Friday, February 29, 2008

How the Justices Voted in Free Speech Cases, 1994–2000

How the Justices Voted in Free Speech Cases, 1994–2000: "Which Justices generally take a broader view of the freedom of speech and which take a narrower view? Conventional wisdom still tells us that this should break down mostly along “liberal”/“conservative” lines, as it seemingly did during the 1970s and much of the 1980s. But it turns out that this is no longer true."
POLS 354:

This quantitative analysis is from UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. The top three supporters of freedom of speech turn out to be Kennedy, Thomas, and Souter. The least supportive are O'Connor, Rehnquist, and Breyer. Surprised? I was. - Report: Employee Lawsuit Alleges Company Used Waterboarding to Motivate Workers - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - Report: Employee Lawsuit Alleges Company Used Waterboarding to Motivate Workers - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Utah allegedly used waterboarding on a member of his sales team to motivate staff, according to a lawsuit filed by an employee, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Chad Hudgens, a former salesman for Prosper, Inc., in Provo, Utah, alleges his manager, Joshua Christopherson, asked him to lie on a hill before he poured water from a gallon jug into Hudgens' mouth and nostrils as other sales staff held him down, the paper reports.

'At the conclusion of his abusive demonstration, Christopherson told the team that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded,' the paper said the suit alleges.

We always hear that the private sector does things better than government. I wonder if they are better at waterboarding, too.

Clinton says she's been thinking about Texas for a year - Ben Smith's Blog -

Clinton now claims that she's been thinking about Texas for a year. What a crock! - Ben Smith's Blog -

"She told PBS's Judy Woodruff today that she saw the long primary coming.

JUDY WOODRUFF: People look at what's happened in your campaign, Senator Clinton, and they say, what has happened? All of last year you were the front runner, you were the presumed, you were headed for that nomination and then January comes along, boom, Senator Obama starts winning primaries. He has now won eleven in a row. How do you explain what's happened?

MRS. CLINTON: None of this is surprising to me. You know, last spring when I looked at how the race was shaping up, I knew that it would be a close contest and I assumed it would be with Senator Obama and at that time I said we have got to start thinking about Texas, we have to start thinking ahead.

But if she was thinking about Texas, she didn't mention it when she predicted in December the race would end February 5; and the reported confusion inside her camp about the structure of Texas's mixed system also seems to belie that."

When people say Hillary Clinton is manipulative and dishonest, they mean things like this. Now she says she knew all along that it would be a close race and Texas would matter. This is a lie. She planned to sweep to the nomination and have the field to herself by Super Tuesday and has been totally unprepared and swamped in every contest since. Listen to what she said in DECEMBER 2007, in the YouTube clip linked below:

YouTube - Senator Clinton says it will be over on February 5th.

YouTube - Senator Clinton says it will be over on February 5th.
Here is the amazing arrogance of Queen Hillary on display, saying in December, 2007, "it will all be over by February 5th." Even as recently as two months ago, she still thought her coronation was just around the corner.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter from Barack Obama on His Muslim Heritage - PakTribune

Letter from Barack Obama on His Muslim Heritage - PakTribune: "Yes, it is true that I have a name that is common amongst Kenyan Muslims where my father came from and that my middle name is Hussein. Barack is a name which means 'blessing' and Hussein is a masculine form of the word beauty. Since there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of blessings from God and the beauty He creates I fail to see the problem with these names. Some will say wouldn't it be a problem to have a president with a name similar to the deposed and executed former dictator of Iraq? My answer to this is simply no; rather it is the strength and beauty of America that the son of an African man with a 'funny sounding' name, born under British Colonial Rule, can now be a serious candidate for the presidency of the United States."
So it turns out that Barack Hussein Obama is proud of his name, as he has every right to be. Good for him.

So why are John McCain and the Republican National Committee denouncing Republicans who use his middle name? Is this anticipatory political correctness? Are the Republicans so accustomed to being accused of insensitivity and racism that they have now started beating themselves up before the Democrats can get their collective fist cocked?

Change of Subject - Observations, reports, tips, referrals and tirades | Chicago Tribune | Blog

Eric Zorn: Middle-name calling is way over the line
: "Obama doesn't use his middle name in his public life, and it's not necessary for anyone else to use it to distinguish him from other Barack Obamas. The only reason to say 'Barack Hussein Obama,' as radio talk show host Bill Cunningham did repeatedly Tuesday in warming up a John McCain campaign rally in Cincinnati, is to try to excite anti-Muslim, anti-Arab prejudices (though Obama is neither Muslim nor of Arab descent) and not so subtly suggest that Obama's actually a slippery foreigner."
According to liberal columnist Eric Zorn (and John McCain!), using Barack Obama's middle name in public is now forbidden.

