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1551  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. 
1552  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?
1553  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. 
1554  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. 
1555  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.
1556  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.  

1557  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. 
1558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Presidents should say less... on: February 17, 2012, 09:07:19 PM
1559  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.

1560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reid: more recess appointments? on: February 17, 2012, 08:51:20 PM
1561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Planned bombing at US Capitol on: February 17, 2012, 08:49:48 PM
1562  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.
1563  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.
1564  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. 
1565  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?
1566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOF factbook on: February 15, 2012, 06:37:48 AM 
1567  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.
1568  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:
1569  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
1570  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.

1571  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."
1572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Breyer wuz robbed... on: February 13, 2012, 05:26:35 PM
with a machete.
1573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mitt the Ripper on: February 13, 2012, 08:14:39 AM

Colbert keeps it real.
1574  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:
1575  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.

1576  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....
1577  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. 
1578  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.  
1579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Justice on Sesame Street on: February 09, 2012, 06:53:18 AM
... for real.

1580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hybrid Threat on: February 08, 2012, 01:36:15 PM
"The hybrid threat of crime, terrorism and insurgency is presently understudied as a matter of policy, strategy, and doctrine. As a small step towards remedying this conceptual deficit, and exploring those ideas in the particular context of Mexico, the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) together with the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership co-convened a symposium in Washington D.C. on October 20, 2011. What follows is a compilation of those proceedings. The forum began with keynote remarks offered by General Barry R. McCaffrey, former Commander of the United States Southern Command, and former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Following the transcript of General McCaffrey's presentation, we have inserted a policy paper designed to introduce the issues that resonated throughout the course of the forum. The remainder of the monograph gives full voice to those issues by way of transcripts of the event's two panel discussions. The first panel addressed strategy and doctrine, existing and yet required, that will be necessary to tackle our 'hybrid threat.' The second panel focuses on Mexico as a case study for those requirements."
1581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fast? Furious? on: February 08, 2012, 01:34:03 PM
Hearing docs on Fast and Furious.
1582  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 07, 2012, 08:09:52 PM
I am thankful to hear of good things coming from Guro Crafty and Guide Dog.

I am grateful for an afternoon well spent with some dedicated scholar warriors and for the possibility of good things to come for the country ... and for a personal endeavor. 
1583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / We the People loses appeal on: February 06, 2012, 08:37:57 PM

February 6, 2012

‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World

WASHINGTON — The Constitution has seen better days.

Sure, it is the nation’s founding document and sacred text. And it is the oldest written national constitution still in force anywhere in the world. But its influence is waning.

In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

The study, to be published in June in The New York University Law Review, bristles with data. Its authors coded and analyzed the provisions of 729 constitutions adopted by 188 countries from 1946 to 2006, and they considered 237 variables regarding various rights and ways to enforce them.

“Among the world’s democracies,” Professors Law and Versteeg concluded, “constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall. Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. Constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s.”

“The turn of the twenty-first century, however, saw the beginning of a steep plunge that continues through the most recent years for which we have data, to the point that the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

There are lots of possible reasons. The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.

In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.

In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)

Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years. By odd coincidence, Thomas Jefferson, in a 1789 letter to James Madison, once said that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.” These days, the overlap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and those most popular around the world is spotty.

Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.

It has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)

The Constitution’s waning global stature is consistent with the diminished influence of the Supreme Court, which “is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern democracies,” Aharon Barak, then the president of the Supreme Court of Israel, wrote in The Harvard Law Review in 2002.

Many foreign judges say they have become less likely to cite decisions of the United States Supreme Court, in part because of what they consider its parochialism.

“America is in danger, I think, of becoming something of a legal backwater,” Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia said in a 2001 interview. He said that he looked instead to India, South Africa and New Zealand.

Mr. Barak, for his part, identified a new constitutional superpower: “Canadian law,” he wrote, “serves as a source of inspiration for many countries around the world.” The new study also suggests that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, adopted in 1982, may now be more influential than its American counterpart.

The Canadian Charter is both more expansive and less absolute. It guarantees equal rights for women and disabled people, allows affirmative action and requires that those arrested be informed of their rights. On the other hand, it balances those rights against “such reasonable limits” as “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

There are, of course, limits to empirical research based on coding and counting, and there is more to a constitution than its words, as Justice Antonin Scalia told the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. “Every banana republic in the world has a bill of rights,” he said.

“The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours,” he said, adding: “We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Big deal. They guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of street demonstrations and protests, and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account. Whoa, that is wonderful stuff!”

“Of course,” Justice Scalia continued, “it’s just words on paper, what our framers would have called a ‘parchment guarantee.’ ”

1584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / impending cyber attack? on: February 02, 2012, 08:52:17 PM
1585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A different view on: February 02, 2012, 04:59:18 PM
1586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 02, 2012, 09:09:26 AM
"Olson is a major heavyweight attorney, regularly arguing major cases in front of the Supreme Court. ...

