Archive for the Poli-ticks Category

Questions Regarding the American Solidarity Party

Posted in Poli-ticks on 20160730 by Avenging Sword

A friend of mine has recently joined the American Solidarity Party (ASP).  Being mildly curious about this organization – of whose existence I was, until recently, unaware – I decided to peruse its platform to see what it was all about.  My reading of this document left me with several questions.  These first two concerned issues on which the ASP’s platform was apparently silent.

  1. What is the ASP’s position (if any) on gun-related issues? E.g., Concealed carry, universal background checks, gun registration, assault weapons bans?  What about proposals to expand restrictions on firearms possession by certain persons (e.g., DUI offenders, persons on terror watchlists, “gun violence restraining orders”).
  2. Does the ASP consider birthright citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, transient aliens, and/or aliens generally to be constitutionally-mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause?
  3. In the ASP’s view, what role (if any) should the original public meaning of the Constitution play in constitutional law?

These other questions concerned particular aspects of the platform (in quotation marks):

  1. We oppose conscription into the armed services and other forms of compulsory government service . . . .” Does this include jury duty?
  2. We will work to restrict the legal construct of ‘personhood’ for organizations and corporations.” What sort of “restrictions” on corporate personhood does the ASP favor?
  3. We advocate a tax shift from earned income (wages and interest) to unearned income (economic rent).” How is “unearned income” defined; does it include dividends, interest, rental income from rental properties?  What magnitude of tax rates are we talking about?
  4. We advocate . . . legal accountability for the misrepresentation of facts in political advertising.” What form would this “accountability” take, and would it be consistent with existing First Amendment case law?
  5. We insist on legal protection for occupational safety . . . .” How is this different from what OSHA currently does?
  6. We oppose government censorship of the media and the internet.” Does “censorship” include laws prohibiting obscenity and child pornography?
  7. We support stricter controls on consumer credit, including limits on interest and regulation of credit-card companies and payday-loan and title-loan stores.” What sort of “regulation” does the ASP favor for credit cards and payday loans?  Besides interest-rate ceilings, what other “stricter controls” does the ASP favor for consumer credit?

Government Employment – Some Charts

Posted in Poli-ticks on 20110903 by Avenging Sword

In a recent post, my co-blogger Cheryl stated that “government is one of the few growth sectors in employment.”  Following Steve’s suggestion, I decided to see whether BLS data on government employment was consistent with the above statement.  That turns out not to be the case.

First, as shown in Fig. 1, after adjusting for temporary Census employment, the combined payrolls of federal, state, & local governments peak in late 2008, and decline thereafter.

Figure 1

Disaggregating the data paints a somewhat more complex picture.  As seen in Fig. 2, both educational & non-educational components of local government employment have fallen in the last couple years.  The same is true of non-educational state government employees.  Although the state educational & federal payrolls continued to rise as these other categories fell, in the last year even they have begun to decline (see Fig. 3).

Figure 2

Figure 3

Admittedly, government employment did continue rising even after private employment started falling in early 2008.  In the last couple years, however, the reverse has been true.  See Fig. 4.

Figure 4 (1/1/07 = 1)


Historical BLS data came from the following FRED series:

State (ed.) CES9092161101
State (ex ed.) CES9092200001
Local (ed.) CES9093161101
Local (ex ed.) CES9093200001
Total Gov USGOVT
All Private USPRIV

The “Fed (ex Cen)” series is a composite, with data for 11/1/08 through 9/1/10 taken from the seasonally-adjusted figures in BLS’s “Census 2010 temporary and intermittent workers and Federal government employment” publication; and the remaining data taken from FRED’s “All Employees: Government: Federal (CES9091000001)” series.  The “Total Gov (ex Cen)” series sums, for each month, the “Fed (ex Cen)” series, and FRED’s “All Employees: Government: State Government (CES9092000001)” & “All Employees: Government: Local Government (CES9093000001).”  All the FRED data is seasonally adjusted.

Readability & Obama’s IQ

Posted in Poli-ticks, Random on 20110525 by Avenging Sword

The subject matter of this post is well outside my usual areas of interest, so I feel somewhat uncomfortable writing it.  Nevertheless, at the risk of making myself look (even more) foolish, I’ll go ahead & proceed anyway.  Feel free to view this post as my attempt at A) statistical analysis, or B) comic relief.

