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Open Thread Time:
What's on your mind?
MarkAH:
Game Seven of the ACLS. Go Lester!
10.19.2008 9:34pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):
Why it's taking so long for any Colin Powell hand-wringing to show up on the VC.
10.19.2008 9:36pm
rjb (mail) (www):
Just made the big mistake of reading comment threads on http://townhall.com. While the bloggers are emphasizing that Colin Powell endorsed Obama because he wants to ingratiate himself to Jane Fonda the liberal elite, the majority commenter opinion is that he did so because he is black. I feel a little better that other commenters accuse Powell of always having been a socialist himself. Surprisingly few, however, seem willing to take him at his word.

I just don't know what to make of this, but it can't be good for the GOP.
10.19.2008 9:40pm
OrinKerr:
Ifoughtthelaw,

If you go to this thread, you'll see that we discussed Powell extensively (about 50 comments on him alone) earlier today.
10.19.2008 9:41pm
Dave N (mail):
16 days and the election is all over.

Thank God.
10.19.2008 9:44pm
cboldt (mail):
baseball
10.19.2008 9:48pm
TheWhaler (mail):
Is Cass Sunstein a legitimate horse in the Supreme Court nominee race?
10.19.2008 9:52pm
John Smithy (mail):
Not much time left, but here's a quickie.

Does Obama remain the Muslim he was at birth? (Since his father is Muslim, so is he). Is he a latter day Marano, forced by living in the U.S. to pretend to be a Christian?

Does he exhibit handed-ness? (Muslims believe that certain things should be done with only the right, or left, hand)

Anyone seen videos of him doing things that Muslim require handedness, and does he observe them?
10.19.2008 9:52pm
cboldt (mail):
-- 16 days and the election is all over. --
.
LOL. The 2000 election isn't "over," other than being technically decided and in the history books. There's no reason to think this one will be over either, the Wednesday after election day, 2008.
.
All that changes is the nature of the ongoing political warfare.
10.19.2008 9:55pm
DiverDan (mail):
I can't help but think that Powell's long association with George W. might have had something to do with his turning to the Democratic Candidate. I have been a long time Goldwater Conservative (i.e., a politically pragmatic libertarian), I haven't voted for a Democratic Presidential Candidate since I started to vote - even as an 18 year old dope smoker with a pony tail, I voted for Nixon over McGovern (yes, I thought Nixon was dishonest, But I was convinced that a little dishonestly mixed with a high level of competency was much better than a thoroughly decent and honest Boob like McGovern). If Obama with a Democratic Senate didn't scare me so much with respect to the future of the judiciary, George W. might well have chased me to the Dark Side, and I didn't have to work for him. So I can forgive and understand Colin Powell - it's temporary derangement induced by George W., a very prevalent and easily understood mental illness that will probably clear up on its own 12 to 18 months after the Biggest Boob to ever serve as a Republican President takes leave of the White House. Now I can only hope that the Republican Senators and Representatives that are still left standing after November can recover their sanity soon enough to start rebuilding the Party that George W. destroyed.
10.19.2008 9:57pm
Sum Budy:
If you look at web sites that allow comments from the peanut gallery, you'll notice that the vast majority are written by people who appear to be angry, nasty, hateful, incapable of rational discussion, and generally intolerant. Look, for example, at comments on abcnews.com and cbsnews.com. The name-calling predominates and the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is quite low.

The Volokh Conspiracy has a higher SNR, but still suffers from trolling that sometimes take over the discussion.

What is it about the equalizing online medium that allows trolls to take over the discussion and push out anybody interested in rational conversation? What are methods to solve the problem short of moderated comments? (See, e.g., Slashdot's moderation system, which results in trolls getting moderated down, but also results in minority opinions also getting moderated down.)

And, how do Orin and other Volokh Conspirators react when they see the absolute nonsense displayed in some comments? Is there any thought that they should be ignored or even removed?
10.19.2008 10:02pm
Old33 (mail):
So I can forgive and understand Colin Powell - it's temporary derangement induced by George W.

Why is it that so many on the Right cannot accept that several of their Republican brethren are supporting Sen. Obama.

Why must it be "derangement"? Why not take them at their word when they say they've carefully deliberated, and have chosen Obama?
10.19.2008 10:03pm
Malthus:
"Does Obama remain the Muslim he was at birth? (Since his father is Muslim, so is he). Is he a latter day Marano, forced by living in the U.S. to pretend to be a Christian?"

Ït's appropriate to point out to John Smithy that no child can be Muslim, Christian or Jewish at birth. At birth, every child is pagan and remains so until his brain is overtaken by superstition.
10.19.2008 10:04pm
Michael Kessler:
I propose that VC--in the spirit of revamping fonts and formats--consider a contest to vote off one of the bloggers. Open an election and see who people can't stand. Could be interesting, and my vote might actually win.
10.19.2008 10:04pm
skyywise (mail):
I am particularly glad Gen. Powell spoke about how *there's nothing wrong with being Muslim* in America. Right now, Obama can't come out and speak against bigotry so plainly without losing votes, but it needs to be said.
10.19.2008 10:08pm
Hmmm:
I thought Kinsley's editorial "The Leader We Deserve" in this week's Time was pretty insightful, considering the source.
10.19.2008 10:10pm
MarkField (mail):

What is it about the equalizing online medium that allows trolls to take over the discussion and push out anybody interested in rational conversation?


Gresham's Law.


I propose that VC--in the spirit of revamping fonts and formats--consider a contest to vote off one of the bloggers. Open an election and see who people can't stand. Could be interesting, and my vote might actually win.


