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 Author Thread: Timothy Ball on Climate Change Denial
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 194 (view)
Timothy Ball on Climate Change Denial
Posted: 4/9/2014 4:47:02 PM

I clarified my earlier statement to say

No need--you were very clear the first time.

I am left to conclude that an intellectually honest discussion cannot be had with you on this subject.

You can draw whatever conclusion you like about intellectual honesty. So can anyone who reads your original claim and my response to it.

Parting observation, though-- a large object from space striking the earth with great force is not a reasonable example in the context of climate changing on its own.

I don't know what it means for the earth's climate to change "on its own." Any changes it has ever undergone can only have been caused by physical events of some type, whether internal or external. Many events on or inside the earth--convection currents within the mantle, shifting of the crustal plates, and the effect of rotational forces on winds and ocean currents and cloud formation, for example--probably affect its climate in extremely complex ways. It seems plausible that even the slowing of the earth's rotation caused by its gravitational interaction with the moon (there were 400 days in our year when the first fishes appeared) has had some as-yet unknown effects on climate.

But forces acting from outside the earth itself have also affected its climate--fluctuations in the output of the sun are one obvious example. So are the slight eccentricity of the earth's orbit, the inclination of its axis to that orbit, and the 26,000-year cycle of its precession around that axis. All these things affect, to some degree, how much sunlight falls at any one latitude at any one time of year. That in turn affects how much snowfall melts--and the less that melts, the more area remains white and the more sunlight is reflected from it instead of being absorbed.

It's almost certain not only that the earth has experienced many impacts by large extraterrestrial objects in its history, but also that these violent events suddenly and profoundly changed our climate. And maybe for very long times. These changes would have been severe and long-lasting enough that it's become a widely accepted theory that they periodically have caused catastrophic mass extinctions of many of the species then living on earth. They are prime examples of very sudden and drastic climate change that had nothing whatever to do with human activity. Just claiming they are not "reasonable" examples of this is a glib way of dismissing a point that's inconvenient for you. But it has the advantage that it takes far less thought than trying to explain why they are not.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 191 (view)
Timothy Ball on Climate Change Denial
Posted: 4/9/2014 12:33:33 PM

you certainly misunderstood what I was saying.

You said in #237 that when those who "deny climate change" feel its effects--which you took to be "famine, drought, flood, hurricane, hotter summers, colder winters, etc."--"they will simply blame it on anything but man made climate change. Yes, the climate does change on its own, but not at this accelerated pace."

I took you to mean just what you plainly said. Because my response to your claim casts doubt on it, you now try to squirm out of it by protesting that I misunderstood you. I don't think so.

the climate has changed in the past without human intervention

But you are asserting that the difference between then and now is us--that it took this "human intervention" to make the earth's climate change so quickly. I don't know what could make our climate change more quickly than an extremely powerful impact by an object from space--those changes would have occurred all over the earth within months. However suddenly or severely objects from space or the kind of rampant volcanic activity shown in the Deccan Traps may have disrupted the earth's climate, though, the fact we are here proves the disruption was not total, or permanent.

I certainly hope your sense of wonder would have led you to know about Chicxulub. But maybe you don't believe an impact enormous enough to gouge out a crater 110 miles across and twelve miles deep would have affected the earth's climate very drastically. After all, how serious could it be suddenly to have total darkness, a searingly hot atmosphere full of noxious gases, and all the vegetation on earth ablaze?
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 82 (view)
Posted: 4/9/2014 10:32:15 AM
About ten years ago, the Supreme Court of the U.S. struck down state laws against sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas. The Court said that the majority's view of an act as immoral and unacceptable is not a legitimate reason to make that act illegal.

Justice Scalia, dissenting, noted that Americans had always assumed a right to prohibit a range of acts involving sex, including adultery, bestiality, adult incest, bigamy, obscenity--and prostitution--simply because they considered them immoral and unacceptable. He went so far as to say that by holding this was no longer a good enough reason to make such things illegal, the Court had "effectively decree[d] the end of all morals legislation."

As another poster noted, it's hard to see how, when a willing prostitute and willing client agree to exchange sex acts for money, it directly harms anyone else. As Justice Scalia suggested, the real reason almost all states have made prostitution illegal seems to be that most people in those states consider it immoral.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 189 (view)
Timothy Ball on Climate Change Denial
Posted: 4/9/2014 9:53:13 AM

I don't see how people don't realize what they're really saying when they say things like this

I knew exactly what I was saying. A poster had asserted that dangerous changes in the earth's climate have taken place so quickly during its recent history that human activities must have caused them. I challenged that assertion by pointing out examples of disasters, more or less sudden, that struck the earth long before any people even existed. The events I noted disturb you, and yet you can't dispute that they happened. So instead, you try to attribute them to "strange thinking." Not very scientific of you.

you're so infatuated with whether or not we can know or prove that Humans are a big cause for certain climate conditions

That's just a fancy way of saying I question the claim that we are. For you, though, it seems to be an article of faith, for which no proof is needed.

And that's just f-cking stupid.

Spicing up an assertion with an obscenity doesn't make it anything more than an assertion. It's much easier just to call a claim stupid than to present a coherent argument that disproves it--no thinking required.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 187 (view)
Timothy Ball on Climate Change Denial
Posted: 4/8/2014 8:20:41 PM

Yes, the climate does change on its own, but not at this accelerated pace.

I wonder how anyone can know that. There is very strong evidence--from geology, paleontology, and other scientific fields--that the earth has experienced cataclysms quite a few times during its 4.6 billion years. If that unusually large moon of ours did not coalesce from bits of the earth melted and blown away by some unimaginably violent collision very early on, what is a better explanation for it? Then, for a very long time, there was no oxygen in our air--and when plants first produced it, they practically wiped out the anaerobic organisms that had lived here. Our magnetic field has reversed itself many times. Land masses have broken up, shifted all over, collided, risen and fallen, changing the ratio of land to ocean on the earth's surface. At various times objects from space have struck us with enormous force, or there has been far more volcanic activity than during our recorded history.

Both these impacts and this vulcanism, more or less suddenly, changed the chemical composition of the atmosphere and filled it with particles of dust, smoke, and ash. At various times the earth would have chilled as much of the sunlight that normally would reach the surface was cut off, or stifled as carbon dioxide and other gases released by volcanos kept heat from sunlight from radiating back into space. Carbon dioxide is in the news a lot today as a "greenhouse gas," but in other ages the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been many times what it is today. And yet the atmosphere somehow regained its equilibrium, and the oceans never did boil away.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 19 (view)
Feinstein vs. CIA
Posted: 4/3/2014 11:47:20 AM

Some may have allegedly used gentle enhanced interrogation techniques when terrorists forgot details.

The enhanced interrogation techniques ("EIT") approved by the Bush administration have been thoroughly documented. The mildest ones were to be tried first, with more severe ones being used only if necessary. Some of these techniques were mild enough that a lot of people might wonder how interrogators could have hoped to have much success using them on trained jihadists. Here is just one of many declassified documents, which run to thousands of pages, about the EIT's and the legal issues they involved.

Page numbers appear in small type at the upper right of each page. Notice that the enhanced interrogation techniques were all take from the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape ("SERE") training the U.S. military has used for years. (p. 8). On pages 15-17, there is a detailed description of the waterboard technique, with the observation that it has also been used on thousands of U.S. servicemen. Notice the medical precautions that had to be taken in all detainee interrogations, and the strict limits that had to be observed.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 17 (view)
Feinstein vs. CIA
Posted: 4/2/2014 8:50:56 PM

It's also about America's use of torture.

So far, no one has established that any responsible U.S. official has ever authorized torture--or, for that matter, that any U.S. personnel ever tortured any captive to obtain information. If this report shows that any U.S. personnel engaged in torture and that it was condoned by senior officials, I'm willing to consider the evidence.

They are war crimes.

Torture was defined and made a crime by Congress in section 2340 of the U.S. Code. This statute implements the provisions of the 1994 Convention Against Torture that the U.S. agreed to. And I'm sure somewhere in the Uniform Code of Military Justice there are statutes prohibiting U.S. servicemen from mistreating prisoners.

