People often ask me why I am so hostile to government.
This is a good example:
President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).
To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.
To paraphrase Barry Soetoro: Let me be clear! The Federal Government finds it necessary to institute a program to improve the image and marketing if Christmas Trees.
THE GOD DAMNED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
Jamie posted this at 12:32 PM CDT on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 as The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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Oh man, a lawsuit, based on Lawrence v. Texas, to decriminilize polygamy is being filed by someone represented by Jonathan Turley. While Turley isn’t the biggest or most respected name in the legal academy, he is a somebody, and he’s not a fool. If he’s involved with this suit, it’s something to take at least somewhat seriously.
I haven’t read Lawrence since around the time it came out, but I went back and reread it today. I recommend you do the same. Here are some things to keep in mind as you do.
- The Utah bigamy statute: “A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.” It’s a felony.
- “Cohabit” means something along the lines of “living together as husband and wife.” As best I can tell (I have no prior knowledge of Utah law), Utah’s criminal code provides no definition of “cohabit,” but a statute in a different Utah code defines “cohabitating” as “residing with another person and being involved in a sexual relationship with that person.” That seems likely the definition that would apply to criminal code.
So the law of Utah makes it an offense for a married man to live with, and have sex with, a woman other than his wife. The question in this case isn’t whether the state must recognize polygamous marriages; the question is whether the state can throw you in jail for living a polygamous lifestyle.
Now go read Lawrence. I don’t think you can draw a line between laws banning sodomy and laws banning polygamy, at least not if you look at the law the way Lawrence did:
The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.
Apollo posted this at 1:02 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 as Kulturkampf, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, We don't need no stinkin' Constitution
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It’s not just a numbnut lawyer in the administration who thinks that bombing a sovereign state doesn’t count as “hostilities”; the president himself, a legal super genius we were assured, buys this “argument.” Perhaps if I’d been smart enough to go to Harvard I could be convinced of such nonsense, but I’m just a dumb Texas lawyer who is naive enough to believe that bombing a country is a hostile act.
This statement from a spokesman is much more revealing than it was intended to be:
It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict.
Everything’s “unique” to this administration. The recession of 2008-09 was “unique” so it justified porkulus and our lengthy spending binge. Healhtcare is a “unique” market, so according to the administration’s arguments in court it can be the subject of unique government controls. And now a war in which we’re bombing another country is “unique” because . . . well . . . I guess it’s unique because it’s only the third time we’ve attacked Libya? Can anyone think of an actual way in which this war is “unique”?
The rule of law is premised on the fact that almost nothing is truly unique. There are rules, and they apply whether you like them or not. You may think you’re special, but the law, frankly, doesn’t give a damn. Simply saying that a situation is “unique” and therefore not subject to the normal rules is an argument for nothing less than despotism – in a world in which the guy with all the power gets to determine when the rules that limit his power don’t apply, it’s not obvious to me that the law still exists.
P.S. Think about this sentence: “A sticking point for some skeptics was whether any mission that included firing missiles from drone aircraft could be portrayed as not amounting to hostilities.”
Work through it word by word and think about it.
Apollo posted this at 10:38 PM CDT on Friday, June 17th, 2011 as CHANGE!, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, To the Shores of Tripoli
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Within living memory, Meridian Hill Park, which is a two minute walk from where I live, was safe enough that on hot days, children would sleep outside there. Admittedly, there were many bad things about Washington, DC, during the Great Depression, but despite it being a poorer era, it was undoubtedly safer. I’m not a child, but I wouldn’t think of going there after dark. Yes, this area has gentrified, but not that much yet.
The 1960s began the notion that we were jailing too many people, so we relaxed the laws, which lead to a surge in crime during the 70s and 80s. It took tough on crime politicians in the 90s to bring crime rates down. Thanks to Brown v. Plata, the state of California is being forced to release 30,000 odd criminals. The Last Psychiatrist quipped, “You can have bilateral retinal cancer and be able to point to which Justices voted for or against this.”
