dissenters included Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Not long afterward, O'Connor retired and was replaced by the more conservative Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. In 2007, he joined an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that forbids school districts from assigning students to elementary or high schools for the purpose of creating a better racial balance. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts said.

The new case, Fisher vs. University of Texas, gives the Roberts court its first opportunity to rule on the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education.

Five justices are on record opposing "racial balancing" policies. They include Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, in addition to Roberts, Alito and Kennedy.

But the Texas case also arises in an unusual circumstance which could limit the significance of the court’s ruling.

In 1997, the Texas Legislature adopted the so-called "Top Ten" plan for choosing new students. As such, the University of Texas was told to accept the top 10% of the graduates from all the state’s high schools. The goal was to maintain racial and ethnic diversity in the freshman class without using race as a factor.

The plan appeared to work. By 2004, 21% of the entering students at the Austin campus were black or Latino, a higher percentage than when the university had used race-based affirmative action.

After the high court endorsed continued affirmative action through O’Connor’s opinion, Texas university officials announced they would again give a preference to "underrepresented minorities" beyond those who were admitted under the "Top Ten" policy. In 2007, the university announced a "record high" number of entering black and Latino students, who made up about 26% of the freshman class.

In 2008, Abigail Fisher was turned down for admission to the University of Texas. Her grades were not good enough to put her in the top 10% of her class, but she said her tests and grades "exceeded those of many of the admitted minority candidates." She sued, alleging racial discrimination in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

She lost before a federal judge and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said it was bound to follow O’Connor’s opinion from the University of Michigan law school case.

Her appeal argues that the 14th Amendment "requires an admissions process untainted by racial preferences absent a compelling, otherwise unsatisfied, government interest" in having some racial diversity. Since the University of Texas had already achieved diversity through the use of its "Top Ten" policy, it had no need to use race as an admissions factor, Fisher’s lawyers argued.

Texas state lawyers had strongly urged the court to turn away the appeal. They said Fisher was about to graduate from Louisiana State University and that her case would soon be moot.

But after considering it over two weeks, the court said Monday it had voted to hear her appeal.
1540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP whisper campaign? on: February 21, 2012, 10:14:51 AM

Mesa, Arizona (CNN) - In a whispering campaign not ready to go public, some senior Republicans are so anxious about the state of the GOP race they are actually considering the unheard of: a scenario that would lead to another candidate entering the Republican primary race, and potentially an open convention.

They are not unhappy enough, however, to go on the record calling for another candidate to enter the fray. In fact, when pressed, many Republicans say the chatter about another candidate is inevitable in this long and inconclusive primary process. They also say it's just not likely to happen.


"If you bring somebody new into the race, that person will lose," said a senior GOP strategist who admits a bias towards Romney. "The party - especially conservatives - will not respond to somebody who has not gone through the process."

That being said, it's clear Rick Santorum's recent rise in the polls - and what some see as his electability problems - has struck a nerve with Republicans.

"There is something called agenda control," said one unaffiliated GOP strategist. "Santorum does not have it. Instead of talking about the economy, he's been going down rabbit holes for the last four or five days."

Santorum's emphasis on cultural issues may intensify his conservative and evangelical support and help him win the nomination or at least differentiate himself from Newt Gingrich. The fear is he may also be narrowing his support in a general election population.

And Santorum's surging candidacy is not the only concern for senior Republicans. Mitt Romney's inability to close the deal has also raised eyebrows - and angst. And the anxiety will only intensify should Romney lose his home state of Michigan in the primary on February 28, several senior Republicans told CNN.

"Michigan is the whole shooting match," said one senior GOP strategist not aligned with a campaign. Says another: "If Romney loses Michigan, all hell breaks loose."

Given that real possibility, one knowledgeable GOP source confirms that some Republicans are circulating the deadlines and the basic math that would allow another candidate to get into the nomination fight and take it all the way to the convention. More than a half dozen states' filing deadlines have yet to pass. A majority of the delegates to the national convention are still up for grabs. One more factor to be considered: many states are choosing their delegates proportionally, which makes it easier for a candidate pick up delegates without outright winning a state.

Politico first reported the existence of a document circulating among Republicans.

