Displaying 1 - 10 of 23 Forum Posts1 2 3 Next
  • Jan 08, 2011 11:37 AM
    Last: 5yr

    While I don't yet have a position on the question, this thread has shown that the question is not clear and does not require xenophobia or racism to point out the ambiguities in the Amendment, ambiguities that the comments of the writers dispelled but which have returned to plague us.

    It's interesting to me that the Wong Kim Ark case is seen as the final word on the subject. If that were true, then "anchor babies," or whatever the proper term is, would NOT be American citizens. Look at the first paragraph of the opinion's syllabus. Thanks to whomever provided the link. (That would be Jaredsxtn.)

    A child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil (sic) and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, (Emphasis added)

    Do any of these children have a permanent domicile and residence in the United States? Of course they don't, so Wong Kim Ark doesn't apply. It certainly doesn't clearly and unambiguously stand for the proposition that anyone born in the US is an American citizen.

    And the idea that there is two hundred years of precedence behind "Anchor babies" as citizens is likewise flawed. This idea came to light in a footnote by Justice Brennan just thirty three years ago. Many legal scholars question whether such a significant declaration in a footnote should be treated as part of the holding, or more likely as mere dicta.

    The Supremes have never ruled on the question presented by "Anchor babies." There is a serious question about whether they would support birthright citizenship.

    In any event it would be best, in my opinion, to not be so absolutely sure of any one position on this question until more research is done.

  • Jul 24, 2015 01:57 PM
    Last: 1mo

    Dear Dutch,

    You may very well be right in assessing me as someone not grown up. I may understand your clarification, but it's not certain that I do. May I try it from a different angle?

    It seems to me that the First Amendment said (to paraphrase) "The right to speak and communicate is essential. The government can't interfere with that right except under pretty darn unusual circumstances." Reading it with the stress on "communications" allows the amendment to be timeless. However we want to do it, the government shouldn't mess with speech or (communications). I have no trouble with that understanding.

    In the same way, the Second Amendment could be paraphrased to read "For various reasons (including history and morality) we won't let the government take away the citizens' right to defend themselves effectively and with force. The world has always used the word "Arms" to mean the implements of warfare and violence. With some exceptions in unusual circumstances, the government shouldn't mess with effective defense tools or other 'Arms.'"

    As I said, it's entirely possible that I need to grow up. I've been called an idiot before. But can you follow my thinking that the year and the technology aren't important, the protected right is?

    Thanks for broadening my view on this subject, even though I still may be misunderstanding you.

  • Aug 02, 2015 03:56 AM
    Last: 2yr

    Dear Lonely Bird,

    Thanks a lot. I have a hard time knowing how my communications to others are being taken, especially over the Internet. But as you mention the recovery, or the economy in general, let me start there.

    We know that unforeseen events, political opposition, or both, can interfere with even perfect plans and change success into failure. I'm not, at the moment. interested in those things. Yes, they're powerful and important to understand, but because my question was as you point out, so broad, I'd rather take this in small bites. Then we can get into a deeper analysis. Put another way, I'd like to see what happened first, then look at why it happened.

    One possible response to the question of the economy might be: "The economy is doing remarkably well. We can see this from the number of employed citizens as reported by (whoever reports these things). The stock market indices have also gone way up. The level of poverty among Americans is falling as shown by these figures (whatever they are.) This improvement is primarily the result of the stimulus, increased food stamp spending, and extended periods of unemployment benefits. The stimulus created X million jobs, food stamp spending and longer periods of unemployment benefits have decreased poverty, and (something or other) increased stock prices."

    The other posters here might have more to add, or might disagree with parts of it, or just different analysis, I don't know. We could do the same thing with international stability, the rights of minorities, domestic violence, and other broad areas.

    I'm only writing this because you asked me to. I'm still kind of sensitive to the charge that i was setting a trap. That's why I promised not to respond unless I was asked to, I hoped that would reduce the fear people had.

