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Archive for National Politics

Federal rights via Assisted Suicide

Here’s a biggie. Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft)
To sum things up;

“Congress enacted the Controlled Substance Act (”CSA”) in 1970 as part of a comprehensive federal scheme to regulate and control certain drugs and other substances. A 1984 Amendment to the Act authorized the Attorney General to prohibit medical practitioners’ use of a controlled substance if that use was “inconsistent with the public interest.” In 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft determined that Oregon physicians’ use of a federally registered controlled substance to facilitate physician-assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical purpose, despite an Oregon statute which authorized such use.
In Oregon’s suit, brought to enjoin Ashcroft from giving any legal effect to his directive, the District Court ruled for Oregon and issued a permanent injunction, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Oregon argues that since states traditionally regulate medical practices, Gonzales (the new Attorney General, replacing Ashcroft) must show that Congress expressly intended to authorize the Attorney General to make such a determination. Gonzales argues that the Attorney General’s reasonable interpretation of a federal regulation is entitled to deference, even without a clear statement of legislative intent, and that Ashcroft’s interpretation of the CSA is reasonable.
In the alternative, Gonzales argues that Ashcroft’s interpretation is consistent with Congress’s intent in passing the CSA and the 1984 Amendment. This case will decide the fate the Oregon statute by either expanding or limiting the federal government’s authority over traditionally state-regulated medical practices. This case also has far-reaching moral and ethical implications that go beyond the scope of states’ rights.”

The whole issue of Assisted Suicide is a personal right. The Constitution upholds personal rights throughout, and especially in the ninth amendment. But this particular issue relates to states rights vs federal rights. As I see this issue, the federal government does not have the right, under the constitution [tenth amendment], to regulate how the states manage medical practice.

With that said above, here I diverge into my own internalization of the ensuing debate.

The contrary argument could be waged based on the power-grab congress has been performing, under section 8 of the constitution (citing “Regulation of inter-state trade”). Some would say that any practice that has an effect on the trade between states, allows congress to regulate that practice. Given that interpretation of the constitution, congress indeed would be allowed to to regulate the medical practice by way of drug sales across state lines.
(Example: Wickard v. Filburn. Where a farmer was found out of compliance of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (an act to regulate the amount of wheat sold across state boundries) for growing more wheat than allowed. The expressed reason for the wheat was for feeding this person’s farm animals, and none for use outside of his own property.)

But I invite you to look at the wording of Article 1, section 8 again.

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

(my emphasis)

This section has been interpreted to mean that congress can regulate the industries that produce goods that travel between the states (i.e. Interstate Trade). And then interpreted again to mean that congress can regulate those goods that impact the industries that produce the goods that travel between the states (such as what happened in the above Wickard v. Filburn.)

I say that Article 1 does not allow congress to regulate the industries or the goods that cross the borders. Only that they can regulate how the individual states handle the trade between themselves. To relate again to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, Congress was right (In theory, at least. I have not studied the Act, so I can’t vouch for the practice.) to attempt to regulate the amount of wheat travelling between state borders for the purpose of preventing shortages. But Congress did not have the power (under article 1 of the constitution) to regulate what happened within the state’s borders. Let alone what happened within the farmer’s property borders.

This over-reaching interpretation of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 by the supreme court has helped pave the way for the kinds of attitudes of congress that allow them to think they can regulate the way doctors treat their own patients.

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Nosy Nanny State

Virginia and other states, including Oregon, have already started treating cold and allergy remedies as more dangerous than ammunition. In Virginia, you cannot buy any product containing psuedoephedrine except directly from a live pharmacist after showing ID and signing a register. Another state has criminalized buying more than 3 boxes. Imagine that. Buy three boxes of Sudafed (about 2 weeks worth), you’re legal. Put a fourth box in your shopping cart and go to jail.

In America.

And what good purpose is served by the pending federal legislation that takes this silly idea national? Lets see.

“It will cut down on meth use.” - No, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, some 80 percent of the illicit meth consumed in the U.S. comes from large-scale Mexican traffickers, not local labs. Shut down 100% of the local labs, and you’ve only profited the smuggler without inconveniencing the user.

“It will shut down local meth labs, since if they can’t get psuedoephedrine they can’t make meth.” - No, other recipes for meth use other precursors such as ephedrine, methylamine, phenylalanine, and phenyl-2-propanone (which itself can be synthesized in a variety of ways). The labs will simply move to another recipe.

“It will inconvenience people and make them think we’re serious about the problem without doing anything positive.” - Bingo.

