Saturday, November 19, 2011

The “Right to Marry” and The “Right to Carry”.

Deborah on the political i wrote a wonderful post linking two very different "rights."

The National Rifle Association leaned on Congress to pass the “right to carry” bill and our dumbnutz House of Representatives just passed it—272 to 154. The silver lining is that, in the process, they’ve laid the groundwork for a “right to marry” law.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

King of Corrupt Corporate Capitalism?

Michele Bachmann has made the self-serving attack on Rick Perry that he engages in rampant cronyism, and pay for play, where an individual or a corporation pays off a politician for special favors, legislation or contracts paid by state money. Perry is reputed to be more involved than even the usual amount of such activity.

This appears to substantiate those accusations. I don't find Perry's denials of being influenced, which amounts to bribery, as credible. If a person would take money for favors, they would as easily lie about it.

From and the Center for Public Integrity:

HPV vaccine isn't the only procedure Rick Perry has mandated

iWatch News from the Center for Public Integrity
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken some heat from his fellow Republican presidential candidates for having signed a controversial executive order that mandated vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) for sixth-grade girls in 2007, an order the Legislature later overturned.
It turns out that isn't the only medical procedure Perry has ordered. Two years later, in 2009, Perry quietly signed a health insurance mandate that some experts say could waste vast sums of money and provide little medical benefit, according to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit investigative group:
The 2009 measure, the Texas Heart Attack Prevention Bill, requires insurance companies to pay for CT scans and ultrasound tests that can detect heart disease. The companies must reimburse middle-aged and elderly citizens up to $200 for these tests, if they are either diabetic or at intermediate or higher risk of developing cardiovascular illness. They need not have any actual heart problems.
Nearly 2.4 million Texans fall into this group, estimates Dr. Amit Khera, a professor at Texas' Southwestern Medical Center. If one fourth of them had the appropriate insurance and took advantage of the benefit only once, insurance companies would be required to spend $120 million. There is no data on how many people have actually used the benefit.
Yet there is little evidence that the tests can improve people's health, some experts say, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of health experts, does not recommend the tests for routine screening.
CPI reports that the measure was promoted by a medical group with a history of ties to Pfizer Inc., which makes the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. Campaign finance reports show that Perry received more money from Pfizer than any other political candidate nationwide over the last six years.
CPI said a spokesman for Perry declined to address the issues raised by Pfizer's support, but he has previously dismissed assertions that he solicited funds from donors who sought special benefits as "ridiculous."
You can read the full iWatch News report here.
iWatch News is the website of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative journalism.


There is all this talk about claiming rights which are either natural or god given, which is fairly nonsensical since anyone can claim anything as a right. The real hitch is enforcing that right.

Not to mention the idea that a right represents can change with time, such as the Second Amendment of the US Constitution which is supposed to protect the institution of the Militia, but has been perverted to some personal right to firearms outside the context of that right.

I ask does a similar concept of "gun rights" exist in other common law jurisdictions, yet no one can provide an analogue.

Greg points to state constitutions, but State Constitutions can expand upon the right--they cannot subtract from the right.

I decided to look up The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document contains many interesting rights such as
Article 3's Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 27: (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

But, despite all the wonderful rights I've mentioned "Gun rights" and "a right to armed self-defence" is conspicuously absent.

Why is this? Is it because those rights do not follow the general scheme of the Declaration:
recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

If we go by this document, the US Constitution allows for the rule of law (if it existed in the US) as a buttress to the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights, not arms.The rule of law is fundamental to the western democratic order. Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago, "The rule of law is better than that of any individual." Lord Chief Justice Coke quoting Bracton said in the case of Proclamations (1610) 77 ER 1352
"The King himself ought not to be subject to man, but subject to God and the law, because the law makes him King".

The rule of law in its modern sense owes a great deal to the late Professor AV Dicey. Professor Dicey's writings about the rule of law are of enduring significance.

The essential characteristic of the rule of law are:
i. The supremacy of law, which means that all persons (individuals and government) are subject to law.
ii. A concept of justice which emphasises interpersonal adjudication, law based on standards and the importance of procedures.
iii. Restrictions on the exercise of discretionary power.
iv. The doctrine of judicial precedent.
v. The common law methodology.
vi. Legislation should be prospective and not retrospective.
vii. An independent judiciary.
viii. The exercise by Parliament of the legislative power and restrictions on exercise of legislative power by the executive.
ix. An underlying moral basis for all law.

So, if one claims a right, one needs a source to back up that right and a legal basis for claiming that right. Not to mention for it to truly be effective, that right needs to be enforcable under the legal system.

