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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reporting Risks: Unequal Time For Antivaxxers

Mistermix points us to a nice Times article with this excellent chart showing relative media coverage of autism risks (bigger version at the link):

As the mixster observes:

It turns out that the two risks that parents can possibly control, based on real science, are avoiding prenatal stress and early elective C-sections. The non-risk that’s the talk of the town is vaccination.

Naturally.  We hear more about (and spend more on) terrorism risk than asteroids, too.  And people are more afraid of air travel than getting into a car.

I'm not sure the asymmetry is for the same reasons in each case.  I mean, with immunization and flying, there seems to be a component involving choice and a sense of empowerment.  But maybe it's similar with asteroids vs terrorists, too, dunno.

Regardless, the media only feeds into that, which does a disservice to us all.  It's unconscionable.

ntodd

March 30, 2014 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Some Perspective For Duck Dynasts And Friends

First, Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower:

Convinced they had God on their side, magistrates from both [Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay] colonies showed no qualms about clamping down on dissent of any kind.  In the years ahead, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were cast out of Massachusetts Bay for espousing unorthodox views, and in 1645 Bradford angrily opposed an attempt to institute religious tolerance in Plymouth.  Soon after, the Quakers, who began arriving in New England in 1655, were persectured with a vehemence that climaxed with the hanging of four men and women on Boston Common between 1659 and 1661.

It was the Puritans who led the way in persecuting the Quakers, but the Pilgrims were more than willing to follow along.  As a Quaker sympathizer acidly wrote, the "Plymouth-saddle is on the Bay horse," and in 1660 Isaac Robinson, son of the late pastor John Robinson, was disenfranchised for advocating a policy of moderation to the Quakers.

A millionaire on hiatus?  Try being a Quaker in Puritan Massachussets in the 1650s.  Good times:

From 1656 through 1661, the Massachusetts Bay Colony experienced an “invasion” of Quaker missionaries, who were not deterred by the increasingly severe punishments enacted and inflicted by the colonial authorities. In October 1659, two (William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson) were hanged at Boston; in June 1660, Mary Dyar (or Dyer) became the third; in March 1661, William Leddra became the fourth (and last) to suffer capital punishment or “martyrdom” for their Quaker beliefs.

While members of the Society of Friends rushed to Massachusetts to test the harsh sentences under the newly enacted laws, other Friends in England simultaneously petitioned Parliament and the newly restored king for relief from this official persecution. When the Massachusetts General Court sent a petition to King Charles II explaining and defending their actions, Edward Burrough, a leading Quaker writer and controversialist, answered it with [a 32-page publication entitled A Declaration of the Sad and Great Persecution and Martyrdom of the People of God, called Quakers, in New-England, for the Worshipping of God]. Its first part is a point-bypoint refutation of the Massachusetts claims; its second part is a detailed list of the punishments, cruelties, and indignities suffered by Friends at the hands of the colonial authorities; its third section is a narrative description of the three executions of 1659 and 1660, including the public statements of the condemned. 

Burrough’s publication (and a subsequent audience with the king) led to Charles’ issuance of an order halting the punishments in the fall of 1661, although they were resumed, in only slightly less severe form, the following year.

The highlights:

  • 22 have been Banished upon pain of Death.
  • 03 have been M A R T Y R E D .
  • 03 have had their Right-Ears cut.
  • 01 hath been burned in the Hand with the letter H
  • 31 Persons have received 650 Stripes.
  • 01 was beat while his Body was like a jelly.

Whereof

  • Several were beat with Pitched Ropes.
  • Five Appeals made by them to England, were denied by the Rulers of Boston.
  • One thousand fourty four pounds worth of Goods hath been taken from them (being poor men) for meeting together in the fear of the Lord, and for keeping the Commands of Christ.
  • One now lyeth in Iron-fetters, condemned to dye.

This is just a Quakerly way of saying STFU.

ntodd

December 20, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

KKKan We Impeach Him?

Hoodie wearing white guys say what?

A Maryland Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group has been given permission to meet in a county government building to plan the impeachment of Barack Obama for being an “illegal president.”

