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Friday, March 31, 2006

Plea Bargaining, Unconstitutional?

Over at Liberteaser, there's a post on plea bargaining. The poster seems to think that plea bargaining usually denotes laziness on the part of the prosecutor, and takes away from the constitutional right to trial by jury, because "if you make us go through this much work, we're going to put you away for a long time". I can understand this point of view. I can see why it's frustrating to see one person who excercised their constitutional right for a trial by jury get a sentence five times as long as one who did the same offense but was a good negotiator with the prosecutor. It's almost like it's a worse offense to ask to be tried by one's peers than the original crime. Then again, I've gotten many traffic tickets taken off my record by essentially plea-bargaining with the prosecutor, and I realize how busy these guys are. In the universe of problems afflicting our judicial system, this is a very small star. But my imminent and looming participation in some facet of our system is more like the Sun. In other words, the increase in plea bargaining should be the least of our worries.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Choosing a College, as a Conservative

Volokh and David Bernstein have been having a discussion on what a conservative or libertarian student should look for in a university, given the intolerance that often exists on campus. I'm thankful that although I (kind of) chose to go to a very liberal school (kind of because Carleton was the only place I got into), I was for the most part treated with respect, and nobody held my differing opinions against me. However, I was constantly called on to defend my differing views, which at some points just illustrated to me why I was right, and at some points I had to reevaluate. I understand that some students are concerned (and with good reason) that at some schools a vocal conservative worldview will lead to harsh repurcussions, including action by the administration and by fellow students. However, I do think that conservative ideas can survive the crucible, and shouldn't be babied as much as some other idealogies are. And it concerns me that if one goes to a college where one's ideas are never challenged, the ideas become not living parts of one's worldview, but rote, unthinking, and dead vestiges of an earlier life and mind.


Now can we admit that this whole thing was foolish?

I don't think I've posted here on gesture-quiddick, though I have elsewhere.  Here is the "original" Boston Herald story, in quotes only because I do believe it has been changed (the original fairly strongly implied him giving the finger, probably just by omitting the description of the gesture).  Well, now the Herald has something of a correction (though not much).  The full letter can be read here.  After explaining the meaning of the gesture, Scalia writes:

"How could your reporter leap to the conclusion (contrary to my explanation) that the gesture was obscene? Alas, the explanation is evident in the following line from her article: “ ‘That’s Sicilian,’ the Italian jurist said, interpreting for the ‘Sopranos’ challenged.” From watching too many episodes of the Sopranos, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene - especially when made by an “Italian jurist.” (I am, by the way, an American jurist.)"  

Reading the articles kind of made me sad, but only because they reminded me that Justice Scalia is 70 years old.  


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Socialized Medicine and Miscellany

I know why some are so in favor of a Canada-esque medical structure. It's because of all the equality and understanding that would spring from diverse groups of people standing in line for 17 weeks to get basic medical care! Here's an interesting study on wait times in Canada. From the executive summary: "The Fraser Institute’s fifteenth annual waiting list survey found that Canada-wide waiting times for surgical and other therapeutic treatments fell slightly in 2005, making this the first reduction in the total wait for treatment measured in Canada since 1993. Total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, fell from 17.9 weeks in 2004 back to the 17.7 weeks last seen in 2003. This small nationwide improvement in access reflects waiting time decreases in 5 provinces, while concealing increases in waiting time in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. Among the provinces, Ontario achieved the shortest total wait in 2005, 16.3 weeks, with Manitoba (16.6 weeks), and Alberta (16.8 weeks) next shortest. Saskatchewan, despite a dramatic 7.8 week reduction in the total wait time, exhibited the longest total wait, 25.5 weeks; the next longest waits were found in New Brunswick (24.5 Weeks) and Newfoundland (22.3 weeks)." (hat tip, Fraters Libertas).

Also, I had the opportunity today to see Ward Connolly take on the Minnesota law school (though it looked like some undergrad classes showed up to take issue as well). I thought the discussion was necessary, and generally good. However, it got pretty contentious at points, and people weren't listening to each other as much as attempting to spout some ideas they'd heard elsewhere for which they had little factual basis. I wish we could get to the common ground that there are problems in our society, including with race (which some conservatives don't wish to admit), but that there are other (arguably much much better) ways to deal with our problems other than foisting them off onto a government that will (as it usually does) do no more than to institutionalize and industrialize what is a problem we should be attempting to end not marginally mitigate. I know it's a contentious issue, but in CrimLaw today, we discussed rape (which must also be a contentious issue), and the discussion was (in my view) much more respectful and valuable.


French Riot to Keep Unemployment High

More on the profound misunderstanding most people have of economics. People in France are rioting because someone named Villipan has had the audacity to suggest that people under 26 should be able to be fired at some point (I think within two years). Unbelievable. The haves riot to keep the cushy jobs, while the have-nots riot because government is not helping them. Just another example of the statist economy and the problem it engenders.


