Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween everyone

Happy Halloween!

May the tricks be limited and the treats be plenty.

And the Nomination For Next Supreme Court Justice Is...

Samuel A. Alito.

"President Bush, stung be the rejection of his first choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights." (From Yahoo!)

Of course the democrats are upset. This person didn't earn the nickname "Scalito" for nothing. He's a hardcore conservative who will appease the Republican base. The argument that he would curb abortion rights is problematic for me. There are so many issues going on in this country and so many millions of lawsuits filed each year that to base your opinion on a nominee simply on one position short shrifts all the other issues in the country. As far as extremist goes, one could argue (perhaps rightly so) that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an extremist.

For whoever out there actually cares, here's my criteria for a justice on the Supreme Court:
That he or she faithfully obey the Constitution of the United States and the concept of Stare Decisis.

That being said, I think a Justice should be politically neuter, or at least as much as is possible. I know it's pretty much impossible to be completely impartial on any setting, but I do believe it's possible to rule arbitrarily despite one's partiality. I've commented before on how I believe strict constructionism is too inefficient for the country to work properly, and as such, I think Justices need some liberty in interpreting the Constitution and the laws enacted pursuant to it. However much rope they get, however, they need to ensure they work for the better of the American People, and I hope that Mr. Alito understands that should be be confirmed.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

More on North Korea

North Korea is making promises again. This time, it swears that it "adheres to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to the peaceful solution of the nuclear issue through dialogue."

The statements were made to Chinese ambassadors amid preparations for yet another round of 6-party talks aimed at stabilizing the Korean peninsula. Isn't it funny how whenever we're in the planning stages for any kind of talks, the DPRK is willing to participate and obey the agreements we've come up with, but somehow, when the time to pony up happens, we find out that they've been lying to us? Kim Chong-il is not a fool; he knows exactly what he's doing with his politics. I'm sure he knows that his government is hardly holding on, and it needs the people to firmly believe that all Americans are baby eaters who hate freedom and that every other country in the world is as hungry as they. He also knows that he must rely on foreign food aid to feed his country while he uses land to grow tobacco for counterfeit cigarettes and poppies for opium, etc. As such, he knows that the only TRUE bargaining chip he has to continue his and his country's existence is the Nuclear issue. Because he knows this, he will never stop the nuclear program. He needs the bomb so that he can strengthen his grip on a tenuous situation, and continue to exist as the demigod the people believe him to be. He will never strike first because then China will not support him, which means if there's to be a war, he needs to provoke a strike from us first (which is probably why we don't attack there, and why China does nothing other than talk about Taiwan).

Talks won't work. Promises have been broken by him and his so many times in the past that it's laughable that people would choose to believe him.

If we truly want stability in the far east, North Korea must reunite with South Korea under South Korea's terms. The weapons that North Korea has that are obsolete must be destroyed so that China doesn't view a unified Korea as a threat, thus provoking a response by them. Peace is possible, but it is much stickier than anyone who has paid more than a gram of attention to knows.


The Lions play today. The First Place Detroit Lions, that is. Granted, they're in first place because Green Bay is playing primarily backups and Minnesota decided it was more fun to go fishing than play football, but still, first place is first place.

The First Place Detroit Red Wings played their second game against that team from Chicago last night. The Wings won both of the games, and have one more in the series before they move on to another team. 11-1-0 is the best record in the NHL, and Detroit has been working hard to earn it.

The Wolverines and the Spartans both won yesterday, and the NBA Runners-up Detroit Pistons start the regular season on Tuesday.

This is the exciting part of the sports year for Detroit fans, the magic of the Tigers has mostly faded (though we still stick by the mantra of NEXT YEAR!), and we have winners and high expectations for pretty much everyone else.

In other news, it's Roll the Clock Back day, which means my kids were up at 4:45 this morning. That's just wrong.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday's Odd News Post

Here's a little tip for all you embellishers out there. If you want to impress someone in whom you are interested, don't tell them you're an undercover cop and then tell her you left your badge at home after showing ID. Unfortunately, this bit of information is a little too late for this man. He actually had the jacket with the badge at home, too, which is more disconcerting.

Quick run down of what happened:
Showed her his tattoos
told her he was a cop
showed her his ID (for classmates: His surname is Terrell)
asked her for a date

I can't imagine a more romantic method of gaining one's fancy...

This Just In

I walked into the schoolhouse this morning and one of the cable news stations was on.

"Breaking News!
"Bush: Virginia Has a Lot of History."

Man. That Ivy League education is really paying off in spades, huh?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Random Trivia

According to lizard experts, iguanas can feel joy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Family Law

I'm taking a break from studying family law right now. As much as I want to be engrossed in the topic, my mind has been drifting. It's not just family law, mind you - it's the same with all my classes. I'll read, and it's gone as soon as my eyes see the next word. I sometimes think I should stop with the charade and yield to my brain, which wants to spend time thinking about anything else.

But I can't. I have to learn about SAPCRs, and when a child can be interviewed in the judge's chambers without the parents there. I need to learn about JMC, SMC, Temporary Orders, Limited spousal support, caps on child support, protective orders, marriage requirements, common law marriage (fortunately, there's no such thing as common law divorce), annulments, majority, emancipation, etc. etc. etc.

This has been a long semester so far. And it's coming to an end far too quickly.


Once upon a time, the inimitable robber baron Andrew Dale Carnegie took it upon himself to create a new method of spelling. He thought that the current English language was too confusing for people to have to learn to spell - the rules are arbitrary. To that end, he created the Simplified Spelling Society, an organization designed to simplify the spelling of the English language so that it could be more easily learned. You can read about the movement here. Needless to say, the movement ultimately failed, although, it did help result in the dropping of the unnecessary u in words like color and humor, and it changed the order of the "er" in theater, et al.

Why do I bring this up? Well, we found out that there is a similar teaching style at work where we live. Our school district, and one of the adjacent districts don't teach phonics the way we learned them once upon a time. Rather than teaching sounds, and letter combinations, and then teaching exceptions as we go along, the schools now encourage children to write words the way they sound. So, instead of learning how to spell, they're learning how to spell incorrectly, and the theory is that they'll learn the proper spelling as they go through school. Ex. - I likd etng is crem satrday = I liked eating ice cream Saturday.

When I was in first grade, I was told that Christopher Columbus discovered America. So pervasive was this, that even today people refuse to believe that the Vikings got here long before, and that the Vikings, unlike Columbus, actually landed on the American continent. Think about that. There are grown ups out there who don't know the right answer, even after 12 - 20 years of extra education. Yet, this method is going to work to teach children how to spell properly? Teach them the wrong information and then parse it out? "We're sorry, but the way you've been spelling for the last XX years was completely wrong, and you have to start over again." It seems to me that this is going to have a detrimental effect, in that once you learn something one way, you have to train yourself not to do it that way before you can do it another way.

I enkuraj ol ov u to rit yor skoolbord and tel them u dont lik it.
Spell check should be a tool, not a necessity.

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

Can God make boulders
Too heavy for Him to lift?
Does anyone care?

As always, I look forward to your contributions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dec. 1, 1955

A man in Montgomery Alabama gets on a bus. He sees no seats are open. He does, however, notice a middle-aged black woman sitting near the front. The law is that blacks must abdicate their seats on a bus if a white person wants it. The man knows this, but he decides to let decency and chivalry rule the day, and he elects to stand, and let this diminutive looking woman keep her seat.

Ever wonder what would have happened had that been the story? Nobody would have ever heard of Rosa Parks, who died in her home yesterday in Detroit at the age of 92. The bus boycott may have never happened (I say may because Ms. Parks wasn't the first woman to refuse to get up, and certainly wouldn't have been the last), the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King may not have risen into prominence, and the Civil Rights Act as we know it might have taken quite a bit longer to pass.