The subject of war crimes is not as simple and clear as you seem to think. Some perspective is called for if today, you're going to accuse American servicemen or operatives of war crimes. I guess you know FDR had a U.S. citizen executed for certain war crimes without giving him a jury trial. Was that unfair? How about the Germans captured in American uniform during the Battle of the Bulge? Was it against the laws of war to shoot them on the spot, as was done? And you may know that at the end of the war, Winston Churchill didn't want to give high-ranking Nazis any trial at all, but just to execute them. I don't think that would have been a war crime, because trials are to determine guilt, and their guilt was very obvious to the whole world. But in the end they got trials, and many people may think they deserved them. It's at least debatable.

And how about the nearly 1,000 Japanese the U.S. Navy hanged for war crimes? The records of the Far East Tribunals are not always very complete, and it's questionable how much of a trial some of these Japanese got. But how much did they deserve? Thousands of Japanese servicemen had acted like savages, committing, just for fun, tortures so barbaric it's sickening even to read about them. Starting even before WWII, Japan had been enslaving, mutilating, torturing, and murdering civilians and military prisoners by the many hundreds of thousands, and had made it national policy not to respect the laws of war. Even weeks after the atomic bombings and the surrender, Japanese camp guards were still beheading western POW's. If that was not a war crime, nothing ever could be.

America is guilty of war crimes

What are the names of these Americans who are guilty of war crimes? In what court were they convicted, and when? My God, the report has not even been released yet, and you've got the gallows all ready for these people--whoever they may be.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 14 (view)
Feinstein vs. CIA
Posted: 4/2/2014 2:38:43 PM

What does the IRS have to do with "Feinsten vs. CIA"?

I'd think the parallel was pretty obvious. You were saying the CIA had no right to withhold or frustrate access to documents that might embarrass it or show some wrongdoing by its employees. Well, another government agency, the IRS, has been dragging its feet and withholding documents that very likely would embarrass it even further and show wrongdoing by its employees. The obvious reason for Lois Lerner to have taken the Fifth is that some or all of those documents would prove she is exactly what she seems to be--a damned liar.

The poster brought up the very similar IRS scandal to find out if your outrage was selective. I think you've answered his question.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 11 (view)
Feinstein vs. CIA
Posted: 4/1/2014 10:45:52 AM

Really? But you are ok with the IRS not providing docs and heavily redacting them?

I don't know about anyone else, but I sure am. You really don't get it, do you? The CIA is bad, because it tries to protect America--which, as every good leftist knows, is an evil country that spreads toxic waste all over the Planet while oppressing and murdering millions of innocent people. The IRS and Lois Lerner, on the other hand, are good, because they fight against the evil, warmongering teabaggers and other reich-wing, xtian terrorists who hate minorities and Muslims and gays and want to poison our air and water.

So yes, the CIA should have to come clean about its torturing and other war crimes, while Lois and her friends have every right to redact and withhold and take the Fifth all they want. Some government agencies should have to play by the rules, and others should not. Simple as that. President Obama has the authority to say what goes and what doesn't--so please don't give us all that neocon garbage about following the constitution and the rule of law.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 102 (view)
Nicer homes should equal higher taxes?
Posted: 3/30/2014 1:25:44 PM

The ones who were concerned about keeping the peasants out, simply bought in areas that had things like minimum acreage requirements. No need for high taxes to do that.

Zoning codes have often used minimum lot sizes to exclude high-density development (and the kind of people it's seen as likely to bring in.) One reason people move to suburbs is to avoid paying--partly in property taxes--for more public services than they consume. For example, people who have no children in public schools may not want to subsidize people who have a lot of them. They're probably all the more reluctant when, as here in L.A., the parents of a sizable percentage of these public schoolkids are illegal aliens.

This process of "voting with your feet" has been given the fancy name of the "Tiebout hypothesis," after the economist who described it in the 1950's. Some people in suburban parts of L.A. like the San Fernando Valley have gone so far as to propose breaking off from the city. They argue that they're being forced to pay for residents of more central parts of the city who use more than their share of public services.

I've seen lots of elderly people be forced to move out of the neighborhoods they lived in for years, and move away from their friends and support structures, because of ever increasing taxes.

That got to be a crisis for a lot of homeowners in California during the 1970's, and it led to the Prop. 13 limit on property taxes. This resulted in owners of very similar properties paying wildly different property taxes. One of them, who had a house in the Baldwin Hills area of L.A., claimed Prop. 13 violated their right to equal protection of the laws. This person took it all the way to the Supreme Court of the U.S.--and lost.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 86 (view)
Nicer homes should equal higher taxes?
Posted: 3/29/2014 12:29:51 PM

For example, homes typically require wood, which, prior to being cut, constitute a common resource. The same is true of the iron and other metals in the nails and fittings or the hydrocarbons that go into the shingles and sealants and such.

It's true that on government land, natural resources are government property unless or until the government grants some right to them. But much of the timber and minerals in the U.S. is on privately owned land. And with rare exceptions, the right to real property includes the right to the resources on and under the surface of that property. Try removing some of the timber or coal from a private person's land, and then, when you're prosecuted for trespassing and sued for the injury, claiming you had a right to the material.

To support your ideas about how property should be taxed, you claimed--without any qualification--that timber, iron, and minerals "constitute a common resource." It's not hard to see how someone could think that tribute to communal ownership showed a disdain for private property rights. And yet you express surprise that the poster in #86 could get the impression that some here think property ownership is a bad thing.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 66 (view)
Nicer homes should equal higher taxes?
Posted: 3/27/2014 7:19:49 PM

<div class="quote">the vast majority of the capital that has been sunk into the home is sequestered from the markets and the free flow of capital.

Most people don't buy their houses outright--much of the cost of a house is usually financed. Do you think the lenders just take all the mortgage interest they're paid and put it under mattresses?

My father did all of that himself.

So did mine. What of it? There's no particular virtue in choosing to act as your own contractor.

I'm suspecting that there is a level of industriousness, knowledge and skill involved in this which you do not possess, whereas my father did. That seems to be the most obvious reason for your objection.

Some people might suspect the industriousness, knowledge and skill of a person who feels the need to impugn someone else's, based on nothing but his simple observation that people often hire workers to repair their houses.

And, once again, we see that it still comes down to your benefit; your benefit even if it requires them to save for years, but still your benefit.

I don't know what you're talking about. The poster was talking about tradesmen who improve houses. He was only observing that they would naturally prefer the homeowners--their customers--not to have to pay high taxes on the improvements, because that causes them to be less likely to make them.

Until you can manage to feel enough for the plight of others to want to solve their problems without regard for how it might benefit you, it is self-centered.

I assume that in business matters, people--you included--usually act in what they see as their best interests. That's how things work.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 26 (view)
Marijuana Legalization and the stereotype
Posted: 3/26/2014 1:48:19 PM
I don't much care if someone smokes pot. I haven't quite decided if it should be legalized, and so far I haven't needed to. It still is listed in schedule one of the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has no legally recognized medical use. Whether the U.S. has the resources or the inclination to enforce that law is another question.

I've been around a lot of people who were stoned, and what I noticed most is how boring they usually got. Hard to have much of a conversation with someone whose mind is constantly drifting someplace else. Pot can be fine when not much thinking's required, though--as a seventeen-year-old freshman, I once had a pretty thirty-ish English professor invite me to her place that evening for a smoke and some relaxation . . . .
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 49 (view)
Nicer homes should equal higher taxes?
Posted: 3/25/2014 3:00:02 PM

why should anyone improve anything if they are simply going to get walloped with a bunch of really expensive and painful taxes for their efforts? The system often acts as a disincentive to improvements in many locales.

People who already own houses in metropolitan areas may have an economic incentive to discourage further development. That was one of the conclusions of a very long, complex study on growth controls (now sort of a classic in the field) that I remember it took me hours to wade through:

"Antigrowth measures have one premier class of beneficiaries: those who already own structures in the municipality doing the excluding." Robert C. Ellickson, "Suburban Growth Controls: An Economic and Legal Analysis," 86 Yale Law Journal 385, 400 (1977).

Current residents may want to prevent new development not only to keep the price of housing up by restricting its supply, but also to keep out blacks and other minorities. One reason is that people whose children are past school age often don't want to pay higher property taxes to educate newcomers' kids, especially when they think the newcomers will have a lot of them. But existing residents naturally would rather not appear to be self-interested or racially biased. It sounds better to say your real motivation is to preserve the "quality of life."

A wide range of growth control techniques have been used, and environmental concerns have often been invoked to justify them. Restricting development is an easier sell if you can say it's being done to keep our air and water clean, or to maintain green areas, or protect wildlife. But whatever the rationale, development becomes harder to restrict once you get outside the suburbs into what's sometimes called the "exurbs." As other posters have noted, it's a lot easier to build as you please on unincorporated county land.

