This is getting real bad

Posted on January 27th, 2009 by bile
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Cities and school boards are naming streets and buildings after President Obama, breaking with the tradition of waiting until a president is out of office.

  • Ludlum Elementary School in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island, was renamed after Obama in November. A school in Portland, Ore., is deliberating a similar change.
  • Opa-Locka, Fla., renamed one of its main city streets in December. Hollywood, Fla., is considering doing the same.
  • St. Louis made an honorary name change to a busy road that used to divide white and black neighborhoods. The postal address is still Delmar Boulevard, but the city will post signs that also designate the street Barack Obama Boulevard.

The tributes are bound to continue, says Indiana University history professor Edward Linenthal.

“On the one hand, you can say it’s premature,” says Linenthal, editor of the Journal of American History. Obama’s administration has yet to make its own history, he says. “On the other hand, you can argue that what has happened is extraordinary and astonishing in American history … and the naming of streets and schools reflects that sense.”

John Gillis, editor of the book Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, says he does not know of instances of presidents being commemorated while they were in office, let alone before they took office, as some of the changes were.

“This is a trivialization of the serious process of naming,” he says. “This is all hope and no memory. It’s all anticipation and no looking back.”

Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have been the most popular presidents in the last century for commemorations, Gillis says. Hundreds of schools and civic buildings have been named for them.

Jean Bligen, principal of Barack Obama Elementary School on Long Island, says the idea for the name change came from fifth-graders who had held mock debates before the election and were excited about Obama’s win.

“The children take such pride over the name being changed and knowing they represent such a strong individual,” she says.

Obama is being honored abroad, too. The Associated Press reports that Antigua is renaming 1,300-foot Boggy Peak, its highest spot, Mount Obama.

In Perry County, Ala., where the 1965 killing of a black man by a white state trooper in Marion led to the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, commissioners paid tribute to the president by designating the second Monday in November a legal holiday: Barack Obama Day.

This level of worship is unmatched in US history as I can tell. Especially for someone in office a week. I agree with J.H. Huebert over at LRC blog:

Some libertarians see this as an opportunity for people to be disillusioned when Obama fails, but I don’t. Given these people’s unquestioning adoration for Obama — and his status in their minds as someone as untouchable as Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King — whatever goes wrong will not be his fault, no matter what. Instead, it will be the fault of anyone who has attempted to restrain him in any way. When he fails, they will be ready and willing to give him more power — all that he says he needs.


The children represent him? The myth that our government represents us is bad enough; the idea that people now think we exist to represent our so-called leader is terrifying.

Some good news from this election

Posted on November 5th, 2008 by bile
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  • Ralph Nader, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party will all substantially increase their raw vote totals over 2004.
  • Ron Paul received 2.2% in Montanna and 0.5% in Louisiana. Third place in both.
  • Ron Paul kept his districts House seat.
  • Few of the Ron Paul candidates won. Lamborn of Colorado 5th District and McClintock of California 4th District. It’s been questioned however whether Lamborn is an actual RP backed candidate.
  • Maine rejects sales taxes and medical claim fees to fund state health program.
  • South Dakota voted not to ban abortion.
  • Massachusetts decrims marijuana.
  • Michigan voted to allow medical marijuana.
  • Washington voted to allow for allowing some terminally ill adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.
  • Arizona shot down requiring revocation of business licenses of any employer who knowingly hires illegal aliens.
  • Colorado fails to define human life as beginning at fertilization.
  • Nebraska bans discrimination and preferential treatment by the State.

Let me include the bad:

  • Few of the Ron Paul candidates won. Lamborn of Colorado 5th District and McClintock of California 4th District. It’s been questioned however whether Lamborn is an actual RP backed candidate.
  • Colorado fails to ban discrimination and preferential treatment by the state.
  • Colorado fails to prohibit mandatory union membership and mandatory union dues.
  • Arizona bans same sex marriage.
  • Arizona shot down requiring that a majority of all registered voters approve any initiative with spending or tax increases.
  • Arkansas bans unmarried cohabitating couples from adopting or being foster parents.
  • California establishes the nation’s first comprehensive farm animal rights law.
  • California shot down expanding treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders. (better then prison IMO)
  • California banned same sex marriage.
  • Florida bans same sex marriage.
  • Massachusetts overwhelmingly rejects getting rid of state income tax.
  • Massachusetts bans dog racing.
  • Montana provides government funded health insurance coverage for as many as 30,000 uninsured children.
  • North Dakota votes against reducing or eliminating income tax.
  • Oregon votes against requiring that teacher pay and job security be linked directly to classroom performance.

