Archive | September 2015

Does SCOTUS Make Laws?

I’ve watched this Kim Davis thing go from a case about bigotry and being a horrible human being to being about whether SCOTUS can make a law. For those of you curious about how the system you are a part of works, read on.

When the Supreme Court announces its decisions and issues its opinions, it is often accused of “legislating from the bench” or making laws although it is not the legislative branch. Does the Court “make law” when it decides the outcomes of the cases that come before it? The answer depends on the definition of “law” one uses. When the Congress, a state legislature or some other established law-making body passes a law, it creates “statutory law.” These are the laws with which people are most familiar, such as laws regulating the speed limit, laws that define criminal behavior and the laws that establish government programs. Statutory laws, however, are not the only kinds of laws that are “made” and applied in the American political and legal systems.

The most fundamental laws of this nation are the guidelines established by the Constitution. The “constitutional law” of the land includes the Constitution’s descriptions of the relationships between the three branches of the national government, the relationships between the national and state governments, the powers the Constitution grants to the national government and, most importantly, the limitations it places on governmental action.

The Legislative, Executive and Judiciary branches are all established and guided by constitutional law. However, the Constitution is sufficiently vague that each branch has frequently found itself in situations where the “right” course of action under constitutional law was unclear. The Framers of the Constitution, recognizing that they could not anticipate every possible circumstance in the new nation’s future, purposely left room for each branch to adapt and interpret their roles under the Constitution to meet the needs and challenges they would face. Most notably, the Congress was given the task of deciding what was “necessary and proper” to “promote the general welfare” and form “a more perfect union.” The necessary product of these decisions has been thousands and thousands of statutory laws.

As the Executive Branch has implemented the statutory laws passed by the Congress, it has also had to interpret not only its role under the Constitution but also the intentions of the Congress. In many instances the Congress has passed legislation that was purposely vague, leaving the details to Executive Branch departments and agencies to decide. When bureaucracies determine the details of the enforcement and implementation of a law passed by the Congress, the Executive Branch also “makes law.” These kinds of laws are called “administrative law.”

As this nation’s political system has evolved and matured, there have been numerous controversies about the laws passed by the Congress and the way those laws have been implemented by the President and the Executive Branch. There have also been disputes about the separation of powers between the three branches, the relationship between the national government and the states, the rights of the people and a host of other questions that arise under the Constitution. When such cases arise, they clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. As Alexander Hamilton observed, it was necessary for the stability and future of the nation to “establish one court paramount to the rest, possessing a general superintendence, and authorized to settle and declare in the last resort a uniform rule of civil justice”. When the Court makes decisions in response to such cases, it is, for all intents and purposes, defining and interpreting constitutional law. Does it “make” constitutional law in the process? There are differences of opinion on this matter, but the Court has clearly gone beyond the strict “letter of the law” embodied in the Constitution in several instances. Whether its decisions amount to new law or merely interpretations and clarifications of existing ones is, for better or worse, a matter of opinion.

From Hamilton’s statements in The Federalist Papers, however, it appears that the Framers at least intended that the Supreme Court would stand between the other two branches of the national government and the people, preventing abuses of power and improper interpretations of the Constitution. Indeed, Hamilton declared it the duty of the Court to “declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing

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Huckabee, the Nominee That Shouldn’t Be

As you already are aware, today has been filled with updates about Kim Davis. I have certainly been swept up in it., However, as the day draws to a close I’m starting to pay more attention to the ramblings of a madman known as Mike Huckabee. Im sure at this point youve all read these.

#1 response, Seth Rogan -

#1 response, Seth Rogan – “You’re an idiot”

What I don’t understand is how any one that knows ANYTHING about law or civics could back up this lady’s behavior. So let’s assume for a moment that he was just swept up in a moment of Christian woe-is-me-ism. Fine, I get it. But then he goes a little more out on a limb… comparing this self-righteous bigot to Abraham Lincoln, and then quickly followed that with a comparison to Rosa Parks saying:  “Immediately release Kim Davis from federal custody. Exercising Religious Liberty should never be a crime in America. This is a direct attack on our God-given, constitutional rights.”

27AB3E9FF0F453F9B87111D371ECD6AF.freekimdavisfblink-photogallery

First of all Mr. Huckabee, with all due respect, you are a fucking idiot. Rosa Parks didn’t voluntarily place herself in a position to be elected into a civil service job, who’s job it is to execute the laws of the State and Country she is an elected official in. Kim did. Secondly, LISTEN to yourself. “A direct attack on our God-Given, constitutional rights”.

One of these things is not like the others....

One of these things is not like the others….

Now, I didn’t get a degree in national history, or constitutional law, but I’m fairly certain that the people who gave you your constitutional rights all actually signed the document. I don’t see God’s name on there anywhere. But knowing the trickster god you believe in Mr. Huckabee, I’m sure he just used disappearing ink.

Go home, Mike, you’re drunk.

Every 19 minutes, somebody dies of a prescription drug overdose. 

medical-cannabis-cultivation-center

You know whats’s ok? Finding medicines that work, getting people better, and making the overall level of suffering lower. You know what’s not ok? Outlawing medicines that help people in a very real, studied way because you dont understand it or attach a personal stigma to it. Cannabis oils and other treatment methods can mean the world to a patient that cannot or prefers not to go though intense medical procedures while on heavy perscription drugs.  Arkansas is about to have the chance to do something that is ok. Something great. The 2016 Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act was certified by the Arkansas Attorney General in the summer of 2014 and we’ve been collecting signatures ever since. In order to be on the ballot, we’ll need the signatures of more than 65,000 valid, registered voters.  So if you are in Arkansas, please stop by http://arcompassion.com/ and show your support. For more information on the studies produced on the efficacy of Cannabis, see the following resources: http://www.norml.org or have a look around http://scholar.google.com and search for Cannabis efficacy.