I'm not so sure about the bloggers, but an ostracism of some commenters might be productive.
10.19.2008 10:14pm
cboldt (mail):
-- What is it about the equalizing online medium that allows trolls to take over the discussion and push out anybody interested in rational conversation? --
.
Anyplace with generalized political material as foundation for comments is apt to devolve into name calling.
.
In comparison, sites that engage in more technical debate are over the heads of sniping rabble. Don't like the environment (or don't get sufficient reward for the time) at any particular place? There are literally thousands of other sites. Shop around.
.
Politics is a crude and rough activity, where advantage is successfully taken and held on bullying, misdirection and emotional rhetoric. Elections is politics on steroids.
10.19.2008 10:15pm
Libertarian1 (mail):
There has been much discussion about Ohio, Acorn, voting fraud, illegal registration etc. There may be no group anywhere more sophisticated, knowledgeable and intelligent than the posters here so the responses amaze me.

The primary goal of politicians is to get elected. They will do anything legal or illegal(but not get caught) to accomplish that goal. It is independent of party. Since the Ohio SOS today is a Democrat I will begin there but the exact same applied when the Ohio SOS was a Republican.

Of course she is trying to get illegal registration because she thinks they will vote Democratic. Of course she will try and hide openness. She wants Democrats elected. Of course Chicago will steal thousands of votes. Don't defend it, when you do it seems pathetic. The goal of Acorn is to make money for the leaders and get a Democrat elected. They frankly don't care what it takes and will do anything to accomplish that goal.

When the SOS was Republican of course he did everything possible to prevent Democratic voters from voting. Every black who was somehow not allowed to vote was one less Democratic vote. So why do we have here the pathetic defenses of Acorn and the respective SOS?

I couldn't believe what I was reading here when the Indiana voter ID law was challenged before SCOTUS. I know most of you are attorneys and are used to twisting the facts to achieve a goal but that got ridiculous. The primary goal of voter ID is to prevent illegal Democratic votes. If there is no voter ID thousands or even tens of thousands of illegal votes will be cast in this country. Most of them will be Democratic. Even worse will be illegal mail ballots.

The Democrats would like every man, woman and child to vote whether a citizen or not, whether registered or not because that will help get them elected. The Republicans would love to have a poll tax and IQ requirement to vote because they think that will get them elected.

Please let's stop the you did it too argument. Of course "they" did it too. That is what scorpions do.
10.19.2008 10:17pm
Principles:
Old33: Many of these new supporters of Obama have not changed the principles which led them to support Republicans. They still support small government or a "strong" foreign policy, or at least say they do, but unfortunately they most choose between two poor options, based on character or pragmatism or other factors. This may not apply well to Powell, but it does to other "Republican brethren", that they are choosing one of the two main options in opposition to their principles.
10.19.2008 10:18pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
I'm depressed by how uncivil the debate is and how skewed everyone's assessment of reality is.

HGB
10.19.2008 10:18pm
Cold Warrior:

Does he exhibit handed-ness? (Muslims believe that certain things should be done with only the right, or left, hand)


I once used the urinal next to Obama and noticed that he would only hold his weiner in his left hand. I think that settles it, John Smithy. Fine detective work.
10.19.2008 10:19pm
gearhead:
"Does Obama remain the Muslim he was at birth? (Since his father is Muslim, so is he). Is he a latter day Marano, forced by living in the U.S. to pretend to be a Christian?"

I'm not totally sure on this, his father being Muslim may not have any theocratic basis. For example, a Jewish friend of mine told me that he was not automatically consider Jewish, because while his father was Jewish, his mother was not. Lineage is maternal via the womb. I'm not sure on this.

Perhaps Islam is the same?

In any case, for all I have read, Obama's father was not a practicing Muslim, and perhaps closer to agnostic.
10.19.2008 10:19pm
Franklin Drackman:
Colon Powells Nose is so Brown! Oh, its always been Brown, umm you know what I mean.
10.19.2008 10:20pm
Cold Warrior:
Why the anger at Colin Powell?

I take Joe Lieberman's decision to endorse McCain at face value. In fact, although the Move On crowd decided he must be punished for supporting W (thereby getting his competitor Lamont the Dem nomination), I don't recall anyone doubting the legitimacy of Joe's conversion. They were mad at Joe and wanted him out because he espoused W's neoconservative worldview, not because everyone thought he was pretending to be a neoconservative for some ulterior motive.

I view Powell's endorsement the same way. He obviously lost a lot of credibility and put his historical stature at risk by going to the mat based on the Bush admin's intelligence regarding WMD. No doubt he's troubled by the extent to which McCain has aligned himself with W's decisions and policy on Iraq. No doubt he fears that McCain is telling the truth, and that if elected he would continue the neocon vision of W, a vision that is very much at odds with the realism of Bush 41 and Powell.

So I don't see any reason to disparage him or marginalize him. Other than the obvious one: McCain and his supporters really want to win, and therefore they must try to destroy Powell personally rather than by addressing his arguments rationally.
10.19.2008 10:26pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Ben Franklin were neither "Deists" nor "Christians" as conventionally defined, but rather somewhere in between. To see the cutting edge research that proves this, check out my newest blog American Creation.

How may this be relevant? The Supreme Court this term will hear a new Ten Commandments case. Regarding the FFs' "original" understanding, if they were Deists, they'd regard none of the Bible as divinely inspired; if they were traditional "Christians," they'd be devout believers in the Ten Commandments and the Bible as the infallible Word Of God. But rather they were some where in between and we have John Adams doubting that we have the right version of the Ten Commandments with what follows:


1. Thou shalt not adore any other God. Therefore take heed not to enter into covenant with the inhabitants of the country; neither take for your sons their daughters in marriage. They would allure thee to the worship of false gods. Much less shall you in any place erect images.

2. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread, at the time of the month Abib; to remember that about that time, I delivered thee from Egypt.

3. Every first born of the mother is mine; the male of thine herd, be it stock or flock. But you shall replace the first born of an ass with a sheep. The first born of your sons shall you redeem. No man shall appear before me with empty hands.

4. Six days shalt thou labor. The seventh day thou shalt rest from ploughing and gathering.

5. The feast of weeks shalt thou keep with the firstlings of the wheat harvest ; and the feast of harvesting at the end of the year.

6. Thrice in every year all male persons shall appear before the Lord. Nobody shall invade your country, as long as you obey this command.

7. Thou shalt not sacrifice the blood of a sacrifice of mine, upon leavened bread.

8. The sacrifice of the Passover shall not remain till the next day.

9. The firstlings of the produce of your land, thou shalt bring to the house of the Lord.

10. Thou shalt not boil the kid, while it is yet sucking.

And the Lord spake to Moses: Write those words, as after these words I made with you and with Israel a covenant.

[...]

When and where originated our ten commandments? The tables and the ark were lost. Authentic copies in few, if any hands; the ten Precepts could not be observed, and were little remembered. If the book of Deuteronomy was compiled, during or after the Babylonian captivity, from traditions, the error or amendment might come in those.

-- To Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 15, 1813.
10.19.2008 10:34pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I don't recall anyone doubting the legitimacy of Joe's conversion. --
.
Having watched Joe make more than one conversion (from Senator Joe, to Gore's Veep Joe, back to Senator Joe, and now to McCain suck-ass), I have reason to doubt that any position the guy takes is "solid."
.
That said, why would any conversion he has ever undergone be anything but "legitimate?" He's looking out for number one. Just because his consistency is a joke doesn't mean his conversions are illegitimate.
10.19.2008 10:39pm
JosephSlater (mail):
The Detroit Lions might actually pull off a winless season this year. I'm in my forties, and the Lions have won a total of one playoff game in my lifetime. And that's when they had one of the very best running backs of all time playing for them.

Oh, and Obama will win, win legitimately and convincingly, and my conservative friends, trust me: it won't be the end of the world. Really.
10.19.2008 10:47pm
MarkAH:
For a good laugh on the economic crisis: http://sadguysontradingfloors.tumblr.com/
10.19.2008 11:06pm
David Warner:
I'm curious for VC thoughts on this. It actually speaks better than anything else I've seen to why I support Obama, as well as to the concerns many have.
10.19.2008 11:08pm
Steve2:
Valkyries are on my mind. If there were a Valkyrie-related VC post right now, I would be hogging the comment thread.

Also, right now, I'm wondering if the two states I used to live in and registered to vote in while I lived there still have me listed as a registered voter there, and if that'll make the state I've lived in for the past year chuck my registration. And how I let them know I don't live there anymore... I mean, just this summer, I got a jury summons from one of them, and it's been six years since I've lived in Georgia!
10.19.2008 11:12pm
Tom Perkins (mail):


Oh, and Obama will win, win legitimately and convincingly, and my conservative friends, trust me: it won't be the end of the world. Really.


It will be the end of some people's world. They'll die. They'll die when it could be avoided if we had a more prosperous and moral society. The society Obama will prevent from existing by his redistributionist policies.

The pie will be smaller, fewer new medical treatments investigated, fewer bridges rebuilt. People will have to hold on to old, less safe vehicles longer. The same sort of people who run the DMV will make medical decisions.

Anytime economic decisions are made by politicians for political reasons instead of by the people who created the wealth by their effort and risk, we all become relatively less wealthy. Everything slows down, the economy becomes less efficient.

And that means people will die who don't need to.

It means those who aren't dead yet are in a nastier, more brutal--less free--world.

That's what Obama offers.

It's wrong to take him up on it, even if it only happens to one person. And it will be thousands, at the margins, who live more meanly and die a bit sooner than need be.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.19.2008 11:14pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Let's go Phillies!
10.19.2008 11:17pm
PAT C (mail):
I will take advantage of this Open Thread to post my comment about "20 Reasons Why You’re Not Rich", whose comment period expired after only 24 hours.

I am surprised the list didn't point out the biggest reason Pat Conolly isn't rich - "1. You're Extremely Lazy".
10.19.2008 11:24pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
And Slater, before you claim that's over the top, here's real world nationalized health care.

Not a month ago a colleague of mine passed away who had been a British national. He lived eight extra years to be a parent to his children because he was married to an American and could immigrate here and work, and have the benefit of non-nationalized health care.

So really, no, unless he gets an amendment passed to make nationalized healthcare, his jugendkorps, and his wealth distribution constitutionally ok, he won't even be able to pretend to be a legitimate president, and he'd by far be the worse of the two potential outcomes.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.19.2008 11:30pm
Laura S.:

I view Powell's endorsement the same way. He obviously lost a lot of credibility and put his historical stature at risk by going to the mat based on the Bush admin's intelligence regarding WMD.

So your position is that Powell was duped? Get real, if Powell has that attitude he's gone batty. You're begging the question. The trouble with your critique is that you assume some sort of dishonesty in the intelligence argument. Being incorrect and dishonest are not the same thing.


No doubt he's troubled by the extent to which McCain has aligned himself with W's decisions and policy on Iraq.