  • Aug 03, 2015 06:29 PM
    Last: 5yr

    Dear Mary,

    Oops! You're right. I didn't answer why Obama would have picked her for Secretary of State. That's because I really don't know. It could have been because of his enormous respect and admiration, but we should realize there are other theories around. Now I may not agree with this theory, but we should recognize that it exists:

    Rosen also examines exactly how much of a favor Barack Obama did for Clinton by elevating her from the Senate to the State Department after beating her in the 2008 primary. I suppose I was one of those who also assumed that it was an even deal on the President’s part. He needed her cooperation – or at least her silence and apparent forgiveness to win over her supporters – after the trouncing she sustained. In exchange, she not only got a plum assignment, but a perceived step up to be Obama’s successor.

    But was it really all that? As the article reminded me, it’s been a century and a half since the last time a Secretary of State moved directly from that office to the White House. The office doesn’t seem to lend itself to the promotion, particularly since voters tend to be more concerned with domestic affairs than foreign policy unless we’re on the brink of war. (The fact that we’ve also tended to nominate people who aren’t even qualified to be President from time to time doesn’t help either.) But the nature of the job also keeps the occupant off the field of play as well. No matter how good a job any Secretary has done, they are pretty much defined as being “outside” of politics (at least in theory), so they spend a full term where they are unable to keep their hand in the game as others position themselves for a run and weigh in on every issue under discussion.

    I think this theory is that Obama didn't want any competition in 2012, and Clinton was the only one who might have challenged him, but she gave up her Senate seat and became a part of Obama's team. Which do I think is true? I guess it really doesn't matter now. What I want to see is Obama coming out and endorsing Hillary. If he doesn't do that soon, it may look like he's trying to distance himself from her. I don't think that would help her chances.

    On the E-mails, I also don't think it matters how I feel about them. What matters is what the average voter thinks about them. If they're a problem to the average voter, Hillary has to come up with a more aggressive strategy than she's displayed so far. Her campaign staff doesn't seem to have found a way to stop the press coverage of the issue and build her up to make her seem like the best choice for president. While there is a margin of error consideration, the last poll in Iowa shows that Hillary is coming in 5th. Carson is beating her 44-40 and three other Republicans are ahead by smaller margins. This has got to be stopped. She has the money and the staff. She has a lot of Democrat support. What I think she still needs to do is try to connect to "Middle America." Just my opinion, but I think she hasn't had the favorable exposure that people like Carson, Cruz, and Walker have had. The moderates and independents are (as usual) where the battle will be fought, and I think her staff needs to shore her up a little with those groups.

    Oh, more on the E-mails and the average American.

    Washington (CNN)A majority of American voters think Hillary Clinton's emails should be subject to a criminal investigation, a Monmouth University poll out Wednesday has found.

    The numbers -- 52% of registered voters, including 82% of Republicans, 54% of independents and 23% of Democrats -- show that the Democratic presidential frontrunner's use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as secretary of state continues to be damaging.


    More than six in 10 Americans do not think it was appropriate for Hillary Clinton to use a personal email address and server for work-related matters as secretary of state. Democrats divide on whether it was appropriate for Clinton to do this, but majorities of 80 percent of Republicans and 64 percent independents do not think her actions were appropriate.


    Meanwhile a Monmouth survey released hours later suggested that a majority of Americans believe Clinton’s emails should be subject to a criminal investigation for the potential release of classified emails.

    Nonetheless, eight in ten Democrats told Monmouth they believed Clinton used a personal email address out of convenience And, noted a range of Clinton allies, the latest developments in the email chronicle have yet to land with much impact in the early-voting states.


    Whatever is the true situation, Hillary has to realize that the E-mails are a problem for her campaign. Maybe she should put out more claims of innocence, note that other people have done it, find a way to take it out of the public eye, whatever. But I can't see that ignoring it will help at all. If she can beat these charges down, it will help build peoples' confidence in her and demonstrate that she can deal with tough problems.

    I hope I've answered your question. I do enjoy talking with you. If I'm making a mistake or misunderstanding you, please correct me.

  • Jul 24, 2015 01:57 PM
    Last: 1mo

    Dear Dutch,

    Please forgive me for this post, perhaps I shouldn't even be writing it. It's 2:30 in the morning, I haven't slept, and my head really hurts.