The recent colloquy between Lynn Gazis-Sax & Hyphenated American in the combox of this post (see here, here, here, here, and here) got me wondering about the intelligence of our current chief executive.  I don’t know whether you can reliably guestimate IQ based on standardized test scores (e.g., SAT, LSAT); but even if you could, that approach wouldn’t work for Obama, since his SAT & LSAT scores don’t seem to be publicly available.  However, since Obama is a published author, I found myself wondering if I could guestimate his IQ by analyzing something he wrote.  Since I’m allergic to bookstores’ politics sections, I don’t own any of Obama’s books.  However, I do have access to HeinOnline & Lexis-Nexis.  So I decided to use Obama’s unsigned Harvard Law Review case comment[1] for my analysis.  Basically, my methodology was as follows:

1.       Dump Obama-authored text into an MS Word file.

2.       Use MS Word’s grammar checker to generate Flesch Reading Ease & Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability scores for the text in question.

3.       Use scores from #2 to guestimate Obama’s IQ.  To do this, I relied on Table A1[2] in a 2004 medical journal article by A. Harwood & J.E. Harrison.  This table gives the minimum IQ required for comprehend documents with a given range of readability scores; it was derived from a 1996 medical journal article[3] by Laurence Coey.  An excerpt from Table A1 follows:

Step #2 gives an FRE score of 26, and an FKGL of 15.2.  Per the sources cited in Step #3, those scores correspond to a minimum IQ of 126.  Assuming a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 for US IQ scores, a 126 IQ would put Obama in the 96th percentile (at least according to this online calculator).

Of course, the above analysis makes a number of assumptions, including:

1.       That Obama actually wrote the text in question.  AFAIK, he did, but I suppose it’s possible that, even back in 1990, he was sufficiently far-sighted that he decided to a) get some genius to ghostwrite an obscure, unsigned case comment almost twenty years before the 2008 campaign; b) leave records in the Harvard Law Review claiming that he (Obama) wrote the comment; c) somehow manage to keep that ghostwriter quiet for the next two decades; d) say nothing about the comment prior to his campaign; and e) claim authorship only after some independent source brought the comment to the attention of his campaign.  (Apparently, Rush Limbaugh did accuse Obama of “ghost-writing” this case comment; but if neither David Frum (on the right) nor Think Progress (on the left) puts any stock in that charge, I don’t think I will either.)

2.       That the editing process didn’t render his case comment less readable.  I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true, absent access to the draft he submitted.  ISTM, however, that if an editor was going to alter the readability of a piece, he’d try to make it more readable, not less.

3.       That Obama was able to read & understand what he wrote.  I suppose it’s possible that he couldn’t, but I’m not sure how likely that is.

4.       That Obama didn’t “dumb down” his writing.  Even if he did, however, this simply means 126 is a floor for his IQ, but not a ceiling.

5.       That authorial IQ can be reliably derived from the readability scores of that author’s writings.  This, IMHO, is the big one, and the main source of my anxiety.  I’m assuming that Coey, Harwood, & Harrison actually knew what they were doing when they matched minimum IQ scores with various levels of readability.  I’m also assuming that their peer-reviewers approved of this association.  But it’s possible that all of these people were hoodwinked (along with Yours Truly).

You may all giggle/applaud at once….

[1] Case Comment, Tort Law – Prenatal Injuries – Supreme Court of Illinois Refuses to Recognize Cause of Action Brought by Fetus Against its Mother for Unintentional Infliction of Prenatal Injuries, 103 Harv. L. Rev. 823 (1990).

[2] A. Harwood and J. E. Harrison, How readable are orthodontic patient information leaflets?, 31 J. Orthodontics 210, 218 tbl. A1 (2004).

[3] Laurence Coey, Readability of printed educational materials used to inform potential and actual ostomates, 5 J. Clinical Nursing 359, 361 tbl. 2 (1996).

