Saturday, January 30, 2021

This Should Make Us All Very Mad.

Lizzo said it best: why men great ‘til they gotta be great?

Ruth Botstein and I didn’t get the courtesy of 48 hours’ notice when our “friend” and colleague of a decade plus, Ed Sniffen, illegally/unconstitutionally fired us for off-hours, anti-Trump tweeting that offended Governor Dunleavy’s loyalist agenda. It happened three hours after the governor was sworn into office, and we packed our boxes that very day.

I worked with Ed for twelve years. He was kind, smart, professional, great to work with, handsome, and charming. But the day he illegally fired me and Ruth, I knew it was all a lie. I then watched for two years as he desecrated the rule of law in Alaska. There was, seemingly, no order he wouldn’t follow. I started referring to him, only half-jokingly, as “Nuremberg Ed.”

I thought things couldn’t get worse than signing on to a frivolous and seditious lawsuit over the 2020 election. In so doing, he undermined the State’s interests and violated several bar rules of professional conduct. Of course, casting doubt on the election was all of a piece with the reason for the subsequent Capitol insurrection that killed five people, including a police officer.

And this was all before he was promoted from Acting Attorney General to permanent Attorney General, and after his predecessor resigned in disgrace amid a sexting scandal.

I thought it couldn’t get worse, but as usual these days, I was wrong and it did.

Ed now faces a potential class B felony—a serious charge that carries bigly jail time with no statute of limitations —for sexual abuse of a minor, because he was involved with a high school student whose mock trial team he coached in the 90s. Had it not been for Kyle Hopkins and ProPublica’s in-depth and meticulously-sourced reporting, and the courage of the woman involved, no one would ever have known any of this.

The fact that Ed Sniffen thought for one second that he could simply slide into the top law enforcement job in Alaska—a state with the highest rates of sexual assault in the country—with an alleged sex felony against a minor in his background—tells you everything you need to know about how privileged and powerful men in positions of authority are accustomed to a consequence-free existence. A life of Riley in which their opportunity, careers, ambition, and reputations are prized and elevated over everyone and everything—especially women. 

But you can hardly blame them. Experience and society tell them they’re entitled to it. Men and women alike fearfully and fawningly scoot them along and protect them, whether due to their own intimidation and ambition, or in the case of many women, the internalized misogyny that makes us leap to their defense and feel sorry for them even now. 

Here I might add that the self-policed bar association and its membership deserve scrutiny as well. We pay $650 in mandatory annual dues for our law licenses. Some of this sum is supposedly for attorney discipline in an old boys club that rarely metes out any. This organization had scheduled Alan Dershowitz—himself an accused minor sex offender—to be keynote speaker at its 2020 convention until “cancel culture” came for the honor. Many women lawyers are forced to prop up and quietly condone or defend this simply for self-preservation and the survival of their own hard-won careers.

Also, there is next to zero vetting for the job of Alaska’s Attorney General. The governor appoints whoever he wants, and the legislature more or less rubber stamps the appointment in confirmation

Only one AG appointment has ever been rejected by the Alaska legislature. Only two women have ever held the job. Electing an AG, as many states do, is potentially worse, but here the quality of any given candidate is dependent solely on the questionable judgment of the governor, and the equally questionable diligence of the legislature.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has a past. Everyone has skeletons in their closets. And unless we do some serious soul-searching, we all invent years-long narratives and justifications to excuse them. 

But men with these types of “mistakes” (though this really wasn’t a mistake since he knew what he was doing was illegal) don’t belong in the top law enforcement job in the state. Ed knows this, of course, which is why he packed up his office before the shit hit the fan. Not every man’s unrealized career advancement is a tragedy.

Good looks, privilege, and a passable level of intelligence can go a long way toward fooling the whole world into thinking you’re entitled to positions of power you have no business pursuing, much less holding. 

So in counterpoint to “let’s not make a spectacle of someone’s destruction,” I’d humbly offer that we should indeed make a spectacle out of the fact that the 27 year-old man who plied a 17 year-old with booze on a youth court field trip he was chaperoning to New Orleans still reasonably assumed he would be Alaska’s number one cop. 

All in all, the whole thing is incredibly sad and a giant black eye for the State.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

14 Foreign Words Besides Taco That Woke Cancel Culture is Coming For

Fuhrer means leader or guide in Deutsch, Reich is realm. If you speak the language fluently, you would know the English definition of the word, the progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition. Now, before you know it the German word Danke will be outlawed as it sounds to [sic.] close to Donkey. Please leave taco out of this! Ban on foreign words? Do they know how idiotic they sound?