OK: George Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Wilson Reagan, Richard Milhous Nixon, Lyndon Baines Johnson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Not OK: Barack Hussein Obama.

Please make a note of this. We wouldn't want you to get a ticket from the Language Police.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama - New York Times

Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama - New York Times: "After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a “kitchen sink” fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum."
POLS 101:

The real problem for Clinton is that she has run her campaign badly (with enormous help from her ham-fisted husband, who has made matters much worse for her, but I'll talk about that another time). Her chosen strategy, as she herself stated repeatedly, was to have the whole thing over by Super Tuesday with an early coronation. This was pure arrogance. She was not prepared for a marathon. Obama was.

Or, to use a boxing metaphor, this is like Ali vs. Foreman. Foreman went for the usual quick, brutal, knockout and was unprepared for a long fight. When Ali got past round 3 or 4 it was all downhill for Foreman, who practically collapsed on his own in the eighth round.

So what happened? Clinton didn't have organizational strength in the states that came late in the calendar, but Obama did. And she spent way too much money up front, so she had to lend money to her campaign from her own funds just to keep going. The money she spent didn't get the job done in Iowa, which was Obama's foot in the door.

Now, in this lengthy primary campaign, the fact is that Obama has more organizers, more signs, more events, better scheduling (he actually shows up, unlike Clinton on some occasions), a clearer message that fits the candidate and inspires voters, and on and on. It isn't just charisma and good speeches that Obama brings to the table, although he has those too. He has a better organized campaign. Yes, Clinton has what for many people is a deeply annoying personality and a harsh, screechy voice that feels like fingernails on a chalk board. But those are only superficial problems that she could overcome with a good campaign. The problem is that she has so far displayed none of the supposed managerial expertise that she claims to have, and that she claims Obama lacks. And if that is her focus, she is still in denial. The simple fact is that Obama has completely out-managed the candidate who is running on her managerial ability. I think Shakespeare called that being "hoist with his own petard."
(follow the link to see a picture of a real petard--it means "getting blown up with your own bomb.) Teens losing touch with common cultural and historical references: "Among 1,200 [17-year-old] students surveyed:

•43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.

•52% could identify the theme of 1984.

•51% knew that the controversy surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy focused on communism."

I have known this for a long time because I encounter so many freshmen in POLS 101 classes. It isn't their fault, of course. Most of them are desperate to learn more about the relevant parts of American history. But most public schools avoid the most controversial aspects of history. I have had students come to my office to ask me questions in private such as: "What was the war in Viet Nam about?" or "I have heard this word 'Watergate,' but I have no idea what it means. Can you explain it?" I am glad to hear those questions, because it means people are trying to fill some of these knowledge gaps. Unfortunately, many students are afraid to ask such questions for fear of revealing themselves as ignorant. That's the wrong attitude. We all have holes in our knowledge. The thing to do is fill them up.

Monday, February 25, 2008

This house was a steal --

This house was a steal -- "The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police.

Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit."

This is the way we do foreclosures in Chicago. You got a problem widdat?

Obama in a turban: Barack accuses Hillary of smear campaign after circulating photos of him dressed as 'a Muslim' | the Daily Mail

Obama in a turban: Barack accuses Hillary of smear campaign after circulating photos of him dressed as 'a Muslim' | the Daily Mail: "Barack Obama's campaign chief today accused Hillary Clinton's aides of 'shameful offensive fear-mongering' by circulating a smear photo designed to trick voters into once again thinking the black presidential hopeful is a Muslim. David Plouffe claimed members of the former First Lady's team had e-mailed an image of the Democratic frontrunner dressed in a tunic and turban."

So, over the weekend Clinton went from anger to sarcasm to smear campaign? And it is only Monday.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clinton Turns From Anger to Sarcasm - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog

Clinton Turns From Anger to Sarcasm

POLS 101:

Indeed. I'm sure that will work out well for her. Not.