    J.C. I have a proposal; since the "second amendment" was done in the late "17hundreds" I presume it was mend for that period; thus my proposal is that only guns with a flintlock and round lead little bullets of a certain size should be allowed.

    How about: J.C. I have a proposal; since the "first amendment" was done in the late "17hundreds" I presume it was mend for that period; thus my proposal is that only in-person speech and limited press runs should be allowed. Telephones, radio, television, and the Internet should not be given First Amendement protections. Oh, same goes for airplanes and blimps carrying messages.

    How am I misunderstanding your argument?

  • Aug 12, 2015 06:27 PM
    Last: 5yr

    Dear jaredsxtn,

    I promise to take a course on "Writing to be Understood." I'm doing a terrible job of it and I suspect that's why my first thread met with such distrust and rejection. Oh well, enough of that. "Onward and Upward."

    You quoted me three times, then offered a discussion of each. Thank you, that helps me see the errors in my thoughts. Rather than requote them in their entirety, please allow me to refer to them as Quote 1, 2, or 3.

    In Quote 1 there is no real disagreement between us even if it seems there is. I made true, factual statements about the Grand Jury system. You pointed out that there are additional considerations. I agree with you completely. I accept the power of the Grand Jury as a prosecutorial tool. That doesn't make the things I said false. I like this, full agreement so far.

    In Quote 2, I am dealing with the contention that California's law eliminating the Grand Jury's authority to look into deaths of people being arrested or in custody is an landmark, nation leading event. I don't see why the population of the state makes a state law ground-breaking or not. How does the population of the state have any effect on the quality or history of the law? I just don't see it.


    On the question of whether two states or half the states don't use grand juries, I didn't dig deeply enough. I owe you a huge favor for bringing the question to my attention. When I used the one-half figure I was relying on sources such as:



    As well as a couple of other non-Wiki sources.

    I see now that there is some controversy over the question, and it is not certain how many states use Grand Juries in cases like this. So, I WILL WITHDRAW MY STATEMENT. Because I don't know what the truth is. Of course, whether or not California's law is groundbreaking gives us no information about it's goodness, value, or even Constitutionality (Maybe Due Process clause?)

    Quote 3

    I agree that the Grand Jury system is flawed. There are many talented legal scholars on both sides of the question of whether Grand Juries should be abolished. The opinion I see most often expressed is that, if it is handled in an honest manner it can provide benefits to the accused and the prosecutor. "Discriminatory" is an interesting question. I'm not sure precisely what is meant, and how damaging a charge that is.

    For example, an arrest is made without the accused's attorney present, the arresting officer is not required to listen to the accused's side of things, and the accused is not entitled to call witnesses. Yet few are calling for changes in the system of arrest, even though an arrest makes a near-permanent scar on an individual's record, and can cost him thousands in lost time, bail, and legal expenses. Even worse if it's a domestic abuse or sexual offense. Just the arrest itself will follow the accused through most if not all of his life.

    But if discrimination is a bad thing (and depending on how it's defined and the circumstances, I don't think it always is), certainly the California law is. If either the prosecutor or the defendant thinks a Grand Jury will help them, only active peace officers will be unable to use it. All other citizens have it as an option. I know this sounds strange, but consider the shooting of Michael Brown. Here, the Grand Jury was the very best possible route for the prosecutor to take. From an article in The New Republic:

    It is true that most grand juries choose to indict, but it also true that most grand juries only ever hear cases when a prosecutor is convinced that there ought to be a trial. That was not the case here. McCulloch was in a bind. As became clear in his remarks last night, he genuinely did not believe that Wilson had committed a crime. And a prosecutor is obligated to only “file charges that he or she believes adequately encompass the accused’s criminal activity” and to “refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.” In ordinary circumstances, McCulloch would have declined to file charges. But in this case, McCulloch could not simply do nothing—this would have annihilated trust in the criminal justice system. So he did the only thing he could do: He took himself out of the equation and presented all available evidence to the grand jury


    Without the Grand Jury option, McCulloch would have been obliged, both morally and legally, to not file any charges. But here, McCulloch said, in effect, "There is nothing to charge Wilson with, so here is every bit of evidence we have. I'm not going to encourage you to reach any kind of decision one way or the other. You citizens look at the evidence and tell me what you think should be done."