—Anchorage Assembly Member and Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Commissioner Jamie Allard, defending previously recalled Alaska license plates 3REICH and FUHRER, Jan. 24, 2021.

It's not going to stop at taco you guys. Or donkey. There are a lot of foreign words that Radical Left Woke Police Cancel Culture is coming for. Nazi license plates are just the beginning and a bellwether of MUCH worse to come. 

Here are my predictions:

1. CANNOLI: This is a delicious Italian pastry that the Nanny State wants to ban from school lunches because they think it makes kids fat and unable to stay awake in common core math.

2. MENAGE A TROIS: The Radical Left only wants you to masturbate or have sex with one other person at a time, max.

3. DANISH: See number one above. 

4. BURRITO: Leftists won't stop at taco. They want you to subsist on a steady diet of mayo and Jell-O salad, just like us.

5. JALAPENOS: See number four above.

6. BON VOYAGE: If Libtards had their way, you could only say goodbye in Chinese or Russian.

7. QUID PRO QUO: Make no mistake, leftist snowflakes want to cancel Latin, because it's too "white" and "classic." If we let them get away with this, we would lose one of our country's most cherished words for bribery, and government would cease to function.

8. SCHADENFREUDE: Cancel culture Antifa sympathizers don't even realize that if they ban this word--just because it's German, of course--they won't even have a way to relish dunking on God-fearing American patriots anymore.

9. ENTREPRENEUR: Capitalism is a dirty word to these Marxist socialist dingbats. We all know that.

10. CROISSSANT: Again, they won't stop at Cannolis and Danishes. This flaky French pastry is next on the chopping block for socialists who want you to stand in line for stale bread like a bunch of sad Commies.

11. WANDERLUST: You'd think the vulgar left tree-huggers wouldn't want to cancel anything with the word "lust" in it, or "wander" for that matter, but you'd be wrong because German was spoken by Nazis.

12. CIGAR: Bet you didn't know this word was Spanish, did you? With all the Mexicans they want to let into our country and hop over the wall, the Democrats still want to ban cigars because they want to tell you how to live your lives and take away one more fun way to celebrate lynchings.

13. SAFARI: If the Left gets its way, you can say goodbye to killing an elephant or a giraffe and hanging its head in your foyer like real Americans do.

14. KARAOKE: If you think the mask police are bad now, wait until you realize that every karaoke bar in the United States is closed because of Big Government's unconstitutional social distance policies and racism left over from World War II.

I'm telling you. You heard it here first. Woke Cancel Culture is coming for the entire Foreign English Language.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

First Amendment 101

The events of this week have the First Amendment on top of everyone’s mind, so I thought I would do a VERY basic and quick review of some key questions about when and how it applies. 

First, here’s the full text, adopted in 1789:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This covers a LOT of rights we think of (and maybe even take for granted) when we think of American democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, right of assembly/protest, and the right to demand action of your elected officials.

The first thing to know is that only the government has to comply with the constitution. It’s a contract between the government and the people. 

Private companies like Twitter have their own contracts—user agreements—with users. When you sign up for the service, you agree to abide by its terms. That is why Twitter is not violating the constitution by banning Trump. 

I’m not saying it’s good that Twitter has so much power over public discourse, only that the constitutional right to free speech is not part of that analysis. Private companies also do not become government actors when they go “public” on the stock market. That’s a totally different thing. 

The second thing to know is that freedom of speech is not absolute. It can indeed be restricted by the government. So the government can and has enacted content-neutral restrictions on the “time, place, and manner” of certain speech thought to be especially dangerous.

The third thing to know is that statutes are subordinate to the constitution, and SCOTUS gets to decide if statutes are unconstitutional. 

Take the Civil Rights Act. A good question is how the government can force private businesses to not discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, etc. The answer is that Congress enacted a statute that governs private business: in other words, it regulated in this area. 

Private businesses have challenged the Civil Rights Act itself as unconstitutional but SCOTUS said no, Congress is empowered by the commerce clause of the constitution to adopt it (the commerce clause is about free movement of goods and services through the country).

There have also been analogies of the Twitter “purge” to the “gay wedding cake” case in which a Colorado baker was allowed to refuse service to a gay couple. 

The SCOTUS cake case was decided on narrow groundsbut the point is a state agency in CO said the baker couldn’t refuse to bake the cake, and he said that was a violation of his freedom of religion. SCOTUS said the state hadn’t been neutral in its application of the free exercise clause, and undid the State’s decision. So that case was not about free speech, it was about free exercise of religion.

There’s a lot more to say on all of this. But hopefully these points offer some context for recent events.