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Monday, May 2, 2005

everyone’s breaking the law

at least two dozen municipalities across pennsylvania can’t write parking tickets for a while.

$5 Parking Ticket Causes Chaos For All Pa. Meters [the pittsburgh channel, 2005.04.29]

Pascal showed that Butler was in violation of a state law that requires parking meters to be certified as accurate every three years.

Now, cities and towns are clamoring for the state’s Division of Weights and Measures to certify their meters.

The division, which has to inspect everything from gasoline pumps to delicatessen scales, is overwhelmed.

this is just costing the cities in question revenue, but it’s still breaking the law…

if whole cities can’t keep themselves on the right side of the law, with all the people they have in their bureaucracies to keep track of these things, what are the rest of us supposed to do?

posted by roj at 1:15 am  

Saturday, March 19, 2005

the us constitution protects

today, i learned something new about the united states constitution.

us representative tom delay, march 18, 2005, quoted in the march 19 globe and mail

The United States Constitution protects every citizen of America from having their life taken from them

can anyone show me where?

and while we’re in there, does article 1, section 9 (“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”) still count?

oh, and why do i have to go to canadian media to find the quote?

posted by roj at 5:58 pm  

Saturday, March 19, 2005

america can’t handle the boobies

in case you had any concerns about exposed breasts in the post-ashcroft regime, fear not, my fellow americans. jailtime awaits for the corruptors of our moral high ground. it’s the signage laws that will protect us.

Muralist’s vision has jail staring him in face [detroit free press, feb 18, 2005]

He painted Eve as God created her: nude.

And when he finished including the bare-bosomed Biblical first woman, he inscribed the word “love” on the mural that covers the outside wall of his Roseville art studio.

[39A District Judge Marco] Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years’ probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve’s exposed chest is indecent.

Besides jail time and the fee, Stross is to tastefully cover Eve’s breasts before reporting to the Macomb County Jail on Monday morning, and to paint over “love” by May 1.

“Removing the work is the ultimate punishment. The jail time is nothing compared to removing what I painted,” Stross said Thursday.

follow-up from the free press is here

posted by roj at 2:30 pm  

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

no legitimate penological interest to ban victoria’s secret

in a minor landmark ruling, the 9th circuit court of appeals upheld a lower court ruling that stemmed from the washington state department of corrections banning bulk mail to prisoners.

Guess Who WANTS Junk Mail? [reuters, february 2, 2005]

The “ban on non-subscription bulk mail and catalogs is not rationally related to a legitimate penological interest and is therefore unconstitutional,” he [Judge Arthur Alarcon] added.

so, it’s official. victoria’s secret and frederick’s of hollywood are ok in prison.

given the size of the american prison economy, it’s very important that marketing messages have access to this segment of the population.

besides, prisoners need more two-dimensional women.

posted by roj at 7:51 pm  

Monday, January 17, 2005

virginia is for lovers, finally

since… well, at least since i can remember, virginia’s been promoting itself with the slogan “virginia is for lovers.” but it’s not exactly true. it’s for certain kinds of lovers sure. lovers with state endorsements. until now.

Singles’ Sex No Longer a Va. Crime [washington post, january 14, 2005]

The state Supreme Court yesterday struck down as unconstitutional a 19th-century Virginia law making it a crime for unmarried couples to have sex.

activist judges, some might say. will say. oddly, this is coming from a “red state.”

for this, i’m going to limit my commentary to two links:

the opinion itself [pdf]

and, for a bit of perspective on the issue, i turn to the work [mp4, mov, wmv, mp3] of one eric schwartz, whom i’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the past.

so, with all that in mind, and in this brief window between the decision from the supreme court and the seemingly inevitable crackdown of “family values” under the current regime, i strongly suggest all you celebate single virginians go out and fuck like rabbits. now.

update: for the record, fornication in virginia was a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250. plus, of course, whatever you had to spend to get her to put out in the first place.

posted by roj at 7:01 am  

Thursday, January 13, 2005

taking off the stickers

us district judge clarence cooper has ordered the removal of the [in]famous “theory, not a fact” stickers from high school biology textbooks.

the full ruling is available here from the united states district court of the northern district of georgia.

cutting to the chase:

the court hereby FINDS and CONCLUDES that the Sticker adopted by the Cobb County Board of Education violates the Establishment clause of the First Amendment and Article I, Section II Paragraph VII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia.

just because most of my readers won’t be familiar with the constitution of georgia, the referenced paragraph reads as follows:

Separation of church and state. No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.

posted by roj at 12:36 pm  

Sunday, January 2, 2005

senators on permanent detention

it didn’t take long, with the news breaking (as far as i know) in the washington post on sunday, it was apparently all over the sunday talk shows….