One of the most knowledgeable writer on crime rates and prison, Heather MacDonald, had this to say:
There is already reason to doubt that the rosy future of a lowered prison population and a lowered crime rate predicted by anti-prison activists will come to pass, since some of their premises are incorrect. First, it is not the case that we’re sending innocuous bumblers to prison. In fact, prison remains in most places a lifetime achievement award for persistence in criminal offending. The JFA Institute, an anti-incarceration advocacy group, estimated in 2007 that offenders ended up in prison in just 3 percent of violent victimizations and property crimes. In 2004, only 1.6 percent of burglars were in prison, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. It can be unsettling for a layman to hear a big-city prosecutor’s typology of crime: “non-serious crimes” consist of basically everything you can do criminally without a gun or other use of force. Steal a car and you get probation; hijack a car with a driver in it, however, and you’re going to prison. The person who just lost a car, even if fortunate enough not to have been threatened while in it, probably doesn’t regard the theft of his vehicle as “non-serious.”
Second, parole violations are not trivial. If a criminal is missing his appointments without a valid excuse—such as a job interview or medical appointment—and without notifying his parole officer, it’s likely that he is up to no good.
Most Californians are undoubtedly feeling dread today reading about the Supreme Court’s decision. My guess is that the state will find a way to avoid a mass prisoner release, whether by quickly commissioning new prisons, relocating state prisoners to already overcrowded county jails, or sending prisoners out of state. Though it is too late now to make any difference in the immediate prison budget, it remains imperative to restore sanity to the state’s public-pension system. If the state weren’t obligated to pay its corrections officers such high salaries and pensions, it could have built more prison capacity. Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown just struck another sweetheart deal with the corrections union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.
Mark Krikorian, as always, manages to tie things to immigration:
The GAO reported in March that in FY 2008, there were 27,000 illegal aliens in the state prison system for whom California was receiving partial (very partial) reimbursement from the feds. (See here, p. 30.) That’s close to the total number our black-robed rulers have ordered released. And that’s not counting the legal immigrants who’ve made themselves deportable by committing crimes.
Obviously, the federal government is complicit because of its longstanding refusal to get serious about enforcing immigration laws. But California’s state and local governments and the state’s delegation in Congress have contributed to this, through sanctuary-city policies, promotion of amnesty, resistance to mandatory E-Verify, in-state tuition for illegals, etc.
But in dealing with the immediate problem of complying with the Supreme Court’s latest ukase, immigration law can be useful. You certainly don’t want to let criminal aliens get off with less punishment than Americans, but in deciding whom to release, it would be better to release a criminal onto the streets of Mexico or El Salvador than the streets of California. And if they come back, they’re then guilty of the federal felony of re-entry after deportation, which means California’s prisons don’t have to deal with him any more (assuming Eric Holder’s Justice Department will prosecute re-entry cases, which can’t be assumed).
Oddly, Conor Friedersdorf proposes a wave of ankle bracelets, which seems expensive and worthy of a police state. Further, once the ankle bracelets got started on nonviolent offenders released from prison, they would almost certainly be extended to nonviolent offenders who never actually went there in the first place, rather like the cameras in high crime places that are now ubiquitous. More likely than ankle bracelets, but equally as worthy of a totalitarian state, is that the released prisoners will be outsourced to psychiatry. The Last Psychiatrist asks:
Where do you think all of these released prisoners will go? Home? To work?
They are being offloaded to psychiatry. To rehabs, to “involuntary outpatient,” to probation and their weekly/monthly drug tests and verification of medication compliance; to SSI.
I will grant you that it is much better than prison for those individuals. But this process justifies, institutionalizes, government control of individuals while in the public realm. It becomes that much easier to justify X or Y in the service of monitoring. Psychiatry becomes a willing (happy) tool of the government, because it pays.
If we want to talk about the things that can be done about prison overcrowding, or about changing the reasons for such high incarceration rates, we can do that. But to offload the entire mess to the psychiatrists is the kind of madness that will destroy everything that America was supposed to have been standing for.
My own prediction: nothing good is coming of this. Either California gets a surge in crime, or government, in the name of preventing crime, grows and insinuates itself through surveillance, using either high technology or questionable psychotherapy.
Hubbard posted this at 7:50 PM CDT on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 as The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, We're all DOOMED
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Conservatives, it seems, also control money. And can write scathing, well-reasoned letters that get lots of attention.