Hands Off My Laptop

Apparently, a Memphis law prof is banning laptops from the classroom. Students are so upset, they're getting a petition together, and some are talking about transferring. Personally, as someone who has experienced the temptations offered up by the laptop during a normal class period (where do you think I am right now), I could see how not having a laptop would lead to increases in productive study. But then I wouldn't be able to play civIV during class.


World's Largest Temper Tantrum!

So I'm watching News Hour (why? I don't have cable.) and Jim Lehrer, just like every other anchor I've seen lately, in reporting on rioting in France, said that they were protesting a new French law that would make it "easier" to fire young workers.  Now, I don't think this is liberal bias in reporting, and I know Lehrer doesn't write the lines, but seriously, how hard would it be to call it what it is:

The new policy would make it POSSIBLE for employers to fire workers under 26 who are in the first two years of their employment.  After that, life tenure (essentially), over 26, same deal.  

And people are rioting over this?  Maybe they can't report it that way because it would blow too many Americans' minds, especially since here we have a lot of people who work at will (without a contract) and can be fired for any (with some limitations, like race) or no reason at any time.  Any our unemployment rate is? Less than 5%.  Theirs?  For people under 26, about 23%, close to 50% in some areas.  Why?  Employers are afraid to hire people because they're pretty much stuck with them until they leave or die.  Now, the numbers that I used are a little misleading, since our 4.8% (Feb 2006) is for all ages, while their 23% is for a specific age group.  I'm guessing that their overall rate is lower, since it probably goes close to 0 as age increases.  On the other hand, our 4.8% probably isn't the same individuals all of the time; Americans move in and out of jobs fairly fluidly, at least as compared to the French, who flow in, but not out.  I'm not an economist, so I'm really just speculating, I can admit that, but it doesn't take much to figure out that these people are just completely unreasonable, rioting over the prospect that they might get fired.  Are they forgetting that even if they’re unemployed they still live in France, where the unemployed have been known to go on strike?  

All of this reminds me of this Mark Steyn piece.     


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cap the Knife

Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's first Defense Secretary, also passed away today.  R.I.P.  
National Review's Managing Editor Jay Nordlinger has a review of Weinberger's autobiography (from December 2001) here. (ht PowerLine)


RIP Lyn Nofziger

Lyn Nofziger, a great conservative, has died. His website (which is awesome, full of limericks and witty conservative thought) is here. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for him, after working a conservative student conference where he spoke. He spoke in a raspy yet quiet voice, almost a Morrison-esque mumble, yet far less comprehensible. I could see students all around me sucumbing to the warm D.C. day, and dozing or doodling, ignoring the speech in front of them. And I reviewed the evaluations of each speaker, where Nofziger got low marks. And yet the speech itself was excellent, a humble and informal talk on politics as they were, friends long gone, and ideas that remained. He was witty and hilarious, but no one laughed at his jokes. I found the whole thing very sad in some sense, a great man with a great speech, almost universally ignored. And his death will also go largely unnoticed, I fear. But he was a big man in a big administration, and he helped conservatism immensely. RIP.


CrimLaw and Victimization

This post from liberteaser has an interesting idea, that we should at some level judge the crime by the victim. The case he uses is the hot teacher and the 14 year old boy case, in which he posits that the victim probably did fully consent (although he does go on to talk about issues of recidivism). The problem, in my opinion, with ideas like this is that it encourages behavior we want to discourage, with smarmy old people convincing themselves or trying to manufacture consent to get what they want, as opposed to a strict liability standard where if she or he is under 18, you're going to jail. I think the system as it stands now is more just than the alternative, but I'd encourage you to read the post.


Monday, March 27, 2006

THe MSM, Blogs, and Thievery

This title violates a longstanding promise I had with myself to never use the term "mainstream media" or the acronym "MSM". Because that would make me a geek. But luckily, promises to myself (like promises to the American people), usually to study or stop eating at McDonalds, rarely are kept. The point of this is to point out an apparently growing phenomon in blogdom. Bloggers are getting plagarized by large newsgathering organizations. Here's one example. Here's another example, and one that I actually care about, because it involves Sports. I think the more we hear about stories about this, the better. It shows the growing power of an online reader controlled free-market of information, and the monopolies are starting to show cracks. So just so it's clear. I can't speak for Jason, but if any of the legion of mainstream journalists nosing around this site want to use any of my brilliance, they sure better credit me. Or actually, you know, just email me or something. Because blogging is so lonely.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rebellious Reading

I've noticed that a lot of blogs have a "What I'm Reading" sidebar (sorry if that isn't the technical term).  So what am I reading?  Right now it's Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard Weaver.  I'm not very far, so all I can really say is that it's good, but dense.  Not as dense as Kirk's The Conservative Mind (which I foolishly undertook fall semester), and not nearly as long, but it takes a bit of mulling over to really "get".  Oh, and if you read the reviews on Amazon, take them with a grain of salt, considering they were all written at least 50 years after the book was published, some of the commenters don't seem to have checked the copyright.  Anyway, this passage (sorry, it's long) in particular struck me, probably because we're covering Equal Protection in Con Law right now:

     "It is eloquent of that loss of respect for logic to which we owe so many disasters that the French Revolution made equality and fraternity co-ordinates.  In so doing, it offered a foretaste of the contemporary political campaign, which shamelessly promises everything.  
     Equality is a disorganizing concept in so far as human relationships mean order.  It is order without a design; it attempts a meaningless and profitless regimentation of what has been ordered from time immemorial by the scheme of things.  No society can rightly offer less than equality before the law; but there can be no equality of condition between youth and age or between the sexes; there cannot be equality even between friends.  The rule is that each shall act where he is strong; the assignment of identical roles produces first confusion and then alienation, as we have increasing opportunity to observe.  Not only is this disorganizing heresy busily confounding the most natural social groupings, it is also creating a reservoir of poisonous envy.  How much of the frustration of the modern world proceeds from starting with the assumption that all are equal, finding that this cannot be so, and then having to realize that one can no linger fall back on the bond of fraternity!"

I also just finished Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom by Peter Huber, an MIT trained engineer/  Harvard trained lawyer and one time clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (and, interestingly enough, Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the D.C. Circuit) who also wrote Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, one of my favorite books on environmentalism, which I also recommend.  Anyway, GR was written in 1991, so parts are a little dated, but it's really interesting (especially for a law student), and funny in a pull-no-punches sort of way.  Some of the topics are clinical ecology, sudden acceleration, traumatic cancer, cerebral palsy litigation, and Benedictin, among others, usually addressing the problem of "expert" witnesses at the same time.  In a way I saw it as a series of cautionary tales for would be overzealous trial lawyers, but my real interest, as always, was the intersection of law and science, which is funny (but only in this post), since Weaver was not a big fan of science.  Anyway, it's hard to find just one passage to put in here, but I'll try:

     "It is, of course, very much to the lawyer's advantage to embrace the modern philosopher, to maintain that science is unreliable, to assert that nothing is really known for sure and that no one outside the courtroom is to be trusted.  The more tightly law is bound to good science, the more orderly and predictable the legal process will become.  Most people value order and predictability, but many litigators don't.  "[L]itigators as a class are not disposed to value coherence in the law," observes federal appellate judge Laurence Silberman.  "[T]he more uncertain the law, the more litigation will take place."  For litigators, if for no one else, it is a positive advantage to maintain that science, being indefinable, can supply no reliable truth, that facts (and law too) can never really be known, that true scientific expertise can embrace any view, just like the lawyer paying the expert's fee."

So now that I wrote that all out it occurs to me that I haven't read a novel in a very long time, probably because I shouldn't (I have enough to read from my classes), but if you have any recommendations, leave a comment.  


Friday, March 24, 2006

Just in case your nerd meter is broken, I will point out that it is 11:57 on a Friday night.

Prof. David Stras, who is my Crim Law prof, got a shout-out from Ed Whelan on Bench Memos yesterday.  Not that I know anything about the topic, I just think it's cool when our faculty gets noticed.  Stras also had an anti-filibuster comment on NRO last November when the Alito nomination was first announced.  


St. Paul Declares War on Bunnies

According to this startribune article (I don't read and in fact hate the startrib, but was redirected by Drudge), St. Paul administrators have forced city workers to remove an Easter Bunny from public property. Given that I think the Easter bunny is a trite cliche that devalues one of the most sacred days of Christians, I don't necessarily mind that much. However, I think it shows how ridiculous our first amendment strictures have gotten. No Easter Bunny on public property? It is absolutely insane. O'Connor would say that by seeing an Easter Bunny, someone who doesn't celebrate Easter would be offended. Guess what: Jehovah's Witnesses don't like any "earthly ritual holidays" including birthdays. Hey, no happy birthdays on public property. That'd be offensive. Hey, I'm an anarchist! In fact, religiously so! Get rid of the Court, because it represents law and order, and is anathema to me! Unbelievable.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

This guy is really getting on my nerves, I mean, does he ever sleep?

Earlier this week Ivan from JSW and I had a little exchange on the topic of banning protesting at funerals.  It's a strange topic all around, and that's before you get to the big issue: Are such bans constitutional?  Prof. Volokh discusses the relevant precedents on NRO.

Also, I've managed to come down with a cold, as I always seem to immediately upon returning from a break.  Sometime last night it decided that it would retreat from most of my body to consolidate its forces in my left ear, putting me out of commission for most of today.  So, if you have any amazing home remedies or ideas for that, send them my way, I would greatly appreciate it.  


Kleenex Workers of the World Unite!