“It’s a bad idea. So we ought to get over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look at this,” Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, cited earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions. “There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process … if you’re going to detain people, whether it’s for life or whether it’s for years,” Levin said, also on Fox.

“some semblance of due process”? that’s all we’re asking from america these days?

posted by roj at 10:48 pm  

Sunday, January 2, 2005

permanent detention – the american approach

the pentagon doesn’t like being in the prison business – and the cia… well, that’s a different story, and a whole different level.

but, both the pentagon and the cia want to get out of the business, and they’ve apparently asked the administration to get them off the hook and come up with a final answer for people we’ve picked up around the globe, but don’t feel going through any unseemly judicial processes.

Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects [washington post, jan 2, 2005 – registration]

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which also involves the State Department, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.

now, of course, the real question is what plan the administration cooks up.

i suppose it’s entirely possible that the bush administration will step up to the america they are trying so hard to defend and show us that it’s still a vibrant, functional, constitutionally-grounded country.

posted by roj at 7:26 am  

Friday, December 31, 2004

torture is abhorrent

once upon a time our potential new attorney general wrote a memo to the president on the subject of torture.

hearings to confirm mr. gonzales are scheduled to begin in several days.

in the meantime, daniel levin, in his capacity as acting assistant attorney general has put his name to another memo [mirrored here], which superceeds the august 2002 memo, and in which we find the following:

Torture is abhorrent both to american law and values and to international norms. This universal repudiation of torture is reflected in our criminal law, for example 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 2340-2340A; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture (the “CAT”); customery international law, centuries of Anglo-American law; and the longstanding policy of the United States, repeatedly and recently affirmed by the President.


Two final points on the issue of specific intent: First, specific intent must be distinguished from motive. There is no exception under the statute permitting torture to be used for a “good reason.” Thus, a defendant’s motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute.

[emphasis is mine]. this is huge. normally you have to wait for the ponderous checks-and-balances effect to reverse administrative thinking at this sort of level – the courts have to step in. they’re starting to, to be sure, but to have an executive department flip-flop like this (to borrow a campaign phrase), particularly under the presumed tight control of the bush white house, seems to be to be a pretty extraordinary event.

i can only imagine this new document has been in the works for some time (the august 2002 memo having been “withdrawn” in june 2004), and having been through what appears to be a fairly extensive review process, including the criminal division of the doj. however long this has been in the works, it is a general repudiation of the “torture greenlight” provided by the ashcroft department of justice, and its release prior to the confirmation hearings for alberto gonzales as ashcroft’s replacement makes this something to note.

posted by roj at 2:16 pm  

Monday, December 6, 2004

the problem with moral justification and sex offenders

the problem to explore for now is that we have sex offenders and other difficult people living among us, and the government provides a “target list” for some of them. mix in a little “my morality is better than your morality” and eventually, someone’s going to come along and justify some questionable behavior.

it’s not a new thing – we’ve had people try to justify killing doctors that perform abortions, and human society has a long history of banishing people that make trouble in one form or another.

in the category of “this had to happen sooner or later,” under law of unintended consquences, the tough-on-crime fear-panering legislatures that gave us sex-offender registries will have a good time with this one:

Man defends attacks on sex offenders [, december 5, 2004]

“I don’t want people to steal the souls of little kids,” Trant, 57, said in an interview in prison last week. “I’m doing 30 years for something I think is morally justified.”

i guess part of the problem might be that we don’t have anywhere to banish these people anymore. if we kick them out of our village, they just end up in someone else’s village. we can’t ship them off to leper colonies or australia, so we’re going to have to find some way to live with them.

any suggestions?

posted by roj at 2:50 am  
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