Were I a business that had King & Spalding as a law firm – well, first I wouldn’t, because big firms like that always overcharge. But if I did I’d dump them because no one wants to be represented by pusillanimous lawyers. When you give into one group, you raise the specter that you’ll give in to them all. Prof. Jacobson sums up why no law firm should ever cave to this sort of crap:
There’s a beauty and level of comfort in the ethical rules and principles which govern attorneys; the rules provide a compass which insulates attorneys from pressures to do the wrong thing, whether those pressures are brought by clients or outsiders. I teach my students that the rules of ethics are not an enemy, they are an attorney’s best friend.
When attorneys put business convenience ahead of the attorney’s duty of loyalty to a client, there is no good outcome.
And if I were a business that got threatened by a gay rights group to change my business partners, I’d look very closely at what happens to King & Spalding. I imagine the commonwealth of Virginia will not be the last client to dump them out of fear of being dumped first. If King & Spalding loses a lot of business over this, it will make pressure from gay rights groups a lot easier to resist in the future. This may be a Pyrrhic victory they’ll come to regret.
Apollo posted this at 10:58 PM CDT on Friday, April 29th, 2011 as It's Economics - Stupid!, Kulturkampf, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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So I’m a lawyer. I’ve taken the stupid lawyers’ ethics class, I taken the stupid lawyers’ ethics test, and supposedly I’m a lawyer with ethics. There. I said it.
It should be obvious to anyone with a pulse that King & Spalding is a horde of gutless wimps, but I think that should have been obvious to anyone familiar with BigLaw. Of course they would abandon a client if it became politically untenable to them. They’re a large law firm, and their objective is to make money. The lawyers’ ethics class, the lawyers’ ethics test, the lawyers’ ethics – it’s a bunch of claptrap.
Probably for the first time in his life, Eric Holder said something correct. Lawyers are at their best when they stick by their clients no matter what. Atticus Finch, John Adams, etc., etc. And I’ve known quite a few criminal defense lawyers who have zealously defended enormously unpopular clients who committed indescribably horrid crimes. That‘s what you expect a lawyer to do – you paid him, and he sticks by you til the end. And that’s what you’ll get when you hire a criminal defense lawyer.
But a civil suit? The bar leans strongly to the left, and if you want someone to defend your rightwingery in an civil suit, you’re going to have to get either a solo lawyer or a small law firm. Because civil lawyers are never “lawyers at their best.” They’re money-grubbing jerks. Don’t ever kid yourself about that, and don’t let lawyers (like Holder) preen about their dedication to their clients. Lawyers are people, and like all people they are dedicated first and foremost to themselves.
You want a friend? Buy a dog. You want someone to defend your unpopular cause in a civil suit? Buy a lawyer who’s not connected to a large firm. You want a money-grubbing SoS who will defend you until his gay friends start griping? Hire King & Spalding.
Apollo posted this at 6:11 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 as Running with the antelope, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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What happens when a law is declared unconstitutional? It doesn’t magically disappear from the statute books; every lawyer and law student in Texas knows that Penal Code Section 21.06 (“Homosexual Conduct”), declared unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas back in 2003, is still on the books. Unenforeable in any context, but still there. The Supreme Court can’t alter what appears in the law books; that takes a legislative act.
There’s some slight movement in the legislature this session to remove the section. Fine. If they’ve got time to do it and don’t mind doing so, bully for them. I can’t imagine it makes a lick of difference one way or the other, but making people happy is what democracy is all about.
But the story cites someone claiming that it would make a difference:
“By leaving it on the books, you create the potential for abuse,” said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project , which is representing two gay men who were kicked out of an El Paso restaurant in 2009 for kissing in public.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could not stop people of the same sex from engaging in sexual activity. Today, the Texas Penal Code still states that it is a Class C misdemeanor to engage in “deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex” — just after a line explaining that the law is unconstitutional.
El Paso police cited the “homosexual conduct” wording when the two men were kicked out of a Chico’s Tacos restaurant. The men refused to leave and called the police, assuming the restaurant staff was out of line with a city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Instead, an officer told the men it was illegal for two men to kiss in public and said they could be cited for “homosexual conduct.”
At the time, El Paso Police Department spokesman Javier Sambrano described the officers involved as “relatively inexperienced.”
