Strict scrutiny

I'm currently reading, for evaluation purposes, a law review article on the subject of torture. Note to article authors who somehow find this post: I'm not talking about your article, there are tons of articles submitted on the topic of torture. And I've barely started reading this one, so I don't know how I'll come out on it, or even what position it argues for. Nevertheless, I thought it might be worth posting the test I've settled on for articles arguing for a position other than blanket prohibition on governmental interrogative torture, and use utilitarian or consequentialist arguments to justfiy their position.

The test is: does the article explictly address, or otherwise suggest that the author has considered, how serious would a potential attack have to be to justify the author's child (lacking a child read significant other, lacking that read parent) could be very gradually eviscerated with a power drill(particular torture written in white text because it's not particularly important to my point and to spare the hypothetical sensitivites of hypothetical readers) because the government reasonably believes that the author innocently overheard a terrorist plot being discussed in detail, and is refusing to disclose it. Failing to address this means the article is not taking its topic sufficiently seriously.

As a final note, I have never before applied this test, I developed it after reading an article published in a 2006 issue of a top ten law review article. I'm not sure why I'm being coy about what article it is, but if anyone is interested, I'll provide a link.

Update: The text which I tried to make only visible if highlighted is in fact not the same color as the page background. Unfortunately, I lack even the minimal source reading skills to figure out which command in the page source sets the background color of this page.




Consent isn't everything

For my two or three long time readers, I finally tried to write a new "better answers to the Ethicist's questions" piece, which I haven't done for a long time. But I agree with most of the claims made in response to the first letter, for instance that non-market mechanisms are the proper way for the United States to have sturctured its organ transplant system. I don't, however, have a fully worked out answer for all the objections to that claim (increased organ donation in response to monetary rewards, certain paternalistic problems), nor to the further one that it was mistaken for India, despite its social, political, and economic differences from the United States. The really interesting question is about how a child should respond to their parent's perceived ethical failings, but he barely gestures at that other than suggesting that they do charitable work in the area of organ donation.

I also wanted to slightly expand on this comment at Orin Kerr's on Randolph v. Georgia, the Supreme Court's decision last week that the police do not have a consent exception to the warrant requirement if two co-owners of a residence are standing at the door and disagree as to whether or not they consent to police entry (the holding might be broader than this, but the breadth of the holding has nothing to do with my point). Let me also note that I've not read the opinion, only news and blog accounts of it, so I could be making a big mistake in what I'm about to stay.

It is entirely possible that the court did not need to reach the issue of consent, because the case could have been decided for the state on exigency grounds. As I said, I didn't read the opinion, so this might be addressed, and it is also possible that for some reason the state failed to plead this issue in the alternative to their primary (incorrect) consent rationale. Otherwise, the police had probable cause from the wife's phone call claiming that her husband had cocaine in the house. Because they believed they had consent to search (the wife had indicated her husband wasn't home), they had no reason to get a warrant at the time of the call. When they arrived at the house they discovered that the husband had just arrived home, and was denying them permission to search. At that point an exigency exception to the warrant requirement sprung into existence, because they had reason to believe the evidence of the crime would be destroyed, and destruction of evidence is not an exigency. The importance of the fact that the exigency didn't arise until they were on the scene is that this would not be a case where the police purposefully waited for exigency to arise in order to avoid the need for a neutral decision maker to grant a warrant. The only reason they wouldn't have had an exigency exception is if they could have frozen the scene by keeping the husband out of the house until they could return with a warrant, and I'm not sure of the facts on that issue.




How embarrassing!

I just failed, in multiple google searches, to locate the lyrics to a song I was taught in elemntary school in order to help us learn the names of all the President's of The United States of America, not including President's of the Continental Congress (which of course isn't the United States, but I'm just clarifying). I had assumed this was something that a great many children learned, but now I'm worried that a teacher at my elementary school made it up. In order to increase my chances of eventually finding all the lyrics, I'm going to post the lyrics I remember for the first verse, part of the chorus, and part of the second verse, hoping that someone else will one day be searching for this. However, since I'm wholly ignorant of matters musical, I will probably misplace most of the line breaks.
Verse 1
Then John Adams
Followed by Jefferson
Number three
Madison, Monroe
John Qunicy Adams
Then Jackson
Old hickory
Martin Van Buren
A little obscure
And he was number eight
William Henry Harrison
Died too early
Or came too late
So you need not be hesitant
You can name all the Presidents
All the White House residents
Of the United States
Verse 2
The only part of verse two that I can remember is the following, I'm not sure how this song deals with Tyler, Polk, Taylor, and Fillmore. Though I know how another song deals with Polk.
Franklin Pierce then
James Buchanan
Lincoln did supplant
Anyway, if anyone ever finds this post who is also trying to find the full lyrics to this song, it would prove that I'm not a crazy person (on this matter, at least), so drop me a comment.

Update (11/18/08): Thanks for stopping by, Ask MeFi readers. I'm a fan of a song about you guys too.




