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.
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Friday, January 18, 2013
Colbert Exercises His First On The Second
“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.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013
They Seem To Have Forgot That They Are In Rebellion
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.
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?NToddcast RSS Feed
Friday, January 11, 2013
Going Out In A Blaze Of Craycray
INTERVIEWER: The attention-getter is saying that you're going to shoot some people.
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.
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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.
Consider once more the Whiskey Rebellion (using Wikipedia for expediency):
The Washington administration's suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion met with widespread popular approval. 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. 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. The events contributed to the formation of political parties in the United States, a process already underway. The whiskey tax was repealed after Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party, which opposed theFederalist Party of Hamilton and Washington, came to power in 1800.
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.
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.
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.
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Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Why Settle For Gold When Platinum Will Do?
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]
all coins minted under this subsection shall be considered to be numismatic items. [regarding gold coins minted under subsection i]
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—
(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.
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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
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.
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 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).
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.NToddcast RSS Feed
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.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Apparently The AP Doesn't Read My Blog
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...
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Monday, December 17, 2012
3 U.S.C. § 7
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!