Some French workers refuse to be "kleenex workers" that can be used and thrown away whenever an employer wants it. In response, they broke things, smashed stores, and stole. I think someone needs to deflate the massive sense of entitlement felt by workers all over the world. "I can't be fired! For any reason! That wouldn't be fair." Meanwhile, the French decide that making firing workers extremely difficult will obviously not have any economic repurcussions, like, say, workers misbehaving with impunity without the fear of the possibility of being axed. Well, at least this news (if France follows through on their demands, but we've never known France to capitulate, so I'm sure this is just a hypothetical) guarantees that France will continue to be the economic powerhouse it is now.


Canons of Interpretation

Someone should bring this up in conlaw in our vagueness section next week (or perhaps crimlaw). The Vikings players who were on the cruise on Lake Minnetonka have some inventive lawyers. They're claiming the term "lap dance" is too broad and vague, and the Judge (apparently) has asked the prosecutor to clarify. It should be an interesting analysis. I will watch this trial's progression with considerable interest.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

Generic Heretic (see the link at the side) still has some questions about what took place on 9/11. So do I. He thinks the whole story has not yet been told. I think all the functional pieces are in place. Planes controled by Al Qaueda fanatics piloted planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a meadow in Pennsylvania. Sure, there are some unexplained things. However, at least one theory is pretty well debunked in this essay here. There are numerous other reports on the subject as well. Nick is more interested in tower number 7. My opinion on most conspiracy theories (not to say Nick believes these theories, just being naturally inquisitive) as on almost all involving the government, is that the government is remarkably poor at keeping secrets. A gigantic conspiracy or even a little one would (in my opinion) be difficult to engineer for our (or any) inept government, and would be almost impossible to keep quiet. I'm satisfied that we know the important facts about 9/11, i.e who did it and (basically) why. The physics of the situation, however unfortunately, are a bit beyond my grasp (and the grasp of most of my colleagues, I'd wager).


Just what we need

All right. Apparently we not only have Islamic Jihadists to worry about, but Neo-Nazism is on the rise as well. And apparently they'll fight it out at the World Cup. I hate the world cup, so this might give me a reason to follow it, but with trepidation, not amusement. I guess we need more evil worldviews out there. We've got the virulent revolutionary communism in South America, the jihidism in Islam, and fascism on the rise again in Europe. Makes me hopefull for the future.


Whiny Kids Grow Into Conservatives?

Jonah Goldberg dissects the UCBerkely study that followed 100 Berkely kids, and found that the whiny ones turned out to be conservative, while the smart kids turned out to be liberal. They explained this as whiny kids needing the reassurance of tradition, while smart kids being self-assured enough to explore different options. Unfortunately, here again the labels kill us. If the study had said that people who are less self-assured are averse to change and are conservative in that way (i.e. traditional), and liberals like change, I could perhaps see a grain of truth. But first, what's the last "new idea" liberals have had? Frankly, I think that more often it is the Conservatives who believe in "rugged individualism" (and by conservative I mean libertarians), while the Liberals rely on the government as a safety net, to preserve them like the father they never had (in Berkely). Again, this isn't a great separation, because some have argued that Conservatives rely on God, religion, tradition too much as well. I just think this study is pretty counter-intuitive, (and as Jonah explains) pretty wrong, not only in much of their premises, but also their conclusions.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why does he even bother?

So Eugene Volokh tossed up a post on the HuffPuff regarding an L.A. Times op-ed about Claude Allen, the former White House advisor and Court of Appeals nominee caught in a phony return scheme.  Read the whole thing, it's a short post, and to lighten your day, browse the comments.  Some of my favorites:

"People at Huff Post are smarter than you are, you sanctimonious windbag."

"Allen a house Negro? They're ALL house negroes over there at 1600 Pennsylvania."

"The guy is a Republican big shot. That explains his criminal inclinations completely. Race isn't relevant here."

There are some that are even worse, but they’re long and ill punctuated, without easy to pull out lines like that.  The first one copied above would be an interesting research project though.  My thesis: There are exactly zero HuffPuff commenters who are smarter than Eugene Volokh.  I may not agree with the guy on every single issue, but let's face it, he's a REALLY smart guy.  


Religious Freedom

This makes me glad to be in America, where our arguments over freedom of religion are on whether an athiest should be subjected to hearing the words "one nation under God" in the pledge, as opposed to arguing whether a Christian should be put to death for his faith. But hey, religion of peace, right?


Race and Conservatism

Volokh has a few interesting points on the black conservatives here (be sure to read the other two pieces in the trifecta). He is responding to what sounds like a truly horrific LA Times article explaining that White House Advisor Claude Allen committed fraud because he's black and conservative "forming a cognitive dissonence" that naturally led to thievery . Volokh's also got a study examining the raw numbers on political self-identification and race. It turns out that blacks are more conservative than one might think. Personally, I've always admired my black libertarian and conservative friends, mainly because they are often so ostracized in their communities for their views. I've frankly never seen the problem. Sure, in the Republican party and among the Paleo-Cons there is still some racism. Then again, I would argue that there is as much among the Democrats.


