We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, April 23. 2014
A reader sent that pic of an American Egret in New England, with dramatic breeding plumage.
Nepal's Sherpas Cancel the 2014 Climbing Season
Good riddance. The entire Everest Carnival is plain stupid. Unemployed Sherpas are welcome to apply for work at the Farm.
The 7500 Square Foot Soho Loft That Just Sold For $27 Million
Exploding student debt threatens families
The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest
We need more capitalism, not less: Piketty Gets It Wrong - Instead of berating capitalists, we need to make it easier for workers to join their ranks.
In the US, it's not the 0.01% of movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, hedgie stars, and NYC heiresses. It's the other end - single parents. Anyway, Piketty is French and thus not worth thinking about.
Mozilla, Duck Dynasty, Chick-fil-A, and the politicization of everything
I entirely agree with the administration on that. In fact, I would go much further.
Re Sotomayor: "Her argument amounts to an assertion that a ban on racial discrimination
CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend - Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
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Re Sotomayor: "Her argument amounts to an assertion that a ban on racial discrimination is a form of racial discrimination--that everyone is equal, but some
are more equal than others."
It was inevitable that Justice Sotomayor would expose herself to be (1) not that smart and (2) a race/gender warrior. Which is exactly what those who questioned her nomination suggested.
Obama planning expansion of clemency for “thousands” of non-violent offenders.
I am confused - does not the word "offender" mean the same thing even if you attach "non-violent" in front? Clemency for what - violating the law, illegally entering a country in a clandestine manner? Why are our politicians putting on the Ritz for people who violated the law?
You're here illegally, you deserve to be deported - period. No clemency, no nicey-nice, no "contributors to society" nonsense. You need to go back and do it the right way.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
He's reducing the sentences of drug offenders. On its face, not a bad idea but the way to do it is to alter the mandatory sentencing laws the Boomers rabble-roused for in the 1980s.
It's a good thing to reduce the prison population (it costs more to incarcerate someone each year than to put them thru a year at a good college). Also, those mandatory sentencing laws for drugs ended up disproportionately imprisoning blacks, other minorities, and poor people so were very unjust (rich white druggies tended to get off with Daddy's lawyer's help).
The problem is that people who have been behind bars for years will be exiting to an America where virtually all entry level jobs and work for those without a college degree is now given to illegals. It will be very difficult for these released captives to find a job to lead an honest life, especially given the suspicion with which ex-cons are viewed. I have a friend from church who makes a point of hiring recent ex-cons in his small business, and who is rewarded by loyal hard workers (he is a very demanding but fair boss), but he's unusual. I've talked to people who even argue that one of the major reason for our draconian sentencing policies is to keep young men imprisoned who might riot and protest the lack of unskilled work for them in most parts of the US.
So helping them search for work before they even leave will be a big part of a policy like this actually working.
Because locking people up for years who aren't rapists, murderers or thugs is barbaric, but people need help finding honest work when they've been out of the mainstream for years.
>>Who makes mysterious rectangular tree holes?
Note: we go horsebackriding every weekend in a state park nearby (in PA) and rarely ever see or hear wildlife. One day we heard the peepers (frogs) and last weekend we saw a wild turkey, but except for the occasional rabbit, we rarely see or hear much. EXCEPT for the woodpeckers. The woodpecker activity is just about constant. (this could be because we ride in early to mid afternoon).
also: those big burls in trees - have you guys done any info blogs on those? Saw on "Buying Alaska" that those weird looking bumps are highly prized and sought after for logs used in log cabins.
OUr woods are full of them, and my daughter says that they are mostly from invasive wasps (although we've never been attacked by the B*%^&rds)
College Debt -
The author of that article suggests restricting college loans to those students who have the high-school grades and test scores to indicate that they will do well in college.
The subtext is that if we could just reduce the number going to college, then the ones who graduate will have an easier time getting selected for the limited number of "good jobs".
Then he suggests that the government pays businesses to hire high-school graduates, so that there is a carrot to keep people out of college in addition to the stick.
"Obama planning expansion of clemency for “thousands” of non-violent offenders"
I entirely agree with the administration on that. In fact, I would go much further.
You might want to make sure that Obama's definition of 'non-violent' is the same as yours first.