To the jerk who insisted a women get up so that he could sit, I say "Thank you." You helped make this country what it is today. And to Mrs. Parks, I say thank you. You handled the stage better than I ever could have, and your continued work will be remembered forever.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Here, let me tug that heartstring just a little more

One of the reasons I'm a fan of hockey is that hockey players seem to be a little more connected to their fans. I think they realize that their game isn't as popular as the other major sports, and so they appreciate those fans who stick with them year in and year out.
Like the other sports, they also reach out to those less fortunate. The Montreal Canadiens invited a group of children with disabilities to a recent game, and put them up in one of the luxury boxes that Jose Theodore keeps for such occasions. They also invited one of the boys, Jeremy Gabriel, who had been deaf since birth to sing the Canadian National Anthem before the game.
After receiving a standing ovation for his rendition, Jeremy spoke to Saku Koivu, one of the Canadiens, and asked him to score a goal for him. Koivu obliged, scoring the first goal of the game 8:26 after the puck drop. "It was very emotional and very touching," Koivu said. "He did a great job on the national anthem and he asked me before the game if I could score a goal for him, and I was lucky enough to get that one tonight. We'll find him and get him that puck."

That is the essence of the purity of sports, something magical that has been lost on an entire generation of football and basketball players, who participate because they have to, but stop at doing that extra step. Although, I must say Priest Holmes does well in Kansas City, where plays chess with kids regularly, something else I advocate. Good job, Mr. Holmes.

Politics is wearing me out

I'm tired about hearing about what new scandal the president and his staff are facing. I'm tired of reading yet another scholarly type argue that Harriet Miers is unqualified, or a crony, or whatever. I'm tired of the war in Iraq, of people so unclear as to the party line rationale behind our going in the first place, of people utterly clueless about why it's utterly inconceivable that we would leave now (think about it in terms of raising a child. We're parenting a democracy there. we can't push it out of the nest until its ready to fly on its own). I'm tired of reading about Judith Miller, and Valerie Plame, and whoever else is involved. I'm embarrassed that Kay Bailey Hutchinson would announce that she hopes that "If there's an indictment, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on teh crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation wasn't a waste of time and taxpayer dollars," on Meet The Press.
I'm tired about hearing democrats complain about tax cuts only going to the rich and I'm tired of Republicans crying for tort reform (because they oftentimes don't know what they're saying). I'm tired of hearing about gay marriage and amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I'm tired of hearing about it.

Monday History Question

Whose final moments were recorded by an eyewitness as follows: "He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear?"

Hint - he is often remembered for reportedly making a much more eloquent statement as his final words.

Make your guess, then check here to see if you were right.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It's just a game, isn't it?

Then why is there such an outcry over the occultism of the Ouija board? It and similar talking boards have long been considered evil, probably because of their "ability" to communicate with spirits, ghosts, and whatever else your mind can come up with. Now, Parker Brothers bought the Ouija (from the French "Oui" and the German "Ja," both meaning "yes") board rights from the Fuld family, who had, during WWI tried to market the board as a scientific instrument to avoid paying a tax on shipping games, but the Government disagreed, stating that it was, indeed a game.

If the government says it's a game, then why would religious folk fear it as a tool of the occult? Is it any more dangerous than, say, Monopoly (another Parker Brothers game)? I don't think so.

I confess, my friends and I had our Ouija phase, as did my mom, my sister, and many of my other friends. As far as I know, none of us are in the occult, and most of us have gone on to have very wholesome, good lives, except for one of my friends, who's doing 72 years for murder. Oh well, let the complain.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No Stopping, Standing, Parking, or Dying

For those of you interested in strange news stories, check this article from Reuters: Dead Man Gets Parking Ticket.

As you can guess, the topic of the article is a dead man who gets a parking ticket. Apparently, the man had had health problems for quite a while, and had gone missing. He had been missing for nine days befor ehe was found in his car at a shopping mall car park in Melbourne. The odd part of the story is that the car had a parking ticket on the windshield from the day before it was found.

I really wouldn't want to be the guy that ticketed a cadaver.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Equal Protection revisited

The Kansas Supreme Court recently held that the state cannot hold a person who commited underage sex longer simply because the act was homosexual. In the case, an 18 year old man was convicted of engaging in sexual acts with a 14 year old boy. (Apparently, they both lived in a group home for the mentally disabled, but that seems to be an answer to how as opposed to any real pertinent issue in the holding.) He was then convicted to a 17 year sentence. Had one of the parties in the act been a female, the Kansas "Romeo and Juliet" law would have capped the sentence at 15 months.

Now, let it be known that the man did partake in sex with a minor, and that crime deserves to be punished. That's a strict liability issue, and one that doesn't merit debate, not to mention, it's rather creepy, in my opinion. However, I think the Kansas Supreme Court made the right decision with regards to how to treat the act. The crime should stop at "sex with a minor;" it shouldn't include "homosexual = worse."

There ought to be a law

Picture this scenario. You are an illegal immigrant. You have no papers. You are arrested for illegally re-entering the U.S. You are then deemed incompetent to stand trial, so you sit in jail for two years. Now, in order to speed up the trial, the government seeks to medicate you so that you are lucid enough to stand trial. However, the regimen that the government seeks to employ includes such side effects as nausea, diabetes, irreversable facial tic syndrome, and could even result in rival psychoses. Your attorney is not given the list of medications before the hearing, and therefore can't forward an expert opinion for your position.

Apparently, this was allowed, until recently in the 9th Court of Appeals, where the unanimous decision served as another in a long line of judicial criticism over the process. The decision that Judge Reinhardt (Not to be confused with Judge Reinhold of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame) issued an admonition against such medication: "The administration of involuntary medication ordinarily consittutes a serious and substantial violation of a defendant's liberty interest."

The case at issue is a strict issue regarding a continuance, the article notes, and therefore is unlikely to be picked up by the Supreme Court for review, which lends itself to be more viable a vehicle for judicial activism of this nature. Those that argue for a strict constructionist view would say that such work, even if they were to concede it is "right," undermines the legislative role and makes judges lawmakers. They would say that if such an act were so offensive, then the People would shout from the rafters for an overhaul of the law by the legislators. No word on how many registered voters were aware of such a law, so that they could clamor for change.

Forgotten Lyrics

When I was a child, we sang songs in school, as children often do. As a child, I always had trouble understanding the lyrics to "God Bless America." I sang: "From the mountains, to the praries, 'cross the oceans white with snow," and could never understand why the oceans were white with snow.

I know I'm not the only one who's made mistakes like this. Take a moment to share your embarrassing song moment.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A bit more on Harriet Miers

Let me start by reiterating that I don't object to Harriet Miers' nomination for the Supreme Court. I don't think it's a bad thing for a Justice to not have been a judge before, nor do I think it necessary that a Supreme Court Justice have an Ivy League pedigree - SMU is a fine school.

Now, I don't understand who President Bush was trying to impress with the nomination, given the backlash on almost all fronts. Even Mr. Robert Bork is speaking out against her, noting her support of Affirmative Action and admonishing her lack of support for Constitutional Originalism. I've read on more than one conservative site that Mr. Bork is the nominee that "should have" been selected to the Court over Justice Kennedy in the late 80's. If the Ghost of Supreme Court Nominations Past can't endorse Ms. Miers, how can those who pine for a redo of 1987 do any different? And if the hardcore conservatives can't support her nomination, and the liberals won't support her nomination, and the moderates want to know far more and aren't reassured by constant reassurances that she is qualified and her religion is a matter of her qualification and she'll strictly interpret the Constitution despite the Constitution's apparent condemnation of weighing religion in selection for public office (I stand by my assertion that President Bush's tacit acknowledgment that he considered her religion as a part of her qualification as a de facto religious test and thus prohibited by a strict constructionist interpretation of article VI, Section III), then who is left for the President to have intended to appease?