McCain wins Bay State Ron Paul backers

Posted on September 4th, 2008 by bile
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In a last-minute show of unity, Bay State Ron Paul supporters decided to throw their votes behind Sen. John McCain last night.

About a dozen Massachusetts supporters of the Texas Congressman and GOP upstart decided to back McCain only an hour before the delegates began to cast votes for the presidential pick.

“We decided the best course of action was to give a little to get a lot,” said Chris Blanc, a Cambridge resident who supports Paul. “The Massachusetts GOP really wanted to show unanimous support.”

Paul, shunned by the Republican convention because he wouldn’t endorse McCain, has been holding daily “counter rallies” in Minnesota where devoted supporters hiss when McCain’s name is uttered.

Rep. Paul Loscocco (R-Holliston) worked with Paul sympathizers to join the delegation so all 43 delegate votes would go to McCain.

“Give a little to get a lot”? Mr. Blanc, you get nothing and took two steps backwards. Bending to the will of GOP was not what you and the other delegates were sent there to do. Thank you for undermining all the hard work and dedication of Ron Paul supporters in and outside the boundaries of Massachusetts. I’m very disappointed.

My hat goes off to the delegates of Alaska, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia who stood their ground.

RNC Results

Posted on September 3rd, 2008 by bile
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When asking the delegation for nominations for president, after McCain was included the person presiding asked for any more names, Ron Paul was clearly yelled several times and was ignored without any recognition.

The following states did not give all their votes to John McCain:

  • Alaska: 24 McCain, 5 Ron Paul
  • Idaho: 26 McCain, 6 ?
  • Maine: 20 McCain, 1 ?
  • Minnesota: 35 McCain, 6 ?
  • Oregon: 26 McCain, 4 Ron Paul
  • Utah: 2 Romney, 34 McCain
  • Washington: 36 McCain, 4 “Dr. Paul”
  • West Virginia: 2 Ron Paul, 30 McCain

There may have been more states but this is all I noticed.

Sadly, states like Nevada and Montana where Paul received more votes than McCain, all their delegate votes went to McCain due to party loyalists taking over state conventions. It’s also sad that some states did not give Paul, Huckabee or Romney the votes they had actually received.

When Ron Paul received votes the announcer did not repeat his name nor vote count. Just McCain’s. However, for Utah she repeated Romney’s 2 votes. For Washington, the other announcer cut off the one repeating the vote so that Paul’s name could not be said. When repeating West Virginia’s results she caught herself about to repeat Paul’s 2 votes and quickly stopped, going on to repeat McCain’s only. I guess they think if they ignore him, not say his name 3 times… he won’t show up / go away. I think they’re mistaken.

They reported Romney got 2 votes and Paul 5. That’s obviously not correct. He was explicitly given 15 votes.

Arizona delegates made mention of Barry Goldwater being another great politician from Arizona. As did a few randomly interviewed people after the convention. Funny… John McCain, at least on domestic issues, is practically the antithesis of Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater Jr. had endorsed Ron Paul and was at the Rally for the Republic continuing his support just yesterday.

Juror dismissed from drug case for asking about prohibition constitutionality

Posted on August 14th, 2008 by bile
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It was supposed to be just another federal drug prosecution.  The federal prosecutors introduced evidence that the man on trial was involved in the black market drug trade.  The defense attorney said the government agents entrapped his client.  And then the twelve citizen-jurors retired to deliberate the outcome of the case.

But then something unusual happened.  The jury sent a note to the trial judge with the following query: Since the Constitution needed to be amended in 1919 to authorize federal criminal prosecutions for manufacturing and smuggling alcohol, a juror wanted to know from the judge where “is the constitutional grant of authority to ban mere possession of cocaine today?”