Incorporation by Reference & the Constitution

Posted in Law, Poli-ticks on 20110404 by Avenging Sword

As it turns out, the constitutionality of incorporation by reference in federal statutes has been previously considered, by minds far more knowledgeable than my own.  A decade ago, Hershey Corporation (of Hershey Kisses fame) got annoyed by one particular usage of incorporation by reference, and decided to sue in federal court.  The challenged provision read:

The provisions of the following bills are hereby enacted into law:

. . . .

(8) H.R. 3428 of the 106th Congress, as introduced on November 17, 1999 . . . .[1]

Hershey argued that this provision’s enactment violated the Presentment Clause.[2] The court was not impressed:

Laws containing cross-references do not appear to be uncommon. While no case has addressed the Presentment Clause challenge, several courts have upheld laws containing cross-references. See e.g., United States v. Sharpnack, 355 U.S. 286, 293, 2 L. Ed. 2d 282, 78 S. Ct. 291 (1958)(“Wether Congress sets forth the assimilated laws in full or assimilates them by reference, the result is as definite and as ascertainable as are the state laws themselves.”); United States v. Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, 694 F. Supp. 1373, 1375 (E.D. Wis. 1988)(“It is well established that Congress may incorporate by reference state criminal laws in federal criminal statutes.”); Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Soc’y, 503 U.S. 429, 433 n.1, 118 L. Ed. 2d 73, 112 S. Ct. 1407 (1992)(involving an appropriations act in which Congress incorporated by reference, among other things, a list of spotted owl habitat areas contained in a Forest Service environmental impact statement).

For the foregoing reasons, the Court is not persuaded by plaintiff’s interpretation of the Presentment Clause. Congress may incorporate by cross-reference in its bills if it chooses to legislate in that manner. Nothing in the Presentment Clause, or elsewhere in the Constitution, demands otherwise.[3]

Since § 2(a)[4] of the Government Shutdown Prevention Act contains language similar to the provision challenged in Hershey, that precedent suggests that § 2(a) is likewise constitutional.

More recently, the General Accounting Office considered the matter.  In a letter report, the agency defined incorporation by reference as follows:

As a legislative tool, incorporation by reference is the use of legislative language to make extra-statutory material part of the legislation by indicating that the extra-statutory material should be treated as if it were written out in full in the legislation.[5]

After discussing various precedents regarding the practice, the report concluded:

Legislative incorporation by reference is well founded historically and the Supreme Court has accepted it as a legislative tool without objection.[6]

As previously noted, I was disinclined to reject the constitutionality of incorporation by reference.  After reading the above, I’m even less inclined to do so now.

[1] Act of Nov. 29, 1999, Pub. L. No. 106-113, § 1000(a), 113 Stat. , 1536 (1999).

[2] U.S. Const. art. I, § 7, cl. 2.

[3] Hershey Foods Corp. v. USDA, 158 F. Supp. 2d 37, 41 (D.D.C. 2001), aff’d, 293 F.3d 520 (D.C. Cir. 2002).

[4] Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011, H.R.1255, 112th Cong. § 2(a) (2011) (“[T]he provisions of H.R. 1, as passed by the House on February 19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law.”).

[5] U.S. Gov’t Accountability Office, B-316010, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008—Incorporation by Reference 4 (2008), available at

[6] Id. at 9.

Incorporation by Reference and the Government Shutdown Prevention Act

Posted in Law, Poli-ticks on 20110403 by Avenging Sword

In a recent post, co-blogger Steve questions whether a provision in H.R. 1255, the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011,” would be unconstitutional if enacted.  The supposedly-problematic text apparently reads as follows:

If the House has not received a message from the Senate before April 6, 2011, stating that it has passed a measure providing for the appropriations for the departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, the provisions of H.R. 1, as passed by the House on February 19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law.[1]

Frankly, when I saw this, I wasn’t quite sure what the problem was.  By my reading, the above basically amounts to “incorporation by reference,” i.e.,

A method of making a secondary document part of a primary document by including in the primary document a statement that the secondary document should be treated as if it were contained within the primary one.[2]

In the case of H.R. 1255, the “primary document” is H.R. 1255 itself, the “secondary document” is H.R. 1.  And since H.R. 1255 states that “the provisions of H.R. 1 . . . are hereby enacted into law,” H.R. 1255 would appear to contain “a statement that the secondary document should be treated as if it were contained within the primary one.”  Though I’ll confess I’ve not looked into the matter in detail, I don’t see why incorporation by reference would render a federal statute unconstitutional.  After all, even if H.R. 1 was passed only by the House, the provision giving H.R. 1 the force of law – § 2(a) of H.R. 1255 – would still have to receive passage by both houses, and a presidential signature (or a bicameral veto override), in order to become the law of the land.

