Monday, February 27, 2006


NPR just mentioned the NSA's "domestic spying program". For the I've-lost-count time: it's not domestic. It covers international calls only. How hard is this to understand?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Anticipatory Warrants, again

Pretty much the same as last time. Orin Kerr once again called for comments, this time stating in his own voice:
Am I missing something, or does the text of the Fourth Amendment answer this question for us? The text says that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause. In this context, it seems to me that "upon" means "following the establishment of" and "issue" means "signed by the judge." If that’s right, doesn’t the plain text of the Fourth Amendment prohibit anticipatory warrants?
. I replied in comments, much as I did then.
What makes you think that "upon", in this context, means "after", rather than "on the grounds of"?
Orin wrote:
If the constitution said, "no
warrants shall issue, but based on probable cause," or "no warrants
shall issue, but on the grounds of probable cause," doesn't that still
prohibit anticipatory warrants?
My answer: No, it doesn't. That's why you originally wrote: 'In this context, it seems to me that "upon" means "following the establishment of'; and if that's what "upon" means, then you're right.

But I don't think that is what it means. All it means, I think, is that the grounds for the warrant must add up to probable cause. So when the police tell the magistrate the facts as they know them, if he thinks they don't add up to probable cause, he must not issue the warrant, and if he does issue it then it's invalid. Similarly, if what the police told him turned out not to be facts after all, then his decision that they added up to probable cause is irrelevant, and the warrant is retroactively invalid.

But nowhere does it say that the magistrate's assesment of the facts, and decision that they constitute probable cause, and the consequent issue of the warrant, must occur after the facts themselves. All the magistrate is doing is issuing a legal opinion, based on a set of givens. If X and Y and Z are all true, then probable cause exists, otherwise it doesn't. He can do so when X and Y and Z are all true, or he can do so before they become true; if they never do, then his opinion, while still true, is irrelevant.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I've got no particular opinion on the port issue. My gut feeling is that there's nothing to worry about. But this isn't about that, it's about this post from Instapundit yesterday, quoting email from reader Steve Soukup:
Drudge runs with the headline "Arab Co., White House had Secret Agreement..." Follow the link and you find an AP story detailing this "secret agreement." At the end of the third paragraph, is the following, "Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries." Really? So how, exactly, is this news? Does it really deserve to be fronted on Drudge?
Mr Soukup seems to have trouble reading. This is the news. If such obligations are routinely attached to approval in other industries, why weren't they attached here? That's what makes this agreement at least somewhat unusual. There may well be a good reason why the usual requirements were not made here, but in the absence of any obvious explanation it's a fair point to challenge.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Proxy For the People?

NBC reporter David Gregory thinks the White House press corps is a "proxy for the American people". That's odd, I thought our proxies were these people, and this one. I don't recall seeing Mr Gregory's name on any ballot.

But somehow he's got this idea in his head, so just to make things clear: Mr Gregory, whatever proxy you think you hold for me, I hereby revoke it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Peggy Noonan On Mrs. King's Funeral

I agree with the positive, why's everyone (on the right) so outraged feelings about Coretta Scott King's funeral that Peggy Noonan writes about in her Friday WSJ column. Frankly, comparisons to the Wellstone rally were absurd, and all this huffing and puffing on the right just shows WHY the GOP can't pick up black votes.

Here's a funeral for the wife of the greatest black activist ever who was no slouch when it came to activism on her own part. So no one can say anything political? The woman's entire LIFE was political, and guess what, she probably never voted Republican after, say, Eisenhower(if she could even get to the polls back in he bad old days of Jim Crow and poll taxes, etc). Yes, it's all well and good to make fun of Jimmy Carter, and please, lets do it some more, but not for this. Republican's already have major problems getting African-American votes. So what's the solution? Why, complaining about a funeral for the matriarch of the Civil Rights movement! Not a good call, nor a particularly wise battle to wage. Especially after Ken Mehlman has apologized for the Southern Strategy that pushed blacks away from the party in the first place.

It's bad enough that Al Franken has been able to use the unfounded Criticism of this funeral to repost hisrather disingenuous take on the truly awkward and uncomfortable Wellstone event in 2002. And Al, Ventura left early BECAUSE of the booing and the rah-rah mentality. Yes, not everyone was booing, but your numbers are a little...low. The whole event, which can be found onlne, betrays Al's take, but because of Republican idiocy on King's funeral, Al comes off as "setting the record straight". Which is BS, but still, the GOP gave it to him.

Anyway, Noonan is very spritual, and her take on the funeral is the correct one, I think. The worst remarks were Carter's and they were hardly even cringeworthy. If that's the worst in a 6-hour event, I think that there's very little to complain about. Come on, the right isn't supposed to be overly sensitive, that's the left's job. The office of the President was not disparaged, and the President himself wasn't mentioned by name. Let this go, and fight real battles. This is a case of the GOP making political hay out of a fuenral, not Democrats. We should shut up and move on to real issues.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Amazon Recommendation

Amazon does this thing where it looks at what you have bought, and what others who bought the same things have also bought, and guesses what else you might like to buy. Sometimes the results are useful, and sometimes...

Here's a f'rinstance. Today Amazon sent me a friendly note, recommending this book, by W. Leon Smith and everyone's favourite crazy woman, Cindy Sheehan. Why on earth did Amazon think I'd be interested? Because "We've noticed that customers who have purchased You Can't Say That! : The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws, by David E. Bernstein, also purchased books by W. Leon Smith". Now I've never heard of this W. Leon Smith fellow, but if he's co-writing books with Mother Cindy, then I don't think I'm interested in anything else he's written either, even if the people who buy them are also discriminating enough to buy Bernstein's book.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Those Wacky Danes

Denmark seems to be flavour of the month in the blogosphere. Everyone's reprinting those cartoons, Murray over at Silent Running is running a Buy Danish campaign, people are once again raising the memory of Good King Christian, and everything's coming up Marguerite Daisies.

But there's another side to the Danes, and David Bernstein doesn't want it to be forgotten.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Yisrael Medad points out that the current cartoon brouhaha is merely the latest outbreak of a long-standing problem:
I cobble together a verse comedy about the customs of the harem, assuming that, as a Spanish writer, I can say what I like about Mohammed without drawing hostile fire. Next thing, some envoy from God knows where turns up and complains that in my play I have offended the Ottoman empire, Persia, a large slice of the Indian peninsula, the whole of Egypt, and the kingdoms of Barca, Tripoli, Tunisi, Algeria, and Morocco. And so my play sinks without trace, all to placate a bunch of Muslim princes, not one of whom, as far as I know, can read but who beat the living daylights out of us and say we are 'Christian dogs.' Since they can't stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead..."

The Marriage of Figaro (1784), Act V, Scene 3