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1551  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.
1552  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
1553  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.
1554  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. 
1555  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.
1556  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.  

1557  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.
1558  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.

1559  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?
1560  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.
1561  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.”
1562  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.
1563  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.
1564  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.
1565  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.
1566  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.

1567  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:
1568  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
1569  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?
1570  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?
1571  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.  
1572  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. 
1573  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. 
1574  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?
1575  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. 
1576  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. 
1577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 11:45:05 PM
To the best of your knowledge, do you know that the age at which individuals can participate in legally sanctioned behavior differs for the behavior?  16 years olds or so, depending on the state, can drive.  18 years old are no longer a minor.  Of course they still can't legally drink....  There are states that allow people as young as 14 (that I know of) to marry, which as YOU noted is a legal contract.  Are you trying to argue that those marriages are less legal than others? 

Do you think that the US is headed toward a norm of sanctioned incest because cousins can marry in some states?

I am telling you that your blanket statement about me and your perception that I must be "politically correct" is something that you knew to be false when you said it.
1578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 11:19:57 PM

I'm against cousins marrying, as I am against polygamy or the underaged marrying, but those behaviors don't have the force of political correctness pushing those agendas.  Marriage is a legal contract, and should only be legally valid when done by legal adults of the opposite sex. Cousins and those even closer related shouldn't be allowed to marry. I'm not sure this is much of an issue in the US, outside of immigrants from the wonderful world of sharia.

On point 1: "No State shall enter into any ...Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts...."

On point 2: Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, New Mexico a least all allow cousins to marry.  One note: I only looked at 25 states.  Nine allowed it.  That is more than on thid of the states I looked at (source here:  Even if this all the states, it is nearly 20% of the states in the union.  Your point above holds water like a sieve.

And, by the way, I got tenure.  And, since I am an avowed 2nd Amendment supporter, your claims about political correctness in academia and my need to toe the line wouldn't have been accurate before the tenure decision.  

1579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 09:12:01 PM
Also, it pretty much pisses me off when you insinuate that those who disagree with you don't value marriage.  Gays value marriage.  That's WHY THEY WANT TO GET MARRIED.

Try again. The homosexual activists want the force of law to impose their "values" on the unwilling. Look at the sociologically documented sexual behavior of homosexual men, it's anything but monogamous.

I'm sure you value marriage, but you also value a tenue track that would be swiftly derailed were you to make public statements contrary to the party line on homosexual marriage, right?

And then look at the sociologically documented sexual behavior of homosexual women, and you'll notice that it is more monogamous than hetero couples.  Then again, you could look at the evidence of college age people, in general, and notice that they can marry. 

I do appreciate you dodging the question, though, by changing the subject. 
1580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Presidents should say less... on: February 17, 2012, 09:07:19 PM
1581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / remake the UN Security Council on: February 17, 2012, 08:59:46 PM

The U.N.Security Council's inability to pass a resolution condemning Syria is the latest failure of the institution at preventing mass violence. In 1994, the council voted to pull peacekeepers out of Rwanda shortly before its genocide. The same body declared safe havens for Bosnian Muslims in 1993, only to stand by as Serbs slaughtered thousands of them.

1582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reid: more recess appointments? on: February 17, 2012, 08:51:20 PM
1583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Planned bombing at US Capitol on: February 17, 2012, 08:49:48 PM
1584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 08:48:33 PM
Well, let's see: why stop with monogamy?  Um, because we can.  You gents don't seem to get that marriage laws, like any other laws, can be changed.  There are places where a 14 year old can be married.  Cousins can be married.  We might look askance at that, but it can be done.  And when those people ARE married, their marriage is recognized in other states.  Why should a marriage legally recognized in one state not be recognized in another?  You guys keep asking hypotheticals.  Should a marriage of cousins in a state that legally allows this marriage NOT be recognized in another state?  What about a person who is too young in the state where I reside?  Can my "sophisticated" state legally prevent those legally recognized marriages?  Oh, sorry fifteen year old.  Hey... what about a marriage that took place in a whole different country?  Those probably aren't real either. 

It USED to be that marriages only were legal if you were free.  Slaves couldn't marry.  It USED to be the case that we defined marriage as only between members of the same race.  Blacks and whites couldn't marry.  The divorce rate since these changes has sky rocketed.  Do you blame interracial marriage for this? 