It’s also worth noting that H.R. 1255’s use of incorporation by reference is hardly unprecedented.  A brief text search of the Statutes at Large uncovered several prior uses of the technique.  For example:

[T]here is hereby enacted into law the amendment made by section 901 of S. 2582, as reported by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate on April 18, 1984, except for subsection (c) of the section enacted by this proviso . . . .[3]


There is hereby enacted into law H.R. 3750, as introduced in the House of Representatives on December 11, 1987.[4]


Provided further, That the amendment in the nature of a substitute to the text of H .R. 4645, as ordered reported from the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs on September 22, 1988, is hereby enacted into law: Provided further, That title I of H .R. 5263 as passed by the House of Representatives on September 20, 1988, is hereby enacted into law . . . Provided further, That notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, titles I and III of S. 2757 as reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on September 7, 1988, are hereby enacted into law . . . .[5]


The provisions of Senate Resolution 89, of the One Hundredth Congress, agreed to January 28, 1987, are hereby enacted into law, effective on the date such Senate Resolution 89 was agreed to.[6]


S. 2681, as passed by the Senate on September 12, 1992, is hereby enacted into law. [7]


Section 423 of H.R. 1361, as passed the House of Representatives on May 9, 1995, is hereby enacted into law.[8]


The provisions of section 5 of the bill, H.R. 1691 (104th Congress), as passed the House of Representatives on October 30, 1995, are hereby enacted into law.[9]


The provisions of the following bills of the 106th Congress are hereby enacted into law:

(1) H.R. 5547, as introduced on October 25, 2000.

(2) H.R. 5548, as introduced on October 25, 2000.[10]


The provisions of H.R. 5526 of the 106th Congress, as introduced on October 24, 2000, are hereby enacted into law.[11]


The provisions of H.R. 5408 of the 106th Congress, as introduced on October 6, 2000, are hereby enacted into law.[12]


The provisions of the following bills of the 106th Congress are hereby enacted into law:

(1) H.R. 5482, as introduced on October 18, 2000.

(2) H.R. 5483, as introduced on October 18, 2000.[13]


Section 4013 of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act of 2005, passed on first reading on May 10, 2005 (engrossed version of Bill 16–200), is hereby enacted into law.[14]


Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the reciprocal rights-of-way and easements identified on the map numbered 92337 and dated June 15, 2005, are hereby enacted into law.[15]

Admittedly, frequent Congressional usage is insufficient to render a practice constitutional.[16] Nevertheless, if “incorporation by reference” is unconstitutional, then it’s an unconstitutional practice that’s been perpetrated many times, by both Democratic & Republican Congresses, over the past quarter-century.

[1] Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011, H.R.1255, 112th Cong. § 2(a) (2011).

[2] Black’s Law Dictionary 834 (9th ed. 2009).

[3] Act of Oct. 12, 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-473, 98 Stat. 1837, 1885 (1984).

[4] Act of Dec. 22, 1987, Pub. L. No. 100-202, 101 Stat. 1329, 1329-134 (1987).

[5] Act of Oct. 1, 1988, Pub. L. No. 100-461, § 555, 102 Stat. 2268, 2268-036 (1988) (footnotes omitted).

[6] Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-163, § 9, 103 Stat. 1041, 1046 (1989).

[7] Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1993, Pub. L. No. 102-396, § 9168, 106 Stat. 1876, 1948 (1992).

[8] Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1997, Pub. L. No. 104-205, § 341, 110 Stat. 2951, 2975 (1996).

[9] Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996, § 5(a), Pub. L. No. 104-120, 110 Stat. 834, 835 (1996).