A small victory for common sense

The House passed the Cheeseburger Bill today. The bill, which would prevent lawsuits against fast food restaurants from obese people who claim the food made them fat, passed by a vote of 306-120.

Now, I say this is a victory for common sense. It doesn't really make any sense for a person to say a restaurant made them fat. They had to go to the restaurant, buy the food (several thousand times), and eat it - not one of those were forced by the restaurant. Perhaps they appealed to your sense of taste, but a restaurant is not liable for your willpower.

I don't think this law was necessary, though. I think it was successful lobbying by the food service people to save money on litigation, but I don't think a ban on fast food lawsuits is really necessary. I think any suit that would be filed that said "They made me eat that" would lose in summary judgment if not by straight jury. What the lobby was afraid of was a sympathetic jury, and the lawmakers wanted to show that they're doing something significant. What better way to be significant than to show you're tough on frivolous lawsuits - I mean, other than obeying the laws, not pandering to the fringe, not overspending the budget, ensuring that all people are properly represented, talking to your constituents, and working on front line issues...

I do wonder what this will mean for the lawsuits against the tobacco companies who will say "Hey, we didn't put the cigarettes in those people's mouths, how are we any different than the fast food people?"

Random trivia

In keeping with a Halloweenesque theme (I'll try to work more into the blog forthwith) -

There will be at least one Friday the 13th every year, but there will never be more than three.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A few days late

I recently posted comments on my friend Bookworm's site regarding the decision not to air Ed Schultz's radio program on AFR, and compared it to her post regarding free speech infringement on college campuses. The comparison dealt with authorities who recognized one's right to speak freely, yet restricted venues in which the parties concerned could speak freely (i.e. kept them from certain places).

While I do see significant similarities in the two issues, I think it very important to highlight one of the most significant differences. AFR broadcasts to active duty military members serving in war zones. The last thing these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines need to hear is any kind of conflicting information regarding the way we at home feel about the war in Iraq and the GWOT. They don't need to hear that the majority of Americans don't approve of how the war is being handled, and they don't need to hear someone criticizing the leadership. The only thing that can come of it is dissention. The military MUST operate as a cohesive unit. The privates and corporals and sergeants MUST believe that they are doing the right thing, whether it is right or it isn't, or they are only guaranteed failure. And in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else where bullets are flying, failure doesn't mean you lose that promotion or miss out on that big contract, it means you, or more likely the guy next to you, dies.

I'm a fan of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. Indeed, I will argue lost causes just to try to make the other person think and reason their answers. I believe that hearing all sides of the political spectrum is important, and that if Rush has a radio program airing at 5 on Monday, then a prominent Democrat might be well inclined to have a radio program at 6, unless he has no ratings, but we won't go into that... I just don't think it's right in a military situation, where esprit de corps and unity of thought are of paramount importance.

Now, if the reasons I stated above were the reasons the Powers That Be decided not to air Mr. Schultz's show, then that's fine. What troubles me is the timing of the announcements and the seemingly contradictory aspects of the whole thing, which leads me to want to call shenanigans.

A little conundrum

Apparently, my blog has been linked to on another website. Not just the link, but everything I've written. There is nothing on the website that indicates that the work is mine, there are no citations to my work, and there is nothing that even gives my name. Instead, the work that I put into creating and maintaining this blog is being used to benefit someone else with absolutely no approval by me.

Now, I know in the blogworld plagiarism is tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged. But I can't imagine any situation where blatant copyright infringement without even so much as a request to republish would stand.

This brings me to my problem. I actually like the guys who put the website up. I don't object to a link to my site. I would enjoy seeing more people read and comment on what I have to say. I can't, however, accept that my friends would take unilateral action to plagiarize and use copyrighted work without permission without considering the ramifications.

First, it's stealing.
Second, my views on the world may not comport to what the website's views are. My values may not match theirs, and now, I've become an unwitting spokesperson for the entire group. This means that if I say something objectionable, say "I think we should impeach President Bush and kick his dog," people would associate that with the aggregate. (I don't propose we should impeach Bush, and it makes me ill to think about kicking a dog. Kicking a cat, on the other hand, is quite funny to imagine.)
Third, Copyright laws exist for a reason.
Fourth, permission is easy enough to get. All you have to do is ask; don't take unilateral action. All you've done now is damaged a relationship.

People, linking to sites is one thing. Sharing ideas is terrific. Stealing one person's work and publishing it on your site without permission is wrong, and can get you in serious trouble. Think before you infringe on someone's work.

No Wonder

Strike another blow to the halcyon days of our youth. In Washington State, the bakery that makes Wonder Bread for Washington and Oregon is shutting down. We didn't really eat Wonder Bread growing up, but I can't imagine a childhood without the fortified pasty white slabs of sandwich fare. What's next? Tootsie Rolls? Life Cereal?

Interstate Opinion

While in law school, I've noticed a very disturbing historical trend among the courts in Texas, and other states. It seems, oftentimes, when the courts in Texas issue an opinion regarding a case here in Texas, the courts will cite cases and laws from other states, such as Oklahoma, Idaho, California, and even (gasp!) New York.

I find this very disturbing. The states that these cases were held under do not operate under the Constitution of the Great State of Texas. The lawmakers who reached those determinations don't live here. They don't understand our way of thinking, or our value system. Why should our courts rely on what some blasted liberal in Massachussetts has to say about how to handle a case? We should be relying only on our own insight and knowledge, and should not even consider resorting to what other states have to say.

For this reason, I've decided to write my state representative and demand that he introduce a bill that would preclude any citation of out of state opinion in any decision that the Texas Supreme Court might make. These opinions are damaging to the interests of Texans, and can do no good whatsoever.
We'll still be able to utilize Federal Decisions, because we based our Constitution on the Federal Constitution, and our legal system is derived in the same manner.

Join me, and tell your state legislatures that enough is enough. We need to ensure we get what's coming to us!

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

Chega gwe manhi
Pigon het ji man chega
chalsu opsoyo

(I'm so tired, but I can't sleep - in Korean)

I eat Kolaches
on my way to school so I
can pay for parking

As always, audience participation is encouraged.

I Have Insomnia

And so I type.

My grandparents bought a cabin in Michigan on a lake. I remember taking trips up there whenever we flew to MI to visit everyone. The lake was nice, a little beaver dam lake, maybe a mile long and half a mile wide (probably a little bigger than that, but you get the idea). We'd go fishing from the dock, or in one of the rowboats. We'd go for walks in the woods. We'd catch various critters - well, other kids did, I never cared for that part of it. At night, sometimes we'd hear drums outside - I swore they were Indians on the other side of the lake, and on more than one occasion, my mind scared the daylights out of me. I once couldn't sleep because I'd read a story on the New Jersey Devil and was sure he was going to get me, even though Michigan is nowhere near New Jersey. I remember catching our dinner, and buying my first fishing lure. It's in the northern part of the southern peninsula of Michigan. Quiet area, though it's developing now, like so much of America.

I have realized that I need a place where I can get away. I didn't really care for San Angelo, because it's so remote, and it seems almost surreal at times, but I think I could appreciate a small town getaway if I had it at my disposal. I want the lazy days where I can stop worrying about everything, whether my kids are warm enough for school, if they ate well enough, if my car is going to fall apart on the way to class, whether I understood what I've read, whether I'm going to improve my GPA, when and where I'll ever get a job, when I'll ever get the apartment clean, whether I'm giving enough attention to everyone in my life, why I can't just sit down and read my texts, how we're going to pay the bills, whether we'll ever have anything significant in savings, whether I'll be able to get my kids into a good school where they don't need to be locked in during the day, if my back will stop hurting, if I can lose that weight I've put on, when we'll be able to afford dining room furniture that matches, a sofa that's not broken, my son will stop waking up screaming in the middle of the night, if I'll ever feel rested again, etc.