Mr. Olson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a former solicitor general of the United States, represents Koch Industries."

Neither of these descriptions do him justice.

Additionally, his wife, Barbara, was on the plane that was hijacked and hit the Pentagon on 9/11.  He is also a damn nice guy. 
1587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Earmarks on: February 01, 2012, 02:10:47 PM

Earmark opponents may have scored some successes in recent years, but several Senators said they remain wary of permanently giving up the right to direct spending and would rather focus on other business.

"I think we need to talk about that," National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. "I am not sure we need it, but I am open to it."

He continued, "I wish we would focus on what the American people are most concerned about rather than some of these other issues that have their importance but are tangential to the main issues we ought to be focused on."

"I think we ought to [instead] be looking at other ways to ... address people's concerns about jobs and the debt," Cornyn said.

The Senate could vote this week on a proposal by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to make the current moratorium on earmarks permanent. They've offered the measure as an amendment to legislation banning insider trading by lawmakers and their staff.

"Earmarks exist precisely to circumvent ... [Congressional] scrutiny," Toomey said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

He said that while many earmarks are worthy of being funded, "There is an opportunity for corruption. A process like that is badly flawed and should be remedied."

The amendment would also create a point of order to strike earmarks from bills, and it would take two-thirds majority to override that point of order.

On the floor Tuesday, McCaskill said she wants to "stop the process in its entirety" rather than going after individual earmarks.

"I am proud of the fact that we have a moratorium," she said. "But there are a lot of Members of this body that want to go back to the old ways."

Still, earmark supporters said that the issue is purely political.

"It's just stupid, it's childish, it's demagoguery," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. "There is not a lot of courage in our conference [on the issue.] They all know better. They all know by banning earmarks ... they are just giving the authority to the president. But they are afraid of it because people don't understand the issue out there."

Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said they would stand up to support their right to earmark if the amendment was brought to the Senate floor.

But it's unclear whether the amendment will get a vote.

"I hope we get a vote, but I am not optimistic," McCaskill said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday would not say whether he would permit a vote on the proposal and gave a firm defense of earmarking.

"We'll see in a day or two how many are really interested in improving this bill, having amendments that are germane or relevant, and we'll take a look at it in a day or two," Reid said.

He added that he opposes an earmark ban. "We have an obligation as Members of Congress to fulfill our Constitutional duty. One of those duties is to make sure that we do Congressionally directed spending. I object and do not believe that all these decisions should be made at the White House," Reid said.

"I've done earmarks all my career, and I'm happy I've done earmarks my entire career," Reid continued. "They've helped my state and they helped different projects around the country. And I repeat, I will not stand by and be driven down this path that is one that I think is taking us away from what the Founding Fathers wanted: three separate but equal branches of government."

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who backs a ban, said he doubts that it will pass even if it does come up for a vote.

"I am a co-sponsor of it," Burr said. "It's probably not going to pass. I think there is a lot of opposition to cutting off the gravy train on both sides of the aisle."

Earmarks make up less than 1 percent of overall federal spending.

Still, opponents of earmarks scored a victory after House Republicans won the majority in 2010 and voted soon after to adhere to a two-year moratorium, which expires at the end of this year.

The House's move forced Senate Democratic and Republican leaders' hands. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been reluctant to curtail earmarks on Constitutional grounds. But Republicans agreed to a moratorium in November 2010, followed by Democrats in February 2011.

Some supporters of the moratorium, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), even noted at the time that it was only supposed to be a temporary hiatus from the practice.

Earmarks also were tainted by relatively recent scandals. Last September, lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, who headed the now-defunct lobby shop PMA Group, pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally funneling more than $386,000 in corporate campaign contributions to lawmakers, including appropriators, during a nearly six-year period.

Despite earmark opponents' successes in forcing leaders to accept a moratorium, the issue has had less success on the Senate floor.

In November 2010, the Senate voted 56-39 against an earmark ban McCaskill and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sought to attach to a food safety bill. | @hsanchez128

1588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 01, 2012, 02:07:26 PM

Dick Morris: How Mitt Romney suckered Gingrich in Florida
By Dick Morris - 01/31/12 06:32 PM ET

For students of American politics, following the way the Romney campaign played Newt Gingrich in Florida is a lesson to learn and to keep. Romney’s people must have realized that Newt does best when he is positive. His bold ideas, clear vision, revolutionary insights and extraordinary perspectives resonate with voters and win him millions of supporters.

