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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Even though I pretty much can't stand Halloween, I feel that it is worth noting the strange occurrences lining up.  My first post on this blog (which was also the first real post since FritzFeds had gone comatose) was one year ago today, on the topic of the most important news of that day, the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.  Now, one year and dozens (yes, DOZENS) of hits later, a different sort of "change in the balance of power" (whether the Alito appointment was a big change or not is debatable) is all the rage in the media, though they approve this time.  

So I exhort you, disenchanted conservative types (yes, both of you who are reading this), to think back to a year ago, imagine how Alito would have fared in a Democrat controlled Senate, consider that Supreme Court retirements are not unforeseeable in the next two years, to do the right thing next Tuesday.  

And now, as I wrap up and give this a title, it occurs to me that one thing that actually annoys me more, and surely on a more regular basis, is the use of the word "anniversary" to refer to any increment of time other than the year.  There is no such thing as a "two-month anniversary."  Maybe a "moisversary" or "monversary" which are both less than satisfactory but much better than the alternative.    


Shameless Promotion of Faculty

UMN Law Prof. David Stras has a review of two books that came out earlier this year on Supreme Court clerks, Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk by Todd C. Peppers and Sorcerers' Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court by Artemus Ward and David L. Weiden, forthcoming in volume 85 of the Texas Law Review, but available now on SSRN.  

I mentioned the books (in the context of a review by Judge Posner, who, incidentally, gave both the thumbs up) in a post on May 31.

But there's more! (and this I'm just copying from the SSRN abstract so I don't screw it up)

"This Review Essay also reports the results from the first empirical examination of every pool memo from four Terms of the Supreme Court: October Terms 1984, 1985, 1991 and 1992. Three characteristics of the cert pool become apparent: (1) it is stingy with respect to making grant recommendations; (2) it emphasizes objective criteria of certworthiness in making its recommendations, such as the presence of lower court conflict; and (3) there is statistical evidence suggesting that its recommendations are correlated with the eventual decisions made by the Court on petitions for certiorari."

I had Stras for Criminal Law last spring, and consider it one of the great injustices of the tenure system that he isn't teaching this semester.  I haven't read the review yet, but given that I am fairly sure that it will be worth reading, I'm posting this now so you too can help boost his SSRN numbers.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Buchanan Channels Andrew Jackson

Not his best, but I think still worth reading.

"At root, what that 4-3 decision ordering the Legislature to enact a new law sanctioning civil unions or gay marriage is about is: Who governs New Jersey? It is about who decides what law shall be Â? elected legislators or judges appointed for life."

Read the rest.

I guess that I'm inclined to agree. From the Federalist Society's purpose statement:

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be."

Which is itselfchannelingg Marbury, but adding (or possibly making explicit the implicit) a separation of powers point after the comma.

More than anything else, the order to the political branches to adopt a new law or laws, call it a grace period if you like, is a bit grating. Three coequal branches? The Governor of New Jersey "shall communicate to the Legislature, by message at the opening of each regular session and at such other times as he may deem necessary, the condition of the State, and shall in like manner recommend such measures as he may deem desirable" (Article V, Section I, paragraph 12 of NJ Const.), but the court can give them 180 days to act, or else? I know we aren't dealing with the 10th Amendment here, but the words conscription and commandeering definitely come to mind.


Friday, October 27, 2006

The State of Race Relations in America (and my guess is that he looked Palestinian)

I was poking around on Google News the other day (I've been having issues with blogger and blogger for word), and ran across an article (which is no longer there, thanks for nothing, blogger) about a film coming out soon called "Color of the Cross." In this movie Jesus is portrayed as a black man. And this is supposed to be controversial and important:

"Color of the Cross" tells a traditional story, focusing on the last 48 hours of his life as told in the Gospels. In this version, though, race contributes to his persecution."

So THAT'S what was really going on in the Gospels? I didn't catch that, since my Bible doesn't have pictures.


"What Jesus looked like has long been debated by theologians around the world. Different cultures have imagined him in different ways, says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. In Japan, Jesus looks Japanese. In Africa, he is black. But in America he is almost always white, like the fair-haired savior painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in "The Last Supper" in 1495."

Depictions of Jesus being black in Africa and Japanese in Japan and (not to detract from Leonardo's artistic abilities) white in Europe say something about the artists and their audiences, but absolutely nothing about "What Jesus looked like."

On the other hand, there's nothing terribly wrong with taking some creative license with the appearance of someone who was born over 2000 years ago, but to claim that it's the appearance that matters, in my opinion, misses the point: message matters. Jesus was executed because of his message, not because of his race; the story appeals to people today because of that message, not the messenger's race.