I'm so selfish. I've got it rather good. I'm in graduate school; I'm not some 37 year old equivalency degree holder with a heart murmer and a really bad divorce settlement that keeps me from being able to do anything more than work as a shift superviser at a meat market-type job. I have a loving wife, three wonderful children, good friends, a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator.

I just also have a mind that never turns off, and can't seem to focus on what it needs to. I really hope you can't have genius without a little insanity, because I think I might have the insanity part. I'm sorry for dropping all this in the middle of the night, but maybe if I put it out here, I can leave it and go to bed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Halloween Tale

To help people get in the mood for Halloween, check out this story... truth can be stranger than fiction.

The Chase Vault

Monday, October 17, 2005

Founding Fathers Quiz

Who wrote the following in 1776?
"That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights...namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

After you make your guess, click here to check. Then, tell me if you were right. I'm interested in knowing.

Oh Boy! A Boycott!

For those who don't pay attention to companies that make toys for little girls (I have a daughter, so I'm allowed to pay attention), it might surprise some of you that conservative activists such as the American Family Association have started a campaign to boycott American Girl. The reason? American Girl supports Girls Inc., which the Pro-Life Action League's executive director Ann Scheidler explains as follows: "Parents need to know that this effort to promote self-esteem among girls [from Girls Inc.] is not as innocent as it seems. While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism."

All right, so you oppose Girls Inc. on the grounds that you don't approve of everything they teach, and thus you want to compel a company to withdraw its support by boycotting it because said company gains much from your demographic. That's good, and very commendable. You want to change the status quo. But, I have one question. Why American Girl? If your opposition goes directly to Girls Inc., why would you only attempt to strongarm one supporter? Surely that's an inefficient way to evoke change. If you want to assure that your value system is what is implemented, then don't be so inconsistent as to only attack the weaker links in the chain. Call for a mass boycott. Get them all. I'll help you:

Here is a list of some of the companies that supported Girls Inc. in 2004. Boycott them now, and demand that they withdraw support from this evil organization aimed at helping girls empower themselves:

The Center for Disease Control,
American Express
New York Life
The William Randolph Hearst Foundation
Colgate-Palmolive Corp
Anheuser Busch
Fannie May
JP Morgan Chase Corp
Lifetime Television Network
National Geographic
The Mourning Dove Foundation
New York Life
Toys R Us
20th Century Fox
Random House
SC Johnson
Time Warner
WOMEN unlimited
America Online
American Express
Barnes and Noble
Home Depot
Kraft Foods
Major League Baseball
Shell Oil
Tommy Hilfiger
Chevy Chase Bank
Daimler Chrysler
Etc., etc.

Or, perhaps, instead of alienating a company you claim to love because one of the charitable organizations it supports happens to teach a couple things you personally don't agree with, you could take it upon yourself to instill your values to your family and enjoy the products you buy for your daughter free of the burden of ensuring you never support ANY of the aforementioned companies. Don't try to bully if you aren't sincere about your point.

Random Trivia - Monday Morning Edition

According to those who would know, Lemon Pledge has more lemon in it than Country Time Lemonade.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Deep Thought for the Night

At the end of a lovely weekend, and to start off the new week, I thought I'd present the following items followed by a question.

First, this link from Calvin and Hobbed, via Random Fate.

Second, this quote from the 1996 Nick Nolte film Mother Night:
"You must be careful what you pretend to be because in the end you are who you're pretending to be."

And now, the question:
Who are you, and who are we?

I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair

I was in band in high school. I played trumpet and french horn (two years ago, I guess it would have been the freedom horn). As a result, I developed an appreciation for musicals. There's something about actually playing the pieces that seems to stick with you - hence my affinity for "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night," the "New World Symphony," "Variations on a Korean Folk Song," "1812 Overture," "Messiah" and many more.

But we aren't here to talk about those pieces. We're talking about musicals. By far, I'd have to say the musical I've most enjoyed has been Phantom of the Opera. I saw it in Seattle on 5th Avenue, in San Francisco at the Curran Theatre, and in San Antonio, at the Majestic. Excellent show, and well worth the spectacle.
I've also had the good fortune of seeing "The Man Of La Mancha" on stage at the Olney Theatre in Maryland - which from what I've seen with my research, has been something of a rarity anymore. Though the film version is a bit cheesy (Peter O'Toole actually refers to himself as "Mig-well de Cerv-ant-ees"), it's a great story, and one that I would love the chance to see live again.
Les Mis is another phenomenal piece, which I saw in Dallas. The music on that one, and the scope of the show are astounding. If you ever get the chance, go see it.
I saw Cats in San Jose, and I must confess, I liked it. It's catchy, and good fun. Not only do I like it, but my kids have had their turns at Cats affinity.

On my "want to see" list, I have Chess, which I've heard good things about, Jeckyll and Hyde, and Miss Saigon. If anyone here has seen any of these, or any of the ones I posted above and would like to weigh in, please do so. I love input on this stuff...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Will the Skutnik Please Rise?

In my book on word origins, it states that Skutnik, originally a hero of a 1982 Washington Plane Crash, was introduced by President Reagan during his State of the Union address. Since then, the work Skutnik has come to be known as "a human prop, used by a speaker to make a political point." My guess is that most Skutniks don't know they're Skutniks. I also think that Skutnik could reasonably apply to this Sgt, as well as the ten other soldiers that took part in what must be conceded as a highly choreographed, if not purposefully staged event.

This isn't the first time a President has resorted to Skutnikking, and it won't be the last time. What troubles me is how often the President uses named and nameless Skutniks in his speeches to sell his position. Without too much digging, here are some quotes he's used that I found online, mostly from

From the Hurricane Relief Address to the Nation, 15 Sep, 2005
Steve Scott of the Biloxi Fire Department, ... told me this: "I lost my house and I lost my cars, but I still got my family ... and I still got my spirit."

When one resident of [New Orleans] who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, "Now, I will rebuild - but I will build higher."
- What I like about this quote is that it sounds to me like the guy is saying he won't build at such a low altitude, yet the President continues by saying "That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better."

From a Sep. 7, 2003 address to the nation:
"Not long ago I received a letter from a captain in the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad. He wrote about his pride in serving a just cause, and about the deep desire of Iraqis for liberty. 'I see it,' he said, 'in the eyes of a hungry people every day here. They are starved for freedom and opportunity.' And he concluded, 'I just thought you'd like a note from the 'front lines of freedom.''"

At the Naval Academy Commencement, May 27, 2005

Sitting in that crowd four years ago was Midshipman Edward Slavis. When I gave the order to liberate Iraq, he charged across the Kuwaiti Border, leading a rifle platoon through 21 days of tough fighting into the heart of Baghdad. ... Ed says, "I will have time for myself later. Now I just feel privileged to spend my life doing something much larger than myself."

At a Speech at Fort Hood on the War On Terror

One Iraqi army colonel put it this way: "These U.S. soldiers leave their wives and kids to come here and give us freedom. We have to thank them for doing that for us."

At a speech pressing for Tax Relief, May 6, 2003:

"Luke says, 'Buying equipment is something we need to do in order to grow the business, in order to stay up with competition. Any break we get obviously encourages us to hire more people and buy equipment.' In other words, tax relief will be used by the Brindleys to buy new equipment. And when they buy new equipment, it means their work force becomes more productive."

Maybe she should try some Gingko Biloba...

Judith Miller turned over notes she took during an interview with Vice President Cheney's aide "Scooter" Libby. These notes list the name "Valerie Flame." When special counsel questioned Judith Miller as to where she got the name, Ms. Miller replied "I believe I said the name came from another source, whom I couldn't recall."
When I spoke with an Army recruiter some 12 years ago, he asked me if I had ever suffered from any respiratory ailments. When I responded that I once had bronchitis, he - well, first he threw a pen at me. Apparently, to SFC Dunlap, the fact that I came in to talk to him after telling him at school I wasn't interested, at work that I wasn't interested, in no fewer than 10 phone calls that I wasn't interested, including a call to my dad's then-girlfriend (now wife)'s house, and when I finally agreed to come in on condition that I wasn't going to enlist and he was to leave me and my family alone, and then reported that I had once had bronchitis, I was wasting his time. After all, he had all the papers I needed to sign right there in front of me, and he had a DLAB date for me, and a MEPS appointment, and everything. Then he tried to convince me that the doctor was wrong. "I bet it was just a really bad cold," he told me. And then he said it a few more times. And then he had me say it. That way it was true, I guess.