Even in rural areas, though, the EPA, Fish and Wildlife, or some other federal agency is always available to keep people from building things. Part of your property just may be found to be a wetland, or habitat for some endangered species of rat or fly. I've been in little towns in Arizona and New Mexico where vast stands of timber had been placed off limits because they were ruled to be habitat for a spotted owl. So no one's improving anything, because half the people are out of work and sitting around the local bar. Not exactly the best way to increase local property tax revenues.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 58 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 3/25/2014 11:14:25 AM

The case is known as "Harris vs Sunset".

I skimmed it, and I wished the court had elaborated more on the reasons for its decision. I was already pretty sure Shelley v. Kramer would figure in it, since that's the main U.S. Supreme Court decision on restrictive covenants. And sure enough, the Florida court relied on that decision. But Shelley was about a covenant that excluded by race, not religion.

The First Amendment contains two guarantees of religious freedom--the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, originally they both applied only to the federal government, and not the states. But by 1947, Supreme Court decisions had applied both these guarantees against states also. The Court used the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which specifically applies to the states, to accomplish this. It said the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom were "incorporated" in that Due Process Clause, and through it, applied to all states.

The aim of the Fourteenth Amendment was to prevent states from discriminating against blacks. But although it restricts race discrimination by states, it doesn't reach private discrimination. The Court acknowledged in Shelley v. Kramer that private persons were free to discriminate in agreements between them. But the Court went on to say that even though the racially restrictive covenant applied only to a private real estate transaction, it required a state court to enforce it. And that, it held, involved the state enough in imposing the racial discrimination to constitute the "state action" needed for the Fourteenth Amendment to kick in and prohibit it.

I'm pretty sure the Florida court was using similar logic to strike down Sunset's covenant against Jews, but just doing it indirectly by invoking the First Amendment. I don't question that the decision was right--I just wish the court had made it more clear how it got from land covenants that excluded blacks to ones that excluded Jews.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 16 (view)
Nicer homes should equal higher taxes?
Posted: 3/24/2014 10:59:40 AM

After we reduce federal taxes so government can fill a bathtub (Grover Norquist idea)

I can't see what any of that has to do with local property taxes. I also can't see how reducing federal taxes would reduce local government tax revenues. By leaving people with more money to spend, it might very well encourage economic growth that would increase the local tax base. And that would be good for public schools, which still rely on local property tax revenues for about a quarter of their funding.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 66 (view)
West Virginia water crisis
Posted: 3/8/2014 10:35:34 AM

Yes the EPA has the right to regulate CO2

More like an obligation, incurred courtesy of Justice Stevens and four other judges determined to impose their personal views about global warming. Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007) is another of those 5-4 decisions that richly deserves to be overruled.

Justice Roberts explained in his dissenting opinion why the petitioners failed to meet the Court's requirements for standing, leaving it with no jurisdiction even to hear the case. And is a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia explained why the majority had no basis for refusing to defer to EPA's conclusion that a new rule addressing CO2 in vehicle emissions was not justified, because “the term ‘air pollution’ as used in the regulatory provi-sions cannot be interpreted to encompass global climate change.”

why aren't you screaming about federal and state management of water?

There's no way to make an informed comment about any regulation without knowing the relevant facts about it. But there are certainly bodies of water the federal government has no authority to regulate. A seasonal playa on private land in the middle of the Arizona desert, 150 miles from any state line and the size of a backyard swimming pool, is hardly a "water of the United States." And it doesn't come within the ambit of the Clean Water Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act just because a roadrunner splashed around in it one day.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 118 (view)
GM 'Recovery' a total fraud. Lawsuit pending.
Posted: 3/8/2014 12:25:27 AM
^^^^Are you an economist?
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 115 (view)
GM 'Recovery' a total fraud. Lawsuit pending.
Posted: 3/7/2014 10:17:45 PM

The facts:

What's the source of those "facts?" Does the Daily Kos have a foolproof crystal ball? The leftists there don't know, and neither do you, how many jobs were saved--if any--or how much loss of personal income was prevented--if any.

It wasn't inevitable that any of the carmakers would go out of business. They could have used existing federal laws to declare bankruptcy and reorganize. Instead, this antidemocratic president--true to his nature--chose to create a nationally-supported and controlled "private" industry that smacks of Mussolini's Italy. Bailing the carmakers out was what used to be called "lemon socialism" in Ms. Thatcher's Britain--pouring money into saving the corporations that are lemons.

What Mr. Obama and his leftist acolytes conveniently ignore is that whatever tax revenues went into that effort would, if left in the hands of the people who earned them, have been available for investment that would have brought economic growth in other fields. That might well have created more jobs than this experiment in totalitarianism is claimed to have saved. Central economic control is always the enemy of personal liberties. It should have died with last century's collectivist regimes in Italy, Germany, and Russia.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 63 (view)
West Virginia water crisis
Posted: 3/7/2014 2:37:42 PM

To state that such remedies-- in their presently existing form-- have nothing to do with environmental laws is certainly to overstate the case.

Sure, I could have phrased it better. Of course violations of environmental statutes may also be nuisance or trespass. And I'm well aware nuisance law has been important in quite a few of the Supreme Court's taking cases.

My point was that the notion we'd all be trapped in a miasma of filth without the current array of book-length federal environmental statutes, and the EPA and other federal agencies to enforce them, is a ridiculous leftist excuse for yet more central government. There would still be state environmental laws and traditional common law remedies, and they could be very effective.

The question as to where in the Constitution the Federal government would have the authority to restrict a private landowner's property rights, where that landowner has not done anything that affects Interstate Commerce is a fair one. But it is ALSO question-begging of the highest order. The question is when a polluting activity affects Interstate Commerce.

No begging involved--the two are only the same question phrased differently. You seem to be suggesting that all, or at least most, federal environmental regulation is a valid exercise of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. I doubt it is. I think it often stretches the Commerce Clause past the breaking point to federalize activities which take place entirely within a state.

The result is decisions like Gonzalez v. Raich, where the Court said a federal drug law authorized the seizure of a half dozen marijuana plants a disabled California woman was growing for her medicinal use. A doctor had prescribed her the marijuana, and she was not violating California law. Also, none of the marijuana had ever traveled outside her immediate area. In spite of all this, the Court said the cumulative effect of the local medical use of marijuana on the interstate marijuana market was substantial enough to make the federal ban constitutional.

Constitutional authority to regulate environmental matters actually lies with both Federal and State governments

The Constitution gives some of the powers of the states and their people to the United States. It also forbids the states from doing certain things like coining money. But the states' authority to make environmental laws is part of its inherent "police power"--it is not anything granted by the Constitution.

Although the Constitution does not grant the states authority to make laws, it does limit that authority. One way it does that is through a long series of Supreme Court decisions starting about 1900. These decisions have used the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to apply one provision of the Bill of Rights after another to the states, even though nothing in the B.O.R. originally applied to them.

The Taking Clause of the 5th Amendment is one of these provisions of the B.O.R. the Court has applied. For more than a century, it has limited not only the power of the federal government, but also of each state. A state can't take private property for public use without just compensation any more than the federal government can--even if it tries to justify its action as protecting The Planet.

The reasons for the creation of the United States are a lot more complex than the simplified outline you are talking about.

I wasn't trying to write a history book. If you think whatever reasons I left out are a big deal, why don't you explain how they are important in this discussion?

The Constitution does create a United States with limited powers-- but largely theoretically.

I don't know what that means, but it sounds like something Mr. Obama might have said. The Man Who Would be King evidently thinks, for example, that the Constitution's vesting of all the legislative power of the U.S. in Congress--which obviously leaves him or any President without legislative power--is " largely theoretical."

Why has the Supreme Court reiterated so many times that the Constitution creates a United States with "limited and enumerated powers," if those limits are not real, but only "theoretical?"

It does not matter if a set of powers are formally limited to those enumerated on a list, if the powers on the list are expressed so broadly and generally as to vastly expand their ambit-- which they are

If it doesn't matter, why the hell bother with the Constitution at all? That's a weak excuse for ignoring the limits it unquestionably was designed to impose on central government.

As the Court has said,

The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers. As James Madison wrote, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." This constitutionally mandated division of authority was adopted by the Framers to ensure protection of our fundamental liberties. Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serves to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front . . . .

