Archive for May, 2010

Mexican president insults U.S., Congress cheers

When Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, addressed a joint gathering of the United States Senate and House of Representatives less than three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a speech delivered at the right time, in the right place, to the right people.  It helped strengthen and define Allied resolve for the looming battles against Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. 

Yet, among the many speeches delivered over the decades by foreign heads of state to the Congress of the United States, Churchill’s December 26, 1941 address was the exception to the rule.  Most foreign leaders who are afforded this honor deliver largely forgettable lectures about how wonderful are the ties between their nations and ours; and often in support of receiving financial or military support from Washington.

Few foreign leaders, however, possess the audacity exhibited earlier this month by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon when he spoke to the House and Senate in …

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Supreme Court okays indefinite prison for sex offenders

Here’s a law school hypothetical:  A person is convicted at trial of the offense of extortion.  He receives a sentence of 10 years.  Prior to his release from prison, however, the government decides he might very well commit another, similar offense if he is released from his sentence; so the government motions the court to have him detained in prison.  At a hearing on the motion, the government shows — by a lesser burden than “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” (the burden they must have met in order to have had him incarcerated in the first place), that he might very well commit another offense after his release.  So, the court orders him held beyond the end of his original sentence, and perhaps indefinitely, because he might similarly harm victims if he is released.  The law student would be required to respond to this hypothetical, with an analysis of whether such indefinite incarceration beyond a term of imprisonment for an offense passes constitutional muster.

The …

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Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence

Thousands of census workers, including many temporary employees, are fanning out across America to gather information on the citizenry.  This is a process that takes place not only every decade in order to complete the constitutionally-mandated census; but also as part of the continuing “American Community Survey” conducted by the Census Bureau on a regular basis year in and year out.

What many Americans don’t realize, is that census workers — from the head of the Bureau and the Secretary of Commerce (its parent agency) down to the lowliest and newest Census employee — are empowered under federal law to actually demand access to any apartment or any other type of home or room that is rented out, in order to count persons in the abode and for “the collection of statistics.”  If the landlord of such apartment or other  leased premises refuses to grant the government worker access to your living quarters, whether you are present or not, the landlord can be fined $500.00.

That’s …

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Nanny State goes global

“Nanny State” laws are popping up with increasing frequency as big-government advocates continue to be elected to offices from the city council to the White House.  What many Americans may not realize is the extent to which such invasive and pervasive government actions are spreading around the world, creating a “Nanny World.”

As usual, California, with its many ultra-liberal communities, is leading the way here in America.  Santa Clara County recently voted to outlaw the sale of McDonald’s “Happy Meal” toys and a host of other novelties (including coupons from which a patron might download a song) provided by restaurants as a bonus for customers who purchase certain drinks or food items.  As bizarre as is this most recent ban, if some of that county’s residents have their way, it will be followed by many more.  One resident of Sacramento, for example, reportedly voiced support for the recently-passed measure because even McDonald’s “190-calorie salad dressing and …

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Knee-jerk “loss of citizenship” bill is unconstitutional and unnecessary

The post-Times Square hysteria continues in the Congress.  In all-too-typical fashion, the “security-at-all-costs” crowd, led by Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, has introduced legislation that would empower federal bureaucrats to strip an American of their citizenship if the government decides they might have provided some sort of support to a terrorist organization.

On the surface, of course, many Americans likely would tend to support a law stripping citizenship from someone who has been proved to have engaged in terrorist acts against our country or our military; and Sen. Lieberman’s bill — the Terrorist Expatriation Act of 2010 – will therefore probably garner some not-insignificant degree of support in the Congress.  Such support, however, on more careful reading of the legislation, would be misplaced and set a dangerous precedent.

