FWPD Stops Drivers for Saliva & Blood

What the hell:

Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.

It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.

The study was conducted on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who said the study was voluntary. However, off duty police officers - in uniform - were directing drivers to pull over then asking for cheek swabs or a blood draw. At the very least, they wanted drivers to submit to a breathalyzer.

The NSA is even claiming sobriety checkpoints as precedent justifying their metadata surveillance (Source). When does it stop?

(h/t: Grits for Breakfast)


The Consitution Established

The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the same. - Article VII

Two hundred twenty-five years ago to the day, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the constitution. Only a fragment of the New Hampshire ratifying convention debate remains (that I have been able to find), and it is here.


Straight Party Voting Unconstitutional?

That’s the argument made in a lawsuit moving through the Texas courts (Source). Currently, the question is whether or not the plaintiff has the standing to bring the suit; you can read the petition here and the response here. Earlier this year, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said that the Texas Constitution should be amended to allow for non-partisan judicial elections (Source). State Sen. Jeff Wentworth also filed legislation to eliminate straight ticket voting (Source). The bill by Sen. Wentworth was SB139. It was referred to the State Affairs committee, where it sat all session. Wentworth also filed similar legislation in the 81R [SB317 (it made it out of State Affairs, but was never voted out of the Senate)] and the 80R [SB134 (it was not voted out of State Affairs)].

Sen. Wentworth’s argument for eliminating straight ticket voting is that voters will educate themselves about the candidates and make a more informed choice. I don’t think this is necessarily the case (especially in a county like Harris where hundreds of judges are on the ballot and voters do not have the time or the resources to educate themselves on every judge). A certain percentage of voters identify with a party whose values and positions with which they agree and rather than tick each R, D, G or L down the line, they have the ability to conveniently check one box. One can also vote a straight ticket and cross the lines to vote for another parties candidate for a particular office. Personally, as a hack, I like the straight ticket option, because it provides a fairly good measure for determining either parties base of support.


Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog provides an analysis of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett. It’s a good analysis and summary of the case. I’m still reading the opinion, as well as articles on the ruling, but my first impression is: I’m dismayed that both the majority and minority opinions seem to accept the notion that private funds corrupt candidates (and government in general), whether it’s that subsidies fail to reduce corruption or that Arizona’s system would have succeeded. Perhaps, as a campaign hack, my sensibilities are offended by the idea that my candidate would be corrupted by a contribution (indeed, I’ve worked on campaigns where we have worked to avoid any appearance of corruption - even giving contributions back), but I’ve been reading a lot about campaign finance lately, specifically on the federal level and from what I have seen thus far, there is not much evidence for corruption as a rule with regard to private funding of campaigns. Does it occasionally occur? Sure; we can find the stories about it. We can also find examples where public financing has not stopped actual corruption. As such, I don’t believe that corruption should be accepted as a rule when it comes to private contributions. The other claim is that public financing increases competition. Fortunately, Arizona provides all of the information online about the participants in public financing, which then can be compared to election results and campaign finance reports. I am going to sit down today (I have some free time) and go through this information and work on a post. Overall, I have no ideological stake in this discussion - I want to keep an open mind about the free speech and constitutional issues at stake - but I am skeptical of the effectiveness of public financing of campaigns.


The hatred for Abraham Lincoln seems to blind some people the actual facts of history. For example, evilteabagger writes the following:

The Civil War was unconstitutional, he suspended habeas corpus without Congressional approval, he incarcerated and deported members of Congress and the Supreme Court that question the legitimacy of his presidential power among many other atrocities.

Lincoln never incarcerated or deported any member of Congress or member of the Supreme Court. I have addressed this bunk before, but let me address it again, because our understanding of history is incredibly important, and it’s important to dispel myths.

The myth of Lincoln arresting sitting Congressmen is based on the arrest of Clement Vallandigham, who was not a member of Congress at the time of his arrest and deportation. Vallandigham - who was defeated for re-election in 1862 - was arrested in 1863 - well after he had completed his term - by General Burnside under his issued order - General Order #38. Vallandigham was then tried by a military tribunal and convicted. A federal court upheld the conviction. He was sentenced to 2 years confinement in a military prison. This sentence was changed by Lincoln, who then had Vallandigham taken to Tennessee; he later returned to Ohio after the war. (Source).

The false belief that Lincoln incarcerated and deported a Supreme Court Justice is based on the disputed arrest warrant for Chief Justice Robert B. Taney (Source). Purportedly, Lincoln issued a warrant, but it was never executed, so Taney was never arrested, nor was he ever incarcerated or deported. Even such a virulent opponent of Lincoln as Thomas DiLorenzo notes that the warrant was never executed.

Lincoln committed enough unconstitutional and illegal acts without resorting to distorting the facts to make some acts seem worse.

(Source: antigovernmentextremist)


The Economist has this short article about Hamilton today on their blog: Democracy in America. Personally, in the battle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, I come down on the side of Hamilton.