I'll believe this when I see it said by Powell directly. Meanwhile, you should consider coming to grips with the truth: McCain's strategy for ending the war was better than the Democratic Party's. You don't have to believe McCain is a super-genius. In an interview, he said very clearly that he sought-out the opinion of troops in theater. They told him that the Rumsfeld-Casey approach was not working (and why). Rather ironically, the Rumsfeld-Casey approach to the war (focus on training, stay out of populated areas, get out as quick as possible) was precisely what did not work and precisely what the Democratic Party demanded as "change".
10.19.2008 11:30pm
PAT C (mail):
Regarding Tom Perkins post,
I think it just as likely that people will die under a McCain administration who would live under an Obama administration. (Certainly thousands have died as a result of the last 8 years of a Republican presidency).
Even if it's just one person, that's reason enough to vote for Obama.
Honestly, I think my conclusion is as absurd as your conclusion.
10.19.2008 11:32pm
Tom Perkins (mail):

Other than the obvious one: McCain and his supporters really want to win, and therefore they must try to destroy Powell personally rather than by addressing his arguments rationally.


Powell's arguments are not coherent with the worldview he has claimed to espouse. McCain is quite moderate, Obama is not.

Powell beclowns himself with his protestations of higher motives, they simply aren't credible.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.19.2008 11:32pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Do muslim countries observe the Sabbath, not religiously, but civilly, by closing businesses and Government offices ? And, does Islam have a Holy day of the week, as Christianity does ?
10.19.2008 11:33pm
Cold Warrior:
Laura S. said:


So your position is that Powell was duped? Get real, if Powell has that attitude he's gone batty.


So, then, what does explain it? It sounds to me like you're in the "Powell's endorsement of Obama is about nothing other than racial solidarity" camp.

Any evidence for that view other than your disappointment with Powell's choice?
10.19.2008 11:43pm
cboldt (mail):
Honestly, I think my conclusion is as absurd as your conclusion.
.
There is no reason to support one form of government involvement in health care over another, unless one believes there is a discernible difference in outcome/performance.
.
Tom Perkins described roughly the bases for his conclusion. The counterargument is simple, just assert the reverse. It might go like this:
.
The pie will be bigger, more new medical treatments investigated, more bridges rebuilt. People will gladly discard old, less safe vehicles for government-provided green vehicles. The same sort of people who run the DMV will make medical decisions.
.
Anytime economic decisions are made by politicians for political reasons instead of by the people who created the wealth by their effort and risk, we all become more wealthy. Everything speeds up, the economy becomes more efficient.


Bingo. Problem solved. More government oversight results in more personal freedom, more personal wealth, less strife, and peace and harmony for all.
10.19.2008 11:47pm
Dave N (mail):
cboldt,

Are you channeling George Orwell tonight or what?
10.19.2008 11:49pm
Tom Perkins (mail):

(Certainly thousands have died as a result of the last 8 years of a Republican presidency).


A war that could not be safely avoided*, and one that was by any historical standard administered about as competently in it's first years as any, and this last one quite brilliantly.

It also has the benefit of being a constitutionally legitimate activity of the national government, as opposed to the majority of Obama's platform.

*In fact, part of the reason it couldn't be avoided is the result of Powell's inability to see the consequences of not helping in Saddam's overthrow back when it would have been cheaper--a fault shared with W's father to be sure.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.19.2008 11:50pm
Lev:
When the Dems and Obama pass the fairness doctrine statute implementing government control of the non-obscene content of over the air broadcasts and the internet, and it is upheld by courts of appeal based on FCC precedent, will the SCt even hear the case.
10.19.2008 11:51pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Are you channeling George Orwell tonight or what? --
.
It felt more like channeling Sarcastro, FWIW. It really gave me a rush, I tell you what!
10.19.2008 11:52pm
Lev:
Is anyone else bothered by how "there are *plural*" is disappearing, even in writing, being replaced by "there is *plural*" and "there's *plural*"?
10.19.2008 11:53pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
@ cboldt

Well asserting the reverse of observable reality has certainly been the hallmark of socialism to date. Why change now?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.19.2008 11:53pm
Dave N (mail):
Lev,

I am. Of course I am also annoyed at having to use the plural form when the singular would otherwise be appropriate so that I can use "them" or "they" instead of "his/her" or "him/her" when the the sex of the person referenced is unknown or unclear.
10.19.2008 11:58pm
David Warner:
Another interesting discussion of Obama here.
10.20.2008 12:02am
TerrencePhilip:
This could be simply because political events have recently consumed so much attention, or I haven't had as much time to come here, but it seems like VC has trended more in the direction of politics and current events than the Conspirators' legal scholarship. Was this a conscious decision to try to become more of a mainstream blog?

That's not a complaint, necessarily (I'm fully aware of the money-back guarantee), but I look forward to more posts by the Conspirators on what's percolating in your mind about legal topics of interest. Probably some of the bleedover into current events was unavoidable since the presidential election and Wall Street troubles necessarily implicate a variety of legal issues of note. And hey, your musings on whether the bailout is constitutional or birth in the Canal Zone bars McCain from the presidency are always welcome.

Also, any Conspirators coming to New Orleans are welcome to a beer or two on me.
10.20.2008 12:13am
PC:
Another interesting discussion of Obama here.

Wait, Obama isn't a bomb throwing Communist? That can't be right...
10.20.2008 12:20am
Automated Robot:
I've actually been "banned" from commenting at several, not particularly left wing, blogs for suggesting that Obama and a Democratic Congress will most certainly-given their history and ideology-impose new taxes,resulting in a higher net tax rate, on people earning well under 250k(I expect to wellunder the median individual income. The rationale appears to be as that is not in his campaign "plan" it is a lie by default.
10.20.2008 12:22am
Curious Lurker:
When did this site stop being an interesting and informative site for legal information and turn into yet another outlet for the dissemination of partisan talking points? I'm looking at you Adler and Bernstein.
10.20.2008 12:31am
Laura S.:

So, then, what does explain it? It sounds to me like you're in the "Powell's endorsement of Obama is about nothing other than racial solidarity" camp.