If we are getting into the Second Amendment, post-Heller, federal and state courts have rejected Second Amendment challenges to a wide variety of firearms laws nationwide. As discussed in Section IV below, the majority of Second Amendment challenges have been raised in criminal cases. These challenges have been largely unsuccessful, as courts have found that the Second Amendment is consistent with numerous federal and state criminal laws. Since the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions, the nation’s lower courts have been clogged with a substantial volume of Second Amendment litigation, despite the fact that most, if not all, federal, state and local firearms laws do not prevent a responsible, law-abiding citizen from possessing an operable handgun in the home for self-defense, and thus, would satisfy the Supreme Court’s holdings in those cases.

A New Development in Libya

I wonder if this is something that 'we need a leader, not a reader' anti-intellect candidate Herman Cain will notice?  Or is it yet another instance where he will be caught unprepared and inadequate when faced with a challenging (rather than softball) question?  I'm betting that if he hasn't yet, Cain will be paying someone soon to read for him.  Or to him.

From MSNBC news and news services:

Libyan commander: Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam arrested

Younger Gadhafi captured with two aides while trying to cross into Niger, commander says 

NBC, and news services
updated 2 hours 28 minutes ago
 breaking news
Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam was captured in a southern Libyan city along with two of his aides who were trying to smuggle him out of the country, a militia commander said on Saturday.
Bashir al-Tlayeb of the Zintan brigades said that Seif al-Islam was caught in the desert town of Obari, near the southern city of Sabha about 400 miles south of Tripoli. He didn't elaborate on how Seif al-Islam was captured, but said that he was brought to the city of Zintan, the home of one of the largest revolutionary brigades in Libya.
Al-Tlayeb said that it would be up to the Libya's ruling National Transitional Council to decide on where the former Libyan leader would be tried.
However, NBC News reported that according to sources, al-Islam would be tried in Libya, not handed over to the International Criminal Court.
Al-Tlayeb also said that there was still no information about wanted former intelligence director Abdullah Senoussi or where he is located.
Libya's interim justice minister told Reuters that the younger Gadhafi was in good health.
Interactive: Gadhafi's children (on this page) Seif al-Islam is the last of Moammar Gadhafi's sons to remain unaccounted for.
Secret negotiations over a surrender?
Born in 1972, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi is the oldest of seven children of Moammar and Safiya Gadhafi.
He drew Western favor in previous years by touting himself as a liberalizing reformer but then staunchly backed his father in his brutal crackdown on rebels in the regime's final days.
Seif had gone underground after Tripoli fell to revolutionary forces.
Story: Libya: Gadhafi son offers to surrender to Hague The International Criminal Court had earlier said that it was in indirect negotiations with a son of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi about his possible surrender for trial.
This is a breaking news story. Please check again for more updates.
NBC News, staff, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Also not about firearms, but interesting, and shows a common bias on the Right

This is about energy, but it is also about a larger issue which is annoys me.  There have been a number of people on the right who misrepresent science and grants.

Sarah Palin did it when she made stump speeches ridiculing fruit fly research that she was too stupid and ignorant to understand, and which she characteristically was too lazy to research before commenting.

Tom Coburn did it in April of this year, when he wrongly and unfairly criticized grants made by the National Science Foundation in a report that got a lot of attention, but which did not receive the appropriate critical thinking that would have revealed the flaws and errors it contained.  The anti-science right does that sort of thing regularly.  An example of the coverage that did not receive the appropriate DIScredit of Coburn was this one :
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has long railed against wasteful government spending and urged his colleagues to shrink the federal budget. His latest salvo is a 73-page report released today that accuses the National Science Foundation (NSF) of mishandling nearly $3 billion. The document follows a well-trod path of asserting that a federal research agency is funding trivial and duplicative research in addition to exercising inadequate oversight of existing programs.
But the report, The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope, is itself filled with errors and questionable analyses, say science lobbyists. "The bottom line is that attacks on 'silly grants' are silly and irresponsible," says Howard Silver, executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations and former chair of the Coalition for National Science Funding, which advocates for larger NSF budgets.
Silver points to Coburn's criticism of several NSF awards in the social sciences as a prime example.
The biggest "savings" that Coburn identifies is actually a misreading of federal statutes, according to NSF officials. The report accuses NSF of failing to recover $1.7 billion in "expired grants," that is, money grantees didn't spend in the course of doing their research. But that's not true, says NSF. The number reflects all the money that has been obligated for multiyear grants, and the amount (as of last fall) drops as researchers tap their accounts over the duration of their project. "It's being used for exactly the purpose for which it was intended," explains one budget official who requested anonymity.
Only a tiny amount--roughly $30 million a year--is actually left on the table once a researcher has finished his or her project. And that amount is returned each year to the Treasury. "You'd think a U.S. senator would understand how the federal government funds multiyear research projects," says one lobbyist.
There were hearings held, as a result of Coburn's report.  I was never able to find any results from that hearing that supported Cobur's conclusions. It seems that despite the shrimp on a treadmill videos going viral that when examined by Congressional hearings ,  rationally, NONE of Coburn's claims of waste proved true.  I find it sad, but not really very surprising that the anti-science assumptions and attitudes seem to mostly fall along partisan lines.

