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Posts posted by Pangloss

  1. You have not come up with any evidence to support the notion that the US would ignore court cases that do not focus on the constitutionality

    I don't have to -- it defies common sense.


    Murder is only illegal because there's a law on the books that says so. Failure to enforce any murder appeal produces a defacto state of allowing murder. The government could state that it still enforces the law by continuing to arrest suspects and putting them on trial. Then they would be automatically appealed by their lawyers and their clients immediately set free.


    You're parsing a narrow definition and demonizing my opinion in the process. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop. There's no particular reason for you to respond to an opinion by stating that I'm not entitled to my own facts, or that I'm just "making it up". That's appeal to ridicule.

  2. This article in Forbes attacks Newt Gingrich for calling President Obama's stance on DOMA “a dereliction of duty and a violation of his constitutional oath that cannot be allowed to stand.” Gingrich should have refrained from this rush to judgment and sought the full history of these cases, but instead he blazed a trail straight to the nearest Fox News camera to tell everyone how scary it is.


    This author found several parallels in recent Republican administrations:

    In 1982, the Reagan Administration refused to defend a case where the IRS denied tax exemptions to Bob Jones University, rejecting the IRS’s argument that the exemption should be denied because the university was practicing racial segregation for religious reasons. In 1983, the Reagan DOJ joined with the plaintiff petitioning the Court of Appeals for review of a deportation order that the plaintiff believed to be unconstitutional.


    In both these instances, the Reagan Administration believed that the laws that the government was attempting to enforce were unconstitutional.


    Pres. George H.W. Bush did the same in Metro Broadcasting vs. FCC and Bush the second did it ACLU vs. Mineta. In the ACLU case, the Solicitor General explained the administration’s decision in a letter to Congress where he wrote, “the government does not have a viable argument to advance in the statute’s defense and will not appeal the district court’s decision.”


    In fact, as there exists a federal law requiring the President to inform Congress when the Department of Justice chooses not to support the constitutionality of a particular act of Congress, we know that this has happened thirteen times.


    The legal justification for these actions has long been accepted law and goes to the very oath of office that Newt seems to feel the president is violating in his DOMA decision.

    While the details of these cases do vary, this is a well-considered reflection on the history of these cases, and supports the notion that this is not an extreme event.


    That having been said, here is where my hackles rise:

    While I agree with the President that it is far more desirable to solve problems such as this with Congressional action, when Congress refuses to do so it falls to whomever happens to be sitting in the Oval Office to oppose laws that he or she believes to be in violation of the Constitution.

    That is indeed what has been happening, but given the political nature of the Executive Branch, it boggles the mind that anyone in their right mind would think that this is a good idea. It's a horrendously awful idea that just hasn't backfired... yet. Or so it seems to me.

  3. You are entitled to your opinion, but you aren't entitled to your own facts. Do you have any that back up your claims?

    You're so busy making me wrong you're overlooking the most obvious aspect of the problem: Not defending a law in court has precisely the same outcome as not enforcing it. That's a legitimate concern and opinion, and I'm entitled to state it without being dismissively accused of "having my own facts".



    Er. Who exactly is charged or prosecuted under the Defense of Marriage Act?

    Well no, that's true, in this case it's just failure to recognize the marriage. (shrug) The problem remains the same -- the government "enforces" the law, then ignores an appeal, with the same outcome: Defacto illegality.


    And while I favor gay marriage, and oppose conservatives leaping to conclusions here about the Obama administration's willingness to enforce the law (this is a legitimate avenue for them to explore), I am concerned about the long-term repercussions of selective enforcement, which has come up before and will likely come up again.

  4. Well you're welcome to your opinion. I disagree. The reasoning you're defending, that narrow parsing, is quite similar to the reasoning used by the Bush administration to defend warrantless wiretaps, the imprisonment of Jose Padilla, and other items that were roundly criticized by the left on a broader, more generalized basis, just as the right is doing to President Obama right now.


    You can go and look up subtle nuances of difference between those cases and this one if you like, but most people don't really go there -- that's why we hire representatives to take care of these details for us. Which is why I think the right should stop bashing the administration and wait to see how this plays out.