Romney, less compelling but more consistent, doesn’t need stellar debate performances or bold vision to win. The case for the former Massachusetts governor is more circumstantial: He can reach out to independents by virtue of his past apostasies on healthcare and abortion. He looks, talks and acts like a president. His record of job creation is exemplary.

 But Newt needs the bold sally, the breathtaking moment of rhetorical clarity, to prevail.

So Romney’s people set out to mire Newt in negatives so he couldn’t and wouldn’t get out the positive message he needed to project to prevail. They tormented him with negative ads in Iowa. While the ads were generally accurate — the allegation about backing China’s forced-abortion policy aside — they presented only one side of the story and were stinging in their impact. Without funds, Gingrich couldn’t answer the negative ads. He fumed but watched, in impotence, as his vote share fell away.

In Spanish bullfights, the picadors torment the bull by sticking darts into his shoulders. Enraged, bleeding, frustrated and in pain, he lowers his head, snorts, paws the ground and charges straight at the matador, oblivious to the sword awaiting him behind the red cape. That’s about what Romney did to Gingrich in the January primaries.

Enter Sheldon Adelson, a Vegas billionaire who loves Newt. His affection runs so deep that he gave Gingrich the funds to destroy himself. With Adelson’s reported contribution of $5 million-plus, Newt had the weapons to fight back with his own negative ads. In a rage, he put them on TV and devoted his time in the debates to throwing accusations. RomneyCare. Abortion. Gay rights. The taxes Romney paid and the ones he advocated. Massachusetts moderate. No, make that Massachusetts liberal. They tripped off his tongue and his super-PAC put them on the air. Sheldon paid the bill. But Newt paid the price.
1589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Heavy Lifting in Congress on: February 01, 2012, 05:52:59 AM
Here is a discussion of some of the more influential congressional aides.  Interesting look at the people how get work done on the Hill.
1590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 29, 2012, 05:16:23 PM
That was part of the research I was referencing.
1591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 27, 2012, 02:55:08 PM
Two quick things: There is a major difference between measuring what you know and having an indication of how you think and learn.  ETS won't replace that important portion of the college degree.  And, as technology and information increases seemingly exponentially, thinking and learning will be more important than knowing. 

There is spurious research put out by any organization who produces research, whether the higher education "industry," media, think tanks or corporations.  Cherry picking examples of this spurious research to indicate the weakness of the "industry" is spurious itself.  I don't hate capitalism because tobacco industry scientists "proved" for years that smoking and cancer had no link. 
1592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Liberal arts education lends an edge in down economy on: January 26, 2012, 08:26:01 AM

Recent college graduates who as seniors scored highest on a standardized test to measure how well they think, reason and write — skills most associated with a liberal arts education — were far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest, says the survey, released Wednesday by the Social Science Research Council, an independent organization.

It found that students who had mastered the ability to think critically, reason analytically and write effectively by their senior year were:

•Three times less likely to be unemployed than those who hadn't (3.1% vs. 9.6%).
•Half as likely to be living with their parents (18% vs. 35%).

•Far less likely to have amassed credit card debt (37% vs. 51%).

Grades and other factors influence a student's chances of success, too. Graduates of colleges with tougher admissions standards tended to have fewer debts and were less likely to live with their parents, the study found.

A report this month by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which studies the labor-market value of college degrees, found that recent graduates with a bachelor's degree in architecture had the highest average jobless rate (13.9%, vs. 8.9% for all recent college graduates). Education and health care majors had some of the lowest jobless rates.

The findings released Wednesday "show something new and different," says lead author Richard Arum, a New York University professor. "Students would do well to appreciate the extent to which their development of general skills, not just majors and institution attended, is related to successful adult transitions."

The study is based on surveys of 925 graduates who as college seniors had taken the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that aims to measure student learning. In addition to showing greater success financially, high-scorers were more likely to read the news and discuss politics and be living with or married to a romantic partner they met in college.

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, an association that encourages its member schools to assess student learning, says findings suggest that the Collegiate Learning Assessment is "a pretty good measure of how people are going to do in life."

Arum also cautions that the study doesn't speak to whether high-scoring graduates picked up their skills while in college. It follows up on research last year showing that 36% of college graduates showed few or no gains in learning between their freshman and senior years.

"While their outcomes are not a product solely of their college experience … it's important for colleges to figure out a way to be more effective," he says.

1593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: January 25, 2012, 11:54:13 AM
The safe analogy is covered in the EFF amicus. 
1594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: January 25, 2012, 06:50:45 AM
Three preliminary things:
1.  This type of issue occurs increasingly, as technology increases.  The courts have decided wiretapping, cell phone, GPS (this week, of course).  Cases involving the TSA body scanners and other related devices will be taken to court in the future, I suspect.
2.  I have a bias toward civil liberties, so understand that as you read below.
3.  I have a busy morning, so this will be incomplete. 