The point I'm trying to make is that someone who is in what appears to be a superior position may use that position to lean on those in a lesser position. How often do you hear about witnesses who change their story from the time they are deposed to the time they are on the witness stand, being stared down by the one they're testifying against? Would it surprise nobody if those in the Major Offices didn't do something similar? Can we really believe that Judith Miller can't remember THE NAME OF THE PERSON who gave her the most critical part of her entire article that started this mess?

And then we look at who this involves, and we notice again that it's the office of the President, well, vice president. The reason why things don't ever ease up, and why people have been so relentless in their attacks on the President et al. is less Liberal Media, I'm starting to think, and more "They keep doing stupid things." There would be nothing for the media to complain about if these things didn't keep happening. A sideways smirk, a chuckle, and a "trust me" are nice when you need to reassure a country reeling from the first attack on its soil in 8 years; it doesn't work when that's what's been provided as the solution for every other incident.

Friday, October 14, 2005

In the "Odd News" part of Yahoo! News

Is this article.

The story is that a 19 year old student attends Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She wants to keep her pet ferret with her in her dorm room. The college won't allow it, for reasons unprovided. So, the girl does what any other bright, young enterprising college student would do - file an Americans With Disabilities Act complaint. Her disability? She suffers panic attacks, and the ferret helps calm her. She says that she has post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a physical disorder and depression [and that] her problems are related, legally, to a physical disability.

She reassures us, "I'm not suing the school and I'm not asking for money, I'm just trying to get [my ferret] here."

You see, the school probably has a no pets policy, or a no furry animal policy, or something like that. I can imagine that would be normal in a college environment, and it would make sense. She wants her ferret, which, of course, would be against a no pet-type policy. So, she files a complaint, and then says "but I'm not suing" so that her request to get the ferret seems more reasonable. I personally don't buy the "I need a ferret because I have PTSD from a physical disorder and depression." If you can't live without your ferret in your room, then you probably don't need to be at college, you need to be getting help somewhere else. Additionally, is she only going to suffer her panic attacks in her room, where said ferret would be? What if she has a panic attack during a stressful time, such as, I don't know, a final? Would she expect the school to let her stop the final for a bit so that ferret can calm her (I'm hoping with some aromatherapy candles and celtic music), until she's ready to go back and finish her test?

That's Friday's odd news article!

I'm not sure what to make of this

"President Bush yesterday sought to rally U.S. troops behind his Iraq strategy -- and he and his aides left little to chance.

"Before the president spoke via a video link, his event planners handpicked 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry and one Iraqi soldier, told them what topics the president would ask about and watched them briefly rehearse their presentations before going live."

So starts a Washinton Post article about the live feed interview President Bush gave yesterday that has spurred much debate in the blogs.

The video portion (on this yahoo! link) that I saw had Allison Barber coaching the troops, telling the soldiers how to answer and what questions would be asked. I've not heard the interview itself, but I did read the transcript here (there is also a link to the video but I don't have the plugin and I'm not going to download the plugin right now). What I read looks like it's scripted, as if the military officers were told what to say, though it also sounds very military-like, which tends to look scripted.

Perhaps more damaging than the video of the prepping itself is the damage control offered by White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, which you can read along with other opinions at the Moderate Voice link here.

Why would the President, at a time when his poll numbers are lower than a snake's rump in a wagon rut, be so sloppy with this PR moment to allow such prepping to go on a live feed? When your mantra during all your country has gone through (war, recession, economic stagnation, outsourcing, Intelligence leaks, natural disaster debacles, Supreme Court selections, Intelligent Design debate, etc.) is "trust me," then what does this do to those who would trust him? How can you trust someone who spoon feeds the information to suit his agenda? When credibility is an issue, then you need to take steps to ensure that credibility is restored, and this does the opposite.

I've been rather critical of the President, yet I continue to support him, because he's our President. I don't agree with many of his policies, nor am I required to - that's part of being free. That being said, it becomes harder and harder to support an administration that seems to be striking out every time it steps up to the plate. I wasn't around at the time, but I wonder if this is similar to what Lyndon Johnson experienced when he decided not to seek re-election in 1968...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Random Trivia

Horses have poor digestive tracts. They don't digest food terribly well. Additionally, back in the day, horses ate oats regularly, which are known for their tough husks. As such, many of the oats would pass directly through the horse's digestive tract and come out softened, but not digested at the other end. In the days before cars, horses regularly did their business on the roads. After they made their deposit, birds would come and dig the oats out of the manure. Since these oats weren't eaten by anyone else, the saying developed that it was for the birds. In other words, when you say something is "for the birds," you are really calling it horseshit.

Is this Unconstitutional?

Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution says "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Recently, President Bush explained some of the reasons as to why he selected Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. "People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers, ... part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

There were other reasons that he listed, including the quote "She will not legislate from the bench, but strictly interpret the Constitution."

One might argue that when he says "strictly interpret the Constitution," he means "rule the way I want her to rule," given that the letter of the Constitution says no religious test shall be required, yet he listed her religion as the foremost reason he selected her.

Then again, one might argue that he didn't use religion as a test, but rather commented on her whole person, which happens to include religion, and that while he admired her commitment to religion, he did not use it as a balancing factor in determining whether to nominate her or not.

I don't know, I think a strict constructionist view has her nomination going out the window, which would be a shame, because I think the Court could benefit from someone who doesn't have Ivy League credentials and actually knows how to work as a lawyer and a judge.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

No President Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore said today that he has no plans on running for President again.

In the speech, he also offered some remarks about the Bush administration and Bush's policies.

"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," in reference to Iraq.
There's a certain amount of logic to this statement. In elementary school, we were always taught that you are allowed to hit back, but you're never allowed to hit first. We would never justify shooting a lion at the zoo, even if the gate's open, on the premise that it might bite us.

"We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."
I assume he's talking about President Bush's tax cuts. Well, according to what we've learned in Federal Income Tax class, the working families and the poor aren't the ones paying the taxes. In 2002, over 50% of all Income Tax revenue came from the top 10% highest earning incomes. and 96% came from those in the top 50% incomes. Any tax cuts are by definition going to affect the wealthy over the non-wealthy. This sounds like pandering to the base to me.

"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media."
I don't think I get this one. The Office of the President usually wants to control the media to a certain extent. I think he's off line here.

"We would not be routinely torturing people."
We wouldn't? Well, if we weren't at war, then we wouldn't have prisoners to torture, so perhaps he's stating a truth here. However, let's work on a presumption. Let's presume that most, if not all countries torture prisoners. Let's presume that countries will do whatever they can behind closed doors if they know they can get away with it. Do we really and truly believe that our country HONESTLY has acted better than what we claim other nations have in terms of torture? I think instead of what he said, he actually meant something more along the lines of "We would do a better job of not getting caught torturing people." And then try to ensure that he's "out of the loop" on what's going on, as so many military leaders do. If you state that you won't tolerate something on the record, and then contradict that statement through your actions, tacitly allowing the condemned acts either by absence or by selective ignorance, then you've commited the crime. It's a shame that you can't get caught for it because of documentation. Sorry, soapbox moment.

Anyway, I don't know that the country would really be any better off than had Gore won the election. I believe Bush was the lesser of the evils in the 2004 election, but that was a different election at a different time.

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

Never eat a Twix
On a hot and sunny day
It melts in your hands

And as always, feel free to submit your own!