    That sounds pretty fair to me. And when the citizens returned their judgment they sparked riots and injuries which were reignited to mark the first anniversary of the shooting.

    In this situation, the California law would have only made things worse. In the California situation, the prosecutor would be required to not file any charges. People would argue (and riot) over whether that one individual made the right call. But it's the prosecutor's job to make calls. What good is it if the prosecutor is told, "You have every right to exercise prosecutorial discretion. That's an important part of your job and we wouldn't dream of interfering with it. But if you make a call we don't like you can expect lawsuits, violence directed against you and your family, and riots and destruction. But really, make any call you want, we won't try to influence you."

    Yes, there are problems in the Grand Jury system as well as every other component of the judiciary, but I don't think the California law is a good way to address them.

    I am really grateful for your comments, and I hope you can straighten out any more misunderstandings I have.

  • Aug 12, 2015 06:27 PM
    Last: 5yr

    Dear pr,

    Thanks for your comments to a couple of posts I've made, including this one. But it seems there is a great understanding gap between us. It's probably my fault, but can we try to close that gap?

    As a start, you could consider the fact that basically most so called Grand Juries are nothing more that support groups for the police and prosecutors.

    If you mean that Grand Juries will almost always do what the Prosecutor wants them to, then I have to agree with you. Of course, you know that the only thing a criminal Grand Jury can do is gather evidence and decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to have a trial. Nobody goes to jail based on a Grand Jury decision, but, as you imply, a corrupt prosecutor can use a Grand Jury to provide a reason to avoid a trial. But a corrupt prosecutor can accomplish the same thing by deciding not to prosecute, or by prosecuting based on minor charges. Eliminating the Grand Jury's authority to look at certain cases doesn't solve the problem. Or if it does, please explain to me how, because i can't see it. Why do you think that corrupt prosecutors are now unable to get policemen off if they want to?

    Once again, California leads the nation! Congratulations to Gov. brown for signing this landmark legislation to help protect us all rather than cover up for bad police work!

    Sorry? What do you mean? California has said that Grand Juries can't be used to look into deaths of people being arrested or in custody. Half of the states already have that. Leading the nation? Landmark legislation? I don't see it. Those states don't have any criminal Grand Juries at all, they use preliminary hearings in front of a judge.

    And as far as covering up for bad police work, it's a weak cover up at best. The people complaining that the police behaved wrongly will have a lawyer. Not most of them will, they will have a lawyer. If the Grand Jury is manipulated to let a policeman off, the lawyer will file a federal complaint.

    Besides, how big a problem is it? Has a policeman gotten off despite evidence beyond a reasonable doubt because a California prosecutor tampered with a Grand Jury? Probably, but I don't think there is a chance of even coming close to knowing how many. I don't know, you don't know, Governor Brown doesn't know. It's possible that it has never happened in California, but I don't have enough information on that and I would welcome any one with proof that there have been some cases of it. That's how I learn.



  • Aug 03, 2015 06:29 PM
    Last: 5yr

    Dear Mary,

    Thank you for your questions and conversation. In looking through the comments to and from other posters, I see that you're not everyone's cup of tea. You have never treated me badly, however, and I'm grateful for that.

    There are two broad reasons why I think Obama dislikes Hillary. One is the E-mail problem, and the other is history.

    Let's assume that the E-mail trouble she's facing is all fake, or blown out of proportion or simply a Republican trick. Assume anything you'd like, it doesn't change the fact that the information being used to fan the flames is coming almost entirely from the White House. The FBI talks about it, Inspectors General talk about it, the State Department talks about it. It seems as though everybody in any way related to the issue is flapping their gums over the back fence about those E-mails. I truly believe that if Obama had said, "OK, nobody talks about this. It involves classified information and an ongoing investigation," then everyone in the Executive Branch would have instantly become unable to speak.

    Another aspect of this is exemplified by The New York Times. They're getting some credit for breaking the story. The Times? My understanding was that in case of need, they would support the president and his programs. They don't give this Planned Parenthood video story much play, and I don't think they've been breathing down the neck of the EPA for that terrible spill out West. Yet, somehow, they continue to go after Hillary. I believe that if the president had said, "Lay off her, this isn't doing any good, at least wait until the investigations are over," they would have laid off.