Monday, March 20, 2006

News Flash

Scientologists were angered by a controversial South Park episode the other day. This episode made fun of scientology, and tried to make light of their sacred ideas. Strangely enough, much of the mockery consisted of simply repeating many of their stated beliefs, contained in the writings of noted "thinker" and writer of poorly thought out fantasies made into even crappier movies. The entire South Park episode was considered very offensive to members of the cult, and so they took action. But in a shocking, man bites dog, twist, the scientologists did not resort to violence. They tried to get the episode taken off the air, and a scientologist on the show quit. But no violence? Strange. Let's review. One religion (let's call it, the "religion of peace") sees a few cartoons that simply depict their prophet, with a couple that could be read as vaguely offensive. Denizens of this religion (and not just a lunatic fringe of crazed fundamentalists) proceeded to threaten, bomb, burn and generally act the fool. Anyone who tried to reason with them was "inconsiderate" of their "great religion". The second religion (let's call it the crazy Scientologists, to mask their identity) had a large cartoon seen all over America and the world that was specifically tailored to beard them. The cartoon would be very offensive to anyone of that faith, and every action was taken to anger the religion's followers. And the followers of the religion did nothing but try to take the cartoon off the air, perhaps quit watching the show, maybe protested a little bit (though I didn't hear about it), and quit the show if they were working on it. But no embassies were bombed. Interesting. Also interesting was the lack of outcry about the episode. Where were the people decrying the "irresponsible speech" "needlessly upsetting" a "great religion"? Seems to me that there's absolutely no equivilence here. Strange that one religion gets more slack. Surely it's not because some people are afraid that if they don't appease the one religion rather than the other, they might be threatened with violence?


And I'm back

Way to carry the blog as usual, Jason. But now I'm back with my 24 hour tripe wagon.


Sunday, March 19, 2006


I never posted anything on Slobodan Milosevic's death because, well, just how much attention should one give to genocidal socialist dictators once they're dead?  Here is an article on his funeral that's worth reading, if only for this part:

"Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general and longtime Milosevic supporter who is now on Saddam Hussein's defense team, drew cheers by telling the crowd: "History will prove that Slobodan Milosevic was right.""

No Ramsey, it won't.  It will, however, more than likely prove that you were wrong.  


Statement Against Interest

Have you heard about this group of nutjobs that's been demonstrating at soldiers' funerals, not because of opposition to the war per se, but because they think we're losing due to God's wrath, brought on our nation because of support for homosexuals?  Yeah, these people make Pat Robertson seem sensible.  Anyway, John Hinderaker at Power Line has a brief comment on the topic, particularly the push to make demonstrating within a certain distance of a funeral illegal here in Minnesota.  We'll file this one under "man am I glad someone else said it."


Friday, March 17, 2006

Not growing on the bench.

It's good to know that Scalia is still Scalia. Somehow this is news; he's been giving the same basic speech for years.  



Jonah Goldberg on the (constantly) impending "conservative crack-up":

"Majority coalitions have big internal arguments for the same reason that pirates fight over buried treasure after they find it and not when they're still looking for it: They have something to fight over."

Read the rest.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Prof. Weissbrodt never covered this.

Man sues himself. Well, not really, he's trying to sue the city for damage done by a city employee (him).  


Advice and Consent or Beck and Call?

Democrats put a "hold" on F.D.A. head nomination.   I just really have a hard time believing this is their constitutional role.  Sure, the morning after pill is going to be a contentious issue, but it is not the only issue the F.D.A. has to deal with.  The Democrats claim to just want a decision, yes or no, but I think that's more than a little disingenuous.  I also think that if it was any other drug/treatment the same people would be demanding more tests, more studies, more investigation!  And how dare they make money off of this!  


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Join the club.

"Back to Mr. Bush in 2000. I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that's what he's turned into."

Peggy Noonan is a little fed up with government spending.


Celebrity Blogging

Ok, so first Babs blamed spelling errors on the help, now George Clooney is claiming he didn't type a HuffPo post this Monday.  See, this is the problem with famous people and blogging.  From my perspective it is a fairly personal enterprise; I enjoy the actual act of typing and throwing it out there, maybe getting some feedback.  If you have someone else type it, and there is little or no editorial control, what the hell is the point?  You're just asking for trouble.  


Monday, March 13, 2006

WFB, Neocon?

David Sanger suggests as much in this NYT "new analysis" article. I mean, he doesn't directly say "Bill Buckley, the nation's coolest neocon", rather:

When Mr. Bush gave a set of speeches on Iraq in December, the calls to pull out were mostly from the left. Now, a rising chorus of neo-conservatives, who urged Mr. Bush to topple Mr. Hussein, say that, having liberated Iraq, the rest is up to the Iraqis.