Q - What do you call an NBA player in a suit?

A - Defendant

All right, that was a cheap shot, I know. However, there are rumors running around that the Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, is considering implenting a dress code on the players. He believes that it will help improve the image of the NBA by having the players wear sports coats, collared shirts, and trousers (technically, men's pants are trousers, women's pants are slacks) to and from the stadium. I picked this up from Mitch Albom's column in the Detroit Free Press. The NBA players are upset about this, of course. Rip Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons said "You dress the way you want to dress." Allen Iverson was quoted in the Philadelphia Daily News: "Just because you wear a suit and tie, it doesn't mean you're a good guy. It sends a bad message to kids. If you don't have a suit on when you go to school, is the teacher going to think you're a bad kid?" Allen Iverson talks about sending bad messages to kids. Allen Iverson, who released an obsenity-filled rap album some years back, is now worried about the message wearing a suit sends to kids.

I tend to agree with Mitch Albom on his take on this: "A dress code may do several things. Sending a bad message to kids is not one of them. I've never heard of akid going astray and years later, in a prison cell, moaning, "If only my sports heroes hadn't worn those ties."

When I was in Jr. High and High School, way back in the old days, there was talk here and there of implementing a dress code at the school. Not surprisingly, the students were all up in arms about the idea. "They're taking away our individuality. What about freedom of expression? We know how to dress." Of course, we missed the larger point, that a dress code is not always a bad thing. If everyone wears the same types of outfit to school, then fashion doesn't interfere with education - and there are already too many things that interfere with education. Taking away one distraction is a good thing. I also remember, when I was in Kindergarten and first through third grades, everyone wearing school clothes (nice clothes) and after school clothes (the grubbies). That sounds a bit like a uniform, albeit without the same mandate...

Things are a little different in the NBA. First, these are grown men. They don't want to be ordered around by some guy who tells them what to wear. Second, they're grown men. They don't need to work in the NBA if they don't agree with the policies. They are free to quit their jobs once their contract expires and test the free market. Oh, that won't happen though. You see, nobody in the NBA has the skills necessary to perform anything that doesn't involve sweating, dribbling, and dunking. That's a sweeping generalization, I know. They won't be able to ply their trade in other fashions. There's not really a better game in town than the NBA. They could play for the CBA, or the European League, or whatever, but they would not get paid the 3 million dollar average salary that they get in the NBA. So, rather than accept the rules doled out by their boss for the copious gobs of money they receive, they will bitch and moan about it. Because even though they've reached the age of majority, they really aren't grown men. After all, they play a game for a living.

Now, that doesn't mean that a dress code is a good idea for the NBA. Consider your target audience. They buy the jerseys and clothes of their favorite players, and emulate the players' styles. If you switch from Nike/Adidas/And1 to Armani/Jones New York/Ralph Lauren, you lose all the revenue dollars they bring in. Next, you have the corporations (see Nike, et al. infra) who pay millions to billions of dollars in advertising and marketing on these players. Are they really going to be happy if the 90 million dollars they gave LeBron is wasted because he's not allowed to wear his Nike Sneakers off the court? You lose your marketing base, and then you are stuck with a large hole of revenue that needs to be found somewhere else.

Now that you've read all that above, and see a couple of the pros and cons (not the players' names, silly, the good and bad arguments), bear in mind that these are just rumours, there is nothing on paper anywhere. Still, what do you think? Should basketball players be subject to a dress code?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Birthday Julliard

That's right, Julliard is 100, everyone sing happy birthday - but you better not sing off-key. I'm pretty sure everyone knows about Julliard, *the* school for actors, musicians, and Alan Greenspan (seriously, read the article). It's impressive that they've been the standard bearer for so long.

Had I been more dedicated in my younger days, perhaps I could have gone, well, maybe not to Julliard, but, I did receive invitations to audition for the Berklee College of Music. Now, I wasn't a great band geek (I played Trumpet and French Horn), I was pretty good. In my Senior year of high school, I was selected for three honors band programs, and was considered one of the ten best French Horn Players in Washington State. (There were about 8 french horn players, so that's not quite the honor it appears, j/k). Still, perhaps, had I the 24,000 a year it would have cost in tuition back in 1993, and had I just a speck more dedication to music back then, I loved playing, but hated practicing, who knows? I might be a Horn Player in Berlin now. Berlin's orchestra has the best French Horn section in the world.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Inspiring Moment

A 9 year old from Hillsborough swam 1.4 miles today. What's so significant about that? Well, first off, I don't know that I've swum 1.4 miles in my life, let alone in less than two hours. Secondly, he did it for charity. And most impressively, he swam the distance from Alcatraz and San Francisco.

His efforts raised $30,000 for the Hurricane Katrina Victims Fund. Good Job, Johnny Wilson.

Essay Question for Monday

Should the President be able to claim executive privilege and not release the records of Harriet Miers' service as White House Counsel? How will this win favor in Congress? What does it do to reinforce his assertion that she is qualified?

Please limit your responses to fewer than 500 words and pictures.

The Other Day

My kid got bit by a dog. I knew it was my neighbor's dog, because it is a Dobermann, and Dobermanns bite. I told the owner to keep the dog tied up, and he said he would, yet I feared my son might get bit again, because I knew the owner won't tie the dog up. I asked my neighbor to show me the chain, and he wouldn't let me in the back yard to verify that the dog was tied up, thus I knew he was lying. So I grabbed my rifle, picked the lock to my neighbor's back yard, walked back to where the doghouse was, and started shooting. I have to make sure that this dog doesn't bite my kid, so I'm completely justified in doing this.

Well, I found out, after I shot the dog, that it was, indeed tied up, just like his owner said. However, when the vet showed up to try to help the dog, he discovered that the dog had rabies, and would have to be put down. So I don't understand why the rest of the neighborhood is upset that I shot the dog when it turned out that I did everyone a favor by killing a rabid animal.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Quiet Sunday

The wife took the Boy and the Girl to the movies, and the Little Boy is taking a nap. This is a rare opporunity for me to enjoy some quiet time on the weekend and get some studying done.

I heard on the Television this morning on one of those week in review shows a man who insisted that President Bush feels he must spread Democracy to the world. This immediately brought the image of Trotsky to mind, who feld that for Communism to work, all nations had to be Communist, and Stalin, who did everything he could to make the world Communist. Note that I don't suggest Bush is either Trotsky or Stalin, rather, the comparison hopped into my head.

Hockey season started this past week, and the Detroit Red Wings are off to a good start. I'm rather glad they re-signed Pavel Datsyuk, but I think they overpaid for him.

Back to work now, enjoy!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Real Literature

I'm sure most of my readers know that the Grimm Fairy Tales were far more, well grim, than their Disney-ized, 20-21st Century versions. And I'm sure everyone has heard the stories of the kid with corn growing out of their ears because they didn't wash properly, or "If you make that face too much, it'll freeze like that." The morals of the stories that we got as kids pale in comparison to the lessons realized from the book "Struwwelpeter" - Slovenly Peter, by Heinrich Hoffman quite some time ago. I'll share this one with you, and let you look at the link above for some of the others:

The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb
One day, mamma said, "Conrad dear,"
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don't suck your thumb while I'm away.
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he's about
He takes his great sharp scissors out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then
You know, they never grow again."
Mamma had scarcely turned her back
The thumb was in, alack, alack!
The door flew open, in he ran
The great, long, red-legged scissorman.
Oh! Children, see! The tailor's come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

Snip! Snap! Snip! The scissors go;
And Conrad cries out - Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last
Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands; -
"Ah!" said Mamma, "I knew he'd come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."

Is it hypocrisy?

In a recent op-ed piece in the Washington Post, columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. raises an interesting point.

