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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Everything You Need to Know About the CIA Torture Report in Under 4 Minutes"

More here.

Foreign Letters

The DVD provides the original short and an interview with the two who inspired this touching and well done film about two immigrant girls from different lands befriending each other.

"Happy Birthday to our Flexible, Popular Constitution"

The point is not about how courts should interpret the Constitution, but that as the composition of the People have changed, so too has their conception of the Constitution and what it means. In practice, among Americans, the meaning of the document itself changes and grows to accommodate changes in life and politics.
Good discussion (I inserted the link found in the original to a good reply to a supporter of "popular constitutionalism" vs. the courts, in part noting the courts continue to be influenced by just that) using the ACS sentiment that I share and reflects the general trend of Justice Souter's remarks posted yesterday. Originalism argues that it is the path to legitimacy. There is a compelling argument that the above view is the true path, especially in regard to self-government -- the Constitution gives "we the people" today the power and responsibility to interpret the document.
When the words were written, they unmistakably excluded African Americans, Asians, Native Americans and women, and they were intended to have that effect, evidently, for so long as the Framers’ posterity trod the earth. 
It is true enough that the "republic was white and male, by text, tradition, and canonical statute" in various respects, but putting aside the room left for advancement (a logical thing for the age of reason -- Jefferson as I recall even left open that his view on blacks would change with more data), this is a tad exaggerated. Women, e.g., was seen to have a role as "republican mothers" to educate children and serve as helpmates for their husbands. This would provide significance influence. Besides, non-slave women were counted fully for taxes and representatives, had rights comparable to men when arrested and so forth.  The room for advancement is a particular charm of the Constitution, a reason it retains popularity.

It is noted that the document has many offensive measures,* but they repeatedly reflected society at the time, while having others that the "outs" could use for their advancement. The link provided above, e.g., noted blacks as a whole did not share the beliefs of certain "progressives" in the early part of the 20th Century to downplay rights. Blacks had no immediate likelihood of gaining much political power and saw a need for things that needed to be protected and protected with a certain sacred character, from majority will.  Rights were not mere impediments, even if they might at times be used badly. The right (ha) thing to do was to convince society and/or certain institutions thereof (e.g., the courts) of how to do it.

It's useful to study history (I myself did formally and informally), including the original and historical understanding of various constitutional doctrines. This can often get you to liberal destinations, especially if you play your hand the right way (the prime example might be Brown v. Bd.) since there often isn't one clear path.  But, ultimately, we ourselves today have to apply things. This applies to religion (so debates over, e.g., what Jesus says about homosexuality to me are dubious on more than one level) and this too.


* It is noted, e.g., technically the Fugitive Slave Clause is still active since that the 13A does allow involuntary servitude for those duly convicted of a crime.  The 13A would guard against any sort of illegitimate slavery or involuntary servitude but "service or labor" might mean more.

BTW, looking at a pocket Constitution, it is spelled "Labour" though not in all locations.  Capitalization for some hyper-concerned types might matter given what that might imply. Noted a little while back, I believe, some of the capitalization in the Declaration of Independence is a result of editing done by the publishers. The original Constitution's phrasing was greatly influenced by the Committee of Style and Arrangement, whose edited draft largely given the lateness of the day is mostly what we have today. It is unclear how much the exact wording should matter as compared to the overall material they worked with but said wording is given special value. This includes splitting hairs on the importance of certain words and at times punctuation (e.g., the Tax Clause or the 2A). 

Is it also notable that the original text of this clause had British spelling?! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Badass lessons from Sen. Gillibrand

Good article. Sen. Gillibrand has the chops to be a good politician and one who I can believe in as a good public servant. Wonder where she will be in a few years.

Constitution Day

Text and commentary provided here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Booze Alert

I'm not much of a drinker of alcoholic beverages though enjoy them from time to time. One thing that I am finding enjoyable is mixing some red wine (white doesn't seem to work as well) with fruit juice. The $2.99 Trader Joe's is pretty good for this purpose.

Sports Monday (Marlins Screw Mets for Nth Time Edition)

Colts blew it -- not quite as badly as the Mets, but they were on the way to at least going up 10 with five minutes to go, but turnover, score etc.  Mets young ace strikes out eight to start game, tying MLB record, but pitcher gets hit. Only score two, DeGrom gives up three in seventh, but Mets tie and go ahead. Only to blow it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Democratic Shift in the Lower Courts

Though the Obama administration was well on its way to leaving a lasting liberal legacy on the federal bench before Senate Democrats curbed the filibuster’s power, the rules change sped up the confirmation process. Today, the number of circuit judges appointed by Republican presidents is 77, compared with 95 by Democratic presidents, according to statistics kept by Russell R. Wheeler of the Brookings Institution.
A NYT article provides some analysis of the swing in the federal courts after six years of a Democratic President, perhaps helped by the graying of judges from twelve years of Reagan/Bush.

In part, it noted that though Obama spend less time and capital early on, hard Republican opposition did lead to more liberal picks and additional effort. The biggest move, something still sadly mostly inside baseball, was the end of the filibuster for executive appointments. Something many probably would have been surprised was in place and likely opposed to overall. Who knows as to the latter. The article does show the importance of those in power, both in the Senate and White House, in respect to the personnel on the federal courts.  And, since that is surely not fungible....