Paul Gascoigne | Troubled football star | £16k on Red Bull addiction | The Sun |HomePage|News

Paul Gascoigne | Troubled football star | £16k on Red Bull addiction | The Sun |HomePage|News: "TROUBLED soccer legend Paul Gascoigne said he spent £16,000 trying to cure his addiction to RED BULL. Gazza — who has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act — was downing 50 cans of the energy drink every DAY."

--------------- many of you are already double-digit-per-day energy drinkers?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's Not Over Till It's Over

It's Not Over Till It's Over
This is from John DiIulio, a political scientist who is notorious for his wildly inaccurate and highly publicized (by himself) prediction in the mid 1990s that American cities were about to be overrun with "super-predators." He meant extremely violent juvenile delinquents. He said this just before the crime rate started plummeting. Now he is saying, "Don't count Hillary out yet." He "predicted" a year ago that she would be the Democrat nominee, but so did everybody else in the world, so I'm not sure that counts as a prediction.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Virtual Teachers Outperform Real Thing | LiveScience

Virtual Teachers Outperform Real Thing | LiveScience: "Justine Cassell of Northwestern University has found that children with autism can develop advanced social skills by interacting with a 'virtual child' that they might not develop by hanging out with real children or teachers. Cassell is credited with developing the Embodied Conversational Agent (ECA), a virtual human capable of interacting with humans using language and gestures."
Maybe I should take the rest of the semester off and replace myself with an avatar. It seems real live teachers are becoming obsolete. Can this be true?

Thousands of criminals to be freed as jails are declared 'absolutely full' for first time in history | the Daily Mail

Thousands of criminals to be freed as jails are declared 'absolutely full' for first time in history | the Daily Mail
Well, I suppose this is an opportunity for the construction industry.


Illinois "Moment of Silence" law being reconsidered by legislature as court considers constitutionality

POLS 354:
You have the text of the existing law. There are now two revised versions churning their way through the state legislature and a legal challenge to the current law. It's so good to hear that the state legislature has so much time to spend on such vital matters, now that they have solved the Illinois budget nightmare, funding of mass transit and other transportation issues, bad public schools, government corruption, and all those other minor problems. Wait...what? They haven't?

Resolution of legislators in re Heller


POLS 354:

39 Montana public officials have signed this resolution. It says that "Montana reserves all usual rights and remedies under historic contract law if its Compact should be violated by any "collective rights" holding in Heller." Does that mean...secession? Armed rebellion?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cosmic coincidence spotted : Nature News

Cosmic coincidence spotted : Nature News: "The secret of the Universe is not 42, according to a new theory, but the unimaginably larger number 10122. Scott Funkhouser of the Military College of South Carolina (called The Citadel) in Charleston has shown how this number — which is bigger than the number of particles in the Universe — keeps popping up when several of the physical constants and parameters of the Universe are combined1. This ‘coincidence’, he says, is surely significant, hinting at some common principle at work behind the scenes."
I still think the answer is 42.

First Read -

Hillary Clinton's union attack dog bites - “Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.”"
POLS 101:
Charming. This is part of a diatribe by Clinton supporter Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Union of Machinists and Aerospace workers. As the linked article reports, he is a "surrogate" who says things the candidate wants to have said, but can't say herself for fear of hurting her own image. He is using class warfare. Apparently he's trying to get across the message that the rough, tough, blue collar worker should vote for Clinton because all the wimpy rich kids are supporting Obama.

Wikileaks - Wikileaks

Wikileaks - here is the banned site, while you can still see it... Two Strange Orders in the Wikileaks Case Two Strange Orders in the Wikileaks Case: "This isn’t a classic prior restraint on speech since it reaches the registrar not the speaker — but it’s close enough to stopping the delivery trucks on a newspaper that I think this aspect of the decision is a cause for some First Amendment concern."

POLS 354:
First Amendment--prior restraint? We will talk about this issue, but basically you hardly ever see a judge allow stopping publication of anything. That's where freedom of the press is at it's strongest. The blog post I linked to focuses on what appears to that blogger to be a prior restraint.

Obama has upper hand - Yahoo! News

Obama has upper hand - Yahoo! News: "After 10 consecutive defeats — including a heartbreaker in tailor-made Wisconsin on Tuesday — Hillary Rodham Clinton can't win the nomination unless Obama makes a major mistake or her allies reveal something damaging about the Illinois senator's background. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.

It's panic-button time."

Indeed. So put on your hip waders, because we are all headed into the mud.