Section 21.06 addresses “deviate sexual intercourse,” not kissing, so not only was the officer ignorant of Lawrence, he was ignorant of the law he cited. But Harringon would have us believe that repealing the unenforceable law will make a difference because an inexperienced police officer who isn’t aware of perhaps the most prominent Supreme Court case of the last decade (which is noted under Section 21.06 in every copy of the penal code I have seen), or of the text of the law itself, will be aware of an unpublicized legislative act that strikes already meaningless language (which the officer hadn’t read) from the penal code?
But what do I know? Perhaps keeping it there actually does “creat[e] a climate favorable to bullying, gay-bashing and hate crimes.” One can imagine some hate criminals, sometime next year, setting out in their rebel-flag-adorned pickups to lynch some gay guy they thought made googly eyes at one of them in the bar. But as Cletus gets in his truck, he sees in a stack of mail he’d picked up earlier that day a hot-off-the-presses 2012 copy of the Texas Penal Code. “Hey fellers,” says he to his buddies, “let me take a gander through here to make sure them queers is still fair game.” And there, where Section 21.06 had been each and every time he’d consulted prior penal codes before lynchings, is a note that the law has been repealed. “Mah Gawd,” says he, “we got to change our lynchin’ policy.”
Apollo posted this at 11:51 AM CDT on Monday, March 28th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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I don’t really buy into international “laws” of war, morally speaking, so when I think of what we ought to do I don’t think about them. Still, to the degree it makes it more likely that we’ll end this conflict quickly and painlessly by simply killing Gadaffi, I’m glad doing so would be “legal.” I don’t actually think our administration has the stones or the sense to step up and do the right thing; I just approve of everything that makes that scenario look more attractive.
Apollo posted this at 9:36 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 as Philosophy, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, To the Shores of Tripoli
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When Aaron Poisson stole a Starbucks tip jar, Roger Kreutz tried to stop him. In the scuffle, Kreutz hit his head and died. Poisson fled, was caught, and served a year in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
After all this, the Kreutz family held a ceremony with Mr. Poisson:
Poisson was a reluctant attendee at an unusual reunion at the store last year, in which two of Kreutz’s brothers and other relatives rewarded Poisson with forgiveness, saying they knew he intended no harm. They hugged and cried together and planted a memorial tree.
There’s a picture of Poisson spreading the ashes on the memorial tree by Starbucks.
The Kreutz family, we’re sure, thinks of themselves as good people. They’ll forgive someone who murdered one of them, after all.
But really, much as we’re sure the murderer wanted forgiveness, forcing him to participate in an ashes sprinkling ceremony is a bit much. There’s a touch of sadism lurking behind the Kreutz family’s ceremony.
And there’s more than a touch of sadism in the family’s lawsuit—not against Poisson, but against STARBUCKS:
The Starbucks coffee shop here should have known it was inviting trouble by placing a tip jar on an open counter, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the estate of a customer who died defending it.The suit, filed Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages from the Starbucks Corp. on behalf of the estate of Roger Kreutz and his father, Edward Kreutz Sr.
Poisson was not named in the suit.
It alleges that Starbucks “did not employ security to prevent the perpetration of such crimes” and that it “invited the act of perpetration of said crime” by having a tip jar.
Curiouser and curiouser. One can fulminate, as the Advice Goddess did, about the frivolous law suit. But there’s something deeper and more sinister afoot here.
The Kreutz family is doing something that at first seems cognitive dissonance: they’re being kind to a murderer and vicious to not just a company but also to that company’s numerous employees who depend on those tip jars. Cleaning ladies have a name for such people, “Miss Nasty-Nice,” which means the sort of woman who very nicely does very awful things. The Nasty-Nices are almost impossible to stop, because they’re convinced that they’re both nice and doing things for everybody’s good. C.S. Lewis had this to say about the Nasty-Nices:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
My own observation is that this particular clan of Nasty-Nices has left their habitual domain of the federal government or the university faculty lounge: this story takes place in St. Louis, MO. Nasty-Nice has made it to middle America.
