Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 31

Happy Halloween!

Essay Question

Should stem cell research be allowed, and if so, should the government provide funding for it? If not, why not?

Please be thoughtful with your answers; grades will be arbitrary and capricious.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On Gay Marriage

President Bush gave a campaign speech today in Texas, up at Georgia Southern University where he has decided to go on the attack against that issue that has been the subject of so much debate this year, and has really lit up the news wires, evidencing its overwhelming importance so far this year - Gay Marriage. Apparently, Gay Marriage is bad. Not only is Gay Marriage bad, but it must be defended against.

From the president: "For decades, activist judges have tried to redefine America by court order. Just this last week in New Jersey, another activist court issued a ruling that raises doubt about the institution of marriage. We believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman and should be defended."

The "activist decision" from New Jersey? The NJ Supreme Court ruled that there is no fundamental right in the New Jersey Constitution to gay marriage. What they did rule was that homosexual couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, but will leave it to legislature to decide if it will allow marriage or some other type of civil union.

As you can see, it's easy to see how President Bush can get his you-know-what caught in a wringer from this decision, after all, he's said for years that this is wrong. Or did he? Perhaps he should look at what he's said in the past before he makes statements. Remember, his policy was "stay the course" until a couple weeks ago, when "it was never stay the course." Anyway, with regard to gay marriage:
Here's a CNN article from February of 2004 where he suggests that he'd endorse an amendment that would ban gay marriages, but could allow for civil unions.
Here's a CNS News Article that highlights the President thought that states should be allowed to decide.
And on October 26, 2004, from Civil Rights.org - President Bush said that his party was wrong to oppose civil unions.

So, if he supports states finding for civil unions, then where is the judicial activism where the New Jersey Court finds that Homosexuals are entitled to the same protection as Heterosexuals? Perhaps it has to do with the legislating from the bench - wait, no, the Court didn't legislate from the bench, they left the legislating up to the legislature. The Court ruled on an area of law and left it up to the state to find a way to operate within the law - wow, that damn court. Or perhaps one could say that President Bush supported civil unions until he opposed them...

President Bush is on his way to Texas to campaign for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a write-in candidate for the Congressional seat vacated by Tom Delay. Apparently, she needs some heavyweight help to get elected, though she is gaining in the polls. I wasn't opposed to her running until yesterday when I heard her on the news explaining why she entered a polling station the other day during voting. Apparently she was going in to inquire into the process and see how it's going, according to her explanation. Why is this bad? It's a misdemeanor offense for a candidate to enter a polling station for any reason other than to vote. This makes sense, because we don't want to encourage voting booth campaigning by candidates, with the pressure it can