[10] Act of Dec. 21, 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-553, § 1(a), 114 Stat. 2762, 2762 (2000).

[11] Act of Nov. 6, 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-429, § 101, 114 Stat. 1900 (2000).

[12] Act of Oct. 30, 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-398, § 1, 114 Stat. 1654 (2000).

[13] Act of Oct. 27, 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-377, § 1(a), 114 Stat. 1441 (2000).

[14] Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-115, § 133, 119 Stat. 2396, 2522 (2005).

[15] Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, Pub. L. No. 109–59, § 4408, 119 Stat. 1144, 1777 (2005).

[16] Cf. INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 944 (1983) (“[T]he fact that a given law or procedure is efficient, convenient, and useful in facilitating functions of government, standing alone, will not save it if it is contrary to the Constitution. . . . our inquiry is sharpened rather than blunted by the fact that congressional veto provisions are appearing with increasing frequency in statutes which delegate authority to executive and independent agencies . . . .”).

Blood Libel & Linguistic Evolution

Posted in Poli-ticks on 20110118 by Avenging Sword


I’m no big Sarah Palin fan, and I’ve not followed news or commentary regarding the Arizona shootings in detail.  (There are only so many hours in the day.)  Nevertheless, when I first heard of the debate regarding her use of the phrase “blood libel,” my first thought was, “I guess she means to say that blame for the recent Arizona shootings is being falsely placed on her & her supporters.”  Turns out I was pretty on-the-mark, since this is what Palin actually wrote:

But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.

I’d like to think my aforementioned thought process isn’t indicative of gross historical ignorance.  I am well aware that the phrase “blood libel” had its origins in anti-Semitism, and that it particularly referred to accusations that “Jews supposedly murdered Christian Children as an act of ritual worship or to prepare unleavened bread for the Passover seder.”[1] When people like Jeffrey Goldberg & Jonah Goldberg pointed this out, it wasn’t news to me.

No, the reason I managed to reconstruct a reasonably-accurate paraphrase of Palin’s words, solely from the knowledge that there was an ongoing debate regarding Palin’s mention of “blood libel,” is because I’d previously seen that phrase used in contexts outside its medieval anti-Semitic origins.  Palin was hardly the first to use “blood libel” to connote false accusations of complicity in murder, or even simply a grossly-false & seemingly-malicious accusation.  Nor, for that matter, was Glenn Harlan Reynolds (of Instapundit fame).  They’ve both had plenty of company in the past five years.


For example, in a 2005 op-ed, Andrew Cohen noted charges that Terri Schiavo was “murdered by judges,” and a victim of “judicial homicide,” and labeled such accusations “a blood libel against judges.”[2] Later that year, the term reappeared on the right:

Here, at the spot known as Ground Zero . . . planners are busy developing an “International Freedom Center.” Finally! A place you can visit to find out exactly what you did wrong to bring about the 9/11 attacks.

Hundreds of relatives of those slaughtered at the World Trade Center . . . came out yesterday in a unified show of force, to perform a previously unimaginable task. They came here to defend their loved ones against a blood libel.[3]

The next year, Tony Blankley asserted that “media people,” in reporting about the 2005 Haditha killings, were “casually perpetrat[ing] blood libel against not just the still-presumed-innocent Marines but against our services more generally.”[4] Jack Kemp, writing in support of Joe Lieberman’s Senate candidacy, stated, “As a Republican, I don’t want the Democratic Party to lose a Scoop Jackson Democrat and become isolationist in the face of Islamic fundamentalism with its message of jihad, hatred, and blood libel against America and Israel.”[5] Matt Foreman, of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, asserted that Republicans had “dispatched henchmen like Tony Perkins and Pat Buchanan to offer the blood libel that gay men are prone to pedophilia.”[6] A New York Times article noted, “This week, Mr. Fiedler accused an op-ed contributor for El Nuevo Herald of ‘blood libel’ for suggesting that a Herald reporter who broke the Marti story had ties to Cuba’s spy agency.”[7]