Uh. No, I am not in that camp. Powell gave a reason: judges. I don't need to know 'the' reason to reject reasons that Powell hasn't mentioned and do not seem to be reasonable,

Thanks for the little ad hominem though.
10.20.2008 12:31am
byomtov (mail):
Game Seven of the ACLS. Go Lester!

The Vanderbilt guy got you. Go 'Dores.
10.20.2008 12:43am
ASlyJD (mail):
Do muslim countries observe the Sabbath, not religiously, but civilly, by closing businesses and Government offices ? And, does Islam have a Holy day of the week, as Christianity does ?

I can't speak for a civil Sabbath, but Islam treats Friday as a holy day when devotees ought to go to the local mosque for instruction and communal prayer.
10.20.2008 12:54am
theobromophile (www):
No Sox in the World Series. I need a hug.
10.20.2008 12:56am
Cold Warrior:
Laura S, you accuse me of an ad hominem attack, and suggest that you accept Powell's reason for supporting Obama: judicial nominations.

But here's what you just said on the other thread (I hadn't looked at it before) -- the one specifically about Powell and judges:


Wait a minute. Wasn't Powell listening when McCain was asked about litmus tests for judges? Or how McCain barely managed to get the republican party to support him because everyone believes he'd appoint fairly liberal judges.


So you evidently think this wasn't a sound reason for Powell's support for Obama, right?
10.20.2008 1:21am
The World Wants to Know (mail):

I once used the urinal next to Obama and noticed that he would only hold his weiner in his left hand. I think that settles it, John Smithy. Fine detective work.


Did he go through the gate or over the fence?

Did he have a wide stance?

Was it cut?
10.20.2008 1:39am
LM (mail):
John Smithy:

Not much time left, but here's a quickie.

Does Obama remain the Muslim he was at birth?

Oh, I don't know about there being not much time left. I have a feeling I'll be hearing this question for the next four years. And with any luck, eight.
10.20.2008 1:41am
Alligator:
A random sample of what's on my mind and the reasons for it:

Racial bias in imposing the death penalty. I'm taking a break from reading for a class that examines the use of statistics in the law. (This includes inculpatory and exculpatory evidence in civil and criminal cases, and police/TSA profiling -- classic multi-factor profiling, not the "driving while black" kind.) After reading McCleskey v. Kemp, I want to know why evidence of a racially discriminatory purpose is required to establish a constitutional violation in imposing the death penalty, but a discriminatory effect in redistricting is sufficient to violate the 15th Amendment (and thus the VRA). It's possible that I'm misconstruing Gingles and other VRA cases.

The two-party system. In particular, Scalia has argued that it encourages each party to take relatively moderate positions to woo voters, but to me it seems to have the opposite effect. If the Republicans say black then the Democratic stance on that issue is white, and vice versa.

Campaign finance reform is a joke. Protecting elected officials from criticism (see the limitations on political speech within 30-60 days of elections) has been one of the most appalling effects of the BCRA. The restrictions on candidates and political parties has given more power to 527s, thereby increasing the appearance of corruption if not actual corruption.

Providing a remedy for hurt feelings is not an appropriate function of the law, nor should it be. This occurs to me within 20 minutes of poking around on the internet on any given day.
10.20.2008 1:54am
deepthought:
I have to agree with Cold Warrior's analysis of Powell's motives. The invective let loose by the right ("it's because he's black") really is shameful. It reduces all successful minority leaders in government to affirmative action hires. Despite everything else, GWB's cabinets will forever be known for having the first and second African-American SecStates, both extremely well qualified individuals (as well as the first Hispanic AG, who was not as well qualified.)

But this may be forgotten, given the current rhetoric. The current commentary by Limbaugh, Will, and Buchanan et. al. will make each such hire (particularly by Republicans) as filling a minority quota. Certainly not to compare military records, but Powell certainly is as much a patriot as Senator McCain, and the attacks upon him do no service to the Republican Party.

Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army, and was one of the 16,000 military advisors dispatched to South Vietnam by President Kennedy in 1962. In 1963, Lieutenant Powell was wounded by a punji-stick booby trap while patrolling the Vietnamese border with Laos. He was awarded the Purple Heart, and later that year, the Bronze Star. Powell served a second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968-69. During this second tour he was injured in a helicopter crash. Despite his own injuries, he managed to rescue his comrades from the burning helicopter and was awarded the Soldier's Medal. In all, he has received 11 military decorations, including the Legion of Merit.


Is this the way to expand the base--or are Republicans happy to be the white party? Because of demographic changes, this will limit their electoral chances.
10.20.2008 1:55am
David Warner:
PC,

"Wait, Obama isn't a bomb throwing Communist? That can't be right..."

Well, as President, Obama wouldn't technically need to throw them, and of course his pal Ayers was always at pains to stress that he is a "small c" communist, so that's unlikely.

I'm starting to get a Walter Payton vibe out of #44. Actually given his number, perhaps Hank Aaron would be the better fit.

Other 44's:

Jerry West
Reggie Jackson
Dale Jarrett
Forrest Gump

Auspicious number.
10.20.2008 2:15am
David Warner:
deepthrought,

"Despite everything else, GWB's cabinets will forever be known for having the first and second African-American SecStates"

Does everything else include this? Why the spite?
10.20.2008 2:18am
deepthought:
Why don't we look beyond Nov. 4th and speculate on cabinet appointments (seriously, no Ayers for SecDef!) for both McCain and Obama? I'll start:

Obama
Treasury--either Paul Volcker (old (81) but will have instant credibility with the markets; Larry Summers, Laura Tyson (both formerly of the Clinton Administration) or Timothy Geithner (head of the NY Federal Reserve Bank).