It is a shame, that there is no similar inquiry which challenges the expenditure by Senator Coburn's office in generating the flawed report, or the cost of the hearings which were a waste of time and money...unless you count the entertainment value of political theater.  Those expenditures produced nothing of value in return for the expenditures, unlike the results of the NSF grants.

I don't see the right asking the very important question of their propaganda pushers, the question 'is that true'. There is a lot of political theater by both sides, but the right seems to have a more 'red meat' audience, and to engage in more factual inaccuracy and outright dishonesty.

So, I wonder in that context, how the following will be treated in the media.

From to turn spent grains into energy

Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaskan Brewing Co. received a nearly half-million dollar grant to install a steam boiler fired entirely by spent grain.
The U.S. government is giving a nearly half-million dollar grant to a beer maker in Alaska that aims to install a first-of-its-kind boiler that is fueled entirely by spent grain.
All brewers are confronted with mountains of spent grains — mostly barley. Many get rid of the waste by routing it to farmers for animal feed, a noble service that can help grow a steak to accompany your fine ale.
For the Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, this has involved an added step, since the closest market for its grains is a long-distance, boat-ride away in Seattle.
To keep the grains from decomposing during transport, the brewery first dries them in a machine that is heated by a biomass burner that uses about 50 percent of the spent grain as a fuel source.
Now, with the help of the $458,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America program, the brewery is installing a machine that will use the dried grain to power a biomass steam boiler.
"The new boiler will eliminate the brewery's use of oil in the grain drying process and displace more than half of the fuel needed to create process steam," the company said in an emailed statement.
Brewers use process team, for example, to boil the sugary water called wort, created when sugars are extracted from the grains, a key step in brewing beer.
The boiler will cut the brewery's overall energy use from oil, and corresponding carbon emissions, by more than 70 percent, according to Alaskan Brewing Co.
The system also eliminates the need to ship the grain south to cattle around Seattle, Ashley Johnston, a company spokeswoman, told me.
The grant is one of eight announced Thursday by the agriculture department, all of which are aimed at helping rural businesses to lower energy costs so that they can stay competitive and, potentially, hire more workers.
In total, 52 projects received over $31 million in grants and loan note guarantees through the program this year. The grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost.

More on the Bizarre HR-822

 via The New York Times op-ed by Gail Collins

Here’s an example of the way the House plan would work. California has very strict limits on who can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, involving extensive background checks by local law enforcement. Utah, on the other hand, is really mellow about the whole thing. You don’t even have to live there to get a Utah permit. Just ask the 215,000 non-Utah folks who’ve gotten one. And, in Florida, “it is so easy that a staffer in one of our offices was able to complete the form in less than 30 minutes,” said Representative Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat. 

Under this bill, California’s strict rules on gun permits are now expanded to include anybody who drives into the state waving a Florida or Utah permission slip.

As I said before, I can't believe the gun-rights folks are pushing for this. It violates every possible notion of common sense and public safety. It's almost like cheating, first you can get a Utah or Florida license through the mail with practically no requirements then you can use it in any state you want? It's bizarre.

But, the most pathetic part is that the gun-rights folks who do oppose it, do so for the wrong reason. Some of them are so adamant about states' rights, that they oppose federal government interference even if it's something they want. It doesn't matter to any of them if this law would result in less gun safety than before.

What's your opinion? Do you think it has a chance of getting Senate approval? If so, would Obama veto it? What do you think?

Please leave a comment.

Worst Persons in the World

Three good ones via Fuck Conservatives

This Has Absolutely NOTHING to do with the 2nd Amendment or Gun Rights

This was just so strange, so bizarre, and both sad and funny, that I felt a need to share. I don't wish to laugh at someone else's misfortune, or to be insensitive to their feelings.  But one has to ask the question that cannot be ignored: 'what where you thinking?' 

Oneal Morris, accused of practicing medicine without a license.
Butt injection with 'Fix a Flat' leads to arrest

Transgender woman charged with posing as doctor in Miami area

updated 2 hours 16 minutes ago
A Miami Gardens transgender woman is facing charges of practicing medicine without a license after police say she injected a patient's rear with everything but the kitchen sink in an illegal cosmetic surgery procedure. Oneal Ron Morris, 30, was arrested Friday after an investigation by Miami Gardens Police and the Florida Department of Health.
According to police, the victim saw Morris in May and was injected in her buttocks with a substance consisting of cement, "Fix a Flat," mineral oil and super glue.
See photos, read the original story at
The amateur incision was then sealed with super glue, police said. The victim was later hospitalized with a serious medical condition as a result of the injections.
Morris, who police say is a man but appears to look like a woman and sports an apparently enhanced rear herself in arrest photos, was being held on $7,500 bond. It was unknown whether she has an attorney.
Police believe there may be other victims of Morris who may be afraid to come forward. They said the victims haven't done anything illegal and shouldn't be afraid to come forward.