In response to Senator Richard Durbin's suggestion that a potential Supreme Court nominee may reasonably be questioned as to the impact of his faith on his decisions of justice (shortly after John Roberts was nominated), Senator John Cornyn retorted "We have no religious tests for public office in this country." The article notes that Senator Cornyn insisted that any inquiry about a potential judge's religious views was "offensive." The article continues by noting that the conservative Catholic group Fidelis declared that "Roberts' religious faith and how he lives that faith as an individual has no bearing and no place in the confirmation process."

I think this is how it should be. I don't think one's religion - in my opinion a very personal matter - should be considered in determining whether a potential Justice is qualified to rule under the law. I would hope that any Justice would be able to divorce the religious aspect of their value system from the rule of law when drawing a conclusion (sounds like strict constructionist talk, I know).

So why would the, conservatives who summarily dismissed the notion of religion as a consideration with Justice Roberts, take the very opposite direction while selling Harriet Miers? Why would conservatives say such things as:
"Maybe it's the judicial implications of her evangelical faith, unseen on the court in recent decades ... Friends who know Miers well testify to her internal compass that includes a needle pointing towards Christ." Marvin Olasky

"We know people who have known her for 20, 25 years, and they would vouch for her ... I konw the church that she goes to and I know the peopel who go to church with her." James Dobson, who later said "I know the individual who led her to the Lord." The article notes that Dobson also was briefed on the nomination by Karl Rove, and Dobson later stated "Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about," which piqued the curiosity of Senator Ken Salazar, who expressed an interest in knowing what Dobson was told that Congress wasn't.

"[The Miers nomination is] a big opportunity for those of us who have a conviction, that share an evangelical faith in Christianity, to see someone with our positions put on the court." Jay Sekulow - Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.

To be fair, there are a large number of conservatives who eschew these panderings, referring to them as hypocritical, and none of the offerings are provided by anyone in a position to vote on Miers' nomination. The article quotes Ed Morrisey's blog entry in "Captain's Quarters," - "Conservatives claimed that using religion as a reason for rejection violated the Constitution and any notion of religious freedom. Does that really change if we base our support on the same grounds?"

I have no gripe against the Miers nomination. If the President believes that she is a good candidate and there is no evidence showing that she isn't, then there should be no reason not to accept her. Conversely, if there turns out to be ample evidence that she doesn't intend to uphold the Constitution, or that she intends to support one side or another or if it appears in interview that she is completely incompetent to serve, then she shouldn't. I would hope that the rebuttable presumption in this country is that the President wouldn't nominate someone based simply on how close a friend she is to the family (i.e. start by believing her to be qualified, and then show through clearly convincing evidence that she isn't).

I don't like the religion argument. I believe that the church and state are two separate entities, and in keeping with the doctrine that's served us so well for over 200 years, they should be mutually exclusive.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Better than the Devil...

Why did we invade Afghanistan and Iraq? And why on earth did President Bush support a Palestinian State? I guess it depends on who you ask. According to Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, President Bush related to them in their first meeting in October, 2003, that "I'm driven on a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq ...' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it."

Apparently, the BBC is planning on airing a three part series entitled Elusive Peace, Israel and the Arabs, and Foreign Minisher Shaath's comments will appear on there.

Now, I'm inclined to doubt the accuracy of these statements. First, they come in a situation that doesn't seem to ocall for such statements, and thus the inflammatory aspect is heightened. Second, there doesn't appear to be any recordings of the President actually saying these alleged statements.

However, in the realm of diplomacy, anyone is capable of saying anything to get his or her way. It might not be too hard for the President to have actually related these things. Perhaps the Theocracy many Americans have feared is actually upon us.


President Bush said in a speech today that radicals and militants seek to intimidate the world. Away from the microphone he was not heard to mutter "those idiots don't realize that indimidating the world is OUR job."

In related news, the President also said that the war on terror would require more sacrifice. "Wars are not won without sacrifice, and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve."
Sources nowhere near the President claim that he acknowledged sacrifice meant via the lives of those whose parents didn't get them into Ivy league schools and who needed to face death following orders in order to improve their lot on life.

I joke. The war on terror, regardless of the rights or wrongs of its beginnings, is one that must be fought to the end. Anything less than a complete victory (which could take decades) will be viewed as a failure on our part in the eyes of those against whom we fight. Calls to end the war at this time don't recognize or appreciate the precarious international position we've put ourselves in. The President went to war without the backing of the U.N. in Iraq, and now we must see a victory there in terms of unmitigated democracy for our way of life to continue.

Random Trivia, October 6

Emily Dickinson wrote 1700 poems, of which seven were published in her lifetime.

How to lose a client in 10 days

This article from offers some good lawyering don'ts for those who are interested in keeping their practice. I thought it rather informative, and a good review on how not to behave in a professional world. At the end of the article there's a ten item list detailing how you should treat a client. Informative stuff, says the 2L...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Spies among us

Lawrence A. Franklin pled guilty to giving classified information to an Israeli embassy official and members of a pro-Israel lobbying group.

He "admitted giving classified information to a political official at the Israeli embassy, but said the information he received from the official was far more valuable than what he gave.

"'I knew in my heart that his government had this information,' Franklin said. 'He gave me far more information than I gave him.'"

Now, from what I understand, Israel has quite an extensive Intelligence capacity, so it mightn't be a huge stretch to believe that what he knew in his heart was actually true. However, he sold out his country, and the weak premise that he got more than he gave doesn't excuse his behavior and it shouldn't assuage any sense that he betrayed his own country.

He currently faces up to 25 years in prison for espianoge, but is expected to receive a far lighter sentence, according to the link above. This makes me ill. His sentence is most likely mitigated because he's a high level official with high level connections. Had he been an Air Force Master Sergeant who exchanged sensitive documents with any other nation, he'd most certainly face the stiffest penalties. If we are serious about controlling our security, then we need to dole out the heaviest punishment irrespective of the connections of the guilty party.

My wife says this is the worst joke ever

So, if you have a dog that loves to go for rides in your automobile and gets really, really excited about it, but whenever you start driving, it gets really nervous, and those nerves manifest themselves with extremely potent gas, so potent, in fact, that you believe your dog is making a mess in the back seat, but when you look back there, there's nothing there... would you say you have a Carpet Shampooer?
(A pet in the car that emits sham poo)

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

How were scandals named
Before Watergate lent it's
Suffix to the world?

(Think LewinskyGate, PlameGate, ChadGate, NippleGate, etc)

As always, audience participation is encouraged.

Should Law School Be Necessary?

That is the topic considered here. The ABA's big argument in favor of making law school mandatory is one of public policy. If the ABA requires that a lawyer attend three years of school from an accredited college, then it cuts down on the number of incompetent individuals who would otherwise be able to sit the bar. In the long run, it argues, the standards protect the industry and the public.

Others think that the strict requirement of three years for law school might be only necessary in the eyes of the ABA, the full time professors, and the law libraries, who rely on full time, three year law students' tuition to pay their salaries.

Now, I don't know that law school is exactly necessary to be a good lawyer... Among others, Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster never went to law school. However, I think that a mandatory law school requirement does cut down significantly on the number of people who arbitrarily decide to try to be lawyers without regard to their capability or what is required of a lawyer. I submit that for every great lawyer that came from not attending law school there are no less than three completely incompetent ones. Having a law school standard cuts down on that significantly due to the deterrent factor.

ABA accreditation is a different thing, and something that I can't comment intelligently on. I've not worked with any lawyers from Concord School of Law to know how qualified they actually are. I don't know that I'd want to have a person who got their law degree online representing me, but that speaks for the means, not the individual. If any of you have experience with lawyers who received their degree online (to the best of my knowledge, only California allows them to sit for their bar at this time), let me know... I'm interested.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Guns don't kill people

It's the little piece of lead that egresses the hollow tube at an alarming rate of speed, such that it pierces the skin and causes massive shock and loss of blood that kills people. No, wait, that's not it... it's the person who pulls the trigger that kills people. No... still not right. It's the gun shop who sells the gun to the person who pulls the trigger... wait, we're missing something here... that must be it! The company that manufactures the gun kills people.
At least, that must be the crux of the argument of those who cheer the Supreme Court's refusal to block lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

The supporters of the suit point to the accountability that gun manufacturers must have in knowing that they make a tool that is deadly if misused even slightly, and deadly if used properly for the wrong reason. Detractors of the suit feel that the suit interferes with manufacturer's right to sell their weapons, claiming damage under the Commerce Clause (NOT the second amendment).

The suit that is allowed in deals specifically with assault weapons. And it deals with gunmaker liability under the tort of negligence for violence in and around the Nation's Capitol. The argument is that D.C.'s law (that would allow the suits mentioned above) interferes with gun commerce in other states.

Let's consider something for a moment. Let's assume Maine passes a law that holds automobile manufacturers liable for drunk driving fatalities due to manufacturer's negligence. The negligence argument is that car manufacturers are making automobiles that can be deadly if misused, and as they know that drunk driving can kill. Now, the lawsuit that would be filed would argue that the law impedes the sale of cars in states outside of Maine due to Maine's restriction on commerce, which is illegal under the Constitution. Nobody is arguing about the right to own cars, they instead argue that the car makers should be liable for damage caused by the cars that people bought with full knowledge of their deadly potential. The Court of Appeals hears the case and says that the argument is unpersuasive because there's nothing that shows the statute interferes with someone buying a car in Arizona, or Montana, or Ohio, or whatever.
Of course, nobody would pass a negligence statute on car manufacturers, so we don't have to worry about it. I don't know that this statute would pass muster, though, if it didn't deal with assault weapons and handgun manufacturer liability.


Spanish Fishing Devastates Sharks. I don't think that's quite accurate. All the sharks I've spoken with have stated they are disappointed with Spaniards fishing, but I haven't heard from any who said they were devastated.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay. The Congressman from Sugarland is currently under indictment. If you don't know why by now, then google him. I received a phone call from Congressman DeLay the day the indictment was issued. OK, it wasn't a phone call from him, rather it was a prerecorded "I'm completely innocent" call that "the very partisan Travis County DA" was attacking him, manufacturing an indictment based on the 2002 election. He insists that despite the partisan distraction, he will continue to work with us, and then he implores us to support him in fighting this "out of control district attorney." This is directly from his phone call.

In other news, according to this Newsweek article's first paragraph, Congressman DeLay owns a black book filled with the names of Washington Lobbyists who wanted to see him. "If they were not Republicans and contributors to his power base, they didn't get in to "the people's house." The rationale for such a statement was that his time was limited, why should he open his door to people who weren't on the team?

I don't know that Tom DeLay's actions were illegal. I don't really think, based on what I've heard, that the indictment has a leg to stand on. What bothers me is not that he's been charged. If the allegations are false, he'll be acquitted and everything will go back to normal. What bothers me, instead is the effort he goes to to make people choose sides. You're either "on the team" or you're a partisan. I'm not entirely worldly in the realm of Big Politics, but I've always understood that we are Americans. The military swears an oath to obey the lawful orders of the President of the United States. All branches of Government swear to uphold the Constitution. Nowhere does it say that Congresspersons are to only support those who repeat the party line. Congressman DeLay seems an extreme example of why politics alienates so many of the moderates and centrists in the country, and his pandering to the GOP power base should be embarrassing to those on his fringe.

I don't currently live in Congressman DeLay's Representative district, but if we end up moving out there (it's consistently rated one of the ten best places in the country to live), then I will cast my vote for anyone who opposes him, with little reservation.

How about a side of Ljubjanka Salad?

Two young men in Phnom Penh, Cambodia have opened a cafe known as the Khmer Rouge Experience Cafe. The purpose of the cafeteria is to serve as a reminder of the atrocities suffered by the Cambodian people at the hands of Pol Pot. It's designed to give the diner a glimpse into the world of 1975 Cambodia, complete with music hailing the overthrow of the U.S. backed leader of the time.

This is one of those ideas, I think, that might sound like a good idea, but isn't. While I encourage people to know their history, lest they be subject to it repeating, I don't think I could stomach a reliving of the experience myself. I can appreciate now how horrible it must have been for those who endured it; I don't see what more I could gain from subjecting myself to the situation.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Worth the paper it's written on

Not everyone keeps completely up to date with current events. Most of my apartment complex couldn't tell you who the Speaker of the House is, let alone that he is someone in line for the Presidency. What does this have to do with the title of the article? I just wanted to post an "I heard it from this guy who posted it on a blog who heard it on TV about someone else" post on the latest developments in the Valerie Plame situation.
For those who don't know (which I don't think includes any of my normal readers), Valerie Plame is the CIA agent who's identity was revealed in a newspaper article in the New York Times. Journalist Judith Miller had been jailed for quite some time because she refused to reveal the name of her source.
Well, she came out of jail, and testified. And here comes the Ferris Bueller illness story: I read in The Moderate Voice that Think Progress has reported that George Stephanopolous said at the end of his round table discussion on ABC's this week the following:

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it's a manageable one for the White House, especially if we don't know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report of have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.

Now, before you go off one way or the other on this, look at how many levels of hearsay there are in there. Don't rush into any thought processes at this time; let everything sort itself out. However, keep the developments in mind, as this could get really messy before it's all over. I personally hope that the "source" is wrong. I don't think we need any more scandal from the highest office for the next couple decades.

If you get the opportunity

I would recommend for a Comedy movie that requires more than vacant spoon-feeding, that you watch Without a Clue. It's got a plot, the acting is superb, and the jokes aren't intellectually insulting (like so much Mike Myers tripe). For drama, I recommend In the Name of the Father, which is easily one of the best movies ever made. For sports movies, you can do no better than Hoosiers, Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper at their finest. If you want romantic comedy, then you need to talk to someone who doesn't retch at the mention of Meg Ryan...

Lazy Sunday

There's not much else to say. I plan on watching football, rooting for the Lions - who team President William Clay Ford claims has turned a corner and will be a playoff contender despite having never been to a practice or working with a member of the team, instead relying on reports from people who depend on favorable reviews to keep their jobs (not unlike the President insisting that the Iraqi military capacity is increasing despite not being over there to get firsthand knowledge).

I miss the days when I didn't get interrupted every three minutes with a new child crisis (she touched my HotWheels car!). And I'm hungry

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Are you a criminal?

Or, rather, have you broken any laws? Probably, but maybe not some of these:

- It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer while standing.
- It is illegal to shoot buffalo from the second story of a hotel
- It is illegal to milk another person's cow

- All lollipops are banned
- All motor vehicles must be preceded by a man carrying a red flag (daytime) or a red lantern (nighttime) fifty feet in front of said vehicle
- It is illegal to buy any kind of meat on Sunday

- Sunshine is guaranteed to the masses
- All animals are banned from publicly mating within 1500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship
- It is a misdemeanor to shoot any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale.
- special note: It is illegal to molest Monarch Butterflies in Pacific Grove. They actually have signs on the trails and sidewalks that state as such. I've seen them. $500.

- You may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless you offer more than six for sale at once.
- You may not fish with a bow and arrow

U.S. Laws (passed by Congress):
- You may be placed in jail for up to five years for shooting a hole in a penny.
- It is illegal to be a dominatrix
- Any U.S. Person may take control of an uninhabited island if it contains bird droppings. (bird droppings are very high in nitrogen and a good source of fertilizer)
- No person may appear as a contestant on more than one game show in one year

- You may never leave your car keys in an unattended vehicle
- It is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes, and black shoe polish on your face as these items are the tools of a cat burglar.
- It is illegal to walk on the right side of a footpath
- It is a violation of ACA regulations for a modem to pick up on the first ring, subject to a $12,000(AU) fine.
- Taxi cabs are required to carry a bale of hay in the trunk.

Remember, we want these laws.