SecDef--Robert Gates for maybe 6 months; I don't think it will be Chuck Hagel (or it might); possibly Jack Reed. Actually, based on this article, I think John McCain would be great SecDef (as long as he knew who made policy). Do you think McCain can put this campaign behind to serve his country as SecDef? Is Obama big enough to do so?

AG--Sorry, John Edwards, you cheated yourself out of the job. I have seen suggestions of Eric Holder (too controversial); Hillary Clinton (same); how about Patrick Fitzgerald?

National Security Advisor--Susan Rice (Clinton Asst SecState for African Affairs) or a returning from exile Samantha Power. Maybe Wesley Clark.

UN Ambassador-Hillary Clinton. Gets her and Bill out of Washington. Obama can tell her he is trying to make her commute easier. Al Gore is a possibility, though it may be tough to keep him on the reservation.

VA Affairs--Max Cleland or James Webb, but I think Webb would be better in the Senate. Or possibly a dark-horse Iraq veteran, like Tammy Duckworth (Major, ILL Nat Guard ret.; double amputee, currently head of the Illinois Dept. of VA).

HHS--Hillary, but I like her for the UN.

Homeland Security--Lee Hamilton or Thomas Kean, both former co-chairs of the 9-11 Commission.

That's a start. I'll post some ideas about a McCain cabinet later. What are your ideas?
10.20.2008 2:35am
deepthought:
Davide Warner sez:

Does everything else include this? Why the spite?

To me this was a positive acheivement in an Administration with very few positive acheivements. We still don't know how Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, relations with Russia, the recession, climate change, or Wall Street will turn out. I not even going to mention the various Administration scandals. All of these may overwhelm the accomplishments created by the Powell and Rice appointments (of course Rice was the first woman and African American National Security Advisor) and may be wasted.
10.20.2008 2:42am
David Warner:
deep,

I don't think he needs to go that centrist, although McCain would be outstanding if he could pull it off. He can afford to go energetic/competent left on some key posts. Just to give the KosKids some ideas how to act when in power. And if he wants Summers/McCain, he'll need to.
10.20.2008 2:46am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Why nobody listened to prophesies of meltdown

The kind of reform proposals Ron Paul advocates were those that should have been established over the last 200 years. Obviously, if some mistaken practice has become established, then backing out of it with a minimum of disruption may be a lot more complicated than abruptly reverting to where we should have been before the pattern became entrenched. We are now paying the price for a long train of mistaken practices, a kind of very long "hog cycle". They didn't seem like mistakes for a long time because we were able to defer the adverse consequences, but eventually the brutal laws of nature and economics impose the price, and it is our generation that will pay it, as libertarian economists have been predicting for decades.

The Framers of our Constitution had had recent experience with such speculative excess. See the history of John Law. That is why they wrote what they hoped would be prohibitions on the use of credit instruments as currency (legal tender). Later generations, beginning in 1862, ignored those provisions without formally amending the Constitution.

It is important, however, not to confuse capitalism with the recurrence of speculative bubbles, or conclude that only government regulation can protect the former by preventing the latter. If people don't depend on government to prevent bubbles, they will, perhaps after a bad experience with one, adjust their economic behavior to reduce the risk of them. As we have seen, government cannot be depended upon to play that role, because no one in government wants to trigger a small collapse in order to prevent a larger one.
10.20.2008 2:50am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
If present efforts to avert economic catastrophe fail, it might be useful to consider lessons of the Soviet collapse.
10.20.2008 2:52am
Splunge:
Judges? Ha ha. Why invoke the theoretical when Powell has so many personal reasons for his decision?

* The Iraq War is, in some sense, an implied rebuke of his and 41's decision to shut down the first Gulf War early.

* Donald Rumsfeld. His "lighter, faster" philosophy was a direct contradiction of "The Powell Doctrine," and GWB supported Rumsfeld for long years.

* As mentioned, Powell could reasonably think that GWB used his respectability, if not his blackness, rather than his military expertise. That's got to sting.

* Finally, let's not overlook the traditional aversion of the service for civilian interference. Obama knows jack shit about the military, and cares not two bits for foreign policy, and would no doubt simply meekly let the generals do whatever they want. He might even call up Powell for advice. Not so McCain, who undoubtably has specific and strong ideas, knows where the bodies are buried, and has every intention of imposing his will on the Joint Chiefs.

For that matter, McCain is a former flyboy. What groundhog doesn't think they're all showboats?

Judges! Man, some people will believe anything.
10.20.2008 4:25am
Arkady:
Assertion:

Blogosphere comments flame wars are a pale imitation of Usenet flame wars.

Discuss.
10.20.2008 7:48am
Tom Perkins (mail):

Wait, Obama isn't a bomb throwing Communist? That can't be right...


Of course it's not. But he is a socialist who's fine with bomb throwing communists.

He thinks they're good people.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.20.2008 7:54am
JosephSlater (mail):
So really, no, unless he gets an amendment passed to make nationalized healthcare, his jugendkorps, and his wealth distribution constitutionally ok, he won't even be able to pretend to be a legitimate president,

OK, you've convinced me that an Obama Presidency will mean WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! Oh wait, do I see a Godwinn's Law issue above?
10.20.2008 9:23am
deepthought:
David Warner sez:

I don't think he needs to go that centrist, although McCain would be outstanding if he could pull it off. He can afford to go energetic/competent left on some key posts. Just to give the KosKids some ideas how to act when in power. And if he wants Summers/McCain, he'll need to.