Hubbard posted this at 12:54 PM CDT on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 as Ex Pede Herculem, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, We're all DOOMED
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Texas appears to be moving toward making teenage sexting not a felony. The attorney general says he’s not aware of any teenagers being prosecuted for kiddy porn under existing law, which is a good thing, but we shouldn’t leave bad laws laying around waiting for some jackass prosecutor to try to be the first to use.
Still, I can’t help but feel that the laudable current effort is still several years behind the mores of our times:
[State Senator Kirk ] Watson and [Attorney General Greg] Abbott said the new provision covering parents is designed to allow parents to be involved in court-ordered programs about the dangers of sexting. Abbott said he suspects that most of the teenagers who are sending sexually explicit images “don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing.”
By sending explicit photos of themselves, he said, “they are exposing themselves around the world.”
The thought that would make Watson’s and Abbot’s skin crawl is this: the teenagers are perfectly aware of the consquences of what they are doing. We’re not dealing with illiterate babes in the woods being exploited here, we’re dealing with tech savvy kids loaded with hormones who are exchanging pictures with people exactly like themselves. I doubt there’s one out of twenty sexters who would be surprised to learn that their pictures could get beyond the original audience. As I’ve long said,* there’s a changing culture regarding nude and explicit pictures. In 20 years, I suspect these sexting teenagers will look back not with horror, like today’s serious adults expect, but with bemusement.
*That post is from 2007, but the bitter counterfactual it references looms much larger today. Then it only dealt with a senate seat. Now we can look back and think that if only Seven of Nine had fewer hangups about having sex with complete strangers back in the 90s, we’d have a different president today. It’s like I lost out twice.
Apollo posted this at 8:03 AM CDT on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Kulturkampf, Pop Culture Is Filth, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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I was pleased to see the NY Times report today on efforts around the country to curb union power generally and public employees’ union power specifically. If I was granted the chance to write a constitutional amendment, I think I would ban the unionization of government employees at all levels. Not mentioned in the Times story is the recent and galling example of how pernicious public employee unions can be. Unionization in the private sector is nothing more than individuals fighting over economic resources; unionization in the public sector is the modern incarnation of the Founders’ worst fear: factions using the power of government to extract money from others and put it in their own pocket.
Unrelatedly, the story about the federal probe of the New York Sanitation Department work slow down gives a glaring example of how weird federal criminal law has become. What it seems happened is that union thugs brought our largest city to its knees and endangered the lives of thousands in order to get a better contract for themselves. In a rational world, what would happen is that everyone plausibly involved in the slow down would be fired, banned from future government employment, and have all of their future benefits revoked, and anyone found to have organized the slowdown would be bankrupted because of the financial damages they caused to others.
Instead, “the feds would examine whether the wire or mail fraud statutes were violated by pocketing overtime pay during an illegal job action.” What? Mail fraud and “wire” statutes? Was this slowdown organized through a series of telegrams and forged postage stamps?
Of course not. Instead, federal criminal laws are so vague and all-encompassing that we all break them each and every day. So prosecutors wait until someone does something they don’t like, then they go back and figure out which law they’d like to punish the offender under. If that strikes you as an utter perversion of what a criminal justice system should be, that’s because it is.
Apollo posted this at 3:28 PM CDT on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!, It's Economics - Stupid!, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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If you’re a fan of reasonableness and common sense, whatever you do, do not read news stories about the death penalty in America.
The notion that executions might be delayed because the drugs used in the execution are expired is bonkers. The phrase bat-shit crazy also applies. If Camus were to rewrite The Stranger today, he would work in this plot twist to provide additional confusion for the protagonist.
There comes a point in every absurd story where an objectively idiotic event seems perfectly reasonable because of absurd situation created by previous idiotic events. We have long sought to make the death of murders more humane, and in doing so we have abandoned hanging and shooting, both of which, when done properly, are perfectly humane, immediate, and painless ways to kill people.
We then went to the electric chair, which must be regarded as the most cockamamie method of execution ever fcontemplated, and one that is flukish enough that, even when properly used, has a significant chance of causing lengthy and agonizing pain (warning: slightly gruesome pictures of Tiny Davis). Then someone thought that a more humane way to kill a man was to strap him to a chair and fill the room with cyanide gas and advise him to breath deeply so as to speed up the process.