The Cecil Whig reported on Wednesday that the Confederate White Knights had reserved the Elk Room in the Cecil County Government Building on Dec. 20.

“Barack Hussein Obama is an illegal president,” Imperial Wizard Richard Preston told the paper. “He needs to be removed from office. We also want ‘Obamacare’ shut down. It’s against citizen’s rights.”

“On top of that, we want the laws toughened on immigration,” the KKK leader continued. “We’re flooded with illegal immigrants and our people can’t find jobs.”

The group has created an impeachment petition which will be circulated at the meeting.

Oh yes, I see impeachment's chances improving by leaps and bounds...

ntodd

December 19, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Actually, Nobody Will Sign Up For Obamacare

dKos:

First: if Congress had intended the president sign up for insurance via the exchanges, they should have made that part of the law like they did Grassley's amendment--now section 1312(d)(3)(D)--which required legislators to do so.

Second: the mandate says everyone has to be covered by somebody, which Obama is through his existing plan, just like Gretchen Carlson.

Third: there is no Obamacare to sign up for, as coverage is still provided by the same insurers we already had.

Lying assholes.

ntodd

December 17, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Monday, December 16, 2013

He Forgot To Compare Obamacare To Slavery, The Inquisition, And Dentists

Yes, we got that:

North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho (R) tweeted Sunday that he believes the Affordable Care Act ranks as worse than the worst atrocities of the past century.

The dentist and Finance Committee Co-Chair claimed:

Justice Robert's pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined.

After several other Twitter users criticized his comment, Rucho posted a follow-upobservation: “Those that tweeted, put your thinking caps back on: ‘The PEN is mightier than the SWORD.’ Edward Bulwar-Lytton,1839. But surely you knew that.”

I'm pretty sure people weren't ignorant of, nor objecting to, the allusion but rather the comparison of improving healthcare access for millions of Americans to, like, some kinda truly awful stuff that killed significantly more than a few people.  But surely you knew that.

ntodd

December 16, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

Breaking news: scientists have just cloned some DNA found in what is purported to be Jesus' tomb and have reconstructed his actual appearance:

Prepare ye the way Of The Lord, bitches!

ntodd

PS--I prefer the original Broadway version--movie's fine, but still.  Sadly, it doesn't appear to be available on YouTube.

December 12, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keep Your Dead Hands Off Our Body Politic

[N]o society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation.

 - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789

I guess Jefferson was right so far as he went, but I wouldn't put too much stock in his constitutional ideas any more than I would James Madison's or Alexander Hamilton's or Patrick Henry's.  You know, my usual caveats on all that.

Still, I find it an interesting thing to consider and debate, particularly when the whole Dead Hand problem is raised by folks in the libertarian/anarchist/voluntaryist camp ("I never signed the social contract!").  Should we ever be bound by the past, and can we bind future generations to what we decide?

Short answer: of course, happens all the time whether we like it or not.  

Certainly we have, or at lease ought, to be cognizant of our place in the timestream.  Yet I cannot live completely thinking about the future--if I chop down these trees to build/heat my home, that necessarily changes the world for my kids, but I need to survive in the here and now.  And I cannot live without dealing with what came before--somebody planted birches and pines instead of maples on my land, so if I want syrup I have to buy from the farm down the road or chop down my trees and replant with maple.  Life's a drag that way.

Similarly, we have to deal with the political realities of the time and system we've been born into.  And yet  in our Republic we have ostensibly enjoy popular sovereignty and always have a chance to re-ratify our form of governance.  Each generation--if I might glibly oversimplify--makes a collective decision to accept the Constitution, precedent, statute, etc.  

We can take it all completely as is.  We can amend it.  We can call a convention to change it outright.   We can work within the system electorally to tweak the statutory regime.  We can interpret law through the modern lens of practical experience and understanding of the letter and spirit of our framing document.  We can rebel against the entire machine in myriad ways.

Looking at our founding generation, we see plenty of examples of the living overcoming that dead hand:

  • within the British parliamentary system, asserting their rights and resisting unjust laws until they were repealed (even without representation);
  • exercising the right to rebellion (most people recall that part);
  • forming not one, not two, but really three different frames of government (a de facto Congress, then Articles of Confederation, and finally the Constitution);
  • fixing structural issues through amendment (the Bill of Rights and a couple other amendments);
  • electorally overthrowing a regime within a generation (the Revolution of 1800);
  • evolving constitutional interpretation (like Madison and the Second Bank).