And it’s not just the criminalization of a perfectly safe over-the-counter remedy, or the elimination from the market of the less expensive forms of that remedy. There’s also this bit of insanity to check out.

Last summer state and federal agents arrested 49 convenience store clerks and owners in Georgia on charges that they sold pseudoephedrine and other supplies that can be used to make meth, including matches, charcoal, anti-freeze, coffee filters, aluminum foil, and cat litter. The charges carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison as well as fines and asset forfeiture. For selling cat litter.

In America.

So next time you have a runny nose, while you’re waiting in line to buy that more expensive box of tablets, go ahead and feel secure from the dangerous meth lab.

When will you take time to worry about your government?

from Hit & Run Reason

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Kennedy on Progressives and vice versa

“What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” ~John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

I found this quote, with no comment at all attached, as a post on a blog that I’m really not picking on. I’ve seen this before and had a similar reaction.

It seems to me a bit odd for a contemporary “Progressive” to wrap himself in one of Kennedy’s quotes. Like a 40 year old threadbare jacket, it does nothing to keep the winds out. A grumpy old independent like me sees a lot of holes.

“someone who is soft in his policies abroad” - Like ‘give peace a chance’ in 2002, after 10 years of peaceful containment. Like ‘bring our troops home now’ rather than finishing the job in Iraq and Afganistan like we did in Japan and Germany.

someone “who is against local government” - Like thinking Roe v Wade is good law, or Gonzales v Raich is good, or No Child Left Behind, or that United States v Lopez or United States v Morrison are dangerous, or that ‘public welfare’ is an enumerated power of Congress, or … well, you get the idea.

someone “who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar” - Federal Income Tax = 35%, Social Security and Medicare Tax = 15.3%. Does anybody think there’s no fat? BTW, since 1960 the per taxpayer taxes in constant dollars have gone from ~$9500 to near $18,000. Is the only concern how to get more taxpayer dollars?

“then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of Liberal.” - Using these arguments, and the record of the last 4 decades, it is amply demonstrated that this country has been dominated by exactly “that kind of Liberal”.

“someone who looks ahead and not behind” - Bush is Hitler. Iraq is Vietnam. Arab culture doesn’t allow them to have a functioning democracy. Racial quotas and affirmative action.

“someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions” - Well, see the previous item for some of today’s non-rigid reactions. Then think about the ‘Progressive’ reaction to the death of socialism, to all the UN failures, to school vouchers, to using private charity organizations, and other recent “new ideas”.

“someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health” - Driving vaccine makers out of the country, and obstetricians and trauma physicians out of rural areas, with obscene liability concepts and awards.

“– their housing” - Black families destroyed by welfare regulation, the ‘Progressive’ love of urban planning and eminent domain. The universally demonstrated fact that rent control eliminates new low-income housing from the market.

“– their schools” - Utterly failed public schools with no chance to learn and no choice available to the poor, opposition to vouchers that would give that choice.

“– their jobs” - Choking out jobs with oppressive regulation like Sarbanes-Oxley, or destroying the ability of individuals to provide jobs with huge and incomprehensible employment law volumes. Allowing unions to push wages to the point that jobs go overseas. Huge class action lawsuits that benefit only the lawyers while bankrupting employers.

“– their civil rights” - The bipartison Patriot Act. Sneak and peek searches, Internet regulation and wiretapping. Free Speech zones. Gun bans.

“– and their civil liberties” - McCain-Feingold restrictions on what private citizens can say about politics and politicians. Using environmental law to put farmers in jail for farming their own land. Asserting ‘public good’ to prevent the private use of private land. The War on Drugs.

“someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad” - When most of that grip today is simply the echo of the domestic stalemate and suspicions created by the ‘Progressives’ themselves.

This is why I can’t understand the ‘Progressive’s love of Kennedy. The modern ‘Progressive’ is in general everything that Kennedy was not, and is not what Kennedy was. The ‘Progressive’ of today vilifies anyone who actually tries to implement the vision of Kennedy.

So what’s with wearing such a threadbare and ill-fitting coat?

Update: Welcome to everyone from Kazablog. More outrage (if you like) and possible agreement on our main page as well.

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CDC Comments on Disease

Sometimes I think the national Center for Disease Control has forgotten just what a disease is. They were a major backer of that bit about tobacco, and seem to be a driving force behind obesity control, neither of which have anything like a microbial, bacterial or viral agent.

So it’s good to see that they actually have something to say about avian flu. In this Scientific American article CDC director Gerberding is quoted as saying repeatedly “We have only one enemy, and that is complacency.”

