Patterico's Pontifications


My Conversation With My Wife After Flicking the Switch to the Lights in the Garage

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

Patterico: What is the deal with this light? It’s totally dim!

Mrs. Patterico: It’s the kind that has to warm up.

Patterico: But I want to see now!

Hopefully Final Word on the Missile? Airplane off the Coast of Southern California

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:40 pm

I just now saw this comment from DRJ, which is probably the most useful comment I have seen on that weird missile/airplane thing:

Last December, the Russians launched a submarine missile that left a translucent blue contrail, although the Russian missile ended up spiraling out of control. There are photos here if you want to compare them to what you saw. These photos seem most like what you describe.

Indeed, the pictures DRJ links are by far the most similar thing to what I saw the other night. Take a look at this picture:

This is remarkably similar to what I saw. The translucent blue was a darker shade, and its shape was more even. The end of the contrail at the horizon was bright orange and not white. But otherwise, this is remarkably similar to what I saw: an attention-getting blue color on the upper left, that connected to a more conventional-looking contrail to the right at the horizon.

I’m still willing to believe it may have been a plane, but the fact that the pictures I saw so closely resemble a known missile launch gives me pause.

I will say that I don’t accept the theory propounded by Corky Boyd that this was U.S. Airways Flight 808. Here’s Corky:

I notice several have indicated the source of the contrail was traveling northwest. This probably is an illusion. Patrick Frey (Patterico) has posted his obsevation of the contrail from his vantage point on the Palos Verdes Peninsula looking south over Catalina and San Clemente Islands. He said the trail looked like it was headed for Long Beach, headed east.

Yeah, sort of — except that really, I think it was headed in the opposite direction . . . coming from Long Beach and headed out over the Pacific. Take, for example, the photo above. Doesn’t it suggest to you that whatever put out that contrail was headed away from the photographer?

Thanks to DRJ for those excellent pictures.

The Rethuglicans are Coming to Kill Us! Quick! Disarm!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:36 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

Via Professor Jacobson, we get this gem of an analysis from Digby at Hullabaloo:

Right wing radio is hate radio. And Glenn Beck is f—ing lunatic. And they reach many millions of people every day. Will any of those people act? Well, they already have on an individual basis. But this daily ranting about the evil of liberalism and the inhumanity of liberals seems to finally be reaching some sort of critical mass in which those on the right who hear nothing but this sort of raving all day long have come to believe that liberals — not liberalism — must be eliminated. I realize that we won’t have teabaggers running across the countryside lopping off people’s hands with machetes. But the sentiment that drives people like Beck and Limbaugh isn’t all that different, even though the worst we’ve seen are spit spewing screamers at Townhalls and a few cases of head stomping and false arrest. So far. This cannot end well.

(curse word edited.)  Now it is utterly correct to critique it as a violation of Godwin’s law with a slightly more modern spin. And it’s also correct to point out that she denounces the dehumanization of liberals,  while dehumanizing conservatives.  And of course it’s hilarious to notice her selective outrage over political violence, apparently believing that political violence is an indictment of the cause that motivates it…  except when her side does it.

But here’s the other funny thing.  This woman is also a supporter of… wait for it…  gun control.  I mean, if you were liberal, and you thought the republicans are really going to come and kill you, then don’t you want to have a gun?  If you are fearing slaughter, doesn’t that make sense?


More on Why Joe Miller Is Right to Insist on Correct Spellings

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:47 am

As I explained in an earlier post, the law in Alaska requires that write-in voters spell the candidate’s last name correctly. I have seen some counterarguments that I believe are entirely lacking in merit, and I’d like to explain why.

As always, let’s start with the language of the statute. The legislature has been very clear:

(11) A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.

(All bolding in this post is mine.) If that wasn’t clear enough, the legislature added this:

The rules set out in this section are mandatory and there are no exceptions to them. A ballot may not be counted unless marked in compliance with these rules.

Got it?

Let me first address the constitutional arguments raised by Gabe Malor at Ace of Spades. Gabe’s basic argument is that the statutory language can’t override the U.S. Constitution, and that requiring correct spelling is somehow unconstitutional:

This is the part where I disagree with Patterico: The Alaska legislature may have spoken, but the legislature cannot by statute override the U.S. Constitution, which protects, among other things, the right to vote and to have your vote counted.