To uphold the Government's contentions here, we would have to pile inference upon inference in a manner that would bid fair to convert congressional authority under the Commerce Clause to a general police power of the sort retained by the States . . . . We decline here to proceed any further. To do so would require us to conclude that the Constitution's enumeration of powers does not presuppose something not enumerated, and that there never will be a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local. This we are unwilling to do.(italics added; some internal quotation marks omitted) U.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995).

The people Matchlight strangely calls "statists" are the overwhelming majority of sitting Justices at all levels of the Courts, including the SCOTUS.

That may be what you mean by your strange use of the term "statist," but it's nothing remotely like what I mean by it. Judging by all the opinions of Justices Thomas, Scalia, or Alito I've ever read, they are about as far from being statists as anyone could be--and on the whole, so is Chief Justice Roberts. Even if you include Justice Kennedy with the other four, that hardly makes an "overwhelming majority" of the Supreme Court "statists."

what the majority caselaw actually articulated by the SCOTUS, properly interpreted, actually says, IS the law

It's self-evident that even the worst Supreme Court decisions are "the law" in other courts until the Court or something else overrules them. All of Dred Scott v. Sandford was "the law" until the 14th Amendment overruled part of it by making blacks citizens. But that didn't stop President Lincoln from declining all along to enforce the Court's decision. And Plessy v. Ferguson's "separate but equal" rule was "the law" for a half-century or more. But that didn't entitle it to respect, or immunize it against either severe criticism or constitutional challenges.

regardless of what idiosyncratic self-taught legal experts might think about the matter.

I try not to pay much attention to what people like that think, either.

If you are resolutely determined to refuse to listen to anyone who might have an opinion at variance with yours on an obviously, um, debatable issue, that does not make you right.

The fact I disagree with an opinion doesn't mean I've refused to listen to the person who voiced it. In fact I couldn't know what they were saying unless I had listened. I listen carefully to all sorts of arguments--particularly from statists and other enemies of individual liberty--and still think they're a crock. I'm content to leave it people who have heard both my side and theirs to decide who has it right.

In fairness, the assertion "I'm pretty sure I've never made any argument about constitutional law on these forums that one or more Supreme Court justices didn't solidly support" might well be true of Matchlight's arguments.

Thanks for your fairness. But that ain't an "assertion"--it's a fact.

But that is not how constitutional law is determined. The majority (yes, I'm oversimplifying) of the SCOTUS determines what it is, not the individual members of the SCOTUS who happen to articulate the theory you like.

I think we all know it's the majority opinion prevailing at the time, and not any dissenting opinion, that is binding legal authority. But that doesn't prevent me or anyone else from agreeing with the dissenters in a case, or from criticizing the majority's decision.

In my law school, they encouraged us not just to shrug and accept Supreme Court decisions as "the law," but rather to analyze the reasoning behind them and argue against it if it didn't make sense. If the replay proves a baserunner was out by a full step at first base, the umpire's decision that he was safe still stands. But that doesn't mean the fans don't know he made a bad call, or that they can't criticize all hell out of it.

Dissenting opinions are very important in determining constitutional law--in the long run, sometimes more important than what the majority held. Today's dissenting opinion often has a way of becoming tomorrow's majority opinion.

Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that may have been a stepping stone toward an eventual Roe-type decision concocting a right to same-sex marriage, is just one example. Justice Kennedy's bizarre majority opinion, which overrules Bowers v. Hardwick, is closely based on Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion in that case seventeen years earlier.

Most of the atmosphere is CO2. This does not mean emitting it cannot constitute a pollutant that should (and legally can) be subject to Federal regulation, if it affects Interstate Commerce.

So the EPA should now have authority, say, to prevent the production, transportation, and consumption of all soda pop, because the CO2 in it is a "pollutant" for purposes of the Clean Air Act? And to think it took a constitutional amendment to prohibit booze!

How about exhaling--can the EPA regulate that, too? Don't forget that the "cumulative effect" test applies in Commerce Clause cases--even if one person's exhalations don't have the "substantial effect" on interstate commerce required to justify federal regulation, think of all the people exhaling!
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 61 (view)
West Virginia water crisis
Posted: 3/6/2014 1:43:11 PM
It wouldn't be too expensive to fit each tank with a couple level and flow sensors and connect groups of these to recording stations. Say the amount by which the volume of liquid in a tank had decreased during some interval was greater than what had been withdrawn during that interval, after adjusting for the effects of temperature changes or evaporation, if any. The discrepancy would be detected right away as a leak, and this information sent to people responsible for stopping it. By allowing a less frequent in-person inspection schedule, this equipment might achieve savings which more than offset its cost.

Los Angeles and other cities, as well as private golf courses, cemeteries, campuses, and other large users of water for irrigation have been using similar systems for quite a few years. If a valve or pipe or sprinkler should break, or if water is flowing when it's scheduled to be off, sensors detect the unwanted flow and quickly transmit its volume and location to a central monitoring station so the problem can be corrected.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 9 (view)
Clay may be origins of creation scientists say
Posted: 3/5/2014 9:01:34 PM
I seem to remember reading quite a few years ago that a well-respected scientist had theorized that by chance sticking together in certain ways, moving clay particles might have been arranged in patterns or templates that would allow self-replicating molecules to form. I'm sure I'm not stating it accurately enough to do it justice. But it was no National Enquirer thing--was in Scientific American, I think.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 55 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 3/1/2014 10:14:14 PM

I'm talking about unfair, outdated and/or moral laws.

Don't you think moral laws are better than immoral laws? Most laws reflect what the majority thinks is best or most right. And what point are you trying to make about unfair and outdated laws? Which ones, in particular, do you dislike? In this country, we're free to urge our representatives to amend or repeal laws we think are unfair or outdated, and to propose new and better ones.

Also, police officer's should be given training and leeway as to...should they bother to arrest at all?

I don't know about less advanced countries, but in the U.S. most local police are well trained in using discretion and common sense. Police often give a warning instead of a ticket.

Maybe MORE warnings and an opportunity to comply and info as to why the law is reasonable before arresting? Instead of...It's THE law!

Police have some discretion in enforcing laws, but it's not unlimited. That's part of what the rule of law means. It's not up to the police to try to convince a person they stop that the law they think that person may have broken is reasonable. You're not that special, and they have better things to do. If the police have probable cause to believe the law was violated, and the violation is serious enough to warrant more than just a ticket, they can arrest the suspect and take him into custody.

Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 49 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 2/26/2014 3:50:32 PM

Does this mean that the law used to be constitutional, but now it is unconstitutional? Or was it always unconstitutional, and it just took us awhile to realize it?

It's not possible to say exactly what caused a majority of the Supreme Court to overrule one of its earlier decisions, although the fact the composition of the Court has changed in the meantime sometimes goes a long ways toward explaining the reversal.

I think it's pretty clear what happened in Lawrence, though. Justice Kennedy and five other justices took it upon themselves to create a right to homosexual sodomy, by adopting the gist of Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion in Bowers a decade and a half earlier. Without ever really explaining why, the Lawrence majority simply agreed with Stevens that decisions people make about the intimacies of their personal relationship are a "liberty interest" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

But as Justice Scalia pointed out, "there is no right to 'liberty' under the Due Process Clause . . . ." In fact, "the Fourteenth Amendment expressly allows States to deprive their citizens of 'liberty,' so long as 'due process of law' is provided . . . ." (italics in original) Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 592 (2003) (Scalia, J., dissenting). So the reasoning behind applying the second part of Steven's dissent to create a new constitutional "right" was very weak, but the decision really wasn't based on it anyway.

The real basis for the decision in Lawrence, instead, was another assertion Kennedy borrowed from Stevens. This was that the belief of the majority in a state that an act is immoral and unacceptable is not a rational basis for a law prohibiting that act. As Scalia notes, "this proposition is so out of accord with our jurisprudence-indeed, with the jurisprudence of any society we know that it requires little discussion . . . this effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation." (italics in original) 539 U.S. 558 at 599.

It is a good example of how a society evolves over time in its values and boundaries even though the Constitution remains unchanged.

I would say instead that it is a good example of how Supreme Court justices misuse the changes our society's prevailing values always undergo to justify treating the Constitution as a "living document." This insidious approach allows those justices to, in effect, amend the Constitution to suit their personal values, rather than follow an originalist interpretation and wait for the political process to bring about changes in laws or formal amendments to the Constitution.

it is interesting to note that it used to be breaking the law, and now it is not.

I believe the majority in each state should be able to decide whether to make sodomy a crime. I agree with what Justice Thomas said in a separate opinion. After commenting that the Texas sodomy law in question was "uncommonly silly," he wrote that:

If I were a member of the Texas Legislature, I would vote to repeal it. Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources.

Notwithstanding this, I recognize that as a Member of this Court I am not empowered to help petitioners and others similarly situated. My duty, rather, is to decide cases agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States. And . . . I can find neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a general right of privacy, or as the Court terms it today, the 'liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions . . . .' (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) 539 U.S. 558 at 605-606 (Thomas, J., dissenting).
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 46 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 2/26/2014 10:12:00 AM

Anyone already mentioned Sodomy is against the law in many states in the U.S.? Like really?

No, not really. I think you'll find that sodomy is not illegal in even one state. The Supreme Court held those laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas a decade ago. It overruled Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 decision in which it had upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law.

I think the Court had it right the first time. States should have the right to make crimes of acts the majority of their people consider immoral and unacceptable, no matter what people in other states may think of those acts. For example, if the people of a state vote to make adult incest a crime, or to prevent people who are too closely related by blood from marrying each other, it's no one else's business.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 37 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 2/14/2014 1:09:45 PM

My home is heated by electricity

I wonder if that electricity is generated by nuclear fission, or by burning coal. Or you may have hydroelectric power where you live, but all the hydroelectric power that could be ever be generated in the U.S. would only meet a small fraction of the demand for electricity. And as someone who loves the landscapes of the Southwest, I can't imagine destroying all that desert habitat by carpeting it with solar collectors, to say nothing of those unsightly, dangerous wind turbines. Every year, these monstrosities chop up hundreds of thousands of poor little bats, as they fly around eating up mosquitoes, gnats, and other pesky bugs. And they mince endangered species right along with the rest.

I start it with dry alder or cedar, then add dry fir when it's going good.

I've read that chemicals released by burning wood indoors for cooking pose a serious health problem in underdeveloped countries. And aside from the other toxics, think of all the carbon dioxide it releases into our poor atmosphere! In the U.S., CO2 is considered a "pollutant" under the Clean Air Act, although I'm sure people in other countries are less sensitive to environmental issues (and probably are more inclined to disrespect the law anyway.) If environmental fanatics would only stop exhaling all that CO2, they would do the Planet a valuable service.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 154 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 2/11/2014 10:15:11 AM

No you didn't.

That is a lie. No one with even basic reading comprehension could possibly have any doubt those paragraphs were a quote from the case I cited--which citation was directly after that quote. I will use whatever format I see fit--this is not a law review, and you are not my editor. Look to your own posts.

It's no surprise that someone who habitually posts false statements--I recently pointed out a couple of them in another thread--is so quick to think someone else is trying to be deceptive.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 152 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 2/10/2014 8:44:32 PM

Outstanding. Now in your own words or in quotes.

Just what do you mean by that? For quoted passages of more than fifty words, any style book I've ever seen says not to use quotation marks. The quoted material is then either indented, put in slightly smaller print, or both. Since I was commenting on an internet forum and not writing for publication in a law review, I didn't try to figure out how to do those things in my #171.

There are other ways to indicate that text is being quoted without using quotation marks. I never had the least intention of trying to make anyone think those were my words--why would I? I made absolutely clear that the passage you chose to repeat was from the Canola decision. I did that in two ways:

1. At the very end of the first paragraph, immediately before the two paragraphs I quoted from that case, note the phrase "as noted in an important New Jersey Supreme Court decision:" Note also the final colon to indicate that the text which followed it was from that decision.

2. At the very end of the third paragraph of my post, and immediately following the two paragraphs I quoted from Canola, note my citation to the case: State v. Canola, 374 A.2d 20 (N.J. 1977).

Question my integrity again, and I may not be quite so polite.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 150 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 2/10/2014 2:50:49 PM
I'm sure Ms. Hostin was a fine prosecutor and knows the law very well. But I don't agree with her statement that "the law provides that if someone dies during the commission of that, you are responsible for it." In this case, I don't see how the phrase "a person who kills" in the Indiana felony murder statute can reasonably apply to anyone but the homeowner. And that reading is consistent with both the original English practice and the practice in most states, as noted in an important New Jersey Supreme Court decision:

English courts never applied the felony murder rule to hold a felon guilty of the death of his co-felon at the hands of the intended victim . . . It is clearly the majority view throughout the country that, at least in theory, the doctrine of felony murder does not extend to a killing, although growing out of the commission of the felony, if directly attributable to the act of one other than the defendant or those associated with him in the unlawful enterprise . . . . This rule is sometimes rationalized on the "agency" theory of felony murder.

A contrary view, which would attach liability under the felony murder rule for any death proximately resulting from the unlawful activity--even the death of a c-felon--notwithstanding the killing was by one resisting the crime, does not seem to have the present allegiance of any court . . . . State v. Canola, 374 A.2d 20 (N.J. 1977).

As the New Jersey Court discussed in Canola, by the 1970's the high courts of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois had all departed from earlier felony murder decisions and signed onto the agency theory. In fact it's also known as the "Redline" theory, after that very influential Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. There the court held that "in order to convict for felony-murder, the killing must have been done by the defendant or by an accomplice or confederate or by one acting in furtherance of the felonious undertaking." Commonwealth v. Redline, 137 A.2d 472 (Pa. 1958).

And the great majority of the decisions after Canola, in various states, have followed it and adopted that theory. Apparently the trial court in this case relied heavily on an earlier decision that did not adopt the agency theory--but the strong nationwide trend in favor of it seems to leave room for doubt whether the Elkhart decision will be upheld in Indiana's appeals courts.

I also can't agree with Ms. Hostin's statement that "this is just a typical felony murder case.” As a former prosecutor she no doubt likes the felony murder rule, but even so it's surprising to see a CNN legal analyst say that. She must know that this is a very unusual felony murder case, for several reasons I pointed out earlier. That's just why it's attracted so much attention.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 22 (view)
breaking laws
Posted: 2/8/2014 12:00:08 PM

it seems that most laws protect stuff and not people.

Laws should protect our property as well as our persons. We have a property in things because we've invested our labor in those things. To take someone's property from him is to take his compensation for the hours of labor spent acquiring it. In effect, that is to force the person whose property is wrongly taken to spend some part of his life as a slave.


Burning wood and creating absurd amounts of air pollution is illegal.

People here in California burn wood in their fireplaces all the time. I also burn wood when I go camping. One local college has always had a huge wood bonfire on the hill behind campus to celebrate homecoming. I guess whoever has authority to judge such things doesn't think the amount of air pollution these wood fires create is "absurd."

You can't publically call ANYONE a child abuser unless they actually are convicted of the crime.

What law prohibits that? Calling someone a child abuser couldn't be grounds for defamation if it were true. And any public figure who was called a child abuser would usually just have to lump it, even if it were not true. As far as I know, Mr. B.J. Clinton was never convicted of rape, but I and a lot of other people still believe he committed that crime and call him a rapist.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 132 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 2/5/2014 11:26:35 AM

What I am saying now is that their actions don't support any charges of intent, or attempt to commit murder.

They don't have to. That's the whole point of the felony murder rule--it makes proof of intent to cause the death irrelevant. It converts accidental killings into murders. In this case, all the prosecution had to prove was that the defendants committed burglary and that the death occurred in the course of the burglary. Indiana is one of a minority of states that apply the felony murder rule even when the person killed is a co-felon. I don't agree with that, but it's not unconstitutional.

To prove burglary, one of the things you have to prove is that the defendant, at the moment he entered, had the intent to commit some crime once inside. In common law, that had to be a felony, but some state statutes make misdemeanor theft enough. What the intended crime was in this case, I still haven't heard. The fact burglary itself requires the intent to commit some other crime adds an unusual twist to felony murder cases where burglary is the underlying felony. And in ones where it's found the crime the burglar intended to commit once inside was assault, things get even more difficult.


Because they didn't have a weapon proves nothing.

A defendant doesn't need to be armed to be guilty of burglary.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 38 (view)
state of the union address
Posted: 2/2/2014 12:01:18 AM

You aren't fooling anyone, you consistently make racist comments referring to obama's skin colour, his supposed country of origin, or his name.

And you aren't fooling anyone with the falsehood-riddled (and bizarre) ramblings you consistently post here. For all I or anyone else knows, you could be a racist yourself. In fact I've always suspected the people who are most hypersensitive to racial issues, seeing racism everywhere, are always thinking about people in racial terms because they harbor racial animosities themselves. I've also noticed that calling people names like "racist" is very common among leftists. Not hard to see why--the fact name-calling takes no knowledge or reasoning makes it well suited to the ignorant and the dim.

I have recognized that Mr. Obama is the first black president of the U.S., just as everyone else does, including Obama himself. Simple fact.

I have never commented much on Obama's country of origin, or the fact his father was a Kenyan, because it doesn't interest me. I assume he meets the constitutional qualifications to be president. So you are falsely--and purposely--slandering me there, too.

Surveys after both elections showed that Mr. Obama's race was an important reason why many people--including many whites--voted for him. That was also very widely discussed by the news outlets at the time. It seemed like all sorts of white Americans were talking about how wonderful it was that at long last, the U.S. had its first black president. Now that he's been exposed as a bungling liar, I wonder how many that voted for him regret it.

I sometimes call President Pinocchio B. Hussein Obama--but that is his name. He himself, when at one time it suited his purposes to appear exotic, went out of his way to emphasize his unusual middle name. How using that name in any way whatever belittles him racially, only you know. The lame assertion that racism is the motive for any and all opposition to Barack Obama always was baloney, and after five years, it's been done to death. The fact you'd reach for something so weak even now shows how little this incompetent liar has to recommend him. So do the polls.

So you are either a racist or some racist idiot is posting on your behalf.

Isn't that funny? I would say the very same about you.

ever since your comment nearly every poster has either indirectly or directly called you or your comment racist.

That's nice. Maybe I'll print those posts out and put them to good use lining the bottom of a bird cage. Or I might save them as an example of how leftists are always falling back on hurling personal insults at people when they don't like their views, but aren't bright enough to refute them with rational arguments. That's why I call them brownshirts--like those earlier angry malcontents, they are witless, intolerant, and undemocratic, and they have no time for free, reasoned debate or free speech in general. "Liberals"--that's rich.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 33 (view)
state of the union address
Posted: 2/1/2014 11:15:53 AM

Here's a cookie for being racist

That sounds a lot like you're directly calling me a racist. It's a telltale sign of how far the Community Organizer-in-Chief's stock has sunk that the best the drones in his rear guard can come up with anymore with is to shriek that his opponents are racists. I mean, what other reason could any American possibly have for disliking a Marxist liar like B. Hussein Obama?
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 30 (view)
state of the union address
Posted: 1/31/2014 3:01:03 PM

Gee golly, and I thought both Presidents were acquitted.

Applying the language of criminal trials to the impeachment of a president is very misleading. It implies--falsely--that Mr. Clinton was just as fully exonerated as a criminal defendant who was acquitted. But the impeachment process is unique, and it is not a criminal trial.

"The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment of, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." U.S.C. Art II, sec. 4. Impeachment requires a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives. Conviction then requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate.

No one knows exactly what "high crimes and misdemeanors" means. The men who wrote the Constitution may have made the phrase purposely vague to allow Congress to say what conduct was impeachable. Some constitutional scholars think the impeachment process was meant to counterbalance a system of fixed terms that might otherwise be too rigid and unchangeable. In this view, impeachment has some of the character of a vote of no confidence in a more fluid parliamentary system.

In any case, impeachment is more a political remedy than a legal one. The powerful members of Congress who despised Andrew Jackson and were bent on removing him cooked up a way to give the process a faint gloss of legality. The Tenure of Office Act was designed to prevent Johnson from removing Secretary of War Stanton, who shared a strong distaste for his views on Reconstruction with Johnson's Abolitionist enemies in Congress. When Johnson defied Congress and tried to remove Stanton without the Senate's approval, these enemies moved to impeach him.

So, no one needed to prove, at least by the standards that would apply in a criminal court, that Mr. Clinton was guilty of any crime. His political opponents wanted to get rid of him, or at least cripple him politically, before his term was up--and they found a way. Their reasons were reason enough. There's an off chance the National Embarrassment will meet the same fate, although his chronic dishonesty and his contempt for the rule of law have already sapped his political strength so far impeachment might not add much to the damage.


Wow! I've long considered you to be a bit of a racist, but I'm surprised to see anyone be quite as blatant about it as this.

Wow! I wish I could say I was surprised to see you say anything quite so witless--but I'm not.

No surprise here. He is just exercising his constitutional right of freedom of 'speach' (as his ideological cohorts call it,) akin to taking advantage of his constitutionally protected right to behave like an ass whenever he feels like it.

No surprise to see that someone of your ideological stripe dislikes freedom of speech, or any other constitutionally protected right. It would be hard to detest America, as you've often made clear you do, and yet support its constitution. It's certainly hard for the red liar in the White House.


What does how the majority of the country voted have to do with an individual's bigoted comment?

Most of the racists I've ever met were leftists. But they're good at using noble-sounding phrases like "promoting diversity" or "protecting the environment" to hide their racial discrimination. If you're the Asian whose application the grad school rejects in the name of diversity, because a disproportionate number of Asian applicants qualify, or if you're the black couple who can't afford a house because environmental restrictions have increased the cost of development, don't expect the white leftists who helped screw you to care.


insulting pandering to women thinking they would vote for her because she's female

Not as much as it's pandering to women to think they would vote for Hillary "The Belle of Benghazi" Clinton because she's female, and ignore that she's another leftist liar just like President Pinocchio.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 22 (view)
state of the union address
Posted: 1/31/2014 7:49:40 AM

So, please spare us the ridiculous notion that Obama ever stood a chance to work with a united Congress.

Quite a few political observers think he stands a very good chance of working with a united Congress after the end of this year.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 16 (view)
state of the union address
Posted: 1/30/2014 10:51:02 PM
^^^^"Slick Willie" Clinton, the horny hick, will forever be remembered as a member of a very select club--U.S. presidents who have been impeached. He and Andrew Johnson are the only two. For his part, Barack Obama will be remembered as the first black president--and probably as the man who made sure it would be a very long time before Americans elected a second one.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 127 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/30/2014 2:16:14 PM
^^^^^That's the advantage of it. It has more terror effect than lethal injection, and yet it's not as likely to raise Eighth Amendment objections as gas or electrocution. I don't think it would be easy to make the case that hanging is a cruel or unusual punishment, because it has the legitimacy of established tradition. Hanging was the method used in 90-plus percent of all the executions ever carried out in this country. And there's a flip side to the coin. To the extent our punishment of murderers doesn't deter them as much as it could, and still be constitutional, we are allowing brutal murders that wouldn't have happened otherwise. How kind it that to all those victims?
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 125 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/30/2014 11:08:23 AM

The victim is the target of the crime, not the purpatrator.

That's certainly the rule in most states, but there's nothing to prevent a state from convicting a defendant of felony murder for the death of his co-felon. That was not unusual in older cases, and it's also happened more recently, both where the person who actually did the accidental killing was one of the felons, see State v. Hoang, 243 Kan. 40, 755 P.2d 7 (1991), and where the killer was the intended victim, see State v. Oimen, 516 N.W. 2d 399 (Wisc. 1994).

In older felony murder cases, it was also not unusual for a defendant to be convicted of murder for the death of a bystander, e.g. People v. Payne, 359 Ill. 246, 194 N.E. 539 (1935) (defendant in attempted robbery guilty of murder of bystander, even though no proof who fired fatal shot), or of a policeman, e.g. People v. Podolski, 332 Mich. 508, 52 N.W.2d 201 (1952) (armed bank robber guilty of murder of officer killed by shot from fellow officer trying to stop robbery).

Convictions under the felony murder rule where a policeman was killed have also been upheld in more recent cases, e.g. People v. Hernandez, 82 N.Y. 309, 624 N.E. 2d 661 (1993) (armed robbers guilty of murder of policeman accidentally shot by fellow officers during gun battle); State v. Amaro, 436 So.2d 1056 (Fla. App. 1983) (marijuana dealers, even though already under arrest, guilty of murder of policeman shot by another dealer during search of house).

Charges should be based on intent, the intent was not for the ciminle to die, the intent was robbery.

Maybe so. But the whole idea of the felony murder rule is that if it can be proven a defendant intended to commit the underlying crime (robbery, burglary, arson, etc.), then he is guilty of murder if the crime results in someone's death. The rule converts accidental killings into murders, and most states follow it. Saves the prosecution all that trouble of having to prove premeditation, as it would otherwise have to do in a first-degree murder case.