Obama surges past Clinton in Democratic race | Reuters

Obama surges past Clinton in Democratic race | Reuters: "MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Barack Obama has surged past Hillary Clinton to open a big national lead in the Democratic presidential race, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Obama also leads Republican front-runner John McCain in a potential November election match-up while Clinton trails McCain, enhancing Obama's argument he is the Democrat with the best shot at capturing the White House."

Zogby has Obama out in front by 14 points nationally--52% to 14%. I don't know...Zogby is notorious for sometimes being way, way off, especially recently with Obama-Clinton. He had Obama out in front by 13 points in New Hampshire, and then Clinton won by 3 points. He had Obama winning in California, and Clinton won. So I wonder if this is an accurate poll. However, after beating Clinton like a rented mule in Wisconsin yesterday, it is clear that Obama is the front runner and the favorite to win the nomination. Clinton (both Clintons) can be expected to go to Defcon 5 and burn the convention and the party to the ground if that's what it takes to win the nomination. I don't expect any gracious, early, Romney-style "let's unite the party" exit until the Clintons have tried every single club in their golf bag.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Court Rejects ACLU Challenge to Wiretaps

Court Rejects ACLU Challenge to Wiretaps
"WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to civil rights and privacy advocates who oppose the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The justices, without comment, turned down an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union to let it pursue a lawsuit against the program that began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The action underscored the difficulty of mounting a challenge to the eavesdropping, which remains classified and was confirmed by President Bush only after a newspaper article revealed its existence...The Terrorist Surveillance Program no longer exists, although the administration has maintained it was legal."

POLS 354:

This program dealt with conversations between people in the US and people in other nations. As I understand it the ACLU had a standing problem because the program was secret and therefore nobody could know if he or she were a subject of it. So the ACLU argued that as a precaution everybody (including the ACLU) would have to curb their conversations with foreigners. That wasn't enough to constitute standing, said the appellate court (6th Circuit). And now the USSC has denied the petition for writ of cert. End of case. What do you think?

Clinton targets pledged delegates - Roger Simon -

Clinton targets pledged delegates - Roger Simon - "Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination."


This is really something. We are not talking about superdelegates, who may have voluntarily endorsed somebody but who are free to vote at the convention for whoever they choose. Clinton is now going after Obama's pledged delegates--these are ordinary folks who pledged that if they were chosen as delegates, they would vote for Obama at the convention. Clinton is playing the hardest of hardball politics now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

JS Online: NewsWatch

JS Online: NewsWatch: "Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has scaled back her Wisconsin campaign schedule by a full day, and is now planning to leave the state after Monday morning instead of Tuesday morning. The move suggests the campaign does not think it can overtake rival Barack Obama here."
Indeed it does. And Clinton was campaigning hard here as late as Friday, because she was in Kenosha then. I heard about it on a Wisconsin radio station that we get up here near the border.

Losing WI is an indication of a campaign in trouble, because as the article notes the polls had this a close race, and this is a state where Clinton should be strong. But apparently the campaign's internal polling must be telling them something. So it is off to Texas and Ohio, I guess.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Top Clinton Adviser Says Superdelegates Will Decide Election, Obama’s Victories ‘Irrelevant’ - You Decide 08!

Top Clinton Adviser Says Superdelegates Will Decide Election, Obama’s Victories ‘Irrelevant’ - You Decide 08!: "A top Hillary Clinton adviser on Saturday boldly predicted his candidate would lock down the nomination before the August convention by definitively winning over party insiders and officials known as superdelegates, claiming the number of state elections won by rival Barack Obama would be “irrelevant” to their decision...In essence, he argued the party’s 795 superdelegates (Connecticut Independent-Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman recently was stripped of his superdelegate status) were in a better position to assess electability and suitability for the presidency than party regulars who will attend the national convention in late August as pledged delegates. He also said Michigan and Florida, which voted for Clinton, should have delegates seated at the convention, even though he originally voted with the national party last year to strip the delegates because the states violated party rules by holding early primaries."
POLS 101:
So says Harold Ickes, one of Hillary Clinton's main advisers. I guess that pretty much makes it clear that we are headed for a no-holds-barred drive for the nomination, and if she gets it she will worry about making nice with the Obama folks afterward. But when somebody like this says that winning elections as Obama has been doing is "irrelevant," and that he wants to seat the FL and MI delegation even though he himself voted to ban them, it shows you why the Clintons are known for being ruthless.

Political Dynamite at Democratic Convention?

