Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sex Offenders

As those who read this site probably know, I have an interest in rape and other sex crimes. And on Monday, the California Supreme Court held that a lifetime registration does not violate the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. I am in the process of reading and digesting the actual decision, but here is a story on the decision from for you to read in the meantime. I hope to post my thoughts sometime tomorrow or Saturday.

Blogger Envy

Tyler Cowen, of Marginal Revolution got to spend two days with Milton and Rose Friedman. The full blurb is here. And the best part is what Milton had to say about the enemies of freedom-

"Businessmen want freedom for all other people, only not for themselves. Then they want various subsidies, tariffs, privileges, etc. Academics want freedom for themselves, but not for other people."

Saturday, June 26, 2004


Am I the only one who finds it odd that the GOP moral brigade flipped over Janet Jackson's nipple peep show, yet will be tolerant of a Vice President who tells a Senator to "fuck off" on the Senate floor?

And isn't this coming from an administration that promised to "change the tone" in Washington?

Not only is Cheney not contrite, but he claims to have felt better after he said it. Apparently he believes that Leahy had it coming for his remarks about Tricky Dick's Halliburton ties and their no-bid contracts and their fleecing of the American taxpayer. Boo hoo. Poor Dick.

Imagine the example this sets for our children- that it is okay to tell someone to "fuck off" when they criticize you.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Beckham Sucks!

Once again, pretty ponce David Beckham chokes on a penalty kick and ruins the day for England fans the world over. Look, people, Becks was not even the best midfielder on his club when he played for Manchester United, Ryan Giggs was (go ahead and check their scoring the last two seasons they played together). The buzz around the golden tosser has more to do with his pretty face and his pretty bird. Maybe if Mr. Spice spent more time practising football and less time prancing around in front of cameras, he might be able to strike a ball in the goal, as opposed to into the stands.

The two best footballers in England are Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, not David Beckham. Now, can we please stop the Beckham madness?

Not as Bad as Man on Dog?

Apparently, at least to Rick Santorum, forcing your wife to sex clubs and desiring public sex therein is not as bad as homosexual sodomy. Or so it would appear, because the ever morally vigilant Senator who worried about man on dog sex in the wake of the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision is still campaigning for Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan.

Do you really need any more evidence of the GOP's moralist hypocrisy? If so, take a look at Rush who is now on his third divorce. Yet, the Religious Right turns a blind eye to what they term the moral decline of America when it is being led by their beloved GoOPers.

(hat tip- Atrios)

Scenes from a Gay Wedding

My former Governor, Bill Weld, officiated at a gay marriage for his former college roommate. It should be noted that Weld is a Republican and that he was one of the last Republicans I supported (self congratulatory pat on the back: I worked my butt off in 1990 to help him get elected). Weld is one of the remaining members of the Rockefeller Wing of the Republican Party that the Bushies and their minions in the Conservative Coalition and the Club for Growth have done their best to drive from the GOP.

As the national GOP moves further and further Rightward, people like Weld who are fiscally moderate and socially tolerant have been left with a choice of swallowing their beliefs on gay rights, abortion rights, and environmental protection or of leaving the Party altogether. Obviously, I made the latter decision almost a decade ago. I only wonder how much more abuse my former colleagues will endure before they finally realize that today's GOP holds no home for them.

(hat tip- Sullivan)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Required Reading

This should be required reading for anyone who cares about public education in America.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Under God

Professor Erwin Chemerinsky gets the Pledge case right. But he raises another important issue- the interests of non-custodial parents in the upbringing of their children. Obviously, I am not an expert in this field, but it would seem to me that in a country with so many children of divorce that we need some sort of clear, or at least less ambiguous, statement of the rights of non-custodial parents. Sure, if the parent without custody is either absent or lost custody because of some factor which reflects on that person's ability to care for a child, then that parent probably deserves little legal say in the child's upbringing. But what about cases where the non-custodial parent is active and decent and caring? Should that parent not be afforded some level of legal protection or recourse? I assume that in many such instances, the parents may continue to have a co-operative relationship and raise the child(ren) together and are not at cross-purposes. Again, though, what about instances where there is not such a simpatico relationship and agreement about what is best for the child(ren)?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Virginia is for Law Students?