That’s a fair question.  It is a point that has been made in Cato’s publications ( go here (pdf) and here (pdf)) and a point that has been made by Justice Clarence Thomas, among many others.  Federal District Court Judge William Young was startled.  He says he has been on the bench for 30 years and has never faced a situation where a juror was challenging the legitimacy of a criminal law.  Young tried to assure the jury that the federal drug laws are constitutional because the Supreme Court has interpreted the commerce clause quite expansively.  When the jury sent out more notes about a juror that wasn’t going to sign off on an unconstitutional prosecution, Young halted the proceedings to identify the ”problem juror.”  Once discovered, that juror was replaced with an alternate–over the objections of defense counsel.  Shortly thereafter, the new jury returned with guilty verdicts on several cocaine-related charges.

It is an extraordinary thing for a judge to meddle with the jury in the middle of its deliberations.  So, to justify his removal of the “problem juror,” a man named Thomas Eddlem, Judge Young issued a 40-page memorandum of law (pdf).  I happen to know and respect Judge Young.  I invited him to speak here at Cato about the awful federal sentencing guidelines, but his legal memorandum in this case is remarkably thin.  I will briefly respond to his substantive arguments below.

1.  Court precedents say jurors have no right to nullify.  Well, yes, that is undeniable.   But that’s like someone saying in 1950 that court precedents tell us that  ”separate, but equal” is the law of the land–go read Plessy v. Ferguson. The real question is whether those court rulings are truly consistent with the Constitution.  I would also point out that even though many modern court rulings express hostility toward jury nullification, no court has yet dared try to reverse a not guilty verdict or attempt to punish any juror who cast a not guilty vote in a jury room where the result was deadlock (not an untoward outcome, by the way).  Judges do remove jurors from time to time, but there is no punishment.  At least not yet.

2.  Judge Young writes, “The impropriety of nullification emanates from the notion that ours is ‘a government of laws and not of men,’” and he attributes that proposition to our second president, John Adams, who also authored the Massachusetts Constitution.  The quote is accurate, but Young is mixing up legal principles and does not know Adams well enough.  Like so many of America’s early leaders, John Adams was a strong proponent of jury nullification.  Here’s Adams: “It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” C.F. Adams, “The Works of John Adams,” 253-255 (1856)(emphasis added).

3.  Jury nullification undermines the rule of law. This is simply another variation of objection #2 above.  There is a logical fallacy to this objection.  Jury nullification is assumed to be improper–so it undermines “the law.”  It is like saying a presidential pardon undermines the “rule of law.”  But if the president has the power to pardon, and he does, he can exercise it (though we may or may not like the result in particular cases).  This is the way in which to understand jury nullification.  The framers of the American Constitution considered it to be part and parcel of what a criminal jury trial was all about.  Some state constitutions, such as Indiana, Maryland and Oregon, explicitly provide that juries have the power to judge the law and the facts in criminal cases.  Judges are the ones that have undermined the “rule of law” by pretending those provisions mean the opposite of what they say.

Judge Young expressed alarm about the recent Time magazine article by David Simon and his The Wire colleagues that calls for jury nullification in drug cases.  But that article has revived a debate that we should all welcome.  For much more on this subject, go here, here, here, and here.

Some other jury nullification quotes:

The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts. -Samuel Chase, U.S. Supreme Court Justice / 1796

The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice / 1920

The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy. -John Jay, U.S. Supreme Court Justice / 1794

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution. -Thomas Jefferson / 1789

Obama implies the federal government or world government should regulate how much we eat, what we drive, how we heat our homes

Posted on May 18th, 2008 by bile
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Pitching his message to Oregon’s environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to “lead by example” on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

“That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” he added.

Sounds like more of this green globalization totalitarianism that the far eco-left has been pushing for years. I hear more and more Obama supporters comment that they like the guy but they really don’t know who he is or what he’s about and that worries them. Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite for supporting someone? You shouldn’t be second guessing your vote because you were too lazy to do research on the guy you’re helping put into power yet enthusiastically promoted before hand.

The more Obama opens his mouth the scarier he gets. It pains me to say this but given the reality of the situation… that we will likely have an even larger majority of Democrats in the House and Senate… I’m starting to hope that if one of the top 3 are to win… McCain wins in November just to provide some sort of conflict between the two branches. The two parties and in particular McCain and Hillary are very much alike… but they have to put on a show for those who believe they are in fact quite different. That show may be enough to help minimize the damage done. This in no way means I’d vote for that warmongering idiot. Just speculating.