I’m glad to see that the fruits of genetic therapy are finally blooming — two infants born with severe combined immunodeficiency (a terrible disease that results in very early death) were given stem cells from normal bone marrow, and the result was fully-functioning immune systems. (The “bubble children” — kids who live in bubbles protecting them from environmental exposure — are kids with SCID, and the fact that science is giving them the ability to lead normal lives is a terrific advancement.)

I am also glad to read that the NCAA has stated it will move all events scheduled to be held in South Carolina out of the state if the Confederate flag is not removed from the Statehouse. Question, though: why didn’t it take the same stand against Mississippi, which also includes the Confederate emblem in its state flag?

Did people see the South Park episode Wednesday? It was all about the Elian raid, which shocked me, seeing as the raid happened three days before the show was on the air. AP has an article about how they managed to pull that off. If you didn’t see it, there’s a schedule of reruns available. (Thanks, Dan!)

Funny — Microsoft employees are selling the copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server (the copies that they received free from the company) on eBay. Microsoft is trying to figure out what to do about it…

Baseball is exciting this year. Sunday, Yankees Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada each homered from both sides of the plate (the first time this has ever happened, if that’s a stat worth keeping); yesterday, White Sox shortstop Jose Valentin hit for the cycle in their victory over the Orioles. (Of course, that article fails to mention that it happened on the same day that Major League Baseball suspended seven White Sox members and fined two for participation in one of the biggest fights in baseball history.)

Yesterday, I wrote a short critique of Lawrence Tribe’s argument in his New York Times op-ed piece from earlier this week. I also emailed him, and got a reply back in which he clarified his position — his argument isn’t as untenable as the NYT piece made it seem. Tribe wrote me that he isn’t arguing that the warrant itself didn’t allow seizure of Elian, he’s arguing that the warrant was invalid, so no matter what it allowed, it wasn’t legitimate. The basis of his argument is that the warrant was issued to an agency of the Executive branch without a hearing (most warrants are issued without hearings, of course) to enforce an order of the Executive branch, which Tribe believes to be a major loss of oversight.

My argument back to him (and not just here, I emailed him back): while there was no direct oversight by another branch in this case, that is because Congress (the Legislative branch), in 8 USC 1252, has explicitly granted to the Attorney General and the INS broad powers to enforce their own orders and declarations without the need for additional case-specific oversight. As far as I can tell, this is not just a med student’s amateur reading of the law; the U.S. Supreme Court, in Reno v. Flores, upheld this interpretation of the statute, and specifically upheld it in the case where the INS is determining proper custody of a minor alien during determination of legal status.

UPDATE: I received email back from Tribe, saying “For a non-lawyer, you’ve made an awfully forceful argument. Have you considered switching careers or at least doubling up? I wish I had the time right now to explain why I disagree with you, but unfortunately I don’t. Good luck in your further research and in your medical pursuits.” (I debated strongly about putting this up here, since I don’t want it to come off as a strut or anything like that. I really wish that he had the time to explain his position better to me — I honestly want to know that side of the argument, since my argument on this point isn’t based on principle, but rather it’s based on how I read the law and precedent that exists. If I’m wrong, I want to know.)

The Washington Post has a detailed examination of the intelligence-gathering effort that the DOJ and the INS put on after the Miami family defied the order to surrender Elian. They detail the threats that were known to exist against any attempt to enforce that order, from a contingent of five bodyguards for the Miami family (all of whom had concealed weapons permits), to a group of felons who had taken up residence immediately behind the home to help with surveillance of any government activity, to members of an anti-Castro paramilitary group who were active in the crowd in front of the house.


The difference with the Mississippi flag (and don’t forget the Georgia flag!) is that the South Carolina statehouse is flying the Confederate “battle flag” aka the Southern Cross. (Technically the wider flag with the same proportions as the Stars and Stripes is the Navy flag, but it’s commonly called the Confederate battle flag. The design is the same, just proportionate.) The MS and GA flags incorporate the Confederate Battle Flag, in ways that are reminiscent of the political flags of the CSA.

Or, put another way, it’s a lot easier to get a state to move one single flag than it will be to get two states to change their flag design. Besides, there are other flag designs that were clearly inspired by the various Confederate flags — Texas, Arkansas, and Florida provide examples. This more subtle commemoration will probably be more difficult to eliminate.

I think they’re choosing their battles.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung on Apr 29, 2000, 4:52 AM

Good explanation — I think you’re right.

And re: Texas, I grew up in San Antonio, and went to Robert E. Lee High School. Our school flag was the actual Confederate battle flag, and our school song was Dixie; if you were a black athlete, and you complained about having to wear the Confederate flag on your uniform, you were disciplined, and then eventually thrown off the team. Pretty sad.

My senior year, the principal decided to remove the flag and song, and faced *enormous* public opposition, to the point where there were rallies on campus of the Aryan Skins, etc. It was disgusting.


• Posted by: Jason Levine on Apr 29, 2000, 11:19 AM
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