"The administration has, now, to cope with failure," William F. Buckley Jr. wrote in February. "The kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."

Sanger only mentions Buckley in that one line, as a demonstration of the neocon unrest, not a very good demonstration.  It’s also a gross simplification of Buckley's argument.  The column he was citing can be found here.  WFB has been a bit pessimistic on the Iraq venture for a while now, but this column went a bit further.  I am more optimistic, but David Sanger, take note (I wish), I am not a neocon (not that there's anything wrong with that), and neither is WFB.  I hate the prefixes, but if I had to give Buckley one I would dub him a "primo-con", you know, to demonstrate first-ness and awesomeness.  


Mother Nature is a bitter cruel old hag.

Sorry about the dearth of new posts.  We are on spring break this week, and I chose to kick it off by heading south to sunny (or not) Des Moines, which was great until I drove back today and discovered (far too late) that mother nature had decided to have winter this year, and that the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis had decided to disagree with her.  Anyhow, I made it back, barely, and will try to post through the week if anything interesting happens.  


Thursday, March 09, 2006

ABC Screws Up Again

Ok, ok, as you know, I don't particularly care for celebrities thinking that fame gives them some kind of insight into politics (Skunk Baxter aside), but I link to this article for the sake of pointing out that ABC is just plain sloppy.  It's about Tim McGraw and Faith Hill commenting on the response to Katrina.  Sure, whatever, repeat what you hear, don't bother to think about it.  Speaking of not bothering to think about it:

"Earlier in the day, McGraw and Hill had reason to celebrate. Their duet, "When I Get Where I'm Going," was nominated by the Country Music Association as the Vocal Event of the Year."

Way to go ABC, confuse pop-country stars Tim and Faith with Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton.  You tried to show how "in-touch" with "middle America" you are with a nice piece on country musicians echoing the standard lines, and you screw it up.  I know I'm nitpicking, but come on, .12 seconds of Google research could have prevented this.      

UPDATE: ABC has fixed the story, though there is still a typo remnant from the earlier posted line, specifically a W on the front of "Like We Never Loved at All", the song for which they are actually nominated, which was, unfortunately, crap.  Ok, enough country music talk.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Illegals at the Gate!!!

Becker has an interesting post on illegal immigration over at the Becker-Posner blog. I agree with much of what he says. Illegal immigration as it stands now is almost unpreventable. The combination of large borders, a poor country bordering us, US companies willing to hire illegals, and government benefits readily available over here make stopping illegal immigration very hard. Personally I'm in favor of one of the things he suggests. Let people immigrate if they want, but deny them government handouts until they go through the proper channels. And maybe concurrently cut down on the current entitlement system to force more people to work. Then again, that's so politically unpopular it'll never happen. Oh, well.


FAIR debate

The legal affairs debate club has a debate between Posner and some U of Chicago prof here. It might be overkill. In my opinion it was a mountain made out of a molehill. But, Posner's usually got some interesting things to say.



Here's a very interesting post from Iraq the Model. It centers around a conversation between the blogger and his father in Iraq. I think it's an interesting portrayal of the mindset of Iraqis right now. And I like the last line.

I always talk to my father when things get complicated; this man lived through the times of the monarchy, the first republic, the pan-Arab nationalists and the Ba'ath and he's from the generation that ruled Iraq for decades and many of our current politicians belong to this generation. This makes men like my father closer to understanding the way his generation thinks as well as its internal conflicts, so I threw at him the urging questions and confused thoughts I had in my head:
Me: How is this mess going to resolve dad?
Dad: it is not.
Me: Are you positive? Why?
Dad: People find solutions only if they wanted to and I think many of the political players do not want a solution.
Me: Is there a chance the situation will further escalate?
Dad: Most likely yes, we are a state still run by sentiments rather than reason which means it's a brittle state and any sentimental overreaction can turn the tide it in either direction.
Me: what kinds of challenges can make things worse?
Dad: Virtually anything…assassinating a leader, a fatwa, attack on a shrine like last time; we do not possess the institutions that can abolish the effects of severe sentimental reactions.
Me: Is there going to be no role for politics?
Dad: What politics are you talking about?! We are dealing with deeply-rooted beliefs…Yes, in politics everything is possible but with religion you find yourself before very few options to choose from and our people have mostly voted for the religious.
Me: And what's America's role here? Will they stand by and watch while things go against what the way they desire?
Dad: Why do you always put America in the face of the canon? America is a super power but it's not superman. These are our problems now and America has nothing to do with it. We have to fix our mess or no one will.
Me: But their interests and presence here makes Iraq's stability a top priority for them, right?Dad: And this stability is not going to happen soon…Why do you always want things to be the way you like them? Failure exists just like success does.
Me: Will America leave Iraq?
Dad: Not now of course but they will at the nearest possible chance. Don't forget that America had been in the region long before 2003 and Iraq is not an irreplaceable base. Syria and Iran can be dealt with from Turkey of the gulf countries.
Me: We need another 9th of April.
Dad: There will be no new 9th of April.
Me: Why do our politicians seek confrontation?
Dad: The religious seek death because after death comes heaven they believe…Do you want to deny them this dream?
Me: No but …will they really go to heaven?
Dad: hell, no!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Libertarianism, the unexplainable phenomenon

Over on samizdata, someone's got a funny post on the difference between libertarians, conservatives, and liberals.



