Sunday, May 29, 2005

Constitutional Chaos

I just read this article by the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/29/nyregion/29cigarettes.html?

Basically it was the state of New York, through Eliot Spitzer, telling the Post Office that they needed to regulate people shipping cigarettes into the state of New York. They were pointing basically to tax laws and saying that the Post Office wasn't doing enough to make sure that people couldn't get cigarettes shipped to them in New York. The premise is that everybody in New York is doing 'their part' to stop the shipping of 'illegal cigarettes' and the Post Office is 'shamefully' sticking their heads in the sand and doing nothing about it.

I have a few problems with this. The number one problem is that after 'the Wine Case' the Supreme Court had just decided that the State of New York, amongst others, couldn't use protectionist measures to allow only certain wines to be sold in NY. The real crux of the opinion was that the 21st amendment allowed the state to restrict the age of people that could buy alcohol, but interstate mailing of wine had little to no effect on this and the dormant commerce clause reigns supreme. I see that same issue here. They are saying you can only buy cigaretters through NY merchants that make sure to put in all the applicable taxes. The only reason I can think of for this ban on internet cigarettes is because the state is losing tax money. I surely doubt there are serious concerns about underage smokers. It seems to me that this is covered by the dormant commerce clause. Why should the state get to regulate who can sell cigarettes to New Yorkers?

I have other problems with this action by the state. Another huge problem is that this seems to me like the state is trying to make federal officials enforce state laws. I can't remember the exact Con Law case, but it was decided that the federal government cannot make state officials enforce federal laws. There was a whole host of reasons why this is so, but the gist of the decision is that if the federal government makes a law then they have to enforce that law and cannot force the state to enforce it. I think this is the exact reverse of that. The state is trying to force federal officials, Post Office employees, to enforce NY state law. I think this is terrible. If New York enacts the law then NY can enforce the law. It is no different if NY passed a strict anti-jaywalking law and said that anyone caught jaywalking would spend 1 year in jail. This law obviously would never be enacted, but I am using it to provve a point. If NY then said 'hey FBI you have to enforce this and stop turning a blind eye to all the jaywalkers out there'. This is crossing a line. NY has to enforce NY state laws. This article is a butchering of the post office where it should instead be angry with the State.

Another problem with this is that NY is trying to regulate internet transactions. Many internet transactions have been exempted from state and federal taxes. There is a host of reasons for doing this. YOu can check out http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2005/05/blogging_spam_a.html for a better argument about internet taxation then I could ever give. Basically NY state is saying that you can't sell cigarettes over the internet without paying NY state taxes. They are De Facto taxing the internet. I think this is terrible and shouldn't happen at all. You may or may not agree with me about whether or not internet transactions should be taxed, but whether you do or don't they just aren't at this moment and NY shouldn't try and levy a tax.

Lastly I think this is a problem with Eliot Spitzer. Granted he has done a lot of good things through his post as NY's Attorney General I think sometimes he overregulates. Here the newspaper basically just pandered to his position and it doesn't seem that they took much time if any to research both sides of the issue. They saw that Eliot Spitzer was spearheading this and they took it for granted that it was good. They should have researched both sides of the issue instead of just asking a few Post Office officials their feelings and expecting that they are really going to cover the issues. I mean the consumer and taxpayer have a dog in this race and it seems that the newspaper assumes that they should be paying these excessive taxes and it is probably better if they do. I don't like it.

Lastly I think these types of taxes are not good in the first place. It is the state finding something that it doesn't particularly think people will stand up for and taxing it to death. Sin taxes are the name they give to it. I think that you shouldn't arbitrarily tax products just because they are considered sins and it is acceptable to tax them. Next thing you know in NY when you pass through a toll booth in an SUV you'll be paying a sin tax on driving a large vehicle.

In sum, I think that the article really missed a good story. They love state protectionist measures and will stand up for anything Eliot Spitzer does. It may seem to some that I am going against state rights here. I usually stand up strong for the rights of the state. Here I am standing up for the rights of the citizen. The right to decide whether or not you want to buy a product from your state or another state where it is cheaper and also the right to send something through the mail without it being searched.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Quick Things

First it is the weekend of the legal writing competition. It is killing me, but I think I may be nearing completion. I wish my roommate was smarter and was involved because his incessant phone conversations are driving me up the wall. I seriously looked up how much it would cost to buy one of those cell phone jammers and have them same day ship it to me.