High Fives for Kids

A few days ago children all over the country started returning to school. For some cultures and areas of the country the men of the community are either troubled, gang members, drop outs, thugs, etc. Those two things clash in neighborhoods like a mac truck and a wine glass. Children are not encouraged to attend school, are bullied for going or just shamed by those who have already failed life’s tests.

But this year that changed. Two men, DeVaughn Ward and Pastor AJ Johnson stood up and had had enough. These two men created a group called “Calling all Brothers” with a goal of getting all the men of color in the neighborhood to come out and give out High Fives and words of encouragement to the returning school children, wearing suits. The group started with a few men, and within a couple of days had grown to over 100.

http://www.timefrozen.com/

Great job guys! This is humanism at work. Getting out there and getting in the positive spaces in the world is what progress is all about. I hope others are encouraged by your outreach.

More here: http://aplus.com/a/100-men-color-greet-kids-MLK-school-first-day

http://www.timefrozen.com/

More Evidence that Christ is Fictitious

In the footsteps of amazing scholars like David Fitzgerald and Richard Carrier, Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be presenting the most current information regarding the historicity of Jesus Christ. Joseph Atwill is the author of the best-selling book “Caesar’s Messiah” and its upcoming sequel “The Single Strand.”

Atwill will be presenting his papers at a one-day symposium called Convert Messiah in Holborn, London on October 19th. If there is a web stream, I will post it when available.  http://www.covertmessiah.com

Just to wet your lips a little, here are some excepts from an interview with Atwill:

Was Jesus based on a real person from history? “The short answer is no,” Atwill insists, “in fact he may be the only fictional character in literature whose entire life story can be traced to other sources. Once those sources are all laid bare, there’s simply nothing left.”

“the Roman Caesars left us a kind of puzzle literature that was meant to be solved by future generations, and the solution to that puzzle is ‘We invented Jesus Christ, and we’re proud of it.'”

“When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That’s when the ‘peaceful’ Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to ‘give onto Caesar’ and pay their taxes to Rome.”

Will this be a deathblow to Christianity? Was the science that the Koran is older than the people who wrote it? Nope. The religious have an amazing ability to ignore science and data that disagrees with them, and just stick with ‘faith’. I expect this to get people on the fence, or people who are already skeptic of the historical Christ, but the ‘true’ followers, the blindly devoted, will not be shaken. Yet.

Scheduled Rocket Launch Befuddles Social Media

Its amazing that in today’s world of technology and instantaneous information that there are people who still think everything they cant explain is a UFO, or big foot, or gods.

soyuz-tma-18m-liftoff

This morning (sept 2nd) there was a scheduled launch of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying a new addition to the GPS network. The launch created an amazing visual illusion in the sky, apparently confounding onlookers, and causing millions of Facebook and twitter posts claiming UFO!!! or GOVERNMENT PHOSPHOROUS MISSILE!!

muos-4-launch-exhaust-trail

To make matters worse, earlier in the day a Russian Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan taking three new astronauts to the ISS.

muos-4-launch-streak

All that being said, its interesting to me that we live our daily lives with all of this technology (really since the late 90’s) and yet we have zero evidence of any actual Aliens, government conspiracies making contrails, big foot sightings or appearances of god. It seems that the claims of the supernatural should be increasing in frequency along with supporting video/photography. What is actually happening is the opposite. The amount of supernatural claims are actually decreasing, an inversely proportional response to the rising number of cameras running almost 24/7.

Remember the three R’s of the internet my friends; Read, Research, Repost.

Wildlife Overpass for Los Angeles Freeway System

Yes, you read that correctly. Los Angeles is preparing to build an overpass for wildlife, and idea LONG overdue. Today’s world is very different than just a few decades ago, expecially in the arena of animal rights. Today more than ever people seem to be more worried about their environmental impact, people killing endangered animals, and trying to eat more vegetables than animals. One area of serious neglect is traffic ways. Everyday in America, 190 million motor vehicles hit the road, and one million animals get hit by motor vehicles. That’s counting cars, buses, motorbikes, and trucks, but not ATVs, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles. The figure includes mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, but not insects and bugs, who somehow never count. (The insect thing is something I dont understand, vegans are all about 0 harm to animals, but kill millions on millions of bugs rodents, etc in planting, tilling, spraying, harvesting crops….) For every dead animal counted, three or four more die unnoticed. Even at 55 m.p.h., we smell the remains of far more dead skunks than we see. The walking wounded die far from the road, so only instantly killed animals are seen and get counted.

By contrast 33,000 human animals are killed each YEAR. Im very glad to be part of a city that can see the amazingly preferential treatment human beings get over every other animal on the planet. Its selfish, its self serving, and its time to change the way we look at ourselves. We are part of the Earth, not its owners.

Full story can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-caltrans-proposes-wildlife-overpass-on-101-freeway-20150902-story.html

The conceptual drawing that would make a land bridge over 10 lanes of LA traffic.

The conceptual drawing that would make a land bridge over 10 lanes of LA traffic.