But if all those methods are unsatisfactory, one could go the route Jefferson mused about to Madison:

Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.--It may be said that the succeeding generation exercising in fact the power of repeal, this leaves them as free as if the constitution or law has been expressly limited to 19 years only.

In the first place, this objection admits the right, in proposing an equivalent. But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be indeed if every form of government were so perfectly contrived that the will of the majority could always be obtained fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form.

The people cannot assemble themselves. Their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents: and other impediments arise so as to prove to every practical man that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.

Those objections to the right of repeal are not to be dismissed out of hand, but it seems that Jefferson then suggests there is no possibility ever of popular sovereignty or development of a Constitution.  I think that was disproved by Philadelphia in the first place, so I tend to agree Thomas Paine over his fanciful view of constitutionalism:

It requires but a very small glance of thought to perceive that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed; and the non-repealing passes for consent.

And while Madison had a certain investment in such charters and the Framers' understanding, I think he was more on track than Jefferson on the longevity--and need for it--of constitutions.  If I might extrapolate a bit from something he wrote during the controversy over Washington's neutrality proclamation:

The attempt to shuffle off the Treaty altogether by quibbling on Vattel is equally contemptible for the meanness & folly of it. If a change of Govt is an absolution from public engagements, why not from those of a domestic as well as of a foreign nature; and what then becomes of public debts &c &c. In fact, the doctrine would perpetuate every existing Despotism, by involving in a reform of the Govt a destruction of the social pact, an annihilation of property, and a compleat establishment of the state of Nature. What most surprises me is, that such a proposition shd. have been discussed.

As an aside, I love the Vattel reference, for obvious reasons.  Anyway, the larger point is that if we can just discard agreements--whether they be treaties or constitutions--just because they were made in the past between different governments or people, really all liberty is destroyed.

And even if we are in a "state of Nature", you'd still have people around you, unless you can go to the far side of the Moon or some place where you have no impact on others and they have none on you.  Otherwise, everything will involve interaction at some point and naturally is going to be a collective issue, whether it be in a family, small hunter-gather unit, or larger society.

But yeah, one option is, certainly, for the current generation(s) to abolish our extant laws or entire system of government, either automagically every so often or by explicit act of repeal.  Still, do we need to reinvent the wheel?  In science and technology, we're always building on previous work and updating our understanding of things, so why not in society and government?  Heck, even our human brains are made up of multiple evolutionary layers--we didn't get rid of our most primitive components but added new features over time (which could, arguably, be the problem?).

If the anti-statists could marshal compelling arguments to sway enough people, we'd get rid of government and all live in Utopia.  But no matter what, society is a collective thing, and it's a darn shame that you're absolutely right but nobody else believes you.  Don't have to like it, but now you have to figure out what to do practically.  I think the constitution is extremely imperfect myself.  I also wish I could go to Jupiter.

So, it's true that no constitution or law will last forever.  They all rely on the living to continue, and they will be changed or repealed or what have you at some point.  I don't think Jefferson was really offering a prescription or a desire to prohibit a constitution's binding future generations, but rather a simple philosophical observation and prediction that at some point people will tired of brushing off the cobwebs and create something new and different when they find the old regime inappropriate.  The Dead Hand doesn't so much lock us into something as saving us a bit of work by giving us the starting point.

ntodd

November 13, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Things I've Learned Today

A "gun free zone" is only "technically" free of guns, which doesn't explain how armed security guards didn't stop the Navy shooter.  I'm guessing he was like Neo in the Matrix.

Clinton's first term began in 1992.  Apparently the Constitution was suspended and we implemented a parliamentary system wherein Bush I called for early elections.

What did you learn today?

ntodd

September 19, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Anarchy! Whiskey! Sexy!

