Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beware the lv.10 rogue in the Hat of Disguise

Played my first-ever session of Dungeons & Dragons yesterday with some theatre friends. Unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it.

Oh, for the love of Rahm!

Another residency issue crops up, this time with Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who stays in a hotel when in-state.

Guys, looking up Article II, §4 of the Indiana Constitution wasn't exactly hard:

No person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in the State, by reason of his absence, either on business of this State or of the United States.

IC-3-8-1-1 sets the qualification for candidacy at no more than being a registered voter in the election district (in the case of the Senate, that would amount to merely being registered in Indiana). IC-3-5-5-18 expressly allows for residents of "nontraditional residences" to register.

So state law says that he keeps his registration when he's in DC, he's qualified to run by virtue of being a registered voter, and he may remain registered even if his residence is deemed to be his hotel instead of his family farm (which, incidentally, another provision of state law addresses). I'm not saying it would be impossible to make a case to kick Lugar off the ballot, but I am saying that it would be a better use of his opponents' time to just campaign against him and let the voters do their thing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Hey, at least only CERTAIN people can legally murder abortion providers!"

Sometimes I make fun of state legislators for stupid stuff, like this and this. But this is simply evil:

    Section 1. That § 22-16-34 be amended to read as follows:
    22-16-34. Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.
    Section 2. That § 22-16-35 be amended to read as follows:
    22-16-35. Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished.

This amendment is about one thing: allowing the family members of pregnant women to kill abortion providers.

Look at the law as it stands now, without the underlined sections. That language still allows people to protect others from assault and battery, as well as any other felony or personal injury. By definition, an unwanted medical procedure constitutes battery, so if someone attempts to force a woman to unwillingly abort a pregnancy, deadly force can already be used. What this amendment does is change the rules so that the risk of "some great personal injury" to the fetus, independent of the woman's consent, can justify using deadly force.

So assume a husband finds out that his wife is seeking an abortion. He watches her walk into a clinic the only clinic in the state, then sees the only doctor willing to perform abortions get out of his car in the parking lot. Since it's South Dakota, the husband has his loaded rifle in the car with him, which is perfectly legal. Guess what he can legally do under the proposed amendment?

This is a terrible law, and the state representative proposing it should have to answer some tough questions about how he can possibly think this is a good idea (assuming, of course, he isn't a cavalier endorser of murdering abortion providers, which he might well be). Cue the surprise, then:

Jensen did not return calls to his home or his office requesting comment on the bill...

UPDATE: Jensen has commented at last, saying that the restriction to "lawful defense" means that an attempt to use murder to prevent an abortion would be excluded from the law's protection. I'm not sure he's correct, though, if he is, what exactly does he intend his amendment to accomplish? A threat to an unborn child that can be stopped via deadly force is almost certainly going to also pose a threat to the pregnant woman carrying it, and, as I noted above, such threats are already covered by the justifiable homicide statute. So what does he think he's changing here? He offered this example to Greg Sargent:

"Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn't want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend's abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child."
Is Jensen arguing that "beat[ing] on his ex-girlfriend's abdomen in trying to abort her baby" doesn't fall under the category of "felony" or "great personal injury"? His story doesn't add up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I have the cutest wife in the world. This morning, she woke me up with a mug of tea: she'd hand-sewn tea bags with little love notes on the tags. There's a whole box of heart-shaped tea bags awaiting me at home.

You should all feel jealous: my wife rules.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sorry for light posting this week:

I've been appearing as Egeus in the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this week (running nightly at 8 p.m. through Saturday!).  Kind of a time drain, but very much worth it. Anyone in the DC area looking for that magical synergy of Shakespeare and ABBA should come check it out.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The 2012 Veepstakes: Two Camps Emerge in the GOP

Keep this theme in mind for the next year and change: most Republicans running or stoking speculation are actually campaigning for the Veep slot and/or Cabinet appointments in the next GOP administration.