American citizenship is a right enjoyed by anyone born in this country or who has satisfied the requirements to become a naturalized …

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Illegal immigrant student is not a hero

I was in New York City the other day (being photographed no doubt dozens of times by Mayor Bloomberg’s mass of surveilllance cameras), and while walking by Time Square, noticed a scrolling headline billboard for CNN blaring to the world that the case of Jessica Colotl, the illegal alien student at Kennesaw State Universtiy in Georgia, was being labeled a “civil rights disaster.”  Say what?  A “civil rights disaster?”  In what sense?  Because a case is pending regarding the legal status of one single person unquestionably in this country unlawfully, and who apparently violated at least a few state laws  while she was at it (driving without a license, driving illegally, and giving false information to the police)?  Where are the “civil rights” here and what is the crisis?

Even more troubling than these ridiculous headlines building this case into an international incident of epic proportions, is the fact that many people are intent on making this young woman into a martyr of the …

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Bloomberg’s obsession with surveillance cameras

One of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s passions is guns; not that he likes them – he doesn’t.  His disdain for the Second Amendment and his abiding desire to keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is known far and wide.  Despite the Supreme Court’s Second-Amendment affirming opinion two years ago, Bloomberg’s campaign to enlist other mayors in a plan to short-circuit private ownership of firearms in their jurisdictions as is the case in the Big Apple, still provides reason for him to visit colleagues in other cities and rail against the evils of private gun ownership.

Shortly after the capture of the so-called “Times Square bomber” earlier this month, Bloomberg took his anti-firearms show once more to Capitol Hill, where he testified that anyone thought by someone in government to be, or to be connected with a terrorist should be denied the right to purchase a firearm. Clearly, the mayor’s interest in wresting firearms from the hands of as many people in …

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“Hair — the Sequel”

One of the most culturally radical — and financially successful — stage productions of the 1960s was the rock musical “Hair.”  The production featured a memorable rock music score, but with entirely forgettable acting save for one thing — full nudity by some of the actors.

“Hair, the Musical” may be gone, but some folks in San Francisco have resurrected the production; this time not as a musical but as a comedy.  A non-profit group from the City by the Bay is engaged in a drive to collect clippings of real hair (from humans and pets), stuffed into pantyhose, and tied into long, sausage-like “booms.”  The proponents of these lengthy “hair sausages” have proposed to make them available to sop up the vast oil field creeping toward beaches along the Gulf Coast as a result of last month’s off-shore oil rig explosion.  The San Francisco hair producer has been joined by at least one colleague in the Florida panhandle.

None of the authorities actually responsible for handling the …

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Times Square Pt. 2 — Second, Fifth, Sixth Amendment Rights attacked

In the immediate aftermath of the failed Times Square bombing, the fundamental right to a fair trial by jury was sought to be jettisoned by those who adhere to the philosophy that whatever rights need to be sacrificed in order to “make us safe,” must be sacrificed.  Some even called for the citizenship of a US citizen merely accused of committing an act of terrorism, to be summarily stripped in order to prosecute them in a military tribunal instead of a civilian court.  In such a setting, the “Great Writ” of habeas corpus would be discarded in order to “streamline” the prosecution of accused terrorists.

Now that these security-above-all advocates have had a few more days to think about it, two more of our heretofore cherished rights rest in their gunsights as impediments to  the so-called “global war on terror.”  The freedom to exercise one’s right guaranteed under the Second Amendment to possess a firearm, and the rights to be free from incriminating oneself and to have legal …

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Times Square incident endangers Constitution

The United States Constitution was adopted in 1788; the Bill of Rights, three years later in 1791.  The Judiciary Act of 1789 established a national network of federal courts and prosecutors.  This system of civil justice remains today — well more than two centuries later, and with all its warts and imperfections — what is rightly regarded as the best and fairest system of civil justice in the world. Yet it is increasingly under attack – from within our own country.

Despite periodic detours — such as during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln deliberately and repeatedly ignored important civil liberties enshrined in these founding documents — our nation and its people have been well-served by this civil justice system.  Those individuals who would threaten the lives or property of others, or who have in fact deprived others of their rights, have been appropriately prosecuted; even as federal judges ensure the accused are accorded their civil rights as guaranteed in …

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