Loomis:

James Scott is a great writer and scholar. But I’m not surprised that he would also inspire conservatives. Anarchism does tremendous intellectual work for conservatism, especially at its libertarian end. Anarchism is ultimately a troubled ideology with no possibility of ever achieving meaningful change in society. The reason for that is that while everyday humans can create behavioral changes, it takes the state to codify and enforce those changes and always has. We might all think gays are the equal of heterosexuals in 2013. But it’s only in 13 or so states that our beliefs on that front have any legal meaning at all. I guess in an anarchist paradise we will all come to accept other people as they are. In the real world, hate and intolerance reign supreme and must be controlled through legal means.

The state is central to any functioning society and undercutting the state, whether by Scott or anyone else, ultimately serves a conservative project more effectively than any anarchist project because one has access to power and the other never will. So conservatives can point to Seeing Like a State and talk about state failures with all sorts of concrete examples. They can use that to reject state intervention anywhere they want. It’s high modernism! It’s state oppression! Look at the people killed in Soviet collectivization! Brasilia! Tanzanian villagization!

The book is brilliant and demonstrates the perils of the outer limits of state control over the citizenry. The downside of Seeing Like a State is that it’s highly incomplete as a critique of the state. Scott picks out the worst possible actions of centralized states and ignores the many necessary and wonderful things that states accomplish by serving as a way for citizens to change the structure of their society and have that backed up with the force of law. In other words, no state, no anti-lynching laws. This doesn’t mean the state is perfect. Obviously. But it does mean it is absolutely necessary to positive and concrete change that transforms society.

Of course conservatives are misreading Scott and taking from it what they want. But who cares? They don’t. Conservatives has intentionally misread Adam Smith and James Madison for 200 years. Why would they not intentionally misread James Scott?

Also, too.

ntodd

PS--Smith, Madison.

September 13, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, August 23, 2013

"But I Never Signed A Social Contract!" And Other Childish Whining

Jebus (via Tommy Stewart):

A couple spent hundreds of hours over four months plotting to abduct, torture and kill Las Vegas police officers as a way to attract attention to their anti-authority "sovereign citizens" movement, police said.

David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman attended training sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy, shopped for guns, found a vacant house and rigged it to bind captives to cross beams during interrogation, and recorded videos to explain their actions and why officers had to die.
...

"We need to arrest the police and take them to our jail and put them in a cell and put them on trial in a people's court," Brutsche said July 9, according to the arrest report. "If we run into the position that they resist, then we need to kill them."

During a tour of gun stores the next day, Brutsche said that what they were planning was going to be big, "and that they would really get a large following once they started because of the publicity," the report said.

Police said that when Brutsche was arrested, he denied that police had authority to hold him.

SMH.  Love that last bit in particular.  Anyway, it's fairly typical "reasoning" I see coming from anarchist/libertarian/voluntarists: I don't dig rules, man, because they carry a "threat of violence" so I'll engage in some actual violence (and other things that infringe on other people's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness).

Coincidentally, yesterday a libertarian responded to a year-old tweet of mine.  The usual bullshit about how the Constitution and law is bad because FREEDOM, denied he benefits from the social contract, and besides he never signed it anyway, arglebargle.

Yeah, me neither.  I also never signed an agreement to be bound by the law of gravity, to require oxygen and food so I might live, etc.  A bunch of shit happens in real life whether I like it or not, turns out.  Something that even our toddler is learning.

So I was told that 99.9% of governments have failed, although it's a puzzle how we still have government pretty much everywhere (is this like saying most Pritskys have died, but there are still Pritskys?).  Yet when I ask for an example of successful anarchies/free markets (beyond Somalia, which mysteriously doesn't count), I get none and am smugly told to read some history and economics (which is funny since I've also been scolded by others of the same ilk that I read too much).

Anyway, fine, go ahead and opt out.  But if you have a right to defend your liberty however you choose, and the rest of us choose to defend ourselves by forming government, you will lose when we inevitably come into conflict.  All choices have consequences, and life is brutish, innit?

ntodd

August 23, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, February 01, 2013

Indeed, I Want To Shoot You In The Head - Part The Second (Phoning It In)

When I was actively arguing with people of the anarchist/libertarian/voluntaryist ilk, I was very hot to write a series of posts refuting their worldview and political philosophy.  Since pretty much every one of those folks have defriended me on Facebook, I admit my motivation has evaporated and have since found more fun in the quagmire known as the 2nd Amendment (yes, confrontation seeks me out).