Like all political bases, the Kos Kids et. al. will be disappointed when campaign rhetoric collides with actual governing (remember the last line of The Candidate-- "What do we do now?"). Like in the Bush Administrtion, which had few if any true movement conservatives with real power, the extreme left will get some symbolic appointments but real power will reside in cabinet secretaries with prior government experience (another thought for SecDef would be Carl Levin.)
10.20.2008 10:25am
Houston Lawyer:
The Longhorns were absolutely devastating on Saturday against Mizzou.
10.20.2008 10:31am
Dave D. (mail):
...Thankyou, AslyJD. This place is more a repository of opinion than a fact based forum. I appreciate your candor.
10.20.2008 11:21am
MarkField (mail):

Other 44's:

Jerry West
Reggie Jackson
Dale Jarrett
Forrest Gump

Auspicious number.


And Willie McCovey.
10.20.2008 12:28pm
Laura S.:
Cold Warrior asks:

So you evidently think this wasn't a sound reason for Powell's support for Obama, right?

True. I don't find Powell's given argument convincing. But this is different from not finding your speculative arguments convincing either. But neither mean that I resort to race-as-cause.

My suspicion is that McCain would likely nominate a justice of the temperament/approach of Stephen Breyer. But then I'd also say that Breyer and Roberts are actually very similar.
10.20.2008 12:43pm
just a country lawyer:
too much politics and not enough law being discussed at VC lately, in my humble opinion...
10.20.2008 1:19pm
Eric E (mail):
Architecture is a state-mandated religion in many places.
10.20.2008 2:25pm
Hoosier:
OK, you've convinced me that an Obama Presidency will mean WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

Factually correct, Joseph.
10.20.2008 3:39pm
AnnHie (mail) (www):
Hello.
It's better to put reference link

Thanks. Yours Anne!
10.20.2008 3:56pm
David Warner:
Arkady,

"Blogosphere comments flame wars are a pale imitation of Usenet flame wars.

Discuss."

Usenet? Does that have something to do with slide rules?


Deep,

"Like in the Bush Administrtion"

Uh, I don't think the Obama administration will be anything like the Bush Administration. If it is, we can start printing up Petraeus/Volokh stickers.

No, I think he'll play Kos like the cheap trick that he is, and the kidz will fall in line.
10.20.2008 4:16pm
David Warner:
Just a Country Lawyer,

"too much politics and not enough law being discussed at VC lately, in my humble opinion..."

Less than a month to go. I know that here in the country we like our democracy in small doses, but these city folk do tend to get a mite riled. Let's humor them.
10.20.2008 4:18pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Hoosier:

Well done. Also, did you know that Obama is a known heterosexual?
10.20.2008 6:09pm
Calderon:
I'm probably too late and so this is going to be ignored, but one thing I'd like to see, and what would probably be useful to those with free market views, is a discussion of public choice theory applied to whatever regulation people either believe should have been passed or is about to be passed. There's a lot of criticism that blames the recent credit problems on greed, bad market incentives, etc., and then blithely says "regulation" is needed without ever looking at what the regulation should actually be, or (more importantly) what is likely to actually be passed and what its effects will be. These free market critics completely ignore that regulators have their own interests, incentives, biases, and so forth, and pushing them to enact "regulation" could easily result in something that either retards growth or makes economic problems more likely or more severe.

But so far from this blog, Cato, Reason, etc. the public choice argument hasn't been made (or maybe I'm just missing it) and I wonder why. Markets don't have to be perfect, thus just have to be better than the alternatives. This is the same principle as Churchill's quote about the best kind of government, or the joke about the two guys trying to outrun the lion. Saying that markets have problems but regulation likely will make those problems worse not better seems like a commonsense approach to articles title "The end of capitalism" or "The death of libertarianism." Maybe it'll come once specific regulations are suggested.
10.20.2008 6:25pm
byomtov (mail):
did you know that Obama is a known heterosexual?

I heard he was a hominid.
10.20.2008 6:45pm
Tom Perkins (mail):

Oh wait, do I see a Godwinn's Law issue above?


Can't respond to the points, can you?

point


point


Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
10.20.2008 8:23pm
David M Zuniga, PE (www):
Well, since the subject of architecture was broached above...


The American’s Responsibility After 9/11


[Originally submitted for publication at Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth website.]


The attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001 followed a long pattern in American history leading up to our wars. But today, after the tectonic shift presented to humanity by the Internet, we have the opportunity to learn from history rather than repeat it.

Many engineers and scientists have opined on this and countless other websites that the laws of physics (conservation of mass; conservation of energy) and principles of collapse analysis point to controlled demolition of three WTC structures. I concur with those who suggest that Occam's Razor trumps official government propaganda in this matter. In fact, the wealth of physical, videographic, and eyewitness testimonial evidence renders the government's official story ludicrous.

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth is the most edifying effort of which I am aware, to discover the true mechanism of the 9/11 building collapses; but the true cause of the attacks (more on which presently) is the duty of the whole American people, a self-governing population under rule of law.

Since at least the Spanish-American War (arguably since Lincoln’s war), history exhibits a pattern of mercantilist manipulation of our central government for wicked ends. The record is replete with heavily-researched, well-documented manuscripts, books, and investigative films demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that the catalysing events of America’s wars were mendacious hoaxes on the American people. Of course our government is not unique in this respect; but ours is a government of, by, and for the people. We Americans are uniquely blessed with the ability to right the wrongs of history and to bring wicked men to justice if we only will.

Conspiracy theories are worse than useless. They only increase public cynicism and embolden corrupt government. As design professionals, we must apply scientific principles to unambiguous evidence, following the evidence wherever it leads. Public trust in the professions demands as much.

But citizenship demands much more. The cause of justice – and of liberty as uniquely engendered in our constitutional republic – demands that every citizen in these 50 States of America, stand against government corruption as only our Constitution allows a free people to do.