Next I just found out that this past week when I was drunk I applied to up the limit on my credit card. Apparently it went through. I guess that is good news. In the past I have done other 'good' things drunk and not realized I have done them until later on. I ordered TiVo on night when drunk. I went to GA one night when I was drunk. I went to Myrtle Beach in high school and I believe I was drunk. I am thinking of these times because when this competition is over I imagine I may get drunk and hopefully good stuff will happen.

Lastly while taking a break from writing I downloaded a freeward spy checker for my PC. So far it has found over 100 possibly 'infected' files. That just cannot be good. Oh well my 10 minute break is up. Time to edit my scholarly paper yet again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Done

The 1L year is over. All we have is the writing competition this weekend. I will post about the 1st year after that. Then I will truly be all the way done and just sitting around wondering why my grades haven't been posted yet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Quick Question and an Update

The tagline of some article I just looked at is "Christian Rock for Muslims". Wouldn't this be called Muslim Rock?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Is this news?

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/national/06time.html?hp

Yet another convention for the socially inept. Also it is an alcohol free event where they specifically said someone is bringing brownies. I hope there is some psychotropic substance that led to the creation of this convention.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Must See

Enought with the serious stuff. The 'Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law' season 1 DVD is out. This stuff is great. Especially if you watched cartoons when you were a little kid. Yes that means every single person. It is about the superhero 'Birdman'. He is an attorney and his clients are cartoon characters. It is 98 percent animated. For instance, they did one where Fred Flinstone was charged as a mafia boss. The whole start where they played the music from the opening of the Sapranos and had Fred driving around Bedrock with a cigar in his mouth was priceless. This cartoon is on nowadays on adult swim on the cartoon network every sunday night at like eleven or eleven thirty. I also recomment 'Robot Chicken'. If you like family guy humor then you will probably like this stuff because they were created by the same guy. (Robot Chicken and Family Guy were not Harvey Birdman). Anyways watch the Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law season 1 DVD. It's really funny

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Curiousity

http://nytimes.com/2005/05/05/nyregion/05license.html

I just finished reading this NY Times article. I just don't get it. The obvious slant here is that Mr. Medina is a hard working man who is just caring for his family and has spent money and time putting his roots down here in the United States. That is fine with me. I expect the NY Times to take this position. The problem is that he is a criminal. GASP. Yes he was ordered deported and he never went. He is in the country illegally. So they collared him on a broken taillight. Cry me a river. I know many people who got tickets for expired insurance or expired license or any numerous amounts of violations becuase of a broken taillight. I imagine if you are breaking the law then you would make extra sure not to have a broken taillight.

I guess what I don't get is the shock and awe that this man is being deported. Yes it is sad and yes he has tried to become a legal alien. The problem is that he isn't a legal alien. Please don't go off saying that we need illegal aliens or we wouldn't have people to work the jobs we don't want to work. That argument is a valid (somewhat) argument, but that is an argument you make to the legislature.

I know all of this is in political response to the new drivers license provisions that are going through Congress. I haven't looked at the bill so I couldn't personally comment on whether it is good or bad in its entireity. What I do know is there is a provision that says that to get a drivers license they have to check if you are in this country illegally. Also your drivers license wouldn't be able to be valid past the valid date on your visa. I don't understand why this is so bad. Do I think that they can make states do this? No. Do I think they have legal ways of making states do this? Of course. They can withhold state funding until and unless the state complies. Is that legal? Yes it sure is. Do I feel bad for illegal immigrants that would potentially get collared? No.

I know also that people will find that heartless or insensitive, but I am sorry. If you want the benefits of living in this country then you should do it legally. Do I have anything against immigrants? Not at all. I have had many friends that are immigrants or whose parents or grandparents were immigrants. I am a white guy so I know if I traced far enough back my family immigrated here. The problem I have is that they are breaking the law. I don't think we should go out of our way to make sure not to catch them. I think it does pose a security threat. I don't think that matters. If you are breaking the law then you must suffer the consequences. I also think it was a risk for Mr. Medina to buy a house in a country he was in illegally. No he won't lose his house. Yes he probably won't be able to live there anymore. He has a wife who is here legally and two daughters that are citizens. It sucks that he will have to work on regaining legal status from his home country, but that is the risk he took.

I guess in the end it is just that if you are going to take the risk then you should live with the consequences. I think that it is HIS fault what his family is going through. I think it is especially sad for his family, but the whole time he knew that he could end up in this spot. I just don't see why everyone thinks its so horrible to enforce federal law and if you do think so then lobby to get the law changed. Please don't lobby to have the law not be enforced.

Should be studying!

I should be studying but instead I am posting. This is about something I saw on MSNBC today. They were running a story and had some talking heads. They were discussing this 'scandal' over American Idol. For those that don't know about it apparently Paula Abdul may have been coaching, and possibly having a sexual relationship, with a contestant. They weren't talking about the specific situation but instead they were talking about reality tv and how they may be fooling us.