While this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, an old piece by David Atkins provides a crystal seed for what I'd intended to post in my second installment.  I had way more to discuss in my notes, and maybe I'll get to all of it some day, but for now I'll let that link speak for me, at least until somebody says something patently stupid in rebuttal.

ntodd

February 1, 2013 in Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Colbert Exercises His First On The Second

Funny shit:

“Like anybody setting up a new government, the founders added a clause that said, ‘If you don’t like what we’re doing, feel free to shoot us.’”

“The Second Amendment is like the ultimate veto,” he continued. “It’s almost like a Constitutional pre-nup.”

All of it, funny, funny shit.

ntodd

January 18, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

They Seem To Have Forgot That They Are In Rebellion

Burke, August, 1776:

I do not know how to wish success to those whose Victory is to separate from us a large and noble part of our Empire. Still less do I wish success to injustice, oppression and absurdity.

I'm kinda the same way about threats to secede, although I'm specifically torn between perpetual Union and Good Fucking Riddance.

ntodd

PS--Really, you're gonna go to war over the 2nd Amendment, but not, say...the 4th, or the 1st?  Then what good are the fucking guns if they only protect themselves and not the rest of our constitutional rights?

January 12, 2013 in And Fuck..., Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Going Out In A Blaze Of Craycray

Fucked up:

INTERVIEWER: The attention-getter is saying that you're going to shoot some people.

YEAGER: Right.

INTERVIEWER: And when I hear you, I'm thinking, if someone comes to confiscate guns at your house, you're going to open fire on them?

YEAGER: Yes, yes.

Look, dude's straight up cray.  Doesn't understand a damned thing about the Constitution or Obama's actual powers, political reality, or anything.  He's just a dangerous whackaloon with lots of bullshit ricocheting around in his dystopian fantasy frenzied brain.  Which might be why his carry permit was suspended by his State (not the Feds).

But it's interesting that he threatens anybody who will come to take his guns.  Because that worked out really well for folks at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

Apropos of nothing, the first US Marshall to die in the line of duty lost his life on this date:

On January 11, 1794, Marshal Forsyth, accompanied by two of his deputies, went to the house of a Mrs. Dixon to serve a civil court process on two brothers, Beverly and William Allen. Beverly Allen, a former Methodist minister from South Carolina, saw the Marshal approaching, so he hid in a room on the second floor of the house. When Forsyth knocked on the door of the room, Allen fired his pistol at the direction of the knocking. The ball hit Forsyth in the head, killing him instantly. He was the first of over 200 Marshals arid Deputies killed in the line of duty. Although Forsyth's Deputies arrested the killer, Allen later managed to escape. He was never recaptured.

Forsyth, 40 years old at the time of his murder, left a widow and two sons. One of the boys, John, became governor of Georgia and, later, US. Minister to Spain. While at the latter post, he negotiated the treaty acceding Florida to the United States. John Forsyth also served as Secretary of State under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.  

But, you know, go ahead and claim you're a law-abiding citizen in the same breath as threatening to kill officers enforcing the (completely hypothetical, nahgahhappah) law.

ntodd

January 11, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Too Much Whiskey, Not Enough Perspective

The other day I noted the silly petition to have Sen Feinstein tried for treason because she's re-introducing the Assault Weapons Ban.  The right to petition is as American as believing oneself to be as badassed as Dirty Harry, and that's totally cool, but I do wish people understood basic shit about the rule of law and our Constitution.  

Our Framers were informed by the experience of English kings calling criticism and other actions of a free people 'treason', so they were very explicit about what that crime entails (the only specific crime mentioned):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

I'm sure there are folks who do really view the AWB as "weakening" the 2nd Amendment and thus is an act of war or adhering to enemies or providing aid and comfort of somesuch nonsense.  But, you know, that's just facially wrong.

