I figured I ought to expand on the constitutional theory from my last post. It’s a point of some debate, at least within the public at large, and I’m really not sure what case law exists (if it does at all) to expound on the subject (although I’m reasonably sure there has been quite a bit of it).

During her keynote speech to “Tea Party Nation” in Nashville Saturday, former Alaskan governor and media sideshow Sarah Palin elicited cheers when she complained vociferously about the fact that a Nigerian man from Yemen named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — now more commonly-known (and more easily-pronounced) as the Underwear Bomber — has been granted legal representation in criminal proceedings against him stemming from his failed attempt to blow up a passenger jet as it landed in Detroit Christmas day.

Our U.S. constitution,” she called it, pointing out veterans in the audience, and derisively lambasting the president for extending its protections to non-citizens.

I hate to project too much into anything Palin says, because I’m not convinced she does a whole lot of deep thinking about it, but the fact is, her statement expresses a very specific — and foundational — legal theory on what the constitution is and how it works. This theory, roughly, is that by virtue of being a United States citizen, a person is granted specific rights that he or she would otherwise not have. Being a citizen of the United States is like being a member of an exclusive country club — by becoming a member, you gain access to things like the nice golf course, the well-appointed bar, and Miranda warnings. The key element here is that citizenship theoretically confers upon someone something they didn’t have before.

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I had initially decided not to watch Sarah Palin’s speech to “Tea Party Nation” Saturday night. Unfortunately, being the political rubbernecker that I am, I caved in and eventually watched nearly the entire address.

My first instinct was the correct one — it was a thing to be skipped. Palin deals in warmed-over conservative feel-good cliche, and she had at least 46 minutes worth of those Saturday evening, addressing the attendees of the “Tea Party Nation” in Nashville, who had each paid something like $600 per ticket.

Palin had clearly been prepped, but felt enough in her own element that she seemed to go “off-script” occasionally, often losing track of where she was in a sentence, and escaping by adding a string of dependent clauses which she would use to trail off wistfully before launching into a new statement.

Predictably, she made countless references to Ronald Reagan — which brings me to her first instance of where Palin should have felt a strong sense of cognitive dissonance. Early on in her speech, she lambasted President Barack Obama for the administration’s response to what has come to be known as the Christmas Day Panty Bomber incident. She decried the fact that the would-be bomber, one Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been granted legal representation. She drew cheers as she repeatedly stated that Abdulmutallab had “lawyered up,” and suggested that he will now not be providing law enforcement with intelligence about where he was trained, who he had worked with, or if any more plans for attacks were in the works.

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While flipping through satellite radio channels today, I became convinced that I had discovered proof of America’s growing stupidity. Every talk channel I flipped through – Sirus-XM’s “The Virus,” NPR, CNN, and others – were breathlessly covering one of three topics: the soon-to-open “Twilight” sequel, the confusion over when to start getting mammograms, and Sarah Palin’s recently-released memoir, “Going Rogue.”

The situation is the same all over the Internet, at least as far as Sarah From Alaska is concerned. Wonkette has basically just run with the “PalinBlog” (RogueBlog? SarahBlog?) theme already established over at NRO, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish has officially been overwhelmed, and the whole spectrum of punditry has basically had nothing else on its collective mind for the past two weeks or so.

It’s not just the blogs, either – Newsweek ran a front-page story on her (complete with leggy cover shot) last week, National Review’s Rich Lowry continues to slavishly adore her in print and online, and she’s made a tour of all the major talk shows, including Barbara Walters and… (even!)… Oprah.

Why not? It’s a fun story with colorful characters and conflict (the story about Palin’s book, I mean; not Palin’s book itself). I’m tempted to pick it up, but have decided not to for at least two reasons: one, I don’t want to encourage this kind of behavior and two, I have no idea where I left my last box of crayons.

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I watched the video of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech yesterday with much discomfort — sort of the way I watch disgusting viral videos sent to me by old friends from college.

It wasn’t because I’m a Sarah Palin fan — I’m not. It was just the sheer awkwardness of the entire event: the timing, right before the July 4 weekend; the setting (in front of the lake near her Wasilla home); and, most of all, the speech itself — rambling, babbling, incoherent, full of forced, ham-handed metaphors, and topped off by the worst use of a (mis-) quote I’ve heard in recent memory.

(On that last note, others have already pointed out that the “We are advancing in a different direction” quote wasn’t Gen. MacArthur’s, it was Marine Gen. O.P. Smith’s, whose remarks came just before X Corps pulled back to Pusan during the Korean War — which remains the largest retreat in U.S. military history, whatever Gen. Smith may have wanted to call it).

Speculation abounds over the governor’s unexpected resignation. Perhaps, she’s opening up her schedule in order to gear up for a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Maybe she’s got some significant skeletons that are about to make an appearance from the closet. Or maybe she’s genuinely had it with politics and is calling it quits.

If the first of those theories is true, Friday’s resignation has scuttled her ship before it’s even had a chance to sail. She came under fire for being a political novice during the last campaign, and quitting her office before having completed even a single full term as governor is only going to add fuel to the fire. In the case of the second — some kind of upcoming political bombshell on the immediate horizon — then she’s preemptively battening down the hatches, which would suggest a problem bigger than South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s.

In the third case, she’s probably making the right move. She was very obviously out of her depth on the national politics stage — as Mark Purdom’s piece in this month’s Vanity Fair makes clear. The resignation speech itself, as Paul Begala points out, was inane and childish, even in the text version posted on Palin’s own web site.

I fear, however, that we have not heard the last of Sarah Palin. She has her political fundraising group (“SarahPAC”), a “book” on the horizon (heavily edited by publisher Harpur-Collins, if Friday’s speech is any indication of the governor’s own literary ability), and she remains one of the Republican Party’s most profitable audience-pleasers.

And this may indeed be a role the former beauty queen is more cut out for. She’s a spokeswoman, not a politician.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin deservingly took heat for having allegedly made Wasilla rape victims pay for their own “rape kits” — the package of tools required to perform a forensic examination on a rape victim to confirm an attack and collect DNA evidence.

Turns out, it wasn’t just a weird Alaskan thing. The great State of Texas, which has recently made it clear that it reserves the right to secede from the union, makes a point of charging rape victims who cooperate with police for the forensic investigation tools, too. And since everything’s bigger in Texas, the price tag is usually around $1,800.

Jezebel reports that victims who won’t or can’t pay up face ruined credit and debt collectors.

Is there another situation in which the victim of a crime — even an alleged crime — is made to pay for the instruments needed to investigate the allegation and construct a prosecutorial case? I spent some time covering police agencies and criminal courts, and I’m at a loss to think of an example.

The only conceivable reason this could be happening is this: to 1) make marginal budgetary cuts by taking advantage of the humiliation and shame already suffered by rape victims and 2) to discourage rape victims from reporting rapes in the first place.

Sickening.