Maybe it's not actually a big deal in the film, but the article makes it sound as if it is. And apparently director/producer/star Jean Claude LaMarre and I wouldn't actually disagree on too much:

"The message is that color, a colored Jesus Christ, doesn't matter," he says. "That's why the movie is important. When you have one prevailing image out there, it suggests color does matter."

But then why the "In this version, though, race contributes to his persecution"? That's my hang-up. I understand that race is a touchy issue in America (though, contrary to what is suggested in the article, it is elsewhere as well: France anyone?), but I don't see how injecting it into an historical event where it played no significant role, and that has actually been a source of common ground between races, is supposed to help. The Romans and the Israelites, I uneducatedly guess, were probably ethnically distinguishable, but the biblical accounts indicate that it was the mob of locals and not the Roman Pilate who called for the execution, making it a "look what WE did" as opposed to "look what YOU did" moment.

In summation: black Jesus to encourage identification with the faith: fine; black Jesus shown as persecuted because he was black: foolish.

Oh, and here's a review from Variety. Pretty much a typical movie review, but contains some more details on the movie's focus on race.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mike J. Fox, Acting?

This is a comment I left on Nick's blog on the topic of Michael J. Fox's tv spot on stem cell research.

First, I think what Limbaugh said was wrong, and frankly pretty stupid. However, I REALLY don't like these types of ads. Yes, anybody with a human soul (and yes, that includes conservatives) have to feel empathy for somebody who's obviously suffering. But we know that somebody's actually suffering. The problem is that we can't hear from those who the other side believe are suffering. And that's no philosophical "could God make a rock he couldn't lift". I just think that what this ad represents is what is wrong, or becoming more wrong with our political system. Both parties use emotions to cloud issues and stir the populace. "There's an old woman somewhere with socks on her hands, because she can't pay heating bills and still pay for her prescriptions." "If you don't vote for us, Al Qaueda will invade and take over the country." It bothers me that these types of ads and this type of campaigning seem to be proliferating.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Not All Rock Bands Are Like Green Day?

Wow. I heard about this before, but I forgot to post it. Brandon Flowers is upset at Green Day for their anti-Americanism. I think it's probably a bit calculated, but then again, so are Green Day's antics. I just find it refreshing, so I thought I'd post it.


Voter Fraud

The Federalist Society at the University of Minnesota Law School is hosting a speech by John Fund (of the WSJ's this evening.  The topic is "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy," which was also the title of his 2004 book.  

Which makes this article even relevant to my day.  Of note:

People in the good state of Missouri need photo identification to cash a check, board a plane or apply for food stamps. But the state Supreme Court has ruled that a photo ID requirement to vote is too great a burden on the elderly and the poor. Go figure.


While the Missouri Supreme Court was preparing its decision earlier this month, the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran front-page stories about the thousands of fraudulent voter registrations submitted by Acorn, a national left-wing group financed in part by organized labor.
According to the Star, Acorn's voter registration drive generated some 35,000 applications, "but thousands of them appear to be duplicates or contain dubious data." The report went on to note that "[n]ear the top of the fishy list would be a man named Mark who apparently registered seven times over a three-day period using his mother's home address and phone number." Mom told the paper he hadn't lived there in six years.
Acorn and its affiliates have been among the most active and vocal opponents of voter ID laws in Missouri and nationwide. Now we know why.
(ht Althouse)

Our event is in room 50 of Mondale Hall at 6:30p.m.


The New Malthus

And again we hear the scary statistics from the environmentalists. I can somewhat understand the concerns. And I have no idea if their forecasts are correct. I have no idea if hard times are on the horizons. And I'm not going to go my usual route, and mock the study or the people behind. They're probably earnest people. Instead, I'll just quote Faulkner. Because he's awesome. And correct. Cause we're pretty good at finding a way to fend off extinction, even if some of our fellow creatures on planet earth aren't quite as good.

"I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail."


