31 December 2014

Happy New Year

As we enter 2015, we should expect that almost everything will get better in almost every measurable way, just as it did in 2014 and 2013 and almost every year since 1776. We shall of course never speak of this again.

24 December 2014

Merry Sollstice and Happy Day-Lengthening

As we do most years, if it occurs to me, all of us here at the Secret Blog wish you and yours a happy day gathered around the ol'pagan symbol swapping the tokens of modern materialism.

21 November 2014

I Need an Opinion

So, as a Republican, a Constitutionalist, a Unitary Executive theorist, and pro-immigration conservative, what am I to make of President Obama's actions last night?

28 October 2014

The Course of Human Events

A comment over at Megan McArdle's Bloomberg blog got me wondering how many of the reasons given for rebelling against the King and declaring independence are also true today. So, with no further ado, the annotated causes of separation:
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. I suppose this one is always true whenever the President vetoes a law (or Congress refuses to pass a law) that I believe is wholesome and necessary for the public good, like the "Give David $10 million a year for life law" that would contribute so much to the children. But in context I think it's fair to say that this is not a problem with our modern government. Our problem now is that they keep passing laws that torpedo the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. Nope.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. Nope.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. If only.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. Nope.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. Again, sounds pretty good.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. Hmmm. Yes, I suppose, although the President is trying.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. Filibuster, anyone?

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. This one has pretty much been fixed for Article 3 judges, but now the government has established so-called "administrative law judges" who have an awful lot of power and are executive branch employees. I'm going to score this one a "yes."

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. Worse than ever.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. Well, we have standing armies, but they are established with the consent of the legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. No, with the possible exception of the Army Corps of Engineers, but that's not the Army and not a Corps.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation. Yes, actually.

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. Nope.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. Nope.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world. Yep.

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent. Nope, with some relatively minor exceptions (and arguably Obamacare, which is not a minor exception).

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury. No, unless we count the pressure brought to bear on defendants to plead out, subject to harsher penalties after trial.

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences. GUANTANOMO!

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies. Perfidious Canada.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments. Yes. Why exactly should unelected federal bureaucrats have the ability to overturn state law?

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. Yes, at times, but actually I'm ok with that.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. Only metaphorically, which doesn't really count.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. Ditto.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. Certainly their are Democrats who would agree with this one. (Or would have, six years ago.)

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. No.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. I'm tempted to make a joke about the Washington football team, but that would be in bad taste.
Not that bad, actually. I'm most surprised by the instances when I'm ok with our government acting like George III.

06 September 2014

You May Now Call Me Dr. Cohen

Though you needn't.

01 July 2014

Hobby Lobby Explicated

For some reason, people's inability to understand the Hobby Lobby case is bothering me more than people's general inability to understand SCOTUS decisions, so I thought I'd take a crack at setting out the court's reasoning.

1. In the 90's, two Native Americans were fired from their job because they tested positive for the use of peyote.

2. They applied for unemployment insurance and were denied because they were fired for good cause, having tested positive for using peyote.

3. The Native Americans argued that denying them unemployment insurance burdened their exercise of their religion, which involved using peyote, and was thus unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

4. The Supreme Court held that, if a law is generally applicable to everyone -- in context, if the law is not about religion -- then the Constitution does not give people any exemption even if that law burdens their religious beliefs. (That is, the Native Americans have to choose between their religious practice of using peyote and getting unemployment insurance.)

5. Congress didn't like that result, and so it passed a law (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)) that said that there is an exception to any law of general application if it burdens a person's religious beliefs, unless the interest served by the law is compelling and imposes the least possible burden consistent with that compelling interest. "Person" is not defined in RFRA, but there's another statute that says, among other things, that whenever the word "person" is used in federal law, it includes corporations. RFRA also says that Congress can include a provision in any future statute saying that it is not subject to RFRA.

6. 20 years later, Congress passed health care reform (HCR). There is no provision in HCR saying that RFRA doesn't apply.

7. After HCR passed, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a regulation that requires all employer provided health insurance plans to cover the cost of 20 specific contraceptives.

8. The owners of Hobby Lobby say that they are devout Christians and have a religious objection to providing health insurance that covers 4 of the 20 required contraceptives because those 4 could stop an embryo from implanting in the mother's womb and thus result in the death of the embryo, which they consider murder.

9. Hobby Lobby claimed that HHS' regulation burdened its owners' religious beliefs by involving them (in their own opinion) in murder if they had to provide insurance covering the 4 specific contraceptives.

10. The government claimed, first, that RFRA doesn't apply to for-profit corporations because they can't have religious beliefs and, second, that its regulation isn't a substantial burden.

11. It is clear that RFRA applies to corporations and the government didn't argue otherwise. Among other things, churches are corporations and everyone agreed that a church could sue under RFRA.

12. But can for-profit corporations have a religious belief? The government argued no. The Court held, yes. It had previously decided religious freedom cases brought by corporations; religious freedom cases brought by businesses, and religious freedom cases brought by business corporations (a Kosher butcher sued Massachusetts, arguing that it should not be subject to Massachusetts' Sunday closing law because it also had to be closed on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath).

13. The Court assumed that the government's interest in the HHS regulations was compelling because it held that it clearly wasn't the least restrictive regulation possible. HHS had exempted non-profit corporations from its regulation and the Court held that the least restrictive regulation possible would have exempted Hobby Lobby too.

29 April 2014

This Might Be The Most Pro-Gun Article Ever On Bloomberg

Detroit Homeowners Gun Down Burglars as Police Await Cars By Chris Christoff Apr 28, 2014 8:45 PM
Even as bankrupt Detroit’s residents have resorted to gunning down neighborhood burglars, its police await money for patrol cars, radios, armored vests and modern computers.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr last month pledged $36.2 million for police from a $120 million loan from Barclays Plc approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes.... The loan was obtained this month and will be spent as purchases and bids are processed, said city Chief Financial Officer John Hill in an interview. He said police vehicles must be ordered from manufacturers and outfitted with special equipment. In the meantime, many Detroit residents are fending for themselves.

Craig last month defended citizens’ right to shoot if attacked. Indeed, eight times this year residents killed intruders. In the most recent incident, gunshots from a homeowner April 17 interrupted a break-in and mortally wounded the driver of a getaway SUV that crashed into a house across the street, according to police. Two suspects fled on foot.
Every distopian future needs an armed citizenry.

11 April 2014

07 March 2014

Every Time I Think I'm Out, They Drag Me Back In.

The Canadians, that is. Apparently, three Canadian erotica channels are in trouble with the government and in danger of losing their license because they don't air enough Canadian content. Because the channels air 24 hours a day, they need 8.5 hours of Canadian porn -- which they plan to get by looping the same hour of Canadian porn 9 times a day. I would lard this thread with Canadian jokes, but the commenters over at the National Post have done the work for me.