Perhaps public complacency is the foreseeable result when a critical agency like the CDC ignores it’s primary mission to take on the cause de jure?

Hat tip Instapundit

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All the Right Points?

Sometimes, I dispair of finding basic critical thinking skills amongst certain groups of people. One of the latest reasons is this.

Norman Podhoretz has penned a version of the ‘everyone said they had WMD’ line defending President Bush and Co. in the new edition of Commentary. Call it the higher mumbojumbo. Kevin Drum does a very nice and understated job of dismantling the argument. It’s well worth a few moments of your time to read (Kevin, not Norm). He hits all the right points.

– Josh Marshall

The substantial, footnoted and well organized Podhoretz article set out to rebuke the ceaseless shrill chant of “Bush lied, people died” by pointing out that “Bush lied” is itself a lie. The response by Kevin Drum that Josh Marshal cites above is, by comparision, short, devoid of facts, and filled with the types of logical fallacies that are only brought out when there are no better arguments available to the writer.

The basic thesis of both articles is whether or not Bush lied about Iraqi WMDs prior to the war. Drum’s article, at 6 short paragraphs, is easy to analyze for content, so let’s look at his assertions.

INR, for example, thought the African uranium was bogus. DIA thought our prime witness for Iraqi-al-Qaeda WMD collaboration was lying. The Air Force found the evidence on drones to be laughable. DOE didn’t believe in the aluminum tubes.

On INR and ‘African uranium’, Drum carefully avoids describing what was bogus, so he fails to identify a lie. al-Qaeda is not properly part of the thesis. Nor are the ‘drones’. DOE’s opinion on the tubes’ use in centrifuges was in direct contradiction to the French who tested them, who according to Wilkerson:

said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?

In Drum’s 3rd paragraph, we have:

Nor does Podhoretz apply himself to the entire period before the war. He stops his investigation at the end of 2002. But that’s not when we went to war. We went to war in March 2003, and by that time UN inspectors had been combing Iraq for months with the help of U.S. intelligence. They found nothing

Not true.

Podhoretz included the 2003 State of the Union Address. We presented our conclusion to the U.N on February 5th. Drum leaves out of consideration the number of WMDs such as poison gas shells and bombs that have been found and reported. Does Drum think you can just make a phone call and have U.N. resolutions passed and tanks moving in 24 hours? One month or so is not bad. And about those U.N. inspections, Wilkerson says:

when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP—Ammunition Supply Point—with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re there, you have to conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell’s UN speech] was accurate.

Just for the record, Wilkerson is not one of the big defenders of the Bush administration these days.

Drum is even more dismissive with his “And of course there’s the nukes.” paragraph. But nukes are just about all he’s brought up so far. Unfortunately, he almost completely ignores the fact that bio and chemical devices are also WMDs. Drum not only fails to dismantle Podhoretz’s argument, he fails almost completely to address it. He seems to leave out facts entirely, and to rely on his readers to be sympathetic and uncritical. In this, Josh Marshall was entirely reliable.

“Hits all the right points”? I score both Drum and Marshall as pointlessly shooting a clean miss.

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After Harriet Miers

Earlier today President Bush reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers’ withdrawal from the confirmation process. It shows he really can back away from a mistake. Over at the Volokh Conspiricy there’s already discussion of the next nominee. But what about Bush’s state of mind? I see three ways he can go from here, Stubborn, Petulant and Thoughtful.

Stubborn Bush will now follow up by picking a tougher crony to hand it to. Expect an Alberto Gonzales to get the nod.

Petulant Bush responds to his critics by giving them just what they want, then fails to back it up. Expect a Janice Rogers Brown to be hung out to dry with no support.

Thoughtful Bush goes for a strong conservative candidate that can win, then starts hammering on opponents like he was hammering on allies last week. Look for a Douglas Ginsburg or a Michael McConnell to get the nod.

I’d love to be wrong and see Bush nominate and fight for Brown, but Bush has shown very little spine in 5 years so I don’t expect him to.

Time will tell which Bush will win out.

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Bloggers (and unpopular press) not eligible under ‘Shield Law’

Alright. so by posting on this, it sounds like a blatent case of self-interest. But it actually feeds my fair-play ideals than anything much else..

According to senator Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), the Shield Law provision of the ‘Free Flow of Information Act of 2005′ would not protect bloggers, yet is written widely enough to cover anything from the New York Times to the hometown newsletter, to Internet-only publications.