Guess what would be treasonous (or at least criminal) if people followed through on their bravado?  2nd Amendment remedies.  Armed rebellion.  Killing people

Again, I do see there's an individual right to keep and bear arms.  Yet it has a natural limit, is meant to be regulated, and was not intended to enable revolution.

Consider once more the Whiskey Rebellion (using Wikipedia for expediency):

The Washington administration's suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion met with widespread popular approval.[99] The episode demonstrated the new national government had the willingness and ability to suppress violent resistance to its laws. It was therefore viewed by the Washington administration as a success, a view that has generally been endorsed by historians.[100] The Washington administration and its supporters usually did not mention, however, that the whiskey excise remained difficult to collect, and that many westerners continued to refuse to pay the tax.[28] The events contributed to the formation of political parties in the United States, a process already underway.[101] The whiskey tax was repealed after Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party, which opposed theFederalist Party of Hamilton and Washington, came to power in 1800.[102]

The Rebellion raised the question of what kinds of protests were permissible under the new Constitution. Legal historian Christian G. Fritz argued, even after ratification of the Constitution, there was not yet a consensus about sovereignty in the United States. Federalists believed the government was sovereign because it had been established by the people, so radical protest actions, which were permissible during the American Revolution, were no longer legitimate. But the Whiskey Rebels and their defenders believed the Revolution had established the people as a "collective sovereign", and the people had the collective right to change or challenge the government through extraconstitutional means.[103]

Historian Steven Boyd argued that the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion prompted anti-Federalist westerners to finally accept the Constitution, and to seek change by voting for Republicans rather than resisting the government. Federalists, for their part, came to accept that the people could play a greater role in governance. Although Federalists would attempt to restrict speech critical of the government with the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, after the Whiskey Rebellion, says Boyd, Federalists no longer challenged thefreedom of assembly and the right to petition.[104]

With one minor exception, violent resistance in the US has failed miserably, while non-violent action has achieved significant victories through various methods of civil disobedience and adept use of the political system.  That's the point: we have a form of popular government in which the People can already exercise their power through our democratic mechanisms and republican structure.  

Calls for rebellion by people who don't like the outcome of elections, the legislative process and/or judicial review come from ignorance, not patriotism.  1776 (or more accurately, 1775) happened because Americans had no voice in their government.  The situtation is quite different today and there is no cause to threaten killing your fellow citizens over policy disagreements.  THAT is pretty fucking treasonous.

ntodd

January 10, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Why Settle For Gold When Platinum Will Do?

Kevin:

First, who would have standing to sue? I don't know the answer to that, but I think there are plenty of possibilities, John Boehner at the top of the list. Second, a number of people have suggested that judges often don't look at legislative intent, so the fact that this is based on a loophole wouldn't be a problem. I doubt that. It's one thing not to dive deeply into legislative history, but it's quite another to allow the president to take a dramatic action that's plainly, obviously, 180 degrees away from the intent of the law.

1) I'll see your Boehner and raise it with Raines v Byrd (1997).

2) Intent?  Kevin wrote this earlier:

[A]s a lawyer friend emailed to me this morning, "bullion coins are generally understood by other statutes within the US Code to be coins with a value effectively equal to the market value of the precious metal bullion in them. The trillion dollar coin is not that."

This is one of the problems with the argument that the "plain text" of the law allows the Treasury Secretary to mint a platinum coin in any denomination, even a trillion dollars: it's only plain if you rip a single sentence out of the context of the rest of the statute. But I don't think that's how the Supreme Court looks at things. They routinely consider the meaning of individual parts of bills within the context of the entire statute (as well as other relevant statutes). And in this case, the rest of the statute, at the very least, makes that meaning unsettled. 