Dogs playing poker

This weekend, I was questioning/mocking the decision of a friend of mine, who may or may not read this post, to use Nighthawks

as his cellphone background picture (sorry friend, if you're reading). I don't retract that Nighthawks sort of sucks (the extent of my vocabulary for criticizing paintings is limited, though I've also used clichèd to describe that one), but today I sat down to use a computer, and its desktop background was this painting,

which I quite like. And when I looked up who'd painted Chop Suey, I discovered it was none other than Edward Hopper. So I've correspondingly revised upward my opinion of same. Another post could potentially focus on the strangeness of having one's most frequent interactions with fine art via the backgrounds of various consumer electronics, but to be honest I'll most likely never write about that. If you want more and/or real art blogging, and aren't already familiar with his work, check out Kriston Capps at Grammar.police and/or Eye Level. That last advice is, as previously, directed at people who aren't regular blog readers.

[Updated a bit over one year later to fix some typos and the link to the second image]




Repeat after me

If the main reason people believe that there is some problem with being both a Christian (I'm not) and a Democrat (I am) is that non-Democratic party members say so (it is), instead of having internecine debates about it, why don't we (Democrats) all just say something like this: "There is nothing unchristian about being a, and voting for, Democrats. There is nothing undemocratic about believing in, and participating in the rituals of, any church of the Christian religion. The people at belief.net are a) real, b) Democrats, c) Christians in good standing."

Anyone who wants to copy this or some variant of it and put it on their blog (or just say it to people, but that would involve talking to people in real life) is more than welcome, it's more useful and more true then debating out democratic hostility to Christians. Also, it might be really useful (assuming you agree that saying this might be useful), to say this on a blog that has an audience, and even better if your audience includes someone who recently voted for a non-Democratic federal level candidate. Also, the exit-polling I link to is bizarre, since instead of asking which, if any, religious organization one identifies with, it asks which religious organization one identifies with and one's racial characteristics and one's political identification, with people being able to choose only one.


Rabbit Season

While I'm sure this is funnier if you've read some sabrmetric style baseball writing, it's excellent even if you haven't read examples of what's being mocked at parts. One great line is:
It’s a further testament to the addled mental condition of the Teatotallers during this carnage that they were unable to take advantage of the congested baserunning by fielding any ball and throwing it to any base, where it would have immediately forced out three runners and ended the inning.
The whole thing is really good though, and strongly recommended. It even makes me miss the old days when I procrastinated by lurking at Baseball Primer. In fact, it's inspired me to track down this classic from back in those days (scroll down below the standings for the fun part).

I'll try to put together a post on voting rights and children tomorrow.


Morningside down

I wish I really had something against Columbia or its Law School, because rivalry is fun. But for the sake of this post, I'll pretend, and perhaps in pretending convince myself that I truly care:

Ha ha, we got Waldron! Suckers.





Kirby Puckett was, in point of fact, a great baseball player. And, as a ballplayer, he exhibited a one-of-a-kind on-field personality which is, and will be, missed. My condolences to his family. I have some conflicting feelings about what else to say about him, because I still stand by my claim (a lot of the discussion was in comments to the post, which are no longer there) that there is a real ethical principle whose idea is, in part, captured by the maxim, "Don't speak ill of the dead." I'll say more about that in a day or two.




Manna from heaven

Just last week I was complaining to my roomate that I hadn't seen Jon Stewart interviewed by any of the cable or network news programs since he tore into Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson on Crossfire in 2004. So I was pretty pleased with my timing when I discovered he'd been on Larry King this weekend (transcript, clip 1, clip 2). The best exchange has to be this:
KING: So, you don't want it to be bad?

STEWART: Did you really just ask me if I want it to be bad?

KING: Yes because you...

STEWART: What are you -- I have kids what do you think? Yes, I don't want them to have any kind of a -- I want things to corrode to the point where we're all living in huts.

KING: Not all living in huts but generally comics political comics like things to go a little wrong, don't have to be the end of the world.

STEWART: Like things to go a little wrong like birdshot to the face of a guy that will survive.

KING: That's right.

STEWART: Not like things to go wrong until it's like Mad Max, every man for himself, let's all ride around with machineguns on, which seems to be the way that it's...

KING: You don't want Medicare to fail?

STEWART: Are you insane?


STEWART: You're literally asking me if I would prefer -- yes, Larry, what I'm saying to you as a comedian I want old people to suffer, old and poor people to suffer.
Watch and/or read the whole thing, it's very good. Actually, you can't watch the whole thing, since I've only linked to partial clips. I'd like to see Jon as an ombudsmen for a newspaper, or for that matter a network news show. The second seems more likely, despite no such position existing, because of his total lack of experience in print news media.


Is there a fourth rule?

And it has burst in part, I submit, because Democrats (over Mickey's vociferous protests) have been relentlessly — and, I would say, accurately — attacking his character for about four years now. If we'd started earlier, hit harder, and been more unified (e.g., had some help from Joe Lieberman and Mickey Kaus), he would now probably be even less popular than he is. The first rule of advertising is repetition. The second rule of advertising is repetition. And the third rule of advertising is repetition.

George W. Bush isn't just an awful President; he's also a miserable excuse for a human being. Saying so, back when he was popular, wasn't an immediate vote-winner, but it paid long-term dividends. Saying it now — long, loud, and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again — isn't just truth-telling, it's also obviously good politics.

- Mark Kleiman