If you want to keep tabs on everything going on in the legislature, check out OpenCongress.org. This site has more than you probably ever wanted to know about the goings on of our democratic republic.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Network World has an blog post by Paul McNamara discussing a new political swing towards privacy rights. The story from the Times can be found here. Realistically, these notions of privacy are nothing more than a misnomer. Consider this, politicians criticize the exposure of social security numbers, but they tacitly endorse absurd invasions of our rights in the name of national security. What purpose does it serve to protect use from one another if we, or the Constitution, can't protect us from the government? Instead, lets disregard the current regime in the Hobbesian sense, reclaim the rights given to us by the fathers of our nation, and preserve the value of the Bill of Rights.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 10:50 PM
To the regular visitors of "In the Grey," I am in the process of making some changes that will hopefully make this blog a little more aesthetically pleasing and easier to use. Ultimately, I want to move to WordPress, then to a dedicated server. I am working on a WordPress version of In the Grey as we speak. I would appreciate any comments you might have regarding content or layout.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 6:25 PM
It is official, we have found the top worst idea to fight terrorism for the year 2007, and possibly in the history of this misguided "war". Sky Harbor Airport became the first location where the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented the use of x-ray security checkpoints. Like the nifty special effect in Total Recall, the back-scatter technology allows a viewer to see through the clothing of a person in the machine, effectively seeing them naked. If there isn't a reasonable expectation of privacy when one puts on his or her clothing, we might as all walk around naked. The absurdity of allowing this kind search, even for the sake of security boggles the mind. If people don't start feeling as though the actions taken by the government, then maybe, just maybe, this will shock the conscience enough to wake even the staunchest "security-minded" individual.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 6:03 PM
Friday, February 23, 2007
While we all knew it would happen eventually, states are now beginning to curb speech on the Internets. Can you spot the constitutional problem?
Posted by theDonnybrook at 8:18 PM
The whole endeavor in Iraq is no more and no less than a grand national joke we are playing on ourselves. We're having a clownish debate over Iraq as the center of a war on terror while the actual people -- in many cases, it would seem, literally the same people -- who plotted the 9/11 attack are on the rebound. How can anyone credibly deny that if most of our ground forces and budget weren't tied down in Iraq we would be far better able to react to this genuine threat?
Posted by theDonnybrook at 8:16 PM
The English version of the Iraqi Oil law can be found here. I came across this thanks to this post at Discourse.net. While I don't entirely agree with the result of this bill, insofar as it privatizes the sale in a way that will diminish the amount of profits realized by the Iraqi populace, I agree that federal control and profit sharing among the three social groups in Iraq is, at least, a good place to start.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 7:30 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
I have been watching this case since the Eastern District of Michigan rendered its decision several months ago. So notable, in fact, was the ruling that my paper that is currently pending publication had to be refocused to consider its impact. Unfortunately, the law looks like it is all about to change. This is a terrific overview of what has happened to date. Audio of the argument can be found here (direct download absent a browser plugin). Now you are up to speed where I am, having been out of the loop for a couple of weeks and not knowing. I am going to pick through this stuff and get back to you with a formal, though terribly late perspective, hopefully before the 6th Circuit renders their decision.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 10:31 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2007
For the last couple of weeks, Congress has raged with debates over the President's proposed troop increase in Iraq. The resolution proposed serves only to evince the opinion of the Congressional majority who no longer agrees with the President's policy on waging the war in Iraq. Ultimately, this is a non-binding resolution, so while it states an opinion, it fails to really do anything substantial in a legal sense. Recently, the Senate Republicans blocked more debate on the issue after the bill made it through the House of Representatives.
Some scholars have questioned the value of having the President as the Command and Chief as opposed to an independent force working at the behest of the Executive. However, the recent floundering of the legislature calls into question the role of Congress in the operation of war. Constitutionally speaking, Congress retains considerable authority to regulate the military and the prosecution of war (see Art. I, sec. 9, cl. 12 to 16). After the passage of laws like the War Powers Resolution, Congress effectively expanded their ability to control how the President runs a war by defining the powers retained by both political branches. This leaves the question to why Congress would waste it's time with non-binding resolutions aimed at expressing an opinion, instead of enacting a law that would require a reduction of troops in Iraq, or force the President to set a definitive time table to end military operations in the middle east. Arguably this is well within the power of Congress as evinced by history and the text of the War Powers Resolution. However, the political machine seems to force the legislature to resort to non-binding resolutions of opinion instead of operative law. This seems to be the unfortunate state of American Politics. Were we not a year from Presidential primaries and just over two years from a Presidential election, the result would likely be very different. After all, with almost every major candidate comes from the Senate, absent Rudy Giuliani, and none of them want to lose the strong military vote.
In this case, we can thank the Republicans for putting an end to a pointless debate. Hopefully this will provide the Senate and the House to take a chance, and attempt to assert a bill that will make real change.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 7:51 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
A small flame war has broken out on Balkinization over the economics of law schools and law firms. Starting with comments on how a new increase in base pay at the nations largest firms will yield an increase in the cost of legal education, Brian Tamanaha opened a proverbial can of worms. While his observation is sound, it did require some explanation.
School rankings add little to the legal profession. After all, we all learn the same law, at ABA accredited schools at least. I think the education I received at my non-elite law school was just as good as any of the first tier schools, and in some respects better. What is in a name? About the same as what is in a ranking. It's what you walk away with that makes a difference. Then again, this is coming from one of those people who graduated from a non-elite school, so take it with a grain of salt.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 9:54 PM
Five to six years ago, the Executive branch went on a public relations blitz aimed at building support among its "core" supporters to permit the President plenary military power over prosecuting the "war on terror." Could history be repeating itself? If the inside sources close to Cheney are any indication, these fears may be realized. Even if Bush holds himself out as the decision maker, he will get a harsh reminder that the Congress plays a significant constitutional role in the march up to war. For the sake of fairness, Iranian leaders seem to think this is just shifting the blame for Iraq.