I don't know much about lawyerin', but I'm pretty sure that if you see a footnote like this about your case, you maaaay have messed up somewheres. Billy Madison is such a great movie to quote from, even for Judges apparently. If I ever get to be a judge, I'm going to quote Slapshot, though.

The Defendent has gone like this [make a violent stabbing motion], the jury has found him guilty, and now he go to the jail, twenty years, by himself, and he feel shame. And then he go free.

Or, something about how the Defendent was engaged in "putting on the foil" and "making it mean" because "they challenged the Chiefs! Ogletorpe? Old Time HOCKEY!"


Line-item veto?

Apparently, the President wants a line-item veto to "cut pork". Over at Generic Heretic I wrote a comment deriding the impeachment undercurrent running in the left right now. But that does not mean I think the President is doing a good job. Here's an idea, President Bush, just proclaim that bills with pork in them will be vetoed the regular way. Cut some spending on your own proposals. Do more to discourage pork, and you won't need the abomination that is the line-item veto. Ridiculous.


FAIR v. Rumsfeld

Here's a nice roundup of lawprof blogs and their posts on FAIR v. Rumsfeld. I suppose I might as well add to my isolation at this lawschool my proclaiming that I thought FAIR v. Rumsfeld was rightly decided.


SoDak Takes a Stand

I think it's time to get around to discussing this. I can understand the concerns from pro-life groups, and the elation of some pro-choice groups, who think this is far too early to bring it up. But I guess I think it's time for a fight. It's time to battle again, to bring it out in the open, to take a stand. This is the single most important political issue in our time (or at least the most contentious). I (not surprisingly) hope that the Court overrules Roe, leaving this most important of decisions up to the political process. I'm not sure that this is the most politically savvy way to accomplish this end. But I know that I'm tired of having meaningless debates over hypotheticals. I'm glad that this is out now, and up for debate. I salute South Dakota, and I hope this leads to meaningful debate on the issue at least, and perhaps even a reversal of Roe.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Folksy Solemnity?

As you know, John Stewart hosted the Oscars last night.  What you didn't know is that The Daily Show is bad for the country.  So writes Michael Kalin in the Boston Globe, who apparently has something important to say because he graduated from Harvard in 2005.  Too bad he's horribly pretentious and lack's a sense of humor.  

"The type of folksy solemnity brandished by President Bush does not resonate with ''The Daily Show" demographic. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 2 percent of the show's audience identify themselves as conservatives. At a time when the Democrats desperately need inspired leadership, the show's self-conscious aloofness pervades the liberal punditry.

Although Stewart's comedic shticks may thus earn him some laughs Sunday at the Oscars, his routine will certainly not match the impact of his greatest irony: Jon Stewart undermines any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess."

I, on the other hand, though not a great fan of Stewart or The Daily Show, would argue for the unitary shtick theory.  


Bush is dummbe?

First, read the piece on Drudge, then read Babs' actual words.  Step three is, of course, uncontrollable laughter.        


Race Humor

Since the success (and subsequent abdication) of Dave Chapelle, this country's seen a rise in racial humor. This post questions whether this is a good thing, or if we've gone from being "politically incorrect" to turning back the racial clock a few notches. Spike Lee raised the question in one of his movies (I think, I can never be sure what he's trying to say, because of his enormous subtlety), and I didn't think it was a big deal. I'm not so sure now. Pushing the envelope for cheap laughs isn't usually a measure of great comedy, or a good thing for society. Despite loving the Chapelle show, I thought it often stepped over the line in some of the things it portrays. I don't know. I surely don't think it's the laws responsibility to step in, and I think hate speech laws are usually bad in general. For example, see the unmerited attention paid to the Holocaust denier's foolish opinions in Austria. But I do think that society does have a responsibility to guard the borders of speech sometimes, both racially, but also morally, and etc. That's why I was fine with Muslims getting angry about the cartoons and threatening to boycott the newspapers that printed them. That's their free-speech right. Of course, riots and embassy-burning are certainly not good reactions. Anyway, it's fine to argue about where the borders are, but I think it's perhaps necessary to think about every now and then.