    The risk is real. But that doesn't mean the administration is throwing away the concept of defending all laws on the books any more than the Bush administration threw away civil liberties or ignored the rights of American citizens to due process.

  5. damn, i was under the impression thar the somalian coastline wasn't too horribly large.

    Yeah it doesn't seem that way, but that's the problem of Africa throwing the scale off for everything in and around it on the map. This perspective kinda helps a bit -- you see it on a lot of Web sites but I don't know how accurate it is. If it's accurate then what brings it into perspective for me is that Somalia's coastline is roughly on the order of the American Eastern Seaboard.



  6. Why dont we just park several countries navies around the somolian coastline?

    They do. It's called Combined Task Force 150.


    But Somalia has about 3,300 kilometers of coastline, and once they range out from that coastline (say, to do some perfectly innocent fishing), they dramatically increase the amount of area that has to be watched. If that ABC News article was correct and their actual range is the same as the area of the continental United States, that's 770 million hectares. Ouch.


    And it has to be monitored continuously. Ships don't operate continuously, they rotate between roughly 1/3rd of their time on patrol and 2/3rds of their time in port. (Actually that's just the US with its hyperactive military -- as I understand it most countries are more like 10%/90% -- in port most of the time. Active duty is many times more expensive than port/base duty.) And the United States, again the biggest and most active military in the world, only has 289 ships.


    That having been said, I would guess that a permanent aircraft carrier rotation (essentially three carrier task force groups rotating through the CTF over the course of a year) could cover a significant amount of the search area. If memory serves they have an effective surface radar search profile of something on the order of 500 kilometers in radius. That's a pretty big swath of the problem area. Carriers deployments are the most expensive of all -- again going by memory here I believe one carrier group costs over a billion dollars a year to operate. But they're deployed anyway, so it's really an opportunity cost -- are they where you need them to be, etc. And 11 is a lot of carrier groups -- you'd think they could keep one on station.


    I don't know offhand if any carrier groups have done pirate duty. There are some not too far away, of course.


    in effect there wouldn't be any vessels leaving somolia for other than fishing activites. We would also have our marintine policing forces on station and actively participating in hindering any pirate activity. No matter who you are, your going to need to port sometime. if we have a near "blockade" in effect, pirates who are in port wont be able to leave and pirates who are out of port wont be able to dock.

    I don't believe Somalia is under quarantine, by the way, but I could be mistaken.

  7. The letter is very clear that section 3 of DOMA will continue to be enforced, as the government is obligated to do.

    Which is pretty odd, because what it basically means is that people will be arrested, charged, and prosecuted, but if they win and the case is appealed, they will then sit on their hands and do nothing.


    The enforcement of any law is always selective, given that the state's resources of lawyers and policemen are limited.

    So herein lies the real danger. By shrugging and saying "well, it's fine, liberal governments will enforce liberal laws, and conservative governments will enforce conservative laws, and that's just how it will be", the risk is pretty obvious.


    But as I said before, I think people (and anti-Obama conservatives in particular) should refrain from rushing to judgment on this. The administration is testing the waters, just as the Bush administration often did with regard to issues related to civil liberties. Some of these waters need to be tested so that we'll know what works and what doesn't. Marat mentions a good example with regard to making deals with criminals -- somebody had to try that idea at some point to see what would happen, and thus a new approach was born.


    I'm down with that, even if it does make me nervous.

  8. Now, according to this, the reason the Democrats fled was to allow the bill more exposure. Now I'm not too familiar with this, but introducing the bill and wanting it passed 4 days later seems a bit rushed compared to the glacial pace the government normally works. I mean, the bill seems to be quite important, but not really urgent. How long would it be reasonable to be discussing the bill? Of course, I'm sure the Democrats are gaining themselves some political capital by allowing for more media coverage of the protests.


    4 days seems like a small number. 43 hours of debate before there was a closure vote seems like a large number. I guess people have to decide for themselves whether it was reasonably "exposed".