In 2007, Cragg Hines wrote, “We need not consider [Jimmy] Carter’s latest book, whose title is a virtual blood libel with its title’s reference to apartheid and allusion to Israel.”[8] An apparent truther expressed annoyance in a letter to the editor:  “This libel [that 9/11 truth seekers are paranoid], like the 9/11 blood libel against Muslims, dehumanizes its victims and makes its author, editor and publisher complicit in the holocaust of the 9/11 wars . . . .”[9] Chris Floyd, guest-blogging for Glenn Greenwald, accused Tony Blair of “seiz[ing] the opportunity of a New York speech to trumpet the blood libel that Iran is now the embodiment of the entire ‘global ideology’ of Islamic extremism . . . .”[10]

In 2008, a letter to the editor condemned a columnist for “repeat[ing] yet again the ‘blood libel’ against unbelievers, that only creationism offers any basis for ethics”[11] An op-ed by John Farmer lamented “the blood libel that as EPA administrator [Christie Whitman] deliberately misled responders at Ground Zero about the air quality . . . . The fact that she repeatedly advised responders to wear protection goes unmentioned.”[12] Another, by Andrew Cohen, responded to accusations of “judicial activism” by asserting, “[I]t is nothing short of a blood libel against judges to accuse them of operating by fiat.”[13]

An article from the campaign trail noted, “Just before Obama spoke, Newsday editor Les Payne had called ‘blood libel’ the argument that African-American journalists could not objectively cover Obama’s candidacy.”[14] Another article, regarding forged British National Archives documents which purportedly showed that Churchill & Himmler maintained a “secret, cordial relationship” during WWII, noted a British historian’s complaint about the documents:  “’That’s a blood libel against Churchill and totally untrue,’ said historian Andrew Roberts, who signed the letter published in the Financial Times.”

In 2009, Carl Cannon lamented increasing partisanship on Politics Daily:  “Anything bad said about my homeys is a blood libel. Anything bad said about the other guy is obvious truth, or free speech or, you know, just satire. Lighten up, dude.”[15] In 2010, Andrew Sullivan stated that “The conflation of homosexuality with child abuse” was “the oldest blood libel against gays . . . .”[16] And P.J. O’Rourke, writing in praise of Radio Free Europe, noted, “The effort to provide accurate information combats rumor, conspiracy theories, scapegoat hatreds, and blood libels.”[17]

[I would go on, but instead I’ll refer you to a couple of posts by Jim Geraghty (here and here), who apparently had the same idea I did.]


Following Palin’s invocation of “blood libel,” some defended her use of the phrase, by noting that whatever its origins, it has long since acquired a broader connotation not necessarily related to anti-Semitism.[18] I am inclined to believe that these defenders are correct.  Perhaps such linguistic evolution really is a bad thing.  But if so, Palin is hardly the first to be complicit in it.


[2] Andrew Cohen, Op-Ed, Schiavo was calm eye of the perfect storm, DENV. POST, Apr. 3, 2005, at E-05 (emphasis added).

[3] Andrea Peyser, Wrong Time, Wrong Place For Lefties’ PC Prattle, N.Y. POST, Jun. 21, 2005, at 9 (emphasis added).

[4] Tony Blankley, Op-Ed, Media dance macabre; Journalists in orgy of excessive Haditha reporting, WASH. TIMES, Jun. 7, 2006, at A21 (emphasis added).

[5] Jack Kemp, Working For Lieberman, N.Y. SUN, Aug. 29, 2006, (emphasis added).

[6] Press Release, Nat’l Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Latest blame-dodging tactic in Foley scandal is ‘appalling, disgusting and pure McCarthyism’, (Oct. 05, 2006) (emphasis added) at

[7] Andy Newman, Standoff at Miami Papers Ends in Cartoonist’s Arrest, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 25, 2006, at A10 (emphasis added).

[8] Cragg Hines, Op-Ed, Carter is right about Bush, VIRGINIAN-PILOT, May 25, 2007, at B9 (emphasis added).

[9] Kevin Barrett, Letter to the Editor, Reporting on 9/11 Conference Was Distorted and Libelous, CAP. TIMES, Aug. 11, 2007, at A9 (emphasis added).

[10] Chris Floyd, Chris Floyd for Glenn Greenwald: Blair and Bush team up to sell new war, SALON (Oct 24, 2007, 7:34 PM), (emphasis added).