I mean c'mon. Whomever thought that reality tv was actually real and there was only cameras there to document the situation has to be kidding themselves. Have people forgotten that this is ENTERTAINMENT. Of course producers are keeping the people in the game that are entertaining to watch. That is what they are putting the show on for. The more people they get watching the more money they get in advertising revenue. That is how they make money.

What really got me going was when they threw around the idea of creating federal law to force shows to tell us whether or not they had infleunce on the outcome. I thought this idea would get laughed off. The people seriously thought this should be an option and if they don't create a law congress should investigate and producers should be made aware of what they were doing.

Are people going nuts? Do they not realize that television is entertainment? What is next when a soap opera star goes into a coma should there have to be a disclaimer that it is just acting and no person is actually in a coma? People may say that this situation is different because they don't purport to be reality. So what! Did you detrimentally rely on Cody being the actual winner of Survivor (I don't watch Survivor and just made up the name)? Are people really shocked that maybe since American Idol is giving a professional services contract to the winner that they would fudge things to make sure they didn't give it to a hack? This stuff is ridiculous.

Now you may have a claim (a terrible one) with American Idol. You could say that you detrimentaly relied on their statements that your phone call would matter and you had to spend money to make the phone call. You could say that they induced you do to this using fraud. They knew that you would rely on their false statement when making the decision to make the phone call. I am thinking class action would be the only way to even think about suing. I would also think you would have problems convincing a jury that it was reasonable that you relied on the assertions of a tv personality.

To end up this post. People trust what they see and hear on television way more than anybody should. If you get duped by a show into thinking their outcomes are based totally on the events and there is not producer control then too bad. If you don't like it don't watch the show. If Congress (which I 98% doubt they will) gets involved then I will want to sue the government for misappropriation of taxes. The only worry I have is that more people vote for american idol then they do in many (if not most) political elections and Congress could see this as away to garner attention and support. Not very likely, but not impossible. CRAZINESS

Tired of politicking

So I was watching the news today. A pundit was on a news show talking about energy policy. Now I am fine with that so far and I a fine with pundits putting forth their parties and their particular candidates and politicians position, that is good. What I don't want is people drumming up false support. What I am talking about is a specific statement where a certain pundit said that when he travels around to listen to constituents he hears them talking about how we haven't built an oil refintery on US soil in 20 years. You have got to be kidding me. I seriously doubt that regular people were thinking, without any prodding, that they haven't seen an oil refinery go up in a while and in fact it has been 20 years since they have seen one go up. Maybe a very small percentage of people that are very knowledeable about the oil business in the US. Maybe they have been talking about it. I would bet that at a minimum 90% of Americans, if asked 6 months ago, would have no clue when the last oil refinery was built in the US.

I am imagining that you are asking yourself why this matters. Especially if it is a good idea. Shouldn't our representatives bring such things to our attention? Of course they should and I am not passing judgment on whether we should build more refineries. What I am saying is that the tail is wagging the dog here. Tell me that this is a good idea and tell me that I should support this. Don't tell me that the public is bringing up this issue. I mean if you throw a stone in a pond don't tell me that the pond is rippling all on its own. Your stone caused in. When you get out there and say we need new refineries and you need to worry about this, don't then come to me and say look at what the public wants.

I know the argument against this is that they are just telling the public the issues and the people's strong response is what they are pushing and the people have latched on to this and responded to it and brought the attention to it themselves and they actually do want it. No that is not what is going on. If that was what is going on then it would be acceptable. They are telling people that this is important and that this is key in energy policy. Then people hear that and say hey we need this. We elect politicians to make decisions for us. That is the way our government works. I just don't want them 'peeing on my leg and telling me it is raining'.

Many people will not understand why I care about this or why it matters. The problem is that when the fire comes to the front door the politician will scream that he/she was 'following the will of the people'. No you made a good or bad decision. This obfuscates the issue and clouds what politicians are really doing. We elect them to act. They should use their judgment when acting and not set things up to look like they are just doing 'what the people demand'. This is bad politicking and it makes me sick.

Lastly this was a republican pundit and I didn't catch the name so that is why I am not linking to it and I saw it on Fox news. I also tell people that I am conservative/libertarian politically and lots think that I only side with republicans. I have been growing more libertarian lately and I think this is a good show of it. No I didn't type it to prove I don't side with just republicans and this issue shouldn't be taken as pushing one side or the other. I just want to point out that I don't just attack one side or the other.