    I could easily be mistaken, but my opinion is that Obama is fine with the fact that Hillary is getting pestered and he isn't interested in stopping it.

    The second broad reason is history, going back to the 2008 elections. A man named Edward Klein has just released a book called Blood Feud. I don't know anything about him or his politics. Some excerpts from the book can be found in a short article here:


    If Klein is right, there isn't dislike between the Clintons and the Obamas, it's "tear each others throats out" fury.

    Maybe they do love each other, but there seems to be a halfway decent amount of evidence suggesting they really, really, don't.


  • Jul 24, 2015 01:57 PM
    Last: 1mo

    Dear Dutch,

    Thank you very much for that response. It was reasonable, thoughtful, and opened the door to a profitable conversation.

    First, media and indoctrination. I don't know, and I'm reluctant to look it up, but I suspect that the number of people who 1.) look at many news sources, 2.) try to get all sides of a question, and 3.) actually subject that information to serious logical thought is what? One in one hundred? One in two hundred? (That is if there job doesn't require them to.)

    We can explore the idea that the media are trying to indoctrinate us on this issue. I agree with you, but I'm confused about what message the media is trying to get us to believe. Do they want us to believe that mass killings are frequent, and rapidly increasing? Do they want us to see that the killers are racist whites? Is there no significant problem with mass killings here, but the various outlets are making a big deal out of it to increase views and therefore profits?

    If you want to help me here, I'd appreciate it. I'm having trouble figuring it out.

    Now about hypocrisy. Do we do much killing in the Mid-East anymore? I sort of thought Obama had largely gotten us out. But assuming we're killing people by the freight car load every second, who's the hypocrite? I don't think I am, and you're probably not either. Would the Media be the hypocrites, condemning mass killing in part of the world, while practicing it themselves somewhere else? None of that seems right to me. Who in this country preaches the value of having fewer mass killings, yet aids and encourages having mass killings in some other part of the world?

    For me, hypocrisy means stating one position and actively supporting or participating in the opposite. In my mind it is only hypocrisy if the person says, "Oh, there's nothing wrong with that. I don't feel guilty about it and I'm not trying to fix my behavior."

    I don't think it's hypocrisy if someone says "Smoking is really bad for you, don't do it. Yes, I do it, and it's wrong, but I'm really trying to beat this habit."

    Care to clear things up for me?

  • Aug 12, 2015 06:27 PM
    Last: 5yr

    Dear jaredstxn,

    I tend to be long-winded, so I'll try a different approach. I intend no disrespect whatever.

    Prosecutors have always had the Grand Jury available as a tool. It can gather testimony not available elsewhere. It can point out weaknesses in a prosecutor's case, and tell him the weaknesses are so profound that he can't prosecute on those charges.

    Now to your post. About half the states don't have Grand Juries in criminal matters, so obviously those states don't hear "death in police custody" cases via Grand Jury. States are shifting to preliminary hearings. If Grand Juries are really bad things, then California isn't leading, it's way behind the times.

    Let's assume we have an honest prosecutor looking to get an officer he believes killed a suspect during an arrest. This new law means the prosecutor can't get any of the evidence that a Grand Jury could get for him. Some of that information couldn't be obtained in other ways. He's in the same position he was the month before, but he's lost an investigative tool.

    Now let's assume it's a corrupt prosecutor who wants to get a policeman off. He used to be able to pitch a weak case to the Grand Jury and they would return "No true bill." We'll also have to assume that no honest prosecutor in the office catches him. Now, even with the change in the law, the prosecutor can say, "I don't think there's enough to convict. I will exercise my "Prosecutorial Discretion" and let him go. You get the same result as before the new law. And nobody can say that government prosecutors shouldn't be able to exercise their discretion.

    In short, I'd like somebody to explain to me why this law is a big deal. How is it supposed to stop misuse of the system, if that's the true worry here? Please explain it to me, because with the little I know now, it looks like a publicity stunt.