  9. I've been following this and it's an interesting problem, and I'm not rushing to judgment about the Obama administration's handling of this. But I am concerned about the potential trend. This is no federal regulation, changing with the winds of elections or unfunded during tough economic times (e.g. immigration enforcement). It's a fully-debated law of the land, passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by a Democratic president less than 15 years ago. The vote wasn't even close.


    The bill was passed by Congress by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate[1] and a vote of 342–67 in the House of Representatives,[2] and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.


    I understand that times (and public sentiments) change, but the danger here is that it amounts to selective enforcement according to ideology. What laws might a Republican president choose not to enforce?

  10. Of course, even the most poor in America are still better off than the poor in the rest of the world.



    But like you said, even the poorest of the poor sometimes have that one amenity. Do all poor people really need to look like they've been in a concentration camp and have no material possession in this world to be considered poor? That's ludicrous.

    Of course that would be ludicrous. And I've never said anything like that. Just because the homeless and the Playstation Poor are lumped together in the same category doesn't mean there isn't some level of suffering in the US. I support the general concept of social programs, and I've said so many, many times.


    What I object to is the use of the Playstation Poor to convince Americans that there are massive numbers of truly needy people in this country, when in fact we have no idea if that's true or not, or what those numbers might be.


    And Mr Skeptic, I don't believe that that picture is representative of how the 43 million Americans who are below the "poverty line" live.

  11. That's my concern as well. But I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out. The world has changed, new technology, independent media, and a better understanding of what democracy means now exist in the Middle Eastern culture. Perhaps they'll get it right this time.

  12. An ABC News story I saw the other day claimed that the pirates have expanded their operating sphere to an area about the size of the continental US. If that's true then it's going to be even harder to patrol those waters and prevent more kidnappings. The international effort thus far has been pretty good, IMO, and an easy sell with national governments looking to give their Navys more experience. But we may be moving beyond a simple enforcement solution.


    Is there any chance the recent uprisings in various ME countries could have a long-term positive impact on Somalia? If strong democracies arise in those nations, could they decide to help lift their neighbor into a 21st century economy? Or is that a pipe dream?

  13. No, the union was willing to accept the cutbacks. The fight is over the attempt to strip them of their collective bargaining rights.

    That's one way of putting it. Here's another: The fight is over the attempt to limit the power of non-government organizations to control the budget process.


    The the editorial position of the Chicago Tribune, entitled "Lost: The Common Good":




    Walker wants government officials to have authority to reshape public-employee benefits without collective bargaining. Walker wouldn't remove the right of unions to bargain for wages.


    No, he is not seeking to eliminate unions, though you might get that impression from the heated rhetoric of the employees and even from President Barack Obama, who called this an "assault on unions."


    Walker is trying to give Wisconsin a reality check. In response, public workers have interrupted the Legislature. Madison and many neighboring public schools have closed because so many teachers called in sick and left to join the protest. Democratic lawmakers disappeared on Thursday to stall a vote on the budget measures. Apparently some of them fled to … Illinois.

  14. Well that's why I felt it was relevant here, because they're not actually on strike, they're supposedly working, getting paid because they're "out sick" or whatever.


    But there's probably a lot of media inflation in that -- perhaps most of them are being straight-up about it, stating that they're not coming in because they're going to the protest and assuming (correctly, I hope) that they won't be paid for those absences. The news stories I've seen are too busy telling me how exciting it all is to answer such an uninteresting question. (lol)

  15. I'm responding to that comparison being made by the mass media. Queue reporter standing in front of a homeless shelter, trying to give her story more impact by citing statistics on the number of Americans living below the "poverty line", when in fact many of those in that demographic have no need for such shelters.


    It is legitimate to expose such comparisons, especially with data from the Census Bureau's own reports.

  16. Yes, you did. Phrasing the text as a question bears not on the fact that you equate the 'poor' of the statistics with those below the poverty line-especially since the question is in the second sentence.

    Well I can't stop you from reading between the lines of my posts, but I am allowed to ask that question.


    I have supported on this forum the need for social spending through safety nets, and the importance of helping those who are down on their luck. I support a compromise system of government. And I resent your ongoing campaign to demonize my opinions before this community.