Random thought- what is the deal with VA and law schools? They are home to four of the top forty law schools (as judged by US News). The only other state to have so many is California, with six of the top 40. But CA is a much larger state than VA. So why does VA have so many good law schools, three of which are public universities?

Media Bias?

As someone who has been on both sides of the political aisle, I have heard the allegations of media bias from every angle. For years, the Right has alleged a pervasive media bias against conservatives. And, there is data (too lazy to look it up right now) that shows the vast majority of the media self identify as Democrats. However, recent years have brought more and more allegations of bias from the Left, who see the media as nothing more than a lap dog to the GOP, failing to ask the tough questions.

I would have to say that there is probably a kernel of truth in each side's argument. I do sense a certain hostility among media elite to "traditional values" as defined by the Right. But I have also seen the media roll over and play dead in the face of Republican policy proposals.

However, I would stop short of the bias allegation. If anything, what it reveals is the media's laziness. It is laziness that allows the party with the best spin to succeed in each news cycle. It is intellectual laziness that allows one's own beliefs to permeate purported hard news stories. As someone who has interacted with the media, both as an elected official and as a consultant, I have seen first hand how the media operate and how easy it can be to manipulate.

I am not sure if this can be chalked up to the type of people who are attracted to the field as a career or lack of training or something else entirely. But I would tend towards, at least in part, an explanation of lack of knowledge about subject matter. Aside from some specialized journalists, most folks in the media do not know much about what they cover. They have degrees in journalism or broadcast or english, not economics or political science or biology. It is similar to the old model of teaching, where prospective teachers had a degree in education, but very little training in substantive disciplines.

Perhaps the pushback argument is that we want people who have no particular or specialized knowledge because the audience they write for also does not, by and large, have that knowledge. And we would want to avoid highly technical, wonkish reporting that readers or viewers would not comprehend. But I think this is a cop out. A good reporter, journalist or broadcaster ought to be able to take the highly technical and make it come alive to the average person (cf. Linda Greenhouse's reporting on the Supreme Court). However, most of today's media are completely unable to fulfill this task and instead fall back on spin produced "news" and their own biases.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Random Bits About Law School and the Law

Why is it that my two highest grades came in the two classes that I missed the most often? Conversely, my two lowest grades (except for LRW) came in the classes I missed the least. Does this say anything about the quality of the classroom experience at law school? Hard to say.

Also, I had two exams this year that contained significant multiple choice sections.First semester, the multiple was my lowest grade. Second semester, it was my highest grade.

There really seems to be very little pattern to law school grades, at least for me.

Can't forget this-- a friend told me a story of a classmate who had the Civ Pro rules written up and posted all over apartment in the days before finals. This is exactly the person I refuse to become. And maybe that explains why I am only in the top half of my class as opposed to the top third or whatever.

I seem to be running up against the same phenomenon as I always do- book smart versus native intelligence. This is not to say that there is not an overlap, and here at a top twenty school there is probably a lot of overlap. But the killer is when the same people you hear making the sort of comments that indicate a complete lack of understanding in class are the ones ranked above you, all because they are willing to live in the library for the last month or so of the semester (if not longer). Law school clearly amplifies neuroses.

But what becomes especially galling is that having been in the "real world" I have seen these types fizzle once they were forced to think on their feet. Yet the legal community is so driven by grades these are the same people who will land at big firms with big paychecks. More and more, though, given law's very conservative, almost static atmosphere, I wonder if this is not exactly what the legal community wants. Is there really a place in the law for creative, bold thinkers?

My transfer applications are almost all done. I am still deciding between Northwestern and Fordham for my final school.