Gore and other "brokers" at work...
POLS 101:
This article from The Observer details the maneuvering to prevent a disaster at the convention. The paragraph I excerpted lays out the Florida/Michigan ploy.

Trailing for the first time after successive defeats in eight states since Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton has renewed her call for the result of last month's Florida primary to count in the final reckoning. If she gets her way, it could yet push her back to pole position, assuming the contests in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania fall largely in her favour...The Florida lifeline would be thrown if the party's national leadership rescinded a decision that was supported by Obama and Clinton when it was made last summer. The Sunshine State decided it was too important to wait until after the Super Tuesday voting of 5 February and brought forward its primary to 29 January. As punishment for the breach of party rules, the state's 210 delegates were barred from August's convention. Clinton won the ballot with 50 per cent of the vote to Obama's 33 per cent, and the same thing happened in Michigan, which Clinton won with 55 per cent of the vote and where Obama's name was not on the ballot, excluding another 156 delegates. 'The people of Michigan and Florida spoke in a very convincing way, that they want their voices and their votes to be heard,' Clinton said. 'The turnout in both places was record-breaking and I think that should be respected. They have a right to be heard just as much as anyone else.'

ABC News: Clinton's Support Fractures Amid Obama Surge

ABC News: Clinton's Support Fractures Amid Obama Surge
POLS 101:
This is a detailed and insightful piece about the Obama-Clinton race. The main point is that right now Clinton is being outmaneuvered by Obama. Two key points: Bill Clinton's apparent race-baiting in South Carolina has backfired, inclining prominent black super-delegates who had endorsed Hillary Clinton to publicly consider switching to Obama. And two major unions (the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers) are endorsing Obama. Things are not going well in Hillaryland, but it is only February 16, and she could still make a comeback.

Democrats defy Bush on spy program and immunity | Politics | Reuters

Democrats defy Bush on spy program and immunity | Politics | Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led House of Representatives defied President George W. Bush on Friday and recessed without replacing an expiring spy law with one that would shield telephone companies from lawsuits.
POLS 354 and 101:
What do you think about this issue? Should people be able to sue the phone company for violating their privacy rights when they went along with Bush administration warrantless wiretaps?

The Associated Press: Obama Supports Individual Gun Rights

The Associated Press: Obama Supports Individual Gun Rights: "The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights. 'I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it's subject to commonsense regulation' like background checks, he said during a news conference."
POLS 354: So Obama's position seems similar to the Bush administration's: the 2nd Amendment is an individual liberty, not a collective right that means states can have armed National Guard units. But what is "commonsense regulation? Does he mean the rational basis test? At what point does strict scrutiny become involved, if ever? Do complete bans on firearms constitute commonsense regulation?

Democrats Look to Avoid Convention Rift - New York Times

Democrats Look to Avoid Convention Rift - New York Times

POLS 101: We talked about this on Thursday. The Democrats are trying to avoid a train wreck at the convention. It is certain that neither Obama nor Clinton will have enough pledged delegates to win on the first ballot, unless one of them drops out (not likely).

1. The superdelegates would then be able to pick the nominee. If they vote for the candidate who won the most pledged delegates, maybe that's not a problem. But if they pick the candidate who, in essence, lost the primary season, it could lead to a fractured party in November and a lot of voters staying home. Obama has enough of a lead in pledged delegates that Clinton probably can't catch him (although he can't win a majority and it will remain close). But she has more endorsements from superdelegates. If he goes to the convention as the winner of the primary season, what will his supporters do if the higher powers in the party give the nomination to Clinton?

2. The other issue is the Michigan and Florida delegations. They are not to be seated and the candidates agreed not to campaign there, per party order, because those state parties held their primaries too soon. But Clinton wants those delegates anyway... do the Dems handle this situation? They are meeting to discuss it right now.

First Post--Introduction

I teach Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and also teach a course at the John Marshall Law School from time to time. This blog is for the students in all my classes. I will be posting things that you might find interesting and helpful for whatever class you are taking from me. Right now we are in the Spring 2008 semester at UIC and I am teaching two courses:

1. Political Science 101 -- Introduction to American Government
2. Political Science 354 -- The Constitution and Civil Liberties

I will indicate which course a post is about by POLS 101 or POLS 354, and if I'm teaching my JMLS course, I'll head it RE 617. That course, by the way is called The Law of Condominiums, Cooperatives and other Common Interest Communities and is taught in the Real Estate Program. If that subject interests you, check out my other weblog, called "The Privatopia Papers," at