Except this is the entirety of what the statute says about platinum coins:

The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications [how much platinum?], designs [how big?], varieties [different heads for each debt ceiling crisis?], quantities [one coin or two], denominations [one dollar or a trillion?], and inscriptions [E Pluribus Unum or Take This Debt Ceiling And Shove It?] as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

So first off, the Treasury could issue a proof coin, and proof is just a descriptive quality of coinage that is struck with a special die, usually more than once, and is wicked shiny and such.  Yes, proof coins are generally valued highly because of the special minting process and are intended for investors and coin collectors (as is bullion), but it's odd that in the platinum coin section Congress forgot to include words such as these:

all coins minted under this subsection shall be considered to be numismatic items. [regarding silver coins minted under subsection e]

And:

 all coins minted under this subsection shall be considered to be numismatic items. [regarding gold coins minted under subsection i]

And:

Each bullion coin issued under this subsection shall be sold by the Secretary at a price that is equal to or greater than the sum of—

(A) the face value of the coins; and
(B) the cost of designing and issuing the coins (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses, marketing, and shipping). [regarding $10 gold First Spouse coins under subsection o] 

What's more:

(h) The coins issued under this title shall be legal tender as provided in section 5103 of this title.

So the platinum coin is not explicitly a collector's item, nor is it required to be sold at any particular price, and it is considered legal tender.  It's not the Treasury's fault that Congress wrote plain language they did not intend and Congress now intends to skullfuck Treasury's ability to pay the bills that Congress has incurred.  Mint the fucking thing.

ntodd

January 9, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Money's Still Money

Congress shall have the Power To...coin Money, regulate the Value thereof...

 - US Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Matt Y:

The National Republican Campaign Committee...is out there warning that "The amount of platinum needed to mint a coin worth $1 trillion would sink the Titanic."

This is total nonsense. If you wanted to mint a platinum coin worth $1 trillion then you would need to gather up $1 trillion worth of platinum and fabricate a coin out of it. But saying that the government would need a lot of platinum is like saying a $100 bill needs to have 100 times as much cotton in it as a $1 bill. 

Yeah, duh.  

Consider the same section of the US Code that empowers the Treasury to mint platinum coins says it can also issue a "five dollar gold coin that is 16.5 millimeters in diameter, weighs 3.393 grams, and contains one-tenth troy ounce of fine gold."  5 dollars.  While 1/10 troy oz is worth today...165 bucks and change.  Weird that we don't see any of these in circ right now.

In 1997, the 105th Congress passed a law that allowed for dollar coins "golden in color".  Those Sacagawea coins are worth a whole 6.2 cents melted down.

In other words, the value of the metals is completely dissociated from the value of the money.  Money is an artifice, whether it's legal tender by fiat, based on precious substances or made from polished shells.  Either the NRCC doesn't know that and is therefore incredibly ignorant of important things, demonstrating the GOP is not competent to actually govern, or it knows it and the GOP is therefore a bunch of liars who are not competent to actually govern.  You know, the usual dichotomoy (or non-mutually-exclusive characteristics).

ntodd

PS--The Coinage Act of 1792 established the Mint (I've been to the one in Philly with NToddsPa, which is right by the Free Quaker Meeting House we also visited).  The Act specified various coinage denominations and compositions, and essentially established a standard, mathematical value of gold as 1oz = ~20 bucks.

PPS--Tribe says: "It’s also quite clear that the minting of such a coin couldn’t be challenged; I don’t see who would have standing."  Didn't I say that?

January 9, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Our Native Originalism Is The Best

True to form, the House GOP kicks off the 113th Congress with lots of laughable bills, including one sponsored by Steve King that is clearly an unconstitutional redefinition of birthright citizenship.  It's clearly based on the same kind of tortured "logic" and "reading" of "history" and "precedent" as are the usual attacks on Obama's eligibility for the office he just officially was re-elected to.

Besides the plain English of the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause, there's also the fascinating Senate debate of May 30, 1866, and clear decisions in Elk v Wilkins and US v Wong Kim Ark.  I won't do my usual TLDR excerpting, but read all that without cherrypicking and you cannot come away with any honest interpretation other than the obvious: born here, you're a US citizen.  Period.  Full stop.  The.  End.

I did want to highlight just one section of the Senate debate delivered by John Conness, an Irishman representing California:

The proposition before us, I will say, Mr. President, relates simply in that respect to the children begotten of Chinese parents in California, and it is proposed to declare that they shall be citizens. We have declared that by law; now it is proposed to incorporate the same provision in the fundamental instrument of the nation. I am in favor of doing so. I voted for the proposition to declare that the children of all parentage whatever, born in California, should be regarded and treated as citizens of the United States, entitled to equal civil rights with other citizens of the United States.
...