To charge the robber with murder is to make his death equal to that of a true victim and that is an outragous misuse of law.

I certainly hope you're not questioning the fairness of a legal rule that first was applied in England in the 1530's, and lasted there all the way until 1957. If they had it for more than 400 years, it must be a good rule!


I think we should bring back the gallows.

I do too. I think England used hanging as late as the 1950's. It's a pretty undignified way to die, which makes it appropriate for murderers. But I'd settle for lethal injection, if only more states actually carried out death sentences after handing them down.

Make . . . rape and crimes against children swift capital punishment

I can't see the Supreme Court reversing itself after all these years, and upholding the death penalty for rape as constitutional. In practice, murder is the only crime a state can execute someone for these days.

including if the guilty are children themselves.

Same there. Executing a child would violate the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 117 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/29/2014 12:47:40 PM

Of course there are cases where leniency would be considered

I'd guess that if you were on the jury, no defendant could expect leniency from you. Your shoulder must get sore from carrying such a big chip around--you've now responded in an angry, defensive tone to two of my posts. You seem determined to take what I've said personally, even though until now, not one word of it has been directed at you.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 115 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/29/2014 10:50:24 AM
The comments of some of the posters who support these sentences make me wonder if there is any conceivable punishment under the felony murder rule they would think was unjust.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 108 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/28/2014 7:18:59 PM

What kind of donut?

Well, if I'm writing the story, I think I'll send Uncle Fred to his great reward clutching a bombolone. If you've never had one, please don't start--they are so good they should be licensed as a controlled substance. Especially when they're warm, with a good cup of coffee. A ball of tender, eggy, nutmeg-scented pastry dough, fried golden brown and rolled in powdered sugar. And when your fork cuts into the vanilla-flavored custard in the center--heaven!

Oh god, how twisted a sincere lawyer's mind must be

Some things are self-evident.

How about if it was an attorney that died of a heart attack who'd just been in a motel room with his secretary

Not sure if fornication qualifies anywhere as the underlying crime, but there's a twist on felony murder I hadn't thought of. If this secretary looked like, say, Jackie Bisset, the only question would be, "Death, where is thy sting?"
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 105 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/28/2014 3:30:04 PM

i totally agree with the felony murder charges

Then why stop there? Say a kid like one of those had gone into a department store in a mall with a booster bag and tried to shoplift a sweatshirt. The fact his bag was lined with foil to throw off the electronic alarms when he left with the sweatshirt proves that when he entered, he had the intent to commit the crime of theft once inside. And in that state, that is enough to make the kid guilty of burglary. (In fact, it would be in California.)

Although the kid has no way of knowing it, nearby there is a 60-year-old man who is 5'7" tall, weighs 300 lbs., has chronic anxiety and a history of heart problems, and yet continues to eat mostly Big Macs and fries and to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day. In fact he happens to be walking past the store entrance eating a jelly donut just as the kid leaves. He sees the young thief's worried expression, spots the lining inside the bag, puts two and two together, and the shock of witnessing a crime is too much for his fragile constitution. He has a heart attack and dies, the donut still clutched in his hand, before help can reach him.

The kid sees the man grab at his chest and fall just feet away, panics, runs, and is soon captured by security and turned over to the police. The DA's office, wanting to assure the public it's tough on crime, charges the kid with felony murder. The victim, it turns out, for all his neglect of his own well-being, was known and loved by practically the whole state as "Uncle Fred." For years, he'd spent very freely from his large inheritance to provide scholarships for orphans, to build private shelters for battered women and the homeless, to send troubled kids to summer camps, and to do all sorts of other selfless acts of kindness. The jurors of course were not supposed to take this into account, but jurors are only human. They find the kid guilty of murder, and he's sentenced to fifty years in prison.

Now what on earth could be the least unfair about that? Any thief deserves whatever he gets.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 102 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/27/2014 9:59:53 PM

Does current law, in theory or practice, say or attempt to say anything about whether or not the following concept is valid or influential in any way?

When the intended victim of a felony killed one of the felons, the English courts never held applied the felony murder rule to make his co-felon guilty of his death. The rule only applied where the felon or a co-felon did the killing. Most states also apply the rule this way these days, under what's called the "agency" or "Redline" (named after an influential Pennsylvania decision) view of felony murder. States that take this view also don't apply the felony murder rule where police or a bystander did the killing.

It used to be more common for state courts to do what the Elkhart court did, applying the felony murder rule to make a defendant culpable for any death his crime proximately caused--even when someone resisting the crime did the killing. Courts seem more willing to follow this "proximate cause" view to hold felons responsible for the death of a bystander or police officer at the hands of either the intended victim or other officers.

In a 1994 Wisconsin case, though, the court applied the felony murder rule to convict a robber of the murder of a fellow robber the intended victim had killed. There was a different underlying crime in the Elkhart case, but it follows this same pattern. These decisions may be reasonable interpretations of the Wisconsin and Indiana laws, but they differ from the view of felony murder most states have taken in recent years.

How about this 1973 D.C. case? Three defendants were raping a woman. In defending herself she slapped one of them, and this made him so angry he stabbed and killed her. Obviously, this man could be charged with felony murder--but what about the other two? Sure, an act by any of them in furtherance of their common criminal purpose would implicate the others. But barring some evidence that all three men were necrophiliacs, it's pretty hard to see how the one's killing of the woman was an act that furthered their purpose of raping her. The court held that because the sudden killing was unexpected and unplanned by the other two men, it was outside the common purpose of the three and therefore could not be attributed to them.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 99 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/27/2014 5:55:11 PM

in order for a homocide to be murder, intent must be shown

True enough. But where the felony murder rule applies, the prosecution doesn't have to prove the intent murder requires. If it can prove the intent required for the underlying crime--which is usually much easier--that makes the defendant guilty of both that crime and murder.


you can't just give maximum conceivable punishments for too many things.

I'll leave it to Islamist savages to bash in people's heads with concrete blocks, or just hack them off, for adultery, sodomy, selling liquor, saying that Mohammed had an unnatural attraction to goats, and other similarly heinous crimes. In civilized countries like the U.S., criminal punishments have to be fair--"Let the punishment fit the crime." The Supreme Court has held that a punishment too disproportionate to the crime violates the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual. This isn't quite as unfair as giving some poor sap life without parole for passing seven bad checks, as happened in one case. But I wouldn't bet against these sentences being struck down on constitutional grounds.

If you did, then someone who was being hunted for simple identity theft would have no punishment-related reason to not commit murder, for example, during a run from the law, when initially they were only being pursued for the crime of identity theft. As another example, if every burglary brought the same punishment as murder, then the chances of every burglar committing murder would go up drastically since "they'd have nothing to lose", because they're "already getting the same punishment".

Right. Disproportionate punishment is also bad policy, because it creates undesirable incentives like the ones you mention.

Show me what other types of punishments would you assign to which crimes.

Because felony murder statutes can convert an accidental killing into first-degree murder, disproportionate punishment is an inherent problem in them. A couple states outright abolished the felony murder rule, while Michigan's supreme court abolished the rule in its traditional form. It said the state statute didn't make accidental deaths that occurred in the course of designated felonies into murders, but instead only made murders committed during those felonies into first-degree murders. A couple other states have followed Michigan's approach.

All the states that have kept the felony murder rule have confined it in some way. In some states, courts have done this by narrowing their interpretations of felony murder statutes. Other states have amended their statutes in various ways:

1. by making a death resulting from any felony involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder.

2. by allowing a conviction of first-degree murder only where the underlying felony was one traditionally recognized as dangerous--e.g. arson, rape, burglary, or robbery. Other felonies then still trigger the felony murder rule, but usually allow only a conviction for second-degree murder.

3. by allowing a conviction of first-degree murder only for committing or attempting to commit certain designated underlying felonies--e.g. arson, rape, burglary, kidnapping, robbery, and child molestation. (Indiana also designates consumer product tampering, criminal deviate conduct, human trafficking, sexual trafficking of a minor, and carjacking.) Other felonies then can serve only as the basis for a manslaughter conviction, or in some states they may not serve as the basis for a conviction of any kind of culpable homicide.

4. by allowing a killing in the course of the felony to constitute murder only if it's culpable otherwise--e.g., the defendant caused the death recklessly, or by an act clearly dangerous to human life.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 38 (view)
Anything worse than poor hygiene ?
Posted: 1/27/2014 11:13:02 AM

Guys, don't ask other men what to wear. Ask a woman!

I don't do either one. I just go with what I like--Eau Sauvage, Bowling Green, Drakkar Noir. Most of the time I don't wear any of them, but when I do, women seem to like it. They also seems to like a really close shave, and a couple spritzes help with any nicks I've picked up in the process of getting one.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 94 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/27/2014 9:29:04 AM

never mind the felony murder charge

I don't see how you can both do that and talk about the 50-year sentences. Those sentences were imposed for murder, not just burglary. Also, I don't know that it was shown these defendants intended to steal anything from the house.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 91 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/26/2014 9:54:27 PM
Does 50 years match the intent to burglarize?

I'm assuming that the underlying crime that triggered the felony murder rule was burglary. If so, the court must have found them guilty of that crime--and under the felony murder rule, that in turn made them guilty of the murder of their co-felon the resident killed.

So they didn't just intend or attempt to commit burglary. They committed it. They did that when they entered another person's house with the intent to commit some crime once inside. What the court found that crime was--the one they intended to commit once inside--I don't know. It usually takes some felony. Two common ones in burglary cases are theft (larceny) and assault, usually the kind that's aggravated or done with a deadly weapon. In some states, though, the intent to commit certain misdemeanors (e.g. theft/petit larceny) is enough to prove burglary.

That's what I was trying to get at earlier. What crime the court found they intended to commit once inside could be very important on appeal. Remember that it was only because the burglary was proved that the four then automatically became guilty of murder too. Unless Indiana law is very unusual, to prove burglary you'd have to prove that when they entered, they were planning to do something a lot worse than, say, putting stink bombs in the kitchen stove, or epoxying the dining room chairs to the floor.

I don't know anything about Indiana's higher courts, but the four will have a right to appeal. It's a little hard to imagine the state supreme court upholding 50-year murder sentences for teenagers under the felony murder rule. England, where the doctrine of felony murder originated, scrapped it in 1957. Most states won't apply it when, as in this case, it's a co-felon who's killed. And most courts disfavor the felony murder rule--some pretty strongly. The California Supreme Court, for example, said this in People v. Smith, a 1984 case:

"Our opinions have repeatedly emphasized that felony murder, although the law of this state, is a disfavored doctrine[.] We have recognized that the rule is much censured because it anachronistically resurrects from a bygone age a barbaric concept that has been discarded in the place of its origin and because in almost all cases it is applied it is unnecessary and it erodes the relation between criminal liability and moral culpability."
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 70 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/24/2014 5:23:53 PM
^^^^No offense taken--sorry if it sounded like I was trying to teach a seminar. I don't even know what state this all took place in, but the state courts vary all over the map when it comes to felony murder. It's a controversial doctrine in criminal law, to put it mildly. For decades there have been all sorts of calls for abolishing it as "barbaric," "outmoded," "unconstitutional," etc., etc.--but most states have seen fit to keep it, usually in some eased or modified form.

This case just interested me because several unusual things about it, including the severe sentences, the fact burglary was the underlying crime, and the fact it was one of the burglars who was killed, make it a lot more complex than it may seem. Sure, the defendants were convicted of felony murder, but lots of those convictions have been overturned on appeal. I was trying to get a feel for whether this one might be a likely candidate.

I can tell you that when someone is in your house that you don't know without your permission then you have every right to protect yourself.

That's true. And you can use deadly force to do that, if a reasonable person in that situation would have believed it was necessary. It will probably strike most jurors as more reasonable for a frail old lady that some hulking, armed thug has cornered in her bedroom to shoot him dead as a last resort, than for a young, strong, 220-lb. man to shoot an unarmed 90-lb. kid a couple times in the back, killing him, after the kid had panicked, dropped the stereo he was trying to lift, and had his hand on the doorknob trying to get out.

regardless of what they may have said they INTENDED to do (robbery, burglary....whatever).

Right. The person who resists the intrusion with force isn't responsible for knowing what the intruder intended. But if someone is killed as a result, that intent may become important when the intruder is charged with felony murder.

I wasn't trying to scare him away, I was trying to kill him.

Good for you.

Personally, I'd rather see more instances where intruders are killed or wounded and innocent victims are safe rather than innocent victims are killed or wounded by an intruder.

Of course. Most of us don't want to see criminals ever harm any innocent people. People who don't like the idea of using guns to defend yourself should hear the interview I heard with Otis McDonald, the old black man from Chicago who won his Second Amendment case in the Supreme Court a few years ago. He lived alone in a bad part of town, and he heard gunfire every night. More than once, thugs had broken into his place at night and threatened to kill him. For years he'd wanted to buy a gun to defend himself, but the law wouldn't let him. Well, it does now, and I'm happy Mr. McDonald can sleep a little better.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 66 (view)
The case of the Elkhart 4 aired on Dr. Phil today.
Posted: 1/24/2014 2:02:28 PM
Burglary is a felony. It usually requires the defendant, when he enters, to have the intent to commit a felony once inside, although there are a few jurisdictions where intent to commit a misdemeanor is enough. It's not enough that the intruder formed the intent to commit a crime after he was already inside. But the intent to commit a felony is enough--the intruder doesn't have to carry it out to be guilty of burglary.

Where burglary is the underlying felony in a charge of felony murder, there is a second question that doesn't come up if the underlying felony is, say, rape or arson. And that is what crime the burglars intended to commit once inside. In other words, to prove the felony of burglary, you have to prove the intruder intended to commit some other felony (or in a few jurisdictions, some misdemeanor) once he'd gained entry.

Does anyone know what specific crime the court found the defendants in this case intended to commit once inside the house? That's important, because in felony murder cases where burglary is the underlying felony, some states require the crime the burglar intended to be independent of the homicide.

So if the intruder is guilty of burglary because he intended to assault someone inside, for example, and that person or someone else inside is killed as a result, courts in these states won't allow a conviction of felony murder. Because assault is a necessary ingredient of any homicide, they won't let assault be used to prove the burglary as the underlying felony in felony murder cases.

The California Supreme Court explained the problem this way:

"[T]elling the jury that the intent to assault makes the entry burglary and that the burglary raises the homicide resulting from the assault to first degree murder without proof of malice aforethought and premeditation [uses] the same bootstrap reasoning we [have previously] condemned."

In other words, this can be abused as a shortcut way of converting an accidental homicide into first degree murder, letting the prosecution skip the hard job of proving premeditation. This is not a hard and fast rule, though, and courts in other states haven't followed it.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 45 (view)
West Virginia water crisis
Posted: 1/22/2014 8:27:08 PM

Everything stated in Msg 46 is basically what I consider "wrong" in North America right now,

Somehow that doesn't surprise me.

including the "arguing" using "laws" as a "reason" to do or not do something.

Some of us believe in rational argument, but I can see you do not. And laws are a very good reason not to do certain things, as people who do those things in spite of the law are likely to find out.

unless $$$$$ was the driving force.

Your view of corporations is silly. State laws makes ordinary for-profit corporations legally responsible to their stockholders, and that means their officers must manage them with the goal of making profits. Shareholders can and do sue and remove corporate officers for mismanagement of their financial interest in the corporation.

Corps do NOT do ANYTHING unless they are told to thru regulation.

Very few people will invest their money in any corporation that gives it away by spending more than the laws require.

They're just greedy phucks.

Oh, I see. Other people who want to try to profit from part of the fruits of their labor, by risking it in investments, are "greedy." But if you did the same, I guess, it could never be considered greed, thanks to your refined moral sensibilities.

And we still have a long way to go actually.

To achieve what, exactly? The complete suppression of any development you and your friends happen to dislike? Doesn't work that way. Whether it pleases you or not, there are limits to how far government can restrict the right of private landowners to use their properties. Where waters of the U.S. are involved, they already protected by tens of thousands of pages of state and federal laws and hundreds of thousands of pages of rules implementing those laws.

I honestly can't believe that some will argue using the "legality" of it all in this day and age.

I can easily believe that you don't care about the rule of law. (Neither does Mr. Obama--apparently he's made lawlessness all the rage.) But I can't believe that the NEPA didn't require an environmental impact statement for that tank farm. If you think the EIS was somehow deficient, because "Anyone with a brain and actually "cares" would not put any form of a "holding tank" with anything "dangerous/poisonous" (to ANY life) near a running river," you can rail at whatever office approved it. Maybe the officials who did are not as intelligent or caring as you.

It's a phuck up way to live a life.

If you're talking to me--and you seem to be--you can be sure I'll give your concern about how I live all the consideration it deserves.
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