Friday, February 10, 2012

Marriage, An Unrelated Matter on the Constitution, and a Purple Squirrel

On Prop 8. I'm going to try to give a better rundown on it after reading the decision (it's pretty long and I've got a number of things going on right now, so it might be a little while), but here are two great breakdowns about a lot of the issues at hand and the decision given. I felt like they're pretty even handed presentations and talk about it from a legal perspective. Also, here's the LDS Church's official statement.

Ladies and gentlemen to the 8th wonder of the world. No, I'm not talking about Hova, I'm talking about the U.S. Constitution. The NYTimes has an interesting, but misleading, piece on how the U.S. Constitution has fallen behind on influencing new constitutions. I'll explain a number of problems I have with it.

First, I don't feel like direct quotations of the Constitution necessarily translate to influence. I'll grant that I don't know what the evaluation standard is entirely, but from the way its presented it looks like they're looking for specific quoting. Could be interpreting that incorrectly though.

Second, for whatever reason our form of representative democracy has never really taken hold. Don't ask me why, but our bicameral system with a separate executive isn't particularly popular. I do know that one of the hesitations is the fact it is nigh impossible to get legislation through. The Founders intended it that way to try and protect the people from the oppression of the government. It has its pros and cons. Amending the Constitution is even more difficult, as the article points out. And I can't deny, on its face that's not a particularly attractive option. Especially for new governments forming, the people in charge want power! (My Constitutional Law professor always stresses that Con Law is about power.) Parliamentary systems grant more direct power to the legislature and often combining it with the executive (semi-presidential systems being an exception a la France or Russia). That makes passing laws a lot simpler and I can't deny if I was in power and forming a constitution, I'd be tempted to do the same. So that could explain a lot of the differences. I'd also imagine our system of federalism is not particularly common, but I'm not positive on that one.

Third, it's true, our Constitution does not enumerate many rights. Initially the rights granted in the Bill of Rights came as amendments and were not included in the original document. That really does limit a lot of the rights. Later amendments came to extend rights and the Supreme Court of the United States has expanded more of those rights through judicial interpretation. So the idea of enumerating those further rights is a little silly at this point. Of course our government, courts, and people haven't felt it right to extend some of the definitive rights mentioned in the article such as to food and housing.

So regardless of particular issues, I don't find it troubling that our Constitution isn't as influential. It is dated and a lot of it has been expanded through judicial review, so it may not meet the needs of everybody. But as they mentioned it's the longest living constitution around for now and that's just fine by me.

Iran knows how to party. Reuters has an interesting vid about the allies and influence of Iran. Enjoyable, though stuff I already was aware of from my political science background. Really the key thing is the Chinese and Russian support. 2 members of the UN Security Council adds up (though 1 is actually enough). So regardless of what the rest of the world may try, it's not going to have any real teeth as long as those two take care of Li'l Brudder. Mahmoud you're the only one for me.

And boom goes the dynamite. Apparently throwing a match down a Chinese sewer is a bad idea. Never would have guessed...

Just give me a team that can win. Everybody is excited because the Big Ten has finally said they want a playoff (after their recent bowl slump). Can't deny this is a big victory for college football, but the guys over at Vanquish the Foe (SBNation BYU site) seem to think this is promising for BYU. I can't deny that it is a good thing for us. It does increase our odds, presuming we ever play well enough to potentially qualify. But really that's the key issue, we haven't played that well for a while now. And so I'm not optimistic at all that we will field a potential national championship team anytime soon. I congratulate Bronco and the team for another 10 win season. That does mean a lot, not too many teams can do that as often as Bronco has done it. That being said, when you beat only 2 teams with a winning record in the season, that's really not saying much. Just hope the team gets better, we certainly have a lot of high points but the offensive line needs to figure out their run blocking and a running back needs to step up. Yes, I know Alisa showed some signs of brilliance, but we need a bit more than that. I'm willing to say that might have been the O line's fault though.

Just how big is Africa? Here's a sweet illustration. Of course Alaska didn't make it in there, but either way it certainly is impressive just how big Africa really is.

Can I swallow this bottle whole? A Native American tribe in South Dakota has decided to sue members of the beer industry for healthcare, social services, and child rehabilitation. I'm really curious to see how this plays out for a number of reasons. First, the legal status of Native American reservations is peculiar because they enjoy a pseudo-autonomous status. I can only imagine how murky that makes all of this and just somewhat unclear how it's going to play out. Second, their theory of negligence (I presume that's what they're calling it) is that the business continued to sell alcohol to the Native Americans even though they knew it was likely to end up on the reservation where it's outlawed. Should be an interesting case and I'm wondering if it can have some similar results like a lot of the cigarette litigation from a couple of decades ago. Potentially this could present some serious reform, so we'll see where it goes from here.

Old stuffy men in robes need to learn to deal with the modern world. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow tv coverage of Supreme Court arguments. This is great news, even though the justices don't like it. Look it's information that the public should have available immediately and I see no reasonable reason to keep the cameras out. They'll learn to deal with it.

I have no idea why this squirrel is purple.

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