    What numbers say that? You've not shown them.

    Yes I have. The statistic indicates the poverty line, not those who are actually poor. The United Nations calls the poverty line $1/day in earnings (source). The United States Census calls the poverty line people who can buy cheeseburgers at McDonald's and face such difficult choices as "Conan" versus "Jay". I've supported this, asking the further question of why we don't know how many truly poor people we have in this country.


    If you feel an ideological need to equate Playstation owners with the truly needy, more power to you, but I intend to continue pointing out the error in this "logic".

  17. Incidentally, what are the teachers protesting about?

    Compensation. They don't think they get paid enough, and they don't want to accept cutbacks.


    Which it is absolutely their right to do. Just not while they're supposed to be in the classroom. If I were to do that I would be fired. Why should they get special treatment just because they have a louder voice?

  18. Well I agree with what you're saying there, I just don't think it's quite as hopeless as all that. People don't like their favored programs to be cut, but I think if you poll specific issues you never find 100% of the people in support of maintaining fund on that specific item. So it's just a matter of getting people to go along for a generally unpleasant ride.


    IMO the best way to do it is to stop lumping things together in packages and force individual votes on each issue. Politicians hate that because it puts them on record as opposing a specific issue when they really just want to cut spending, but the people would support that kind of approach because each issue would essentially be given an up-or-down vote.


    Requiring a majority public consent on each issue would straighten out the budget. It would just take too long to implement. But if the politicians can't straighten things out, we'll dump them and elect different ones. That's what happened in 2008.

  19. Then why do you equate the two in your sig?

    I don't. I ask a question.


    I mean that they're without ANY context to make any sort of point from them.

    How much context is there in a reporter citing the poverty line statistic with no explanation of what that statistic means?


    The poverty line may be skewed upwards in the US (as compared to a number of European countries) due to the high income of the super-rich.

    This may lead to over-estimation of poverty. However, in addition to the already mentioned fallacies regarding the presence of amenities, there is also the additional factor of high houusehold debt, which may have helped financing things like cars and TVs (items that are not already included in standard apartments).


    Looking carefully over the data will be required for real comparative measures, however the presented data is clearly insufficient to declare (as has been in the sig and a number of posts) that the US poor are extremely well off, or that there are no (or very few poor) at all.

    I agree, it's a wealthy country and that suggests that the line is being drawn pretty high. Unfortunately that leaves us wondering about the difference between Playstation owners and the homeless.


    There are a lot of poor where I come from. Yes, most of them have a car, but it's usually a used car. Yes, most have a TV, but it's not a flat screen. There aren't really any hungry people, because it's nearly impossible to go without food in the US due to the many government programs in place. I don't understand why some statistics would lead to the conclusion that there are no poor in the US.

    It shouldn't. It should make one wonder why we're being told that we have 43 million poor people in the US, when the numbers say no such thing.

  20. Your source does not indicate that 'poor' was taken to be those below the poverty line.

    Of course not, it doesn't even claim to do that. The error in the example I gave is on the part of any reporter who erroneously draws the conclusion that the "poverty line" supports conclusions about the number of homeless or poor people in the country.


    Now, the 'poverty line' is something we can actually analyze. We can do calculations to get an idea of the quality of life of people at and below the line.

    Sure. And the quality of that life is accurately reflected in the numbers gathered from those statistics, which are reported in the analysis in my signature.


    The statistics you cited cannot be used to make valid judgements as they are completely without context and many of them are irrelevant or directly contradict the implications you are trying to make.

    You mean they're without the ideological context that you would have added to them in order to make a political point. When you start elevating the value of context over data, then you're well outside of the realm of science and well into the realm of politics.


    Lying with statistics is always invalid. Especially when your quoted statistics don't even support your position.

    What lying are you referring to? What position are you referring to?

  21. No it doesn't, it shows people divided, not a majority in support of current spending.


    The majority already agrees with higher government spending than would be allowed by our current tax revenue. Now they just need to be convinced that they should pay for it instead of borrowing it.


    This does not mean that the majority support the current level of spending by the government.


    Sure it does.


    48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.
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