Not so. I explained this to James Taranto waaay back in 2003:

[W]e commonly speak of the 19th Amendment as giving women the “right to vote,” or the 15th giving slaves the “right to vote” — but we are wrong to do so. The 15th Amendment prevents the Government from depriving citizens of the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The 19th Amendment prevents the Government from depriving citizens of the right to vote “on account of sex.” But nothing in the Constitution prevents the Government from depriving everyone equally of the right to vote. You can read the Constitution as long and hard as you like, but you won’t find a provision anywhere in it that confers upon ordinary citizens something called the “right to vote.”

I suspect that Gabe, who didn’t name the part of the Constitution upon which he relied, was making an equal protection argument — namely, Alaska applies an “intent of the voter” standard to normal bubble votes, and can’t apply a stricter standard to write-in votes.

But, of course it can. A government can make distinctions if those distinctions do not infringe upon the rights of a protected class, and there is a rational basis for those distinctions. Here, requiring complete accuracy on the part of write-in voters fulfills a critical governmental objective of conferring a level of certainty and clarity upon the election results. That is plenty rational.

What’s more, there is a constitutional principle at stake for Miller — one that completely undercuts Gabe’s argument. Article I, section 4 of the Constitution states: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof . . .” Simply put, the rules for senatorial elections are set by the state legislature, period, end of story. [UPDATE: unless, as commenter aphrael points out, Congress changes the rules, which the clause allows it to do, with certain limitations. But Congressional changes to the rules are not relevant to the current scenario.]

How absolute is this rule? This absolute: if the state legislature wanted to tell the citizens of its state that they had absolutely no right to vote for Senators whatsoever, the legislature could do so! The legislature could say, consistent with the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause: you voters can stay home. We’ll go ahead and select your Senator all by ourselves. [UPDATE: this is no longer the case because of the 17th Amendment, of course, but the point is that it took the 17th Amendment and not the 14th to change it. Thanks to Karl for helping me to make the point more accurately.]

That would be total disenfranchisement, would it not? And yet, perfectly consistent with the 14th Amendment and equal protection. How do I know this? Because, when our country was first founded, this is how Senators were actually chosen.

Moving on from the constitutional arguments, we now confront interpretive arguments regarding the language. There are two arguments I have seen.

The first argument claims that the phrase “as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy” modifies the phrase “the name … of the candidate” but not the phrase “the last name of the candidate.” Therefore, the argument goes, a voter may misspell the last name only to be misspelled if it appears by itself on the ballot.

I quoted it above, but for ease of reference, let me once again quote the relevant statutory passage:

(11) A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.

To read the language in this strained manner, one must come to a grinding halt just before the word “or” — even though there is not even a comma to break up the sentence there. Then, after reading the word “or,” you then read the phrase “the last name of the candidate” as if it were completely divorced from the earlier part of the sentence. Thus, the argument goes, the last name of the candidate need not be “as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy.”

I think this argument is a stretch, for a couple of reasons. First, I think the most natural reading is a reading in which the modifying phrase modifies both the phrase “the name … of the candidate” and the phrase “the last name of the candidate.” There is no comma or period in the sentence before the word “or” and thus no reason to come to a halt when you hit that word. Moreover, I can’t see why the legislature would give more leeway to misspell the last name when it appears alone. Adding the first name makes the voter’s choice even more clear and certain. So why allow a misspelling only when the last name appears in isolation? Because this strained reading leads to an absurd result, that is another reason Miller’s reading (that any version of the name must be as it appears in the declaration of candidacy) is more natural.

Remember: a textualist reading of statutory language must be reasonable.

And that is why the second argument also fails. This argument claims that the phrase “as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy” requires the voter to duplicate the size and font of the text of the declaration of candidacy. To state the proposition is to mock it. It is not a reasonable reading of this language that a voter be required to bring in a word processor and reproduce the font and size of the candidate’s name, and any contention along those lines is just frivolous.

I have yet to see a decent argument that misspellings are allowed on an Alaska write-in ballot. And this is important, because the law matters. I encourage Joe Miller to take this one all the way. Upholding the law as written is a core American value. There is no shame in forcing the courts to uphold this principle. Go Joe!