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not a Good Idea

It's a sad day, folks. A law student has found to have lied. A student at a Minnesota law school. At William Mitchell (whew, for a second there, I thought the game was up), a student is facing charges for impersonating a New Jersey congressman. I don't know who should be most embarrassed about this story. Actually, I do. The student should. Not for the attempted mail fraud, but for picking such a poor topic. It's one thing if a law student wishes to turn to crime. Given the state of the candy bar machine downstairs here at the law school, I'd say it's no new occurrence. But seriously, you gotta come up with something better than that. I mean, if you're going to try to impersonate a congressman, try to impersonate one who's less likely to have so much attention on him. With the corruption in N.J., the congressman was probably just relieved that the feds weren't actually coming from him yet. What, somebody is impersonating me? Oh yeah, I know all about it. It's the same person who was accepting those large payments from the mob. Yup, all the shady dealings were the doppelganger's fault. So, in conclusion (this should be my journal article), what have we learned today? If you're going to impersonate a congressman, make sure it's a little known one that nobody cares about. Like a Rep. from Alaska. Or Minnesota. What was wrong with ol' Gil here at home? He'd have been easy to impersonate. Should have gone with him.


No Obvious Academic Import

“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”

Patently offensive? Or could it just be humor?

This is the state of "academic freedom" in a private university?  

So much for the "marketplace of ideas."

Take note: Humorous expression of libertarian ideas is not ok.  

I for one would like to see other materials posted on faculty doors and bulletin boards at Marquette.  From my own experiences, not at Marquette, faculty (and staff, including librarians) seemed to enjoy using these media to show their particular sense of humor and at the same time express some political or social opinion.  The United States of Canada/Jesusland cartoon was particularly popular after the 2004 elections.  I also recall various unflattering depictions of George W. Bush, anti-war statements, and the like.  

Is the federal government just too sacred a cow?  A cow to be milked but never tipped.  

(Of course, as far as I'm concerned actual cow-tipping is about as real as the tooth fairy, but it works with the metaphor here)



In case you're interested, there are a few interesting podcasts here, at econtalk. The top two look very intriguing. Walter Williams, one of my favorite writers, is talking about a few economic matters, including an analysis of the incentive effects of the Civil War. There's also an economic analysis of religion, which also sounds interesting. Check it out.



Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has spoken out on a few things recently. I must say that I am in agreement with some of his observations on Russia, and I hope that he is sincere in his efforts to bring more freedom into a country that seems to be sliding back into tyranny. But there's one thing that I need to quibble with. Gorbachev has compared the proposed fence between the US and Mexico to the Berlin Wall. However one feels about the idea of a fence on the US-Mexico border, one has to say that Gorby is at least overstating the comparison, and probably missing the point entirely. The difference is clear (at least to me). The Berlin wall was erected to keep citizens in, citizens who were desperate to escape the terrible regime that Gorby oversaw. The fence would be erected to keep out those who want to enter a land of opportunity. So, I think the comparison is ridiculous. But I'm also not in favor of the fence. I do think that the border needs to be controlled, and we should have a better idea of who is coming into the country, and with what. However, I also think that the immigration system should be liberalized (in conjunction with other reforms limiting government), leading to a free market for labor. And, to make my point, check out this cartoon on immigration from a libertarian perspective, via Reason (ht: Cafe Hayek) (which doesn't completely represent my views, but is far funnier than I am).


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No.Ko. Keeps Forging Along

North Korea is apparently about to have another nuke test. But despite the gravity of the situation, I found the comments by the North Koreans to be hilarious. "We didn't accept these sanctions before, and now that we're a nuclear power, we're not going to stand for it." These comments are hard to understand, so allow me to translate:

"You can't do that to me. You can't tell me what to do. I'm a BIG boy now. You're not the boss of me. If you aren't nice to me, someday I'm gonna grow up, and be like seven feet tall and 300 pounds and an ultimate fighter, and then we'll see. Sanctions? You can't do this to me! I'm going to run away from home! I'm going to call child services!"

To which I would reply, if I were in charge, "Somebody gonna getta hurt real bad!"

Don't the North Koreans hear themselves talking? I exaggerated a bit, but their comments have a definite tinge of the eleven year old brat who's annoying everybody, and thinks that now that they have a purple belt from the local Karate storefront at the strip mall, they can assert their weight. And so I think the time has come to hold down this kid and make him say "uncle".


Thursday, October 12, 2006

See you at the gallows!

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:
"Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the 'bastards' who were members of what he termed the global warming 'denial industry.'

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, 'When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.'"

Well, as long as we can wait until we're scrambling to minimize the damage, I guess that's ok.

Having been called on it, Roberts has decided to retract the Nuremberg portion of his comments:

There are people and institutions knowingly disseminating falsehoods and distortions about global warming. They deserve to be held publicly accountable.

As to what shape that accountability would take, my analogy to the Nuremberg trials was woefully inappropriate -- nay, stupid. I retract it wholeheartedly.

So he's sorry that he used the word Nuremberg?