As citizens, should we let our President lead us into another fruitless war that will rage on without end tapping the limited resources of the United States both monetarily and militarily? Fundamentally, war is not the answer, especially considering that Iran is its own problems. Maybe what we really need is some good will on the part of Iranian citizens. After all, the last few days have shown us how diplomacy can yieldpositive results. In the alternative, we can continue to let the blind lead the blind.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 9:19 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2007
So it turns out that the Bush Administration relied on alternative intelligence to justify invading Iraq. Not only that, the CIA disregarded all existing information when formulating a plan for the invasion. No doubt any reasonable person could see through the hype and rhetoric regurgitated by the Executive branch in the run up to the Iraq war, but now, it seems as though any hope of a successful out come has become lost. One would think that this would be enough for Congress to do America a favor and put this administration out of our misery, but they will likely spin their wheels instead. Kind of makes you wonder if the system still works. What do you think? Should a President get away with lying about the information that was available to justify preemptive military action?
Posted by theDonnybrook at 1:03 PM
Prince's performance during the half time show of Super Bowl XLI can only be described as memorable, especially considering the controversy raised by accidents and malfunctions in the recent past. However, no matter how memorable and germane this year's performance may have been, some are still crying foul. What kind of hypersensitive pervert does it take to see a penis in the place of a guitar? This kind of excessive sensitivity inhibits expression, so lets propose another solution. Lighten up people, not everything is meant to be sexual, more likely than not, a guitar is a guitar.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 12:01 PM
Saturday, February 10, 2007
The American legal system, at every level, has taken great pains to define rape in order to protect the rights and interests of a woman during the carnal act. The definition has been parsed out in advance, and everyone knows, or at least should know, that no means no from the beginning. What about mid-coitus? A California Court thinks a mid-act rescission of willingness will transform a consensual act into rape. This is an interesting conceptualization of when an act may or may not be consensual. However, at one point do we, as a society and legal system, go too far in defining what kinds of acts are criminal. That is not to say that this distinction is unnecessary, but rather that it inches over the edge of a slippery slope. Moreover, how do you adequately prosecute such a case? To what degree does prosecution become malicious? Ideally, any abuses will be counter-balanced by the heavy burden borne by the state in prosecuting criminal maters. Any ideas on this one, how do we strike a balance or will this be abused?
Posted by theDonnybrook at 10:48 PM
Saturday, February 03, 2007
In most circumstances, a free market corrects itself to reach a state of equilibrium. One example is the cyclical nature of the stock and commodity markets. However, applied to a situation with more dependent circumstances, the playing field includes more risk. Some human needs cannot cope with the ebb and flow of market tides. The continuing need for health care is one example. In a capitalist system, every commodity, no matter how important to survival and wellbeing, trades at the rate of the market. Fundamentally, this means that the operation of forces beyond mere supply and demand impact the availability of a commodity even when in robust supply.
Recently, a number of Democratic law makers have argued that health care should be universally available. The President even suggested in his State of the Union Address that health care needs to be affordable and available to the public. However, the operation of the free market currently renders such a position economically inviable. The perpetual fear of lawsuits from professional negligence inexorably drive the cost of health care to increase, while decreasing the number of people to whom health care is available. This cost prohibitive operation of economics makes universal health care, under the current system, a virtual impossibility. Unfortunately, fixing the system the way current politicians propose, would not only break the system but significantly devalue the kin of care an individual would receive. Diminished care is the norm in countries with socialized health care system like Canada.
The options seem extreme. Continue on our current path and have a system that only few can afford, or devalue available care in order to make it readily available for all. The only hope is for a market correction. This could not include a forced change, though, seeing as that would result in one of the two extremes. Neither results in a state of affairs that is most beneficial to the populace. Moreover, the operation of the system would break down due to the shear weight of the bureaucracy need to support the administration of a socialized program to a large population. Therein lies the disconnect. Such a program could not survive the weight of several hundreds of millions. Socialized programs only operate efficiently in small populations capable of supporting themselves and the program.
The goal should be, then, to make health care more affordable by correcting the inequity which drives the drastic upswing in cost. This should not come through the inhibition of individual rights. Doing so would debase preexisting constitutional guarantees, sacrificing one benefit for another. The goal should be to find a solution that does not sacrifice one social benefit for another.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 11:14 PM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I posted a week or so ago about the Real ID act. Thankfully, some states are standing up for our rights, or at the very least the unnecessary imposition of normalized identification standards and national databases. Lets hope more states take this kind of initiative and act as a unique federalist check on abusive legislative requirements.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 11:28 PM
Someone needs to explain this to me. The cure for cancer won't make money, so big business won't produce it.
Wait, it gets better. There isn't enough lead in the air you breath.
All of a sudden, this sounds like a conspiracy. In order to make money off of a cheap drug, the EPA repeals the law restricting lead emissions so everyone will get cancer. At least they will make the cancer drug. Putting the sarcasm on hold, can anyone come up with a plausible explanation to such an efficient operation of economics?
Posted by theDonnybrook at 11:16 PM
The step forward comes in the form of the Justice Department folding against the pressure of Congressional oversight, and actually showing their hand to Congress by way of releasing reports regarding the operation of the FISA Courts after finally letting them do their job. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like things aren't going anywhere. We are just wagging the dog anyway. Ok, maybe a small detour on the road to rectification.
Posted by theDonnybrook at 9:30 PM