One strategy issue: If I were her attorney, I wouldn't stop at the 5th Amendment self incrimination clause.  For example, the demand that Fricosu turn over an unencrypted computer, possibly, might be construed as an unreasonable search.  The FBI already literally had its hands on the device.  Its inability to decode it would seem to be an indictment on them. 

I like the EFF brief.  It recognizes the use of computers for a variety of jobs.  It notes the legitimate use of encryption, whether for business or for privacy concerns.

Moreover, the 5th protections begin immediately (see Miranda rights for evidence).  Speech, and as a likely extension written testimony (including the typing of a password) would seem to be a version of "witness." 

The long and short of it is that I find the EFF amicus brief to be compelling. 
1595  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Evolution of police cars on: January 24, 2012, 05:43:08 PM
Evolution of police cars:
1596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Recess appointment reactions on: January 24, 2012, 04:03:27 PM

Recess appointmet reactions by the Republicans in the Senate.  
1597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOTU other fun on: January 24, 2012, 12:08:12 PM
Or, if you'd rather drink to forget:
1598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOTU Bingo!!! on: January 24, 2012, 11:59:42 AM
Americans for Tax Reform have a bingo game set up for tonight.
1599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP MCs fear Newt on: January 24, 2012, 09:53:02 AM
Many Republicans in Congress fear Newt's electabilty.... and the impact he could have down ticket.

1600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / recusal questions on: January 24, 2012, 09:45:32 AM

Court’s Recusal Issue Still Unsettled

    * By Jessica Brady
    * Roll Call Staff
    * Jan. 24, 2012, Midnight

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Conservatives have called for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from the case considering the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

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The Supreme Court might have blocked a conservative activist from participating in oral arguments against the health care law, but stakeholders maintain it's not a setback in their larger push for Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself during deliberations this spring.

The high court rejected Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman's request to participate in oral arguments, although his amicus brief maintaining that Kagan should not participate in the case still stands.

Klayman, a conservative dynamo who also founded Judicial Watch, said Monday's decision "is not a setback." Ed Whelan, another conservative legal scholar, called the announcement "insignificant" to the broader dispute over whether Kagan should recuse herself.

Conservatives have pushed for Kagan to step aside when the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the health care reform law this spring. The newest justice on the court served as President Barack Obama's solicitor general while the law was being crafted in Congress in 2009 and 2010, and conservative legal observers maintain Kagan's role in the executive branch during that time prevents her from considering the law fairly in court.

Supreme Court justices decide on their own whether to recuse themselves in cases when their impartiality might be in question, and advocates of all political stripes gripe that the lack of protocol in deciding when to step back is a problem. Scrutiny over the issue has only grown in the months since it was announced the Supreme Court would take up the health care law, a highly political issue that will come before the court just as the 2012 campaign season is in full swing.

Klayman said Monday's decision suggests the high court is avoiding the thorny issue of conflicts of interest and whether justices should step aside in pending cases in which they might have a vested interest.

"Apparently, the Supreme Court thinks it will be embarrassed if it, in effect, allows the American people to speak and wants to quietly sweep the issue of its own ethics and respect for the law under the table," Klayman said in a release.

But Klayman vowed to press on, noting in an interview that he spoke with House Judiciary Committee staff about holding a hearing on the matter and calling for Chief Justice John Roberts and Kagan to testify. Roberts has maintained that justices should not recuse themselves from hearing cases unless absolutely necessary, and in a year-end report in December, he said, "I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted."

The conservative Klayman is not the only one who has taken issue with that stance. Congressional Democrats have maintained for months that Justice Clarence Thomas should step aside from participating in deliberations of the health care reform law because of his wife's tenure at the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative organization was an ardent opponent of the measure while it was working its way through Congress, and Democrats say Thomas will therefore not be an impartial arbiter of the case when the law's constitutionality is considered.

A group of 20 House Democrats led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) called on the Judicial Conference of the United States, the governing body for federal courts, to look into what they said were Thomas' ethical violations last year. The lawmakers charged that Thomas did not report his wife's income from the Heritage Foundation. The Judicial Conference has not responded.

A spokeswoman for House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, "We have been very active with trying to get information from DOJ regarding what role Justice Kagan may have played in discussions regarding Obamacare while she was solicitor general."

Smith's Senate counterpart, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has also looked into the matter and held a high-profile hearing last year on the issue of recusal featuring Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia.

Despite the efforts from legal observers and Members, the Supreme Court is not expected to bow to the political pressure. While Kagan abstained from Monday's decision on Freedom Watch's request, it's not considered to be a hint that she will likewise sit back when the health care law comes before the court.

"Whether it's the Congress or the courts of the executive branch, the American people don't feel like they have a voice," Klayman complained.
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