Santorum's highlighting of cultural issues could play well for him in the short-term. But the worry among Republicans is that his views will raise the question of his electability. "After a while, Republican voters will start asking whether this is the guy to take on Obama," says one GOP strategist. In addition to the fear of a potential loss to Obama, some Republicans worry about losing the House of Representatives if Santorum were at the top of the ticket.

“There is no faith he would bring independent or moderate voters. If he does well on Super Tuesday you’ll have serious people talking about convention strategies etc,” one Republican congressional leadership aide told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

"Santorum would so alienate voters, especially women…he would be lucky to carry a dozen states," one senior Republican told CNN, referring to Santorum's disapproval of pre-natal screening.

Santorum's campaign disagrees. It considers him a strong social conservative who is the best equipped to take on President Obama on the economic issues – -particularly in the rustbelt states. "He won in Pennsylvania, which has both Democrats and women the last time I checked," says a senior Santorum adviser, who calls his boss a "full spectrum conservative."

One of the Republicans who has seen the memo said "no one is hoping that this will come to play," regarding a new candidate entering the fray. Yet some Republican partisans feel they need to make some contingency plans depending on the outcome in coming primaries. Other veteran Republicans contacted by CNN dismissed any possibility of another candidate entering the contest at this date.

There are no names of possible candidates mentioned in the memo. Who would the Republicans possibly turn to? The usual suspects include Sarah Palin, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They could still enter the race although they all have repeatedly said they will not mount a campaign despite new inquiries by some in the party.

"I really would not be interested," Daniels told CNN affiliate WISH Monday. "If we get to that point, I would be interested in finding someone who can present a really credible and winning alternative to where the nation is going right now. I still think it's very unlikely. These things have a way of resolving themselves."

For its part the Republican National Committee is downplaying the prospects of another contender entering the fray.

“We are four games into what is a 54 game league and people are trying to pick the equivalent of a super bowl or a world series. We have 4 great candidates. I’m confident one of them will be our nominee and will go on to be successful in November,” RNC Spokesman Sean Spicer said.

1541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China and water on: February 20, 2012, 05:08:19 PM
Given all the current discussion about China and water, this book might interest some of you:  

Also, here is a shorter, 20 page, journal article:
1542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / extreme lobbying effort!!!! on: February 20, 2012, 12:55:33 PM
Feeling the pressure of a million men... evil evil grin
1543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Target knows girl better than father does on: February 20, 2012, 04:14:13 AM
Who or what knows you better than you know yourself?
1544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Target Knew a High School Girl Was Pregnant on: February 19, 2012, 07:45:11 PM
Who or what knows you better than you know yourself?
1545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Article in Foreign Policy on: February 18, 2012, 07:25:21 PM

This is an interesting debate between prominent authors.  
1546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: February 18, 2012, 04:29:02 PM
An interesting read, GM.  Thank you. 
1547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 18, 2012, 12:10:40 AM
And I, or others, might have experience inside the world of law enforcement that you aren't aware of, so that sounds like a cop out.  Now, back to the thread subject at hand, I am sure. 
1548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 18, 2012, 12:02:52 AM
You know from the outside.  You get all kinds of crappy when anyone from outside law enforcement tries to make, what to them, is a credible point that goes against something that you know from experience.  Shall I post all articles which paint LEOs poorly, and then decide I know something?  

Again, you make blanket statements.  I am in the social sciences, I support the 2nd Amendment very publicly, so you deciding that "anyone who doesn't tow the line pays" is not true.  Why don't you ask me?  Or rather, when you do ask me, and I have evidence to contradict your blanket claim, why can't you see that it is erroneous?
1549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 17, 2012, 11:55:29 PM
"Promise less and shut up"?  Now there's a change we can believe in! cheesy

On this, we agree completely. 
1550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 11:54:35 PM
Home from a wonderful day one of the DBMA Winter Camp.  Impressive stuff from Kaju Dog on trauma care and from GM Art on , , , reality.

Quite a contrast to come home to , , , this.  GM, please put a muzzle on the personal comments.  JDN, unless I missed it, you have yet to answer the questions about polygamy.  (BD feel free to weigh in too)  What basis is there for limiting marriage to two?  After all, consenting adults and all , , ,

Concerning marriage of the very young-- if I am not mistaken, parental consent is required, yes?

I am glad to hear that went well, Guro.  I think I have addressed polygamy.  And, as for the "very young," it depends on the age and the state. 
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