For some reason I'm reminded of Castro releasing 'political prisoners' in 1980
"The New Economics"--for several reasons we are unable, unwilling, or just plain incapable of stating the true problem !
We will not let ourselves acknowledge the following:
1. that a severe growth in population has coincided with a substantial reduction in jobs due to technology, or other social reasons.
2. There is a large population of people that will never work if they can avoid it! The old motivation--work hard enough at school, go to college and get out of the trap your mommy was born into--this no longer works for those populations, because they know it to be hooey.
3. We are not willing to acknowledge that for these 'communities' we must think of new ways for them to feel good about life (so they won't steal from, and murder the rest of us like Detroit/Chicago).
4. Putting unqualified people from these communities into 'leadership' positions has served no one.
5. The plan to keep them stoned and docile does not work too well either as witnessed in other countries.
6. The problem may have been caused in part by economics, but it is not solely an economic problem. The badly designed strategies of the hippy generation have failed and we begin by first acknowledging that failure.
7. Sustainability--there are areas on this continent that are better at self sustainability than others (due to weather, soil, etc.). Much of that sits idle, because these 'communities' don't want to work in agriculture, so we bring in more illegals and perpetuate the problem.
8. How do you teach self respect? How do you teach people that by behaving in a self disciplined way doing a job as simple as raising your own little plot of veggies will help to improve the way you feel about life? There are hundreds of square miles of town in So. California that have been taken over by "illegals". These used to be clean little track house neighborhoods, with lawns in the front and a little garden in the back. Clean and safe maintained by "white" people who shared a common set of values that allowed one to have self respect. I don't see the Dept. of Education teaching anything like this--do you?
It's numbers alright--but, not the numbers economists talk about!
Given the free ads at MF for Dunkin Donuts, perhaps this post on coffee serving establishments would be of interest?
repeat what Tom Francis said...
Mayor Giuliani already proved that to stop the big crimes, you stop all the little crimes. Apparently we have to learn that lesson again...
The real answer would be to make the penalty so high, and the place (prison) so unpleasant that people would simply behave themselves. After a while it might become a habit. Then, of course, our better, more compassionate selves, would decide that these penalties are two high, and what would Jesus do, and we're better than this, blah, blah, blah; resulting in lowered penalties and shortly thereafter, a rising crime rate for both small and large crimes.
History continues to rhyme, if only we would listen for it...
I found this reasoning a bit bizarre:
As Scalia notes: "Were a public university to stake its defense of a race-based-admissions policy on the ground that it was designed to benefit primarily minorities (as opposed to all students, regardless of color, by enhancing diversity), we would hold the policy unconstitutional."
So in other words, the reason a university discriminates matters, not that it does. Would this be applied to other prohibitions in the Constitution? Apparently it does. Scalia references the Fourteenth Amendment in his reasoning which in part states:
... nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...
This requires that the states treatment of it's citizens conform to the Fifth Amendment (which had only applied to the Federal Government):
...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...
However none of that matters when it is done for the purpose of "land management", "environmental protection", or tax collection.
So maybe Scalia's reasoning is not so bizarre. It is still unsettling to me, though.
Rather than saying, "It is still unsettling to me, though.", I should have said, "But it is very troubling!"
I wouldn't worry too much. You're just conflating results you don't like with a process you don't understand.
Scalia's concurring opinion relies on the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, not the due process clause of the same.
dig it: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-682_j4ek.pdf Scalia's opinion is 27 pages into text.
I didn't say you were confused, I said you'd conflated some concepts, here, equal protection and due process in Scalia's opinion.
Later, you make a very general claim that land management, tax and enviro decisions denied due process to ... someone, somewhere, sometime. Because that claim is so amorphous, what you're really arguing is that because you don't like some decisions on these issues, you conflate the decision with the administrative or adjudicative process itself, hence, any bad call is recast as a denial of due process.
You misunderstand my point.
I know he is using the equal protection clause. Read what Scalia says. He says if the stated goal is to help a minority, then the state (in this case a state college) cannot discriminate based on race, but if the state comes up with another reason that purports to benefit all students regardless of race, then it is ok. In other words, it is not that the state is discriminating but rather that it has come up with a reason to discriminate that is somehow palatable.
If you apply that logic to other areas of government, then it is ok to take ones property without due process if you come up with the right reason - saving an endangered species for example. In other words, the offence is not an offence if the right rationale is applied to it.
I'm curious to know what you think "due process" means.
I'll be happy to discuss specific instances, but not over generalized claims. If I resorted to your level of argument, I'd merely observe that the IRS frequently seizes the bank accounts of tax cheats after giving them fair notice and an opportunity to be heard with review by the Tax Court, District Court or Court of Federal Claims the latter two being reviewable by the Courts of Appeal and USSC, which is about all the process that's due.
RE the EPA -- presumably you mean Sackett v EPA, note that USSC in 2012 held that the Administrative Procedures Act permits judicial review of EPA decisions. That's basically what due process is, even though you disagree with the decision.
I'm sorry, you are wrong about the IRS. It happened to my wife. She found out when she tried to write a check to pay for groceries that her bank account was attached. If the IRS believes you are a tax cheat (or says they believe it) they can attach your bank account, garnish wages, or seize property.
I was unaware that Sackett was decided. Presumably, that will reduce the number of abuses going forward but I'm not optimistic. Has the Fish and Wildlife service made water available to California farmers that they said was required for the delta smelt? Are prairie dogs still protected in Utah at the detriment of landowners? Is the spotted owl still used to restrict logging? Is the list of endangered species subject to any judicial review? I honestly don't know the answer to all these questions but I strongly suspect that they are not likely to redound to the benefit of the landowner.
As for Scalia's quote, I don't see how you can interpret it any other way than the defense of a discrimination policy is determinative.
Re: the IRS. I believe you are sincere, however, there is no way to assess your case without the entire file in front of me. I assume you exhausted all administrative and judicial review of the IRS ruling? Right? (that's not a rhetorical question) That's what due process means. A constant misbelief always surfaces that due process means objectively correct decision. It means, at its heart, fairness: notice and an opportunity to be heard (by the IRS under the rules of the Administrative Procedure Act, by the Tax Court, by an Article III Court). It is a process.
Re: Sackett. no, actually, it probably won't reduce abuses, because the EPA can always outspend most private litigants. I think the opinion itself pointed that out, and invited congress to step in. At least its a step.
Re: Scalia. Since you asked about my personal belief, I'm fairly certain about what Scalia's opinion meant because this is what I do for a living. An objective reading shows Scalia is attacking the basis of the majority opinion (political process doctrine) while still upholding the statute on different (equal protection) grounds. He believed there was no discriminatory intent.
I figured a long time ago you were a lawyer but I tried not to hold it against you. :-) (actually, I have several lawyers in my family with whom I'm close)
I agree that the EPA abuses will likely continue but at least until the Sackett decision, they were "legal". There are many other similar cases of EPA abuse (e.g. farmers not allowed to use their lands because of questionable wetland claims) and presumably they will be covered by the same decision. Hopefully, they will at least "get their day in court".
I hesitated to discuss specifics (that was before I knew you were a lawyer) because they can bog down a conversation which I meant to keep at the level of principle and logic.
My wife's case with the IRS was many years ago and I doubt that even my wife remembers all the details except that: 1) it was a complete surprise to my wife, 2) she was making minimum wage and did not have the time or resources to fight it, 3) the business venture that was the origin of the tax problem was a partnership between her, her first husband, her brother and his brother's wife. As far as I know, none of them were "inconvenienced" by the IRS. I believe at the time my wife's bank account was attached, she and her first husband were at least estranged. 4) when we got married, we straightened it out and she did not get the money from her bank account back (it may have been a part of the settlement but I don't think so - It was not a large amount of money and we were just glad to have it behind us).
Now, having gone into the "weeds" I didn't want to get into, you have to admit that there are other cases where the government can take money from you "because it is for the right purpose" such as asset forfeiture "laws" that deprive people of their property. I would also include welfare of all types in that category. Also, back to Sackett and related cases, would it be the case that should the EPA prevail in the judicial review that the government would not have to remunerate the landowner? Were the landowners in the Kelo case paid a fair value for their land? Would the Kelo case validate my opinion that for the right justification, a person's rights can be abridged? Why isn't a tax audit a violation of the Fourth Amendment (no warrant)? It appears to me that without the threat of audit, the tax regime as currently structured would fall apart (which legally is not my problem).