Supreme Court Unanimously (8-0) Upholds Solomon Amendment

The AP has the story here.  The full case is here. I really will try to read the case and comment more later, but for now, Civ Pro calls…


Kirbeeeeeeeeee Puckett

If you haven't heard, he had a stroke over the weekend. He was one of my favorite players of all time in any sport, maybe even the favorite. I was there at his last game when a (Dennis Martinez?) fastball hit him in the eye, shattering his face. I watched in horror as he jogged off the field after fifteen minutes, a bloody towel hiding his shattered mug. And I was at one of his last spring training games. His career has been unfortunately a bit tarnished by some behind the scenes things that have come out lately, but in my book, no Minnesota sports figure has ever been more beloved than Kirby Puckett. My prayers are with him and his family.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscars tease

All other commenting on the Oscars aside, the choices for Best Animated Feature were really weak this year.  Wallace and Grommit won, for what that's worth.  It's a shame that there wasn't something, you know, funny, nominated.  


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lenten diet restrictions

Mmmmmm, capybara…


Friday, March 03, 2006

Nuclear Energy

I have a problem with this, and it has nothing to do with the weapons related technology.  Why are we encouraging nuclear energy in India, when we haven't been able to build a new reactor here in over twenty years? Don't get me wrong, I think countries like India should be able to use it, but I think that we should put some effort into expanding use here.  



Jonah Goldberg has an interesting article on race issues here. I think films like Crash (as another contributer on NRO talks about) continually bring issues of race to the forefront as a continual problem. And I'm not disagreeing all that much. But I think it's very important to note how different the ground is today. It struck me today when people were actually arguing over whether welfare, education, etc were fundamental rights guarunteed by the constitution, an argument that parallels (in my mind) the argument that affirmative action and other measures are necessary equal protection measures. Frankly, these are arguments that are ludicrous, in my mind, mostly because I don't really like the concept of "positive liberties" over "negative liberties." And I think we're at the point where negative liberties, for all people of all races, are almost entirely attained (although the government is gradually sapping everyone's liberties, though on a equal basis). I think it's problematic to continue these debates as if they were continuations of the ones that came before, as opposed to new ground.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Believing the Hype

I can't believe this is the top story on Drudge right now.  Apparently Jan Egeland (remember him from the post tsunami fallout?), U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs is spouting off again:

"We have reason to fear that 2006 could be as bad as 2005," Jan Egeland, the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs who coordinates U.N. emergency relief, told Reuters on Wednesday."

Nowhere in the article does he mention what this reason is, yet somehow this bare assertion is news.  Way to go Reuters, you really looked into that one.  


Clarence Thomas haters, listen up,

I dedicate this to you:

"The subject matter was extremely technical, and near the end of the argument Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsberg dozed in her chair. Justices David Souter and Samuel Alito, who flank the 72-year-old, looked at her but did not give her a nudge."

It's in there, buried about halfway down.  Rest assured that if it had been CT it would have made the first paragraph (journalism people: there's a name for that, what is it? –thanks, Jason).  Pointing out that Souter and Alito neglected to nudge her, well now that's just good reporting.  

There's one other thing that I found interesting (the case was on redistricting in Texas, you know, the whole Tom Delay bit, if you don't care to read the whole piece):

"[Justice] Kennedy said the result was an odd-looking map that mixed voters of very different backgrounds."

Well, who would want that sort of thing?  (though it does sound somehow familiar…)

Stephen Spruiell has more on the actual case here.  

On another matter, my apologies for the posting slowdown, the wireless network here in good old Mondale Hall has been, well, on the fritz lately.  I kind of wish I owned the necessary wire.      


House Democrats Release Historic Catholic Statement of Principles

This looks like it might be worth a laugh.  Maybe I'll break it down later, after I get a nap in.  (ht Southern Appeal)


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

South Dakota

There is something seriously wrong with this.  Make sure to read the comments, even if your stomach can't make it through the whole man post.  I know, I probably shouldn't give them the attention that they're clearly after here, but since The Corner already did, I think it's ok.  


Fukuyama: A fun name to say

Christopher Hitchens has an interesting article on Francis Fukuyama's new book "America at the Crossroads." He takes Fukuyama to task for lazy and sloppy analysis (no, from the man who proclaimed the end of history? You're kidding.) But he also has an interesting critique of Fukuyama's anti-war ideas. It's informative and entertaining as an article about a defector from the neo-cons by a recent convert/temporary ally of the neo-cons. Anyway, here's the article.


Politicians and Twinkies

Some would suppose that many links could be found between Politicians and Twinkies. Jonah Goldberg, however, on NRO, has an interesting article on campaign finance reform. His basic argument is that like Twinkies, politicians should have to reveal where they get the money from, but beyond that, no limits should be put on. I do think there are genuine free speech concerns, especially with the current system. The President foolishly signed the bill even though he admitted that he thought it was unconstitutional. Also, the bill hurts Republicans by banning more of the generally Republican sources of money, while letting some huge Democratic donors slip through. Anyway, as usual, I'm in favor of deregulation. But I do think that sources should be revealed. If all the money is revealed, it will be used in the political process in a much more open fashion, which would probably do a much better job than driving the corruption underground.