Also, it pretty much pisses me off when you insinuate that those who disagree with you don't value marriage.  Gays value marriage.  That's WHY THEY WANT TO GET MARRIED.  Oh, and I am married.  Happily.  So tell me how, because I disagree with you, I don't respect the institution of marriage.
1585  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Winter Camp 2012 on: February 17, 2012, 07:34:02 PM
Safe travels and a high level of learning to all attendees!  I am sorry to be missing this.
1586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 09:25:23 AM
Crafty says “That is the conventional wisdom, but there is that pesky language about Congress being able to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts-- Newt Gingrich made some interesting points a few weeks ago about federal courts exceeding the bounds of their powers. Perhaps Big Dog could weigh in here?” 

This is largely correct.  Article III gives the USSC original jurisdiction is some areas, but most of the cases that the Court hears each year are appellate.  The Supreme Court has said that Congress cannot alter original jurisdiction (see Marbury).  Congress has, and no doubt will again, alter the Court’s appeallate jurisdiction.  It is important to note that these alterations can be either because the Court requests it OR because Congress feels as though it should be done.  Also, it is difficult to alter the jurisdiction, like many other policy changes.  For example, the conservative led push to remove flag burning cases from the Court’s jurisdiction, largely in the 1980’s and early 1990’s on the heals of Texas v. Johnson, did not work.

Doug says “But gay people are not the same in the context of family structure, procreation, child rearing. Gay people are God's creatures, citizens, Americans - they live among us, work hard, serve our country, pay taxes and vote in our society. They are entitled to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and equal protection under the law. That does not mean they are entitled to special accommodations - such as the changing the meanings of our words or our accepted institutions…. A bond between a mother and a son or a father and a daughter is special. A bond with a close grandparent can be special, or between siblings Teo unmarried siblings might decide to look after each other for the rest of thier life..That's great. It's not better or worse than marriage, but it is something different than marriage.”

This was the point at which I decided I wanted to chime in on this topic.  Doug, with all due respect (and, as always, I mean this literally, not in the snarky tone it is often used), much of this argument strikes me as silly.  First of all, much of the language of your point here is similar to the reasons given by whites in the South for decades if not longer.  “Changing the meanings of our accepted institutions”… like education?  Travel?  Medical care?  Jim Crow was an institution, and it needed to be changed.  Moreover, in some areas of civil rights, such as handicapped, special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to.  Ramps, tutors, Braille books, sound emitting cross walk signals?  Gay rights, like race and handicapped, are civil rights questions.  When you make arguments like the ones you made, I think you run head first into an area with serious legal and moral implications. 

Moreover, you singling out the bonds of mother and son, and father and daughter is silly… and to me, a father with only male offspring, pretty frustrating.  I think I know what you meant, but the idea somehow that fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters don’t/can’t/shouldn’t (here is where I am not sure I understand the point of the argument) have a strong, or special, relationship is pretty crappy.

Crafty says “1) Is gay marriage constitutionally compelled bu the US consitution? I would submit that the answer clearly is not. Is gay marriage compelled by a given state constitution? I cannot say with certainty, though I confess to a strong suspicion that liberal judicial imperialist courts will say yes even when not so.

2) If no, then is gay marriage a good idea? I say no AND that this is a matter for the democratic process.”

Gay marriage does NOT have to be compelled by the Constitution for it to be accepted by the Constitution.  There are many, many examples of this in American political institutions.  Moreover, as I know you know, 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.  But, there could be, at least in theory, a stand alone right found in the 9th.  As for “liberal judicial imperialist courts,” there are certainly conservative activist jurists.  Moreover, there is a line of legal theorists, realist/positivist who argue that law is not law until judges lend their interpretation to it.  There are many legislative acts that are passed and the intention/meaning is murky, which lends some weight to the argument. 

Crafty says, related to Loving and Lawrence and the present issue of homosexual marriage “Relevant but distinguishable.”

Of course it is distinguishable.  But then, theoretically, all cases that follow anything could be said to be distinguishable.  No two cases have exactly the same fact pattern.  It is the job of the jurist to find the “right” fact pattern, in an effort to find the “right” precedent.  This is a hard job.  To give you a sense of the difficulty, there are cases in which both a majority and dissent will use the same case. 

Crafty says “…marriage by definition is between a man and a woman.”