As for your opinion about what Scalia meant... I only know what I read which was if the government came up with the right justification, the discrimination would be permitted. Fuller context (or more informed context) may have given me a different view (I almost always agree with his opinions so it was a surprise to read that quote).
I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe. So here's what I really think:
Something trains us citizen/subjects to accept the form of a system that ostensibly has the trappings of fairness but that offers only a limited number of outcomes which we are taught to accept. Here, the form is "due process" and "equal protection" and "voting rights" and "the first amendment" and we only ask whether the handle on the due process machine was cranked a certain number of times before someone is sentenced to death or someone else has her bank account seized. You asked why should your wife be abused by the IRS and I gave you a bullshit answer about "due process", and "the right to be heard" and "tax court", where you can contest unpaid taxes if you can afford a $500/hr attorney who'll demand a $20,000 retainer, or pay the taxes and contest the claim in district court and only pay a lawyer $300/hr.
You personally -- a citizen of the USA and maybe a veteran, or a homeowner, or family man no less than Honest Abe Washington Himself --have a right to free speech but not a right to be heard. Meanwhile a business entity which has a legal existence only so it can hold property and sue has a political voice louder than 10,000 of you (thanks, Citizens United). Why is it that its considered good advice to sell everything you own and hire the best lawyer around if the US Attorney criminal division takes an interest in you but not good advice to pick up a rifle instead?
The system uses words like "due process" to defect the unanswerable question of why? Get mad at the Revenus Service and IRS Regulation .303 but that's a deflection too. Maybe you'll get a .303 Waiver and things will be Better until next tax year.
I should have said that I didn't really expect an answer on all my points. I don't think I can disagree with you. We have a government that is supposed to guard our freedoms but because we are "self governed" we can choose to either mean it, give it lip service, or ignore it. Too often we choose to ignore it (or obfuscate) it. Also there are corner cases that don't fit so neatly in the nexus of public safety/freedom/desire to be help others/desire to help ourselves to other's stuff (for the right reason of course). The price of freedom is not only eternal vigilance but eternal desire.
Thanks for chatting. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Thank you sir, the pleasure was mine.
I addressed your point, you quoted the due process clause and developed an argument from that. the due process clause is inapposite here, it has nothing at all to do with this case.
Scalia and Thomas wrote a concurring opinion, meaning they do not agree with the reasoning of Kennedy's majority opinion but they do agree with the results of the case.
Kennedy supports the challenged state statute based on the political process doctrine, Scalia does not agree, attacks the political process cases (this is the point of his opinion), and argues the statute stands under a traditional equal protection analysis because the racially neutral statute had no racially discriminatory purpose.
Now you are confused. The state is not coming up with alternate reasons to discriminate, Scalia is giving an alternate reason to support the majority opinion. The legislature was not thinking about equal protection as an alternate to the political process doctrine when it wrote the statute at issue.
Your attempt to connect your misplaced argument to due process questions totally misses the mark and the analogy would not be taken seriously.
My response to your second post ("I'm curious to know") is out of order, sorry, hit the wrong button.
To continue, I didn't say I didn't like the decision. I disagree with racial discrimination for any reason.
As for the other examples I spelled out, maybe you can explain the due process used when the EPA deprives people of the use of their land because there is water on it or the due process when the IRS attaches your bank account because it says you owe them money.
That article was worthless. "Make the economy better", thanks Colonel Oblivious. While you're at it, please hand wave a cure for ebola.
The main issue that parents and students should confront is whether that English / Wymyn Studies / Nicaraguan Forest Peasant Revolutionary Poetry / Social Studies / Art History / Music / Political Science / Black History / degree is ever in any economy going to be worth $100,000 of post tax/pre-interest money?
The fact that the ranchers were well armed and willing to literally fight for their rights probably tempered the enthusiasm of the federal forces to engage in further aggression.
Maybe the Bundys were loony enough to start shooting, but all the other gunmen were there for the cameras. I see it as a win-win.
The "militia" wannabes were there for their 15 minutes of fame playing Desert Rats, the "militia" sniper on the bridge was there for the cameras and to impress Spotter Babe (a militia MOS). Is a gap in a traffic barrier cover or concealment? Regardless, I bet there was hot "militia action" later that night.
The feds got to play with their new armored toys and a vacation in Vegas.
The ratings were so good Reid and Old Testament Bundy are writing Part II.