UPDATE: I tweaked the post to make the good points raised by aphrael and Karl in comments below. My point related to the interface between the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and article I, section 4 of the Constitution. The post now makes that point more clearly.

Judge Denies Miller’s Request for Injunction

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:01 am

Joe Miller’s request for an injunction has been rejected by a federal judge, who claims in this order that Miller has failed to show irreparable harm:

Given that the questionable ballots will remain segregated and subject to subsequent review, with the results recorded separately, the Court finds no good reason to enjoin counting the ballots while the underlying Complaint is addressed in due course. Plaintiff has shown no potential for irreparable harm by allowing the Division of Elections to proceed with its hand-count as scheduled.

This is an interesting stance when contrasted with the Supreme Court’s actions in Bush v. Gore. Recall that the High Court halted a recount that was, in its view, being conducted in an unconstitutional manner. In a concurrence, Justice Scalia explained the reasoning behind his vote:

The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner Bush, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.

However, Justice Scalia also alluded to the additional problem that the manual recount could affect the result by degrading the ballots, an issue that does not appear to be a problem in the Miller recount. If votes that misspell Murkowski’s name are being segregated from the (apparently quite large) number that properly spell it, and if the properly spelled ballots for Murkowski outnumber the votes cast for Miller, it’s game over, and the controversy over the spelling will not matter to the result.

I would still like to see the issue resolved, though, because I think it is important for such an important race to be conducted in accordance with the law. As I explained in an earlier post, the law in Alaska does indeed require that write-in voters spell the candidate’s last name correctly. I have seen some counterarguments that I believe are entirely lacking in merit, and I’d like to explain why (in a separate post, as this one is getting kind of long).

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Marines

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:46 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

Okay, yesterday was the Marine Corps’ birthday, so this is technically late, but its Veterans day, too, so its still appropriate to watch this video.  And I like how they are highlighting the Korean War.  Not enough is said about that.

By the way, if you are wondering if I am showing a pro-Marine bias, perhaps because my Dad served, you would be exactly right.  My Dad led supply convoys in ‘nam, the kind of job that is dangerous and vital, but unglamorous.  He tells how he used to have his equipment set up so that at the drop of a hat, he could get out of bed, put on his boots, his helmet, his belt, his equipment and so on, and run off to fight.  One morning the alarm went off and he did exactly that…  getting about a hundred feet before he realized he forgot his pants.  Before he could go back for them, a shell hit his tent.  Which means that if he had remembered his pants, he probably would have died and I wouldn’t have been conceived, let alone born.  Funny how these things work out.

The man who replaced him was killed while leading a convoy.  He doesn’t talk about it all very much except to say that when he saw the bodies piled up in TV coverage of the Bosnian war, it reminded him of Vietnam.  And once while watching the movie Gettysburg he broke down into tears at the sight of Americans killing Americans.

Still, to all who served, in whatever branch, we salute you.  Especially you, Dad.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

What’s Wrong With Jesse Jackson?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:11 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

This video is going around, showing Jackson on Fast Eddie Schultz’s show claiming that repeal of Obamacare would be a creeping genocide and of course that comment deserves all the criticism it is getting.  [Note: I have no idea if the flames at the end were added by the show, or by some conservative as mockery—but Fast Eddie’s grasp of the economics of the insurance industry is appalling.]  But watch the video and listen carefully.

Am I the only person who suspects there is something seriously, physically, wrong with Jackson?  I don’t mean this as a personal attack, I am genuinely wondering about his health.

Listen as he stumbles over his own words.  Here’s my attempt to transcribe his statements

Half of the veterans who are homeless… um, men are homeless are veterans…  A million and a half of all children who are homeless and they often go to school without adequate healthcare…  So this really is a mass march toward a kind of humane…  uh, uh, human destruction likes of which we have never known.

And watch in the video as he seems to be visibly struggling to remember to say certain words.  And notice that the left side of his face (his left) doesn’t seem to be moving very much and strikes me as drooping some while the right side curls up as he talks.

I ain’t a doctor, but that makes me wonder if the man had a stroke.

Which doesn’t make him right or wrong in his argument.  I mean he is wrong, but not because he might be suffering from some physical impairment, but because he is just wrong.  But I do worry about his health, watching that video.

So am I right, wrong?  Let me know what you think, especially if you have medical expertise (I don’t).

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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