Our responsibility to future generations – and to a world community that often bases its actions on our examples – extends beyond applying the laws of physics. We must apply the rule of law in common citizen cause, to the actions of a central government which has grown cancerously beyond the limits we set out for it in the U.S. Constitution.

As in no other nation on earth, our Constitution empowers informed citizen self-government. Indeed, it demands that our sovereign States retain every power and prerogative not specifically enumerated to the federal entity we created therein.

Over time, we became too terrorised by ‘public servants’ – or just too busy making a living – to defend all of the rights we retained by law. Now, as Thomas Jefferson explains in his 1799 Kentucky Resolution, the federal power to which we gave birth, knows no bounds. It runs totally out of control with no end in sight.

We need look no further back than last week’s $700-billion-dollar full court press by the corrupt Congress and its cronies in the finance industry. While most of us realise this is just the beginning of a much larger heist, the beleaguered pack-mules in the Taxpayer “fair share” line are either too ignorant or too weary to resist, though they still have enough sense to protest.

This juggernaut will trundle ahead, pushing productive Americans right to the precipice unless and until the grace of God and the force of common sense begin to prevail.

Ideas Have Consequences, as Richard Weaver posited a generation ago in his book of that name. My fellow design professional, after completing your technical analysis of the 9/11 debacle, will you please consider the deeper principles that teeter on the brink in our time?

After all of the theorising is over, Americans must take action – not as a right, but as a duty bequeathed by our forefathers. It is action that I here propose. In one case, that you join a fast-growing movement already including millions of Americans; in the other case, that you consider being one local supporter of a new grassroots project to pull criminals out of Congress and rather than merely impeach them, put them behind State Penitentiary bars. (If these duties of American citizenship sound too daunting for us, then according to Ben Franklin, we don’t deserve it.)

You will not learn this from any other 9/11 website, but you personally can do a great deal today without signing another petition or attending another march. The following could be called the defensive and offensive ‘tactical civics’ inherent in constitutional self-government.

Defense: Tax Honesty

History proves that financial embargo is the most peaceful, effective weapon that individuals and families have against an enemy – foreign or domestic. The Internal Revenue Code establishes for certain classes of citizenship and certain (taxable) activities, a legal duty to file, keep records, and pay an income tax over to the Congress. But anyone whose situation or activities are not found to be taxable in that law, is free to remain a Nontaxpayer. All of the estimated 67 million non-filers in America today are embargoing the corruption; but only some of us are law-abiding Nontaxpayers with a marked-up copy of the Tax Code on our desk, and a deep commitment to ending state-sponsored terrorism masked as tax collection, that funds literally every bad thing that government has done.

The website www.americanglasnost.blogspot.com lays out the history, Tax Code provisions, Supreme Court rulings, and provides a citizen’s primer on Tax Honesty if you’re ready to study more than just the 9/11 debacle; ready to stand against the deeper D.C. corruption, and to begin lawfully embargoing it.

In eleven years’ debate with IRS employees, CPAs, and attorneys ‘in the system’, none have yet found anything on the above Tax Honesty website that they could show to be inaccurate or illegal. Thus, while I welcome correspondence from any tax industry specialist seeking to reform himself or clarify his understanding of Tax Honesty, I refuse to engage in acrimonious argument. Like the perennial debates between “truthers” and government hacks regarding the 9/11 attacks, such debates are pointless.

Offense: The America Again! Project

Financial embargo via Tax Honesty is already a prairie-fire of citizen defense. But how can We the People begin to play offense against century-old D.C. corruption?

I have one idea, on which I welcome input from constitutional and prosecutorial attorneys. The website www.america-again.blogspot.com introduces a grassroots project called America Again!, whereby the citizens will hold our own member of the U.S. Congress accountable under law, in his/her own hometown – all 535 members simultaneously on one day, such as Indpendence Day – whether the politician decides to attend or to stay away.

This is no petition; no marching hat-in-hand to the marble halls of D.C., as chickens to a fox. The America Again! project can be the tactical self-government equivalent of Runnymede in the year 1215. On 535 simultaneous battlefronts, We the People can lawfully, peacefully divide and conquer the corrupt political hegemony against which we have thought ourselves powerless.

Unlike the Magna Carta, however, the America Again! declaration does not seek to establish a new law code. Rather, under the spirit and letter of the Supremacy Clause, it is a citizens’ project to peacefully enforce the U.S. Constitution against a century of illegal activity by all three branches of the federal government that We the People created. Unlike our founding fathers with the Declaration of Independence, we have no need to abolish a perfectly good government; we have only to have our States reclaim the powers retained by us in the Constitution.

We seek not to “throw the bums out”; instead, we will bring each bum home to face the same music that the crooks at Enron and Worldcomm had to face; that every crook at Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, Lehmann Brothers, et al should face if justice is to be done! There are some honest statesmen among those 535 members of both houses; the America Again! project will weed them out quickly.

Read the declaration. Consider forming a small group in your community if it happens to be the hometown of a member of Congress. With just a handful of fellow citizens, you can make American history. As Thomas Jefferson suggested in his 1799 Kentucky Resolution – We the People can, through our sovereign States, enforce the U.S. Constitution against those who are violating it while being sworn to defend it.

911 Truth in Perspective

I do not suggest that “911 Truth” is unimportant; analysing a horrible hoax in our history is a noble cause. But the 40-year “Who Killed JFK?” debate proved that while citizens argue over past tragedy, a corrupt government can ratchet towards worse tragedies for their children.

Millions of us are taking life-changing steps towards self-government. You, too, have an opportunity to learn the lessons of history, lest we all be forced to repeat them.


David M. Zuniga, P.E.
Architectural Engineer
Texas
10.23.2008 11:07am