OK.  But, only sort of.  I have MANY relationships with many women.  Only of those is my wife.  So, defining marriage as between a man and a women is shade overbroad, don’t you think?  However, definitions change.  Many words have different meanings.  Some words have contradictory meanings.  It not be all that hard to make a legal definition of marriage which incorporates implications of love, respect and monogamy but allows for marriage between two people of the same gender. 
1587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 15, 2012, 06:51:26 AM
To what extent does intelligence, from the IC, impact presidential decision making?
1588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOF factbook on: February 15, 2012, 06:37:48 AM 
1589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel attack would be complex on: February 14, 2012, 06:33:00 PM

Some of the difficulties of an Israeli attack on the Iran nuke complexes.
1590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Judges as Umpires on: February 14, 2012, 11:53:09 AM
One jurists view of the comparison:
1591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syrian residents say they're bracing for full-blown war on: February 14, 2012, 07:59:28 AM
1592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Entitlements and how to go after them on: February 14, 2012, 07:10:01 AM
Why is it hard for conservatives to cut entitlements?  It may be because it isn't in their own self interest:

That’s Rick Santorum talking about the American welfare state. But who, really, is hooked—and how does that matter politically?

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a long, meaty article on the distribution of federal benefits. One of the more striking points, drawing on work by political scientist Dean Lacy, is that government benefits constitute a larger share of total income in “red” states than in “blue” states. (The Times article includes a lovely set of interactive maps detailing the geographical distribution of benefits from a variety of specific programs such as Medicare and unemployment compensation; here is the 2009 map of total benefits.)

A friend asks, “Is this true at the individual level? It isn’t, right?”

I imagine that the answer to that question depends a lot on what gets counted as government benefits (tax credits? grants and contracts?) and whether we are talking about gross benefits, benefits minus taxes, or benefits as a share of total income. As Monkey Cagers know (see here, here, and here), political scientist Suzanne Mettler’s book, The Submerged State, includes some excellent analysis of the tenuous relationship between objective and subjective dependency on the federal government.

In a review (forthcoming in Democracy) of political journalist Thomas Edsall’s new book, The Age of Austerity, I raise the question of how Republican policy-makers bent on budget-cutting will come to grips with the actual distribution of government spending:

In a perceptive recent essay in New York magazine, heterodox Republican David Frum sketched a political landscape much like the one portrayed by Edsall. “We have entered an era in which politics increasingly revolves around the ugly question of who will bear how much pain,” Frum wrote. “Conservative constituencies already see themselves as aggrieved victims of American government: They are the people who pay the taxes even as their ‘earned’ benefits are siphoned off to provide welfare for the undeserving.”

However, Frum went on to pinpoint the fundamental contradiction in this conservative worldview. “The reality,” he wrote, is that “the big winners in the American fiscal system are the rich, the old, the rural, and veterans—typically conservative constituencies.” Squeezing the programs conservatives hate won’t bring in much revenue, so balancing the budget would require chopping into programs most conservatives support—including defense, Medicare, Social Security, and middle-class tax breaks.

In Chain Reaction, Edsall recognized that “the anti-tax, anti-government view of the electorate … was directed at programs serving heavily minority and poor populations,” while spending on education, health, Social Security, crime control, and environmental protection “retained unstinting, and in some cases growing, majority support.” That remains true 20 years later; even most conservatives oppose cuts in most major government programs, and they do so even when they are reminded of the perils of deficit spending.

Unfortunately for Republicans—and for Edsall’s analysis of the politics of austerity—“programs serving heavily minority and poor populations” are not where the money is. According to the Census Bureau’s Consolidated Federal Funds Report, less than 8 percent of federal spending in 2010 was for unemployment benefits, food stamps, housing assistance, student aid, and the earned-income tax credit. Almost half was for salaries and wages, grants, and procurement; most of the rest consisted of Social Security and Medicare payments. Large-scale reductions in government spending would require significant cuts in big-ticket programs that mostly benefit the middle class. The political challenge facing budget-cutting Republicans is exacerbated by the fact that beneficiaries of government spending are disproportionately concentrated in red states. Federal expenditures made up almost 30 percent of total personal income in the 29 states that voted for John McCain, a significantly higher dependency level than in the states that voted for Barack Obama.