So why do the “real publications” (sic) need something like this Shield Law provision? Supposedly it is so they don’t have to reveal thier sources when under oath; Allows whistle-blowers stay anonymous and rumor-starters to need no accountability. This has been related to a doctor-patient or a priest-confessional relationship. I can see how the concept might have been linked, but it should never have been accepted as such.

A doctor needs certain information from thier patients so the doctor can save thier life. Such as things the patient has done that might not be all that legal. Without this information the doctor cannot properly save lives.

The relationship within a religion should be considered private, because without an assumption of trust, priests cannot properly tend to thier flock. Invasion of this relationship interfers with the practice of that religion, causing bad kharma all around.

There are very few other cases where an assumption of secrecy is required. Usually it is because it interferes with certain vital social functions; the doctor’s ability to save certain unmentioned body parts, the preacher’s ability to save souls, and a defense attorney’s ability to save thier clients certain other unmentioned body parts.

So how is it so important that the press recieves this special benifit? The most obvious answer is so they can protect the identity of whistle-blowers - people who are afraid of backlash for speaking about corruption in thier company. But there are other answers. It allows reporters to cover up felonies they commit; such as the knowing and willfull reception of classified materials. This legislation creates an assumption of privacy for the press’ sources where there should not be one. And, thanks to senator Lugar’s interpretation, it sets up a division line between state-sponsored media outlets and the media outlets created by regular folk.

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Harriet Miers just tipped the balance

I’ll admit that my initial reaction to Miers’ nomination was a dismayed “who?” followed by growing anger. I would still prefer her nomination to be defeated, primarily because the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ role was intended to be a check against blatant cronyism. I’m certainly not the first to read some dusty old papers and see that:

It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.

He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

On the other hand, I disagree with those who claim that Miers is unqualified. She is simply not as qualified as they would like, in the manner they would like.

I think I’m really seeing (and feeling) that this is the last intolerable betrayal of MY principles by a President I voted for. Strike that. I honestly voted against the other guy, not for this bozo.

I’ve said more than once that voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. Guess I had to be slapped with it one more time.

I don’t see where Bush has any credibility left with fiscal conservatives, small government believers or any liberty loving citizen. The 0 for 2 on appointing judges comes on top of drug welfare for seniors, a blank check to the corruption that drowned NOLA, expansion of police powers, dangerously half-hearted military action, and others. No wonder his base is fragmenting.

Miers’ nomination isn’t offensive enough for the heat that’s been generated, not by itself. But on top of everything else, it seems to be the last straw.

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Internet Struggle “Reaches Climax”

As covered on Slashdot multiple times, The world is looking to take away the control of the internet from the United States by allowing the United Nations to control the world’s DNS servers. Currently the United States “controls” the internet’s DNS servers via an independant company called ICANN, who approves of the formats used in the internet’s protocols and manages the world’s DNS servers (such as the Top Level Domains (’.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’, etc) and format of the DNS records).

So why do we need a shift of power in who controls the internet? I am having problems finding the answer to this one. Suggested in the Guardian, some governments have become dependant on the internet for some of thier basic infrastructure, such as tax collection and voting. As a result, these countries have invested an interest in controlling the internet - invited themselves to the party, so to speak. Perhaps it’s because these other countries aren’t happy with merely paticipating, they want to regulate. But like all forms of regulation, it’s the private sector that makes things fun and interesting, and the public sector that makes things more restrictive and less interesting.

Case in point: The great firewall of China. Classic case of what one of these other countries can do with an american-held ICANN if they’re sufficiently motivated. This is not the situation of “Let’s invent a new way of using these old internet technologies for something nifty”. This is instead a case of restriction and blocking the message the government doesn’t want it’s citizens to hear.

So what’s the score? The United States is adament on not letting ICANN go. The rest of the world is adamant that the United States let it go.

So what if the U.S. doesn’t back down? Is the world going to have a snit and kick the U.S. out of the U.N.? What has the U.S. done wrong that it should give it up? What is the U.N. going to do with it once they have it?

Personally I think the only realistic thing the other nations do is to put together thier own ICANN-lookalikes and make thier own set of authoritative root servers. Maybe they’ll follow suite with China, and put up a set of firewalls and special routers to block certain worldwide messages the current regime doesn’t like thier people to hear.

It’s certainly nothing new; “pirate” root servers were rather prevelant before ICANN opened up some alternative top-level-domains. There will be several inconsistancies when some countries decide to handle thier protocols differently than the norm. you can imagine that will score big points, when companies based in one country can’t do business with other countries.

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