Thanks to the lack of a clear front-runner for the GOP nomination (Romney, Huckabee and Palin seem to be jockeying for the lead at this point, with none having a clear advantage over the others), the media is being treated to a glut of candidacies that can only be described as whimsical.  Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Kook-Kook-a-Choo, Newt Gingrich, etc.  And now the speculation has begun about non-candidacies from Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, the n00bz of the GOP salon scene.

But I don't think these minor figures are, for the most part, seriously looking to get elected President. Rather, I think they're preening in advance of someone else's candidacy.

Romney's considered too centrist for far-right tastes. He needs to be able to pick someone to head off a convention floor fight. Herman Cain--black, rich, wildly anti-health reform, and as likely as Palin to say crazy things--is a good fit for his ticket. Rick Santorum would work as well, as a bone for the anti-gay crowd.

Huckabee is positioning himself as the Values Voter's wet dream (do "Values Voters" get those?), so he needs someone who can boost him with other constituencies in order to put more states in play. Rubio is a great fit for that--young, Hispanic, only mildly corrupt, and from a high-value swing state.

Palin needs to have someone who at least appears to know what the hell he's doing. Newt, Huntsman or Bolton would fit well with that purpose (though I doubt that even ambition would get Huntsman to campaign with her).  But, let's be honest, there isn't enough support among GOP leaders for her to be nominated, and I doubt she's planning to run for exactly that reason (at least, not on the Republican line, but the Constitution Party would probably love to run her, and it's not like the Palins have an aversion to minor parties).

Monday, February 7, 2011

DLC to fold, Jane Harman to retire.

America, have a Haagen-Dazs.

"Now, the WALRUS, on the other hand..."

John Bolton is not the duck, apparently.

He's also not a contender.

Want to see a future homicidal maniac?

This is fun/petrifying: Google "coinguy1945" and see what comes up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"I'm not a history major, though." He's also not an Originalist.

State Rep. Hal Wick (R-SD) thought it would be funny to introduce a law mandating that people purchase firearms as a way of protesting the federal health insurance mandate.

What he didn't realize is that we used to have just such a requirement, under the Militia Act of 1792.

[E]ach and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.

If, upon being presented with this information, Rep. Wick had simply admitted that he'd made a mistake in thinking such a law would be unconstitutional, the story would be over. But that, of course, didn't happen. Instead, he offered an explanation for why it would have been constitutional to mandate gun ownership then but not now:

In the course of the interview, I asked whether this would change his opinion on individual mandates. "No," he said. "I really don't feel like a gun mandate would be constitutional under these circumstances."

What does he mean by the circumstances?

"Well, it was shortly after the Revolutionary War, and it was before the War of 1812," he said, "which may have been something that was on the radar screen -- that they knew there could be another challenge coming from overseas. I'm not a history major, though."

Let's set aside for a moment the obviously ridiculous argument that a war 20 years in the future could justify something that's otherwise unconstitutional whereas a present crisis in health care would not. Notice that he's arguing that something that once was constitutional no longer would be, despite the Constitution's language on the issue remaining unchanged.  That's the antithesis of originalism. Originalists come in various stripes, but the idea that the Constitution's meaning is fixed until properly amended is common to all of them.

I'm not really an originalist, though I practice originalism on occasion (it's a useful tool for determining statutory or constitutional meaning, though it isn't the only one, and it isn't the only valid one). But, in today's GOP, anti-originalism is akin to apostasy. The legal challenge to the health care reform bill's mandate is based on an originalist view of the Commerce Clause. Originalism was the basis for the opinion (and Justice Stevens's dissent!) in District of Columbia v. Heller, one of the most important Second Amendment cases ever decided. For someone who's endorsing both gun rights and the challenge to the insurance mandate to also reject originalism is stunning.

Obviously, in addition to not being a history major, Rep. Wick is also not a constitutional law scholar. Perhaps he'll keep both of those facts in mind the next time he wants to pull a stunt like this.