Sign of the Apocalypse

Teens Getting Breast Implants for Graduation Is that frightening only to me? What parent in their right mind would give their daughter a boob job for graduation or sweet 16? I imagine the conversation must go something like this- "Here honey, we know society is extremely superficial and although you are bright, funny and charming, without these full C's, you're just not going to do well."

And what is it that makes people think that a bit of silicone or saline in one's chest will somehow transform her self esteem over-night? Hmm.. here's an idea for you- therapy. The problem is in your head and not on your chest!

Maybe the Death Penalty Is Okay Sometimes

This story certainly makes me re-think my opposition to the death penalty. I am not sure that fifty years in prison is sufficient punishment for someone who rapes his daughter and leaves her so emotionally scarred that she later kills herself. Perhaps my feelings here cloud my rational judgment about notions of punishment. But if the goal of incarceration is, at least in part, rehabilitation, then I see no reason for this man to ever set foot in a jail except to wait to be executed. I do not see any way in which someone so morally depraved as to rape his own daughter can be rehabilitated. Don't tell me it is a disease, don't call it a mental illness. This man is a sick, cowardly, and morally depraved person who does not deserve to breath the same air as decent human beings.

Someone Better Tell Tricky Dick Cheney

According to the 9-11 Commission, Iraq Rebuffed Al Qaeda. Like every other reputable intelligence official over the past two years, the Commission has said there is no credible evidence linking Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Of course, this comes on the heels of Dick Cheney making the claim that there was a link as recently as last weekend (in direct contradiction to Colin Powell saying there probaly was not a connection).

But let's be honest, Cheney will continue to make the claim and the people who watch Faux News will continue to believe it. Because of course Dick Cheney and George Bush know more about intelligence than all other experts combined. Ugh.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Why Does Speaker Hastert Hate America?

With a helpful assist from Hefty Hastert the health insurance lobby has blocked a vote on health insurance parity between physical and mental illness. This bill had 246 sponsors in the House. In other words, over half of the members thought so much of this bill that not only would they have voted for it, but they wanted their names attached as sponsors. Yet, autocrat Hefty Hastert, handmaiden of the insurance lobby, has prevented the bill from even coming up for a vote.

Next time you hear the morons on the Right ramble on about how the Left hates America because we refuse to have our liberties trampled in the name of fighting terrorism (cf, Patriot Act), remember how much Hefty Hastert and his leadership goons hate America so much that they won't even let members vote on important bills. Apparently, democracy is on the same list as freedom and liberty as things the Right is willing to betray in order to foist their notion of what's right upon we, the people.


Excellent Joe Klein piece in The New York Times today, ostensibly reviewing a book about Wilco. But Klein ends up talking more about Jeff Tweedy than about the book, which is fine with me. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of the best albums of the past five years, and I expect their new album- A Ghost is Born- to be equally amazing.

For those of you who have yet to check out alt-country, Wilco is probably a good place to start (or else Tweedy's former bandmate in Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar's Son Volt). It is not overly twangy and has a healthy dose or ironic, indie rock feel to it (Son Volt has a higher quotient of rawk).

In today's music world, success is determined by how much a record label can grease the palms of program directors at the radio station megalopolies. No matter where you spin the dial (except to the far left end) you will hear the same tripe as you see on emptyvee and vh1. And gullible consumers (lemming-like) follow whatever the media say is the latest trend.

Bands like Wilco are a breath of fresh air (even though they are on a Warner Bros. subsidiary) in today's stale, corporate rock wasteland.

I See Your True Colors Shining Through...

Again, it is ProfessorBainbridge showing his biases. He so helpfully includes the part of a sentence edited out of his letter to The Economist that refers to what Reagan accomplished while "... Clinton was still chasing skirts through Arkansas trailer parks." As if a respected newsweekly would publish that sort of tripe. Is the professor really surprised that he was edited?

But more to the point- why would an intelligent person even bother to include such a line in an otherwise legitimate letter to the editor? Is it because the Wingnuts still cannot get over their Clinton obsession? Swipes at the former President are common fare for these folks, but really at some point they will get tired of it, right? Do they not realize how f*cking boorish it is?