[11] John B. Hodges, Letter to the Editor, Religion has no special claim to an ethical basis, ROANOKE TIMES, Dec. 27, 2008, at B7 (emphasis added).

[12] John Farmer, Op-Ed, Why the true mavericks can’t win, STAR-LEDGER, Oct. 19, 2008, at 35 (emphasis added).

[13] Andrew Cohen, Op-Ed, McCain Sings Same Old GOP Song On Justices, CBS NEWS, May 7, 2008, (emphasis added).

[14] Abdon M. Pallasch, Obama rips foe on affirmative action, Iraq, CHI. SUN-TIMES, Jul. 28, 2008, at 2 (emphasis added)

[15] Carl M. Cannon, Free Speech vs. Hate Speech, POLITICS DAILY (Aug. 18, 2009), (emphasis added).

[16] Andrew Sullivan, Proving Animus, THE DAILY DISH (Jan. 14, 2010, 3:37 PM), (emphasis added).

[17] P.J. O’Rourke, Radio Free Europe, Freedom of Speech, and Liberty, WORLD AFFAIRS (Aug 12, 2010, 2:57 PM), (emphasis added).

[18] See, e.g., Shmuley Boteach, Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel’, WALL STREET J., Jan. 14, 2011, at A13, available at (“The expression may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder.”); Publius, Exclusive: Alan Dershowitz Defends Sarah Palin’s Use of Term ‘Blood Libel’, BIG GOVERNMENT (Jan. 12, 2011, 10:24 AM), (quoting Alan Dershowitz as stating, “The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader.”).

Bleg (Sorta): Lincoln & Reconstruction

Posted in Law, Poli-ticks on 20101127 by Avenging Sword

Recently, I found myself wondering how different American history might have been if Lincoln had not been assassinated.  Let’s say Booth gets caught beforehand, or gets intercepted, or whatever.  Lincoln survives that night at Ford’s Theater unscathed, and lives to serve out the remainder of his term.  What happens?

  • Would there still have been demands to try Confederate leaders for treason, absent a public outraged over the sainted Lincoln’s murder?  Would the Lincoln who rejected the Wade-Davis bill have remained steadfast in his policy of leniency for former Confederates?  Or was leniency merely a tactic aimed at securing an earlier end to the war – and thus liable to be discarded if (as it turned out) reunion was secured via military victory?
  • Would Lincoln have clashed with Congressional Republicans over Reconstruction?  Would the Lincoln who pushed for freedmen colonization have gotten cranky about black codes or the absence of black voting?  Would he have shared some Republicans’ fear that, with the post-emancipation enhancement of southern Congressional representation, the formerly-rebellious states might manage to win in peace what they lost in war?  Would the Lincoln who’d favored compensated emancipation, and deemed both North & South liable for the moral guilt of slavery, pushed for federal compensation to ex-slaveowners, or acceded to a constitutional provision prohibiting the same?  Or would Reconstruction policy have looked largely the same as in our history, albeit with less infighting between the President & Congress?  If so, how would this have played out down south?  And how might the answers to these questions have impacted the Fourteenth & Fifteenth Amendments?
  • If Lincoln had clashed with Congress, would that confrontation have played out the same way as it did with Andrew Johnson?  I.e., veto overrides, limiting his control over the military, enacting the Tenure of Office Act, and ultimately impeachment?  Or might Congressional leaders have been a bit more circumspect about going up against a Republican President who’d won reelection in his own right, led the country to victory over the rebellion, and abolished (large portions of) slavery in the process?
  • Who would have succeeded Lincoln?  Would it still have been Grant, or might someone else have stepped in?  And how would a living Lincoln have continued to impact American politics after his Presidency?
  • Would Reconstruction still have ended as it did?  With a solidly-Democratic South, white supremacy, black disfranchisement, & Jim Crow?

I don’t really have answers to these; and I’m actually not even sure I’ve got all the right questions.  I dabble in alternate history on occasion, but I haven’t run across any book or article which considers what might have happened if Lincoln had survived (though a quick Google search did turn up links like this, this, this, and this).  So I figured I’d post these musings here, to see what others made of them.