Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Debt Ceiling is Unconstitutional Under Article I

Amid this debate over the debt ceiling, I realized something important: refusing to raise the debt ceiling to account for Congressionally-appropriated funds is nothing less than an unconstitutional abdication of Congress’s power to direct government spending.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"The Death of a Tax Collector" and Other Republican Bedtime Stories

You don’t have to be an economist to know that tax cuts, especially for the wealthy and for corporations, can only produce a small short-term benefit to the economy, if any benefit at all. It’s actually common sense, but sometimes common sense takes a back seat to the back pocket, and public good to personal greed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

I never really paid attention to the whole Casey Anthony case until today, but this comment from the defense attorney Jose Baez struck me:

We should all take this as an opportunity to learn to realize that you cannot convict someone until they've had their day in court. We have the greatest constitution…If the media and other members of the public do not respect it, it will become meaningless.

This is an unfortunately common problem. The whole point of "beyond reasonable doubt" and "innocent until proven guilty" is to make sure that potentially innocent people aren't railroaded by overzealous prosecution, especially when it is defined by emotions and gut feelings rather than by evidence. Especially when the prosecution usually has the upper hand in getting it's story out to the public.

Casey Anthony and her family are screwed up, there's no question about that. But that doesn't automatically mean she is guilty of all the crimes she was charged with, and the jury decided that there wasn't enough evidence for a guilty verdict on the most serious counts.

We should all be thankful for that: just because society may disapprove of you and considers you to be a horrible person in general, you are still going to be treated more or less fairly by the judge and jury. The system isn't perfect, but isn't the attempt to remove prejudices from the decision something to admire about our legal system?

She may be actually guilty of the crime. We in the public have a right to an opinion on that matter, if we care enough to have one. But please, be sure you know the difference between thinking something is likely true and knowing that something actually is true. Understanding this distinction is what makes the difference between civilized disagreement and a lynch mob.