It's funny, I actually agree with part of what he said. There ARE people and institutions knowingly disseminating falsehoods and distortions about global warming: Roland Emmerich, Greenpeace, Miles O'Brien, Al Gore, the list goes on...


Not Surprising

A very interesting article on Cato on the Libertarian Democrats. The author decides that they don't really exist, as most of those who have tried to appeal to libertarian sensibilities on social issues have let them down grievously on fiscal issues. I think this is just generally true of both parties. Everybody seems to be fighting about social issues, while the spend, spend, spend mentality is taken for granted, and nobody stands up to the bloated and still ballooning federal government.

[EDIT] Fixed the link.



I hadn't really heard the term "Climate Change Deniers" before. But I agree with Adler's article on Volokh. Adler quotes a man who is very unhappy with the term, which denigrates not only those who are not convinced by the evidence supporting the theory of global warming, but also the memory of those that died in the Holocaust. This is the sort of term that reflects poorly on our whole political climate. Everybody is always looking to tie a current policy position to an unpopular past claim. To some extent, this is necessary. History is an important part of policy considerations. Not every argument can be purely philosophical. However, these attempts to evoke past evils appeal only to the emotions, not to reason. Bush is Hitler, you say? Then I don't like him. Then again, the real problem could be with our general public, who responds so readily to empty yet evocative comparisons. I've been arguing for civility forever, but it's easy to do when you're a nobody. I'm sure the temptation is very strong to go with the easy "communist/fascist/racist/misogynist/homophobe/PC/Feminazi" tags, especially since they seem to work so well. But, hopefully we can agree in principle that tactics such as these are at least distasteful, and probably antithetical to the ideas our society and government are founded upon.

And if you disagree, you're a pinko fascist hippy reactionary.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Scary News

Well, we've not only got a nuclear North Korea (though their warhead might be less powerful than before thought), Iran with its wacked-out leader, terrorists all over the place, Croatians forming swastikas at soccer games (check out, etc. And meanwhile, Russia is quietly centralizing power again. A critic of Putin's is dead. Actually, make that ANOTHER of Putin's critics is dead. Fraters Libertas has a good article of journalistic courage, comparing the dead Russian journalist to Keith Olbermann and his ilk, unfavorably to the latter. Despite the serious issues raised by this bit of news, and the implications not only for the region but the world, as Russia starts to centralize again, I only linked to the article because somebody said what I've been thinking for some time. Olbermann is way too full of himself. He takes the easy shots at the pompous O'Reilly, without apparently realizing that he's perilously close to taking the lead in the race for most pretentious journalist. (Obviously he'd still lose to Moore and Coulter, but they're not really journalists.) Basically, Olbermann's a no-talent hack who should go back to sports.


Monday, October 09, 2006

The Imprisonment of Reason?

The Weekly Standard has an opinion piece by UMN Law Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen and Notre Dame Law Prof. Richard Garnett (who is also an occasional contributor on NRO's Bench Memos) on partial birth abortion specifically and stare decisis generally.

Even though they (or the editors) made an unfortunate decision in assigning a title, abusing the overused W.W._.D.? formulation, it is still definitely worth reading.  
(ht Feddie)



Great. So, what do we do know? I think it's quite clear that this is a very dangerous situation. Il is the type of person who would love to distribute nuclear weaponry around the world to our many enemies. Everybody in Asia is concerned, as is Israel, given N. Korea's links to Iran and Syria. This is a very important time for our foreign policy. Do we try diplomacy and to appease N. Korea? Do we try a military action or a tactical strike? Frankly, I think this situation is the proof of the failure of the former, but I don't think that the latter is very practical at this point. The cat's out of the bag, and now we have to deal with it. It's going to take a whole bunch of people who are much better at stratego than I am to try to solve it.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


And, the Republicans continue to shoot themselves in the foot. I'm not exactly shocked by the situation. Washington is a corrupt city. But this was a bit unusual for a number of reasons. First, that it should happen. Second, because Foley's an idiot and put some pretty damaging stuff down and sent it off in a form that is easily archived and saved. And third because of how unsurprised most insiders seemed to be. I think if Republican leadership knew about it, and did nothing to correct it, it's a terrible example of putting politics over principle, and those involved should probably pushed to resign.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cabs and Booze

There's a bit of a hubbub over news that Muslim cabbies are sometimes refusing to carry passengers who happen to have alchy in their luggage. Some are outrages that such a thing could happen in our pluralistic society. I am not. It's the free market. If cab drivers don't want to carry liquor, they shouldn't have to. They'll probably lose money, and maybe their jobs. But if they're willing to take that risk to uphold their religious convictions, I'm fine with it.