“The rank and file of the GOP,” Frum concluded, are “caught between their interests and their ideology.” This clash of interests and ideology is left largely unexplored in Edsall’s analysis. While he acknowledges that “substantial numbers of Republican voters have no appetite for cuts in the two programs that virtually every economist and budget analyst says must be chopped down to size: Medicare and Social Security,” he never really comes to grips with the question of how Republican politicians will finesse that fact. It is one thing to carp about the futility and injustice of government programs in the abstract, but something else to deprive voters of their concrete benefits.

1593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / did the OSG mislead the USSC??? on: February 13, 2012, 05:31:46 PM
This could jeopardize the Solicitor General's hallowed position as the "10th justice."
1594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Breyer wuz robbed... on: February 13, 2012, 05:26:35 PM
with a machete.
1595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mitt the Ripper on: February 13, 2012, 08:14:39 AM

Colbert keeps it real.
1596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bull in the China shop on: February 13, 2012, 06:57:07 AM
"Last month, as Barack Obama's administration began to prepare for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington, someone close to the U.S. vice president leaked that Joe Biden would "take over" China policy. The leaker made the case that Biden had a good rapport with Xi, thus priming the U.S. vice president to add the China mandate to his portfolio. According to a number of administration sources, however, this leak was nothing more than an instance of a Washington-style power play -- or score settling. But the episode does demonstrate how important the China relationship has become in the Washington power game, how the portfolio is troublingly up for grabs, and how wildly elbows swing (or pivot) to take control of it."

Continued at:
1597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will on appeasement on: February 10, 2012, 01:16:46 PM
Will's take on Obama v. Romney re: Middle East, in particular Iraq and Taliban.

Through 11 presidential elections, beginning with the Democrats' nomination of George McGovern in 1972, Republicans have enjoyed a presumption of superiority regarding national security. This year, however, events and their rhetoric are dissipating their advantage.

Hours after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, political factionalism and sectarian violence intensified. Many Republicans say Barack Obama's withdrawal jeopardized what was achieved there. But if it cannot survive a sunrise without fraying, how much of an achievement was it?

With America in the second decade of its longest war, the probable Republican nominee is promising to extend it indefinitely. Mitt Romney opposes negotiations with the Taliban while they "are killing our soldiers." Which means: No negotiations until the war ends, when there will be nothing about which to negotiate. "We don't," he says, "negotiate from a position of weakness as we are pulling our troops out." That would mean stopping the drawdown of U.S. forces -- except Romney would not negotiate even from a position of strength: "We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban." How could that be achieved in a second decade of war? What would establish "defeat"? Details to come, perhaps.

The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world's total military spending -- more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade?

Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw up to 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union's death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific Germany. Why?

Since 2001, the U.S. has waged war in three nations, and some Republicans appear ready to add Iran and Syria. GOP critics say Obama's proposed defense cuts will limit America's ability to engage in troop-intensive nation-building. Most Americans probably say: Good.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Army should contract from 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 in a decade. Romney says the military should have 100,000 more troops. Romney may be right, but he should connect that judgment to specific assessments of threats and ambitions.

Romney says that if he is elected Iran will not get a nuclear weapon and if Obama is re-elected it will. He also says Obama "has made it very clear that he's not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from" its nuclear ambitions. Romney may, however, be premature in assuming the futility of new sanctions the Obama administration is orchestrating, and Panetta says Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is "a redline for us" and if "we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it." What, then, is the difference between Romney and Obama regarding Iran?

Osama bin Laden and many other "high-value targets" are dead, the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever and Guantanamo is still open, so Republicans can hardly say Obama has implemented dangerous discontinuities regarding counterterrorism. Obama says that even with his proposed cuts, the defense budget would increase at about the rate of inflation through the next decade. Republicans who think America is being endangered by "appeasement" and military parsimony have worked that pedal on their organ quite enough.

1598  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Relentless pursuit on: February 10, 2012, 08:15:35 AM
This guy most certainly walks the walk.  A warrior for damn sure....
1599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 10, 2012, 08:11:36 AM
Actually I did catch the original jurisdication faux pas, but figured WTF-- after all she's a wise Latina  rolleyes

I don't think there is a thread anywhere on this forum I enjoy as much as this one. 
1600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 09, 2012, 08:00:23 PM
I knew you guys would love it!!!!

And here I was thinking that the USSC wouldn't have original jurisdiction over the case, so the fact that she was ruling on the facts was teaching kids poorly about the cases the Court hears.  But then, I am a dork.  
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