Friday, June 11, 2004

They're Playing Basketball

It is once again NBA Finals time. And once again, the LA Lakers and Phil Jackson are looking for another title. But something seems to be happening on the road to the coronation of Phil and his boys. Someone forgot to tell the Detroit Pistons that they were just supposed to roll over and play dead, and they now lead the series two game to one (and really ought to be up three-zero and on the brink of sweeping).

This series, more than many others, is full of backstories and drama. Let's set aside Kobe's little Eagle County problem, as I think we are all tired of hearing about it. The Lakers were able to persuade Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go to LA at a huge discount in order to realize their dreams of an NBA Championship. And at the beginning of the season when the Lakers were 18-3 that certainly seemed to be the right decision. But LA barely made it past the Spurs and the T-wolves to reach these Finals.

Aside from the usual Kobe-Shaq feuds, the Lakers have also had to deal with a disgruntled Gary Payton, who felt as though he was not used appropriately in Phil Jackson's scheme. Payton was not available after Game 2, nor for the media availability on the day after. One can see the look of disgust on the Glove's face as he watches his Finals dream slip through his grasp. But Payton needs to own up to a couple of things- one is that he went to LA with the full knowledge of the triangle offense run by Jackson and its impact on his scoring chances; second, age has caught up to Payton as evidenced by Chauncey Billups eating his lunch in all three games thus far.

And poor Karl Malone who had never gone on the DL once in his career, was injured and missed forty games during the regular season and has spent the playoffs hobbled by a sore knee. Due to his injury, he simply cannot be the force on the court we have come to expect from the Mailman. But he is a gamer and no one has heard Malone make an excuse or complain about a thing this year.

Taken together, Malone and Payton are probably two of the better liked players in the NBA and both contribute significantly off the court. And for that reason, I do feel sorry that they will likely miss an opportunity to raise the trophy. But did they really think the drama that has surrounded the Lakers for the past couple of seasons would subside enough for a taste of Championship glory?

But a bigger point here is that the Lakers are being beaten by that all too rare entity in modern sports- a team. The Detroit pistons are very similar to my own New England Patriots in that they play as a group, no matter who is on the court at any particular moment. These guys genuinely love each other and their coach. They give credit to one another and their coach for their successes, rather than accepting the accolades heaped on them. Rip Hamilton has been masterful throughout the playoffs and yet every time he is asked about his performance he credits his coach.

The Detroit Pistons are the sort of ball club and players that all young athletes should be forced to watch. This is how sports are supposed to be played. The work ethic of this team is legendary, from Big Ben Wallace down to (bench warmer) Darko Milicic. It is so refreshing to see them have success, just as it was to watch the Patriots win two of the last three Super Bowls. (Both teams in the Stanley Cup Finals played the same sort of team game, as did last year's World Series winning Marlins.)

I think that we may be on the verge of a trend here and it feels good. After years of the me, me, me glory seeking athletes who cared more about their paychecks and their personal glory than team success, we now are seeing a resurgence of the team concept. This bodes well not just for sports, but also for society at large as this sort of sea change in priorities is infectious.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Sorry Sorry

I am going to use Reagan's death as my excuse for not posting much this week.
New content coming soon, I promise.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The End is Near

According to The New York Times, Ronald Reagan's family has gathered around his bedside this weekend as the end of his great life may be near. It may come as a surprise to some musclehead readers that I would say such words with respect to the Gipper. But he is the person who inspired me to get into politics all those years ago. And because of him, many of my generation became Republicans as we became old enough to vote.

Of course, as I have matured I have moved away from the GOP quite drastically. However, irrespective of what one may think of Reagan's policies and foibles (Iran-Contra), one cannot question Reagan's love for this country. He articulated a vision of America that was good, just and proud. And he conducted himself as President in a manner that we have not seen ever since (excepting Iran-Contra, of course).

