A better Constitution, again.

In 1998, the State of Alaska made a horrible mistake.  We adapted into our State Constitution an amendment that restricted the rights of others.  Nothing else in the document singles out a group of people for inferior treatment, everything else makes it quite clear that Alaskans should be treated as equals.

Today, the courts have stuck down that injustice we enshrined.

Today is a very good day.



So, we’re going to war again. Congress is full of people who claim concern over which countries will have “boots on the ground.” It’s an interesting linguistic trick. I suppose it’s safer to talk about the equipment we send to war than it is the people.

The Goat Rope points out that human civilizations are evolving towards less war, not more. Perhaps the next step, especially as war becomes more mechanized, is for us to use humanizing language in the lead up to war.

Solders. Humans. Whose people will be on the ground? Who, solider or civilian, will bear the consequences of our political discussion? I don’t really care about boots.


A new season

Nature generally acts on its own schedule.  Season follows season, each in its own time.  That’s why it is so completely starteling when the timing so closely follows what “should” happen.  Yesterday was Labor Day, the traditional “end” to summer.  This morning, there were fallen leaves on the ground.

Alaskan summers are short, and we tend to start counting down the days from the very beginning of summer.  It’s the only place in the world I have lived where the radio station gives a daily countdown of the number of minutes of daylight gained or lost.   Even so, we are seldom ready when summer gives way as the seasons turn.

As a consolation prize, there is an absolutely undeniable beauty to fall.  While spring comes with shades of green unimaginable at other times of the year, fall brings in the reds and burgundies.  It’s a fractal of color, where the trees on a distant mountain top mirror the lichen on the nearby rock.  A certain symmetry of repeating patterns, just as season follows season.   The death part of rebirth.  Beautiful, but still the coming darkness.  An excellent time to remember the writings of Gordon Bok.

It’s a pity we don’t know what the little flowers know;
they can’t face the cold November, they can’t take the wind and snow.
They put their glories all behind them, bow their heads and let it go
but you know that they’ll be shining in the morning.

Ah, my Joanie don’t you know that the stars are swinging slow,
the seas are rolling easy as they did so long ago.
If I had a thing to give you, I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning towards the morning.

Take heart and take care.

Cross-posted to Livejournal and kevin.mcclear.net


(no subject)

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but I have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body to be abused so that I can boast, but I have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

                              -1 Corinthians 13:1-7


For those of you who are not Alaskans, you will probably see in the news that a volcano "near" Anchorage erupted.  By near, they mean 106 miles Southwest, on the other side of Cook Inlet from most of the habitation.  Knik is about 50 miles away.  The volcano poses secondary risk to people in Anchorage with respitory problems, and may make morning commute hell.  As for fire and brimstone, we are safe. 

EDIT, Anchorage folks, roumor has it that we may get loght ash fall around 2:00 AM this morning.  

Obama to Palin: 'Don't Mock the Constitution'

By Peter Slevin

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. -- Sen. Barack Obama delivered an impassioned defense of the Constitution and the rights of terrorism suspects tonight, striking back at one of the biggest applause lines in Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the GOP convention.

It was in St. Paul last week that Palin drew raucous cheers when she delivered this put-down of Obama: "Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

Obama had a few problems with that.

"First of all, you don't even get to read them their rights until you catch 'em," Obama said here, drawing laughs from 1,500 supporters in a high school gymnasium. "They should spend more time trying to catch Osama bin Laden and we can worry about the next steps later."

If the plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks are in the government's sights, Obama went on, they should be targeted and killed.

"My position has always been clear: If you've got a terrorist, take him out," Obama said. "Anybody who was involved in 9/11, take 'em out."

But Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus.

Calling it "the foundation of Anglo-American law," he said the principle "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'"

The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, "because we don't always have the right person."

"We don't always catch the right person," he said. "We may think it's Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it's Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president."

Obama turned back to Palin's comment, although he said he was not sure whether Palin or Rudy Giuliani said it.

"The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting," Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. "Don't mock the Constitution. Don't make fun of it. Don't suggest that it's not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It's worked pretty well for over 200 years."

He finished with a dismissive comment about his opponents.

"These people."