Now, in an advancement for humanism, we kill our murderers in much the same way that we put our cancerous dogs out of their misery. This has resulted, more times than anyone cares to think about, in prison guards fumbling around with a needle to find a vein, the occasional “blowout” (where the needle pops out and poisonous drugs spray around the room), and condemned inmates gasping for breath and apparently being in excruciating pain because – *shock and amazement* – drugs don’t work the same on everyone.
Finally, we’re at the point where we’re having problems procuring a particular drug and our current stockpile is expiring. Of all the possible ways of killing a man, our legally sanctioned method of execution is one that can be foiled by hardened arteries or the expiration of ingredients. It’s taken quite a bit of work, but I think, at long last, we’ve reached a marginally more absurd situation than the electric chairs of a century ago.
Apollo posted this at 1:48 PM CDT on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 as Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be!, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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If anyone needs a good cheer-up today — or cheer-down, depending on one’s disposition — read Ann Althouse’s analysis of President Obama’s obfuscations and dodges regarding DADT and gay marriage. It’s devastating.
Tom posted this at 12:55 PM CDT on Thursday, October 28th, 2010 as I, For One, Welcome Our Judicial Overlords!, Kulturkampf, Ladies, Gentlemen, and the Rest of us, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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I’m normally a Balko fan, but this is inane. We already have a bifurcated trial system in this country; first, a grand jury determines if a crime was committed and the likely suspect, and then a petit jury determines if the evidence proves that beyond a reasonable doubt. The ways in which that’s different from what Balko proposes are, in a most flattering light, marginal. At worst, they would be epically stupid (“We’ve got a dead body with eighteen stab wounds to the abdomen. Was a crime committed, or was this a suicide like the defense claims? What says you the jury?”).
We already must go through several layers to convict someone of a crime (also consider that the police must investigate, and the prosecutor, who has sworn an oath do to justice, must agree to prosecute the offense). To the degree there are wrongful convictions, it’s not for a lack of layers to our criminal justice system.
In Texas, we further bifurcate trials, with guilt determined in one phase, and then the punishment determined in another. And either can be determined by a judge or a jury. Our punishment phase resembles the Athenian trials of yore, where more or less anyone can testify about any bad thing the defendant has ever done, or any positive thing the defendant has ever done. Mothers testify about how devastated they will be if their sons are locked up in prison. Snooping old ladies testify about that time they saw the defendant take a leak in his front yard (aka “in public”) when he didn’t think anyone else was around.
Apollo posted this at 11:32 PM CDT on Friday, September 17th, 2010 as The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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Reading this news story, I thought, “Surely they’re blowing things out of proportion.” But then I glanced at the preposterously long text of the initiative (seriously, can no one write laws anymore with less than 10,000 words?) and the Chamber of Commerce’s accessible legal summary (caution: PDF). I’m not a lawyer yet, but some of the Chamber’s points seem to be valid.
If that’s the case, though, it says a lot less about Prop. 19 than it does about the overregulated status of the California workplace.*If California employers are already so restricted that they can’t discriminate among applicants based on legal, recreational drug use, is it really Prop. 19′s fault that its passage would result in employers not being able to refuse to hire applicants because they’re potheads? If current regulation requires that employers make “accommodations” for employees who consume mind-altering prescription drugs, is it really Prop. 19′s fault that its passage would result in employers having to make “accommodations” for employees who smoke prescribed marijuana?
From a heighten-the-contradictions approach, the Chamber should welcome Prop. 19 to help show Californians how overregulated employers already are. If, after Prop. 19, employers start getting sued for firing employees who smoked pot on the job, even a state as regulation-happy as California might realize it’s gone too far.
*A little anecdotal information. During my six years in the Golden State, I worked for five paying employers. Since I left several years ago, I have received settlement checks from 2 of them as a result of class action lawsuits. At both of those workplaces, I was subjected to the supposedly illegal activity that resulted in the settlements, but I’m not at all convinced that either employer did anything wrong. In fact, both were, in my opinion, engaged in perfectly reasonable business practices that did not oppress me one whit. But California is the sort of place where reasonable business practices will cause you to pay the college bills of plaintiff lawyers’ children.
Apollo posted this at 12:43 PM CDT on Saturday, August 14th, 2010 as Dirty Hippies, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, Who's Your Nanny?
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