I actually have a Reagan calendar in my bedroom. In the margins are some of his words and each day I read them and they remind me that this country is great. And they bring me optimism in our ability, as Americans, to do great things for ourselves and for others. More than anything, America could use some Reagan-esque optimism in these very dark and troubling times.

The Nanny State Prepares to Strike Again

On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would effectively ban the sale of steroid precursors, such as Andro or 1AD. (story) This comes on the heels of a ban of ephedra that was enacted earlier this year. Once again, the nanny state is in a tither because some people do not know how to take supplements safely and correctly.

The ephedra ban was spurred on by a couple of high profile incidents, which happened to involve individuals who were not taking the supplement as directed. All ephedra/caffeine stack products carried with them warnings as to dosage amounts, the use of other stimulants, and the need for proper hydration. Unfortunately, there are some people in our society who do not seem to understand directions. To those people, if the indicated dose of three pills twice per day was good, then five or six pills twice per day must be even better. And because of these idiots, people like myself and countless others who have used ephedra safely are no longer able to do so.

Now, the uproar over steroids and BALCO is going to cost bodybuilders another set of supplements as Congress rushes to "do something." While the research on pro-hormones is relatively mixed (some of them also produce an estrogenic effect (ie, man boobies and a soft appearance of the muscle), there are those in the bodybuilding community who swear by these products. Usually, they are stacked with other products that will combat the estrogenic effects and people do see some benefits. Personally, I have not had great success with pro-hormones and have found that other supplements (such as those that restrict production of sex hormone binding globulin) and would not use pro-hormones again. But because I have not found them effective does not change my opposition to a ban.

The prime concern seems to be, in both instances, these supplements misuse, especially by the young. This is especially galling to those of us who are adults who can, and have, used these supplements safely. Not to mention that tobacco is many degrees more dangerous, yet it remains available and is only prohibited to those people under eighteen (at least in theory it is). But I suppose that the big campaign contributions from Big Tobacco help ease the concerns of Congress over the hazards of tobacco use among Americans. And what of parents? Maybe if they paid more attention to what their kids were doing and putting into their bodies we would not have to ban entire classes of supplements. (One also has to wonder if the ban of pro-hormones will not actually increase the use of real steroids.)

Political leaders talk about personal responsibility and the lack thereof in our society. But when given a choice between exercising nanny-state powers or leaving it up to personal responsibility, their words become mere rhetoric. And then they wonder why people are unwilling to take responsibility. But if the government continues to take away our opportunities to exercise personal responsibility, we will soon forget how to do so ourselves.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Moronica for Morons!

Prof Muller has an interesting tidbit about a sense of the House resolution proffered up by the know-nothings in Congress. Basically, it says that US judges ought not use the judgments of foreign institutions as any part in their decision-making process. Umm.. hello, morons, the common law was imported from England and US courts have traditionally appropriated quite a bit of English precedent.

Honestly, these f*cking people amaze me (I hate to swear on my blog, as opposed to real life where I LOVE to swear). First the GOoPers ignore the world community and invade Iraq on false pretenses, they mock Senator Kerry for "look(ing) French", and they rename French fries. Could these people be just a bit more xenophobic? Apparently, the good old boys from Texas (and other cracker outposts) just don't want any foreign ideas infecting the minds of the cowpokes.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Professor Bainbridge Shows His Colors

In a brief comment about the partial birth abortion case, Professor Bainbridge finally puts his cards on the table. By that I do not mean to say that most readers of his blog did not know that he was not a right wing law prof, but that he has written quite a bit about "judicial activism" enough that people would believe the good professor would judge the merits of a decision on its adherence to precedent and other normative values. However, here the professor links to the White House and National Right to Life Committee websites in order to convince his readers that the decision is not "a good thing."

So, does that mean judges ought to look to their religious beliefs in order to decide a case? Would that not be judicial activism if those beliefs led one to a decision not in line either with precedent or statute? Oh wait.. I almost forgot.. it is only decisions that go against what the Right believe to be "good" that are instances of judicial activism.