I have been talking about this online (and in a couple letters to the editors) at least since the early days of the Bush Administration. It is somewhat reassuring to watch things swing though it does mean eventually it will swing back.  How that will work out might be the rub. Anyway, putting aside the importance of retaining the Senate, this underlines that the courts do have some electoral accountability.  We vote for those who put them in. This provides an important influence on how the law develops long term. In his Cooper Union speech Lincoln said this:
When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?
It is more reasonable to assume that Republicans would have put in new judges who would so reconsider.  The flexibility of the situation in this and other areas was a major reason why the slave power (to use the Republicans' term) was so concerned about the new party gaining power. The meaning of the Constitution and the law in general appeared rather clear to both sides. The ultimate result depended and depends on who is there to apply it. 

"Living" Constitutionalism indeed.

SF Resolution AGAINST Sex Specific Abortion Bans

Good article, the resolution specifically concerned about how they "encourage racial profiling of women by some medical providers." A report show such bans often rest on myths. Ultimately, what is next? Bans on not marrying people because of their race? The reproductive liberty choice is the woman's, even if they make a "bad" one. But, a lot wrong here.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunlight Jr. [spoiler]

As noted in this review, did catch it on cable. Hard to watch this downbeat film of a couple living on the margins. Both are flawed, but truly seem to care for each other. That's something, down to the last. Did ff some, but Naomi Watts (revealing more than emotions) and Matt Dillon both are very good. A label is a spoiler -- that was done well too.

Sports Sunday

Mets continue to struggle against elite team; NYG struggle against good team with back-up QB by beating themselves.  Jets dominating GB early.  Upset of 1 P.M. -- Browns over Saints. Update: NYJ turnover near goal line, GB drive length of field & keep scoring. Stop scoring & NYJ can't manage anything. NYJ blow game real good. KC 0-2. Nothing much else.

Update: SF blew a 17-0 lead on SNF vs Bears, so there's that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Need a Fair and Consistent Process To Deal With Domestic Violence etc. in Sports

A person here cynically notes unless you are caught on tape, punishment for domestic violence is liable to rest on how good of a player you are. I wonder how that applies to Adrian Peterson. I provided the below (here somewhat edited) as a comment.

Reference is made that the NFL is a violent game and this will be translated. Sure. And, war is a violent thing & this will be translated. I also think being a prison guard is likely to screw up with many a brain.  In all cases, the violence is being applied in a more organized and tempered way than might be the case otherwise, plus "everyone" is not going to just go crazy or beat their spouses etc.  Still, statistically, there is likely to more of a problem, particularly given the sort of person sought out here.

But, again, there are lines to be drawn. I think it’s possible, at least likely, to have some or even all of these things and be able set certain boundaries. No, one person is not to blame here writ large.  But, [reference to firing the commissioner] he’s representative and like firing a manager on a team doing bad, it can send a message to all & be a symbol for the future. So, there is an argument to fire a commissioner etc. here. More so if he lied or otherwise is shown to do something to particularly warrant it.

I know few care as to Ray Rice specifically, but am wary about the arbitrary nature of the punishments here as a matter of simple due process. Some video is found. It looks “obvious” that the person is guilty. But, in a neutral court of law, the person gets a mild penalty. The pressure leads, again somewhat arbitrarily, to the person being removed from the team and kept out of football indefinitely. There needs to be a clear system set up here with some safeguards. One can compare A-Rod and him playing as the matter was appealed. The fact some around here [cite to a hobbyhorse of a LGM contributor] him put him out as some sort of victim of the process is notable.

Or, is it really just that they don’t like the drug policy and due process isn’t really the point? I think the latter myself is probably the case for some. So, set out wrongs (domestic violence, harm to children, whatever), a process — even if criminal prosecution is not obtained in various cases — to follow & apply it consistently.

Lucy and the Football Again?

I expected the Mets, once two big contracts were off the books, to sign at least one more player last off season. But, with a bit of late season life, they have a real shot at the almost .500 record I said beforehand would do it. With multiple young players showing a bright future, somewhat optimistic. Time shows warrants to be guarded. But ...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Off the Sidelines

I supported her in '09 and time has shown Sen. Gillibrand is an asset to the state and Senate. Picked up her new autobiography/advice to women to "raise your voice, change the world," having it personally signed in the process. It is an engaging read, including to get a feel on her life and work. A somewhat surprising number of "fucks." It focuses on women, but as the blurb from Connie Britton says, men should read it too. Much of its lessons, let's say on mentors/sponsors, are general along with focus on women specifically.

Proposed Amendment to 1A Fails

See here.  As noted in comments, it was done via a filibuster, even though a straight up/down vote would likely fail too given the supermajority requirement (here actually explicitly stated).  Another person, who apparently is some sort of legislative power expert given other writings, first got the point wrong. Then, fatuously wondered why. As if it isn't clear that it is a way to block without actually having clear responsibility.  Or, maybe they are just so used to doing it that way. Opposed filibuster reform too. Shocker that.