Now, then, I beg the honorable Senator from Pennsylvania, though it may be very good capital in an electioneering campaign to declaim against the Chinese, not to give himself any trouble about the Chinese, but to confine himself entirely to the injurious effects of this provision upon the encouragement of a Gypsy invasion of Pennsylvania. I had never heard myself of the invasion of Pennsylvania by Gypsies. I do not know, and I do not know that the honorable Senator can tell us, how many Gypsies the census shows to be within the State of Pennsylvania. The only invasion of Pennsylvania within my recollection was an invasion very much worse and more disastrous to the State, and more to be feared and more feared, than that of Gypsies. It was an invasion of rebels, which this amendment, if Iunderstand it aright, is intended to guard against and to prevent the recurrence of.
...
But why all this talk about Gypsies and Chinese? I have lived in the United States for now many a year, and really I have heard more about Gypsies within the last two or three months than I have heard before in my life. It cannot be because they have increased so much of late. It cannot be because they have been felt to be particularly oppressive in this or that locality. It must be that the Gypsy element is to be added to our political agitation, so that hereafter the Negro alone shall not claim our entire attention.

Here is a simple declaration that a score or a few score of human beings born in the United States shall be regarded as citizens of the United States, entitled to civil rights, to the right of equal defense, to the right of equal punishment for crime with other citizens; and that such a provision should be deprecated by any person having or claiming to have a high humanity passes all my understanding and comprehension.

Which nicely leads to legal scholar Garrett Epps:

It is...ahistorical to suggest that the Framers did not foresee the legal and social characteristics of what we today call "illegal" or "undocumented" immigrants. They did; and they rather categorically stated that these characteristics—ineligibility for citizenship, unacceptability as members of the body politic, isolation from American culture and systematic evasion of American law—would not constitute exceptions to the Amendment‘s grant of birthright citizenship.
...
Each generation imagines that its problems are different from those of all who have come before. We have no idea what America will look like in 2110; but we do know that the United States of 1866 survived to become the United States of 2010. It seems, then, that the changes they faced were less wrenching than those we face. They were guaranteed a happy ending; it is right there in the history textbook.

But that is a cast of mind, not a historical conclusion. America in 1866 was a nation as profoundly transformed by immigration as it is in 2010. Issues of language, culture, religion, social mores and other aspects of the American identity were as salient then as they were now. We would be making a profound historical error to imagine that the generation that framed the Clause was unaware that migration was a transformative and often destabilizing force in American society.
...
Further, the ongoing debate about assimilation of new immigrant populations—along with persistent fears that whichever group is entering the U.S. most recently brings with it new and insoluble differences of language, culture and loyalty—is quite literally as old as the Republic. The very first "national security" crisis in the American Republic—the "Quasi War" with France—sparked a panic that French immigrants were subversive, disloyal, and unassimilable. Similar strains of nativism resounded through the national debate from that moment until the end of the Civil War.

Well, no duh.

ntodd

January 5, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Apparently The AP Doesn't Read My Blog

Jesus fucking Xristos on ignorant toast points:

Tradition has trumped suspense as members of the Electoral College cast the final, official votes in the presidential election.

Though just a constitutional formality, President Barack Obama officially marched to a second term on Monday as electors voted.

Really, AP, you're just going to write the same bullshit every 4 years?

First of all, Constitutional requirements are not "ceremonial" [or "a constitutional formality"]: they are Constitutional requirements.  Period.

Second of all, it's rather funny that they say "it's official" that Obama's been elected, but oh by the way he's not until January [which this year's article didn't even bother to mention].  The latter is correct--nothing is final until Congress accepts the results--the former really should have been "formally VOTED" for Obama and McCain.  Come on, it's just like any election: you cast votes but until they're counted and certified, the outcome is done "official" or "formal".

Small wonder people don't know our Constitution and other important things when the media can't even be bothered...

ntodd

December 18, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Monday, December 17, 2012

3 U.S.C. § 7

Happy Election Day:

The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.

Thus the Romney Revolution begins!

ntodd

December 17, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Suffering Fools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack