Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Friday, June 30, 2006

LttE - Senate chicanery

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 6/30/2006:

The Senate can’t send its immigration bill to the House because it has provisions that have to do with taxing people, because as all good Americans know – and for very good reason – only the House can initiate bills that tax people.

So you’re telling me that the Senate wants to scrap the Senate bill they started, take a tax bill already passed by the House that the Senate’s already considering, replace everything that was originally in the House bill with the Senate’s immigration provisions, pass it and send it back to the House as if it’s nothing more than an amended version of the original House bill? And no one has any problem with this, as long as those paragons of virtue Sens. Frist and Reid slap each other on the back, smile, and say, "Trust us"?

With Republicans doing whatever the White House tells them to and Democrats' only objection being the possibility that this chicanery will result in provisions they don't want, is it any wonder why more and more people are finding their trust reserve is bone-dry?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

LttE - Jefferson and free speech

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 6/22/2006:

Given that Thomas Jefferson said, "were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter," I think we know for certain where he would stand on a flag-burning amendment, letter-writer Jerry Hoosier’s incredulity notwithstanding. He’d probably just ask the "beer-swilling ignorant person" which of Ben Franklin’s brews he wanted to sample next!

Consider also that the federal government has taken us from a Constitution that details a grand total of three federal crimes (treason in wartime, counterfeiting, and piracy) to a federal criminal code that lists over 4000 federal crimes. Do we really need to add the nebulously-defined thoughtcrime of "being anti-USA" to that monstrosity?

Monday, June 19, 2006

LttE - Missing the point of Hudson

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 06/19/2006:

In responding to the Register’s editorial and a letter to the editor about the Hudson case, Kevin O’Brien missed a major point of his own.

He says the Penal Code’s “knock-and-announce” requirement was enacted “to avoid violent confrontations between people and the police,” then neglects to observe that the repeal of that requirement will certainly increase those confrontations. This is equally true when police confront actual criminals as well as when they bash down the wrong door and find somebody’s innocent Grandma armed for self-defense. See the research done by Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko (quoted in the Court minority’s dissent) for data on how often that happens in a forthcoming Cato paper, and here and here.

Why will this ruling increase these violent confrontations? The immunities that shield the police from prosecution for actions taken in the course of their duties have ensured that civil lawsuits are ineffective remedies to police misconduct, and the “Blue Wall of Silence” ensures that internal discipline is just as weak. The ONLY effective deterrent for police to avoid violations of citizen’s constitutional rights has historically been the threat that illegally-obtained evidence will be excluded, making the whole point of their action meaningless. Because of that threat, they do things right. Removing the only stick from the equation that meant anything to police while leaving the carrot alone will, just as the Register’s editorial and Mr. Balko have stated, only increase the occurrence of violent confrontations not only between cops and criminals but also between cops and innocent homeowners awakened in the small hours of the night to find masked men rushing around their homes with guns.

In all likelihood, this ruling will make O’Brien go to more of those cop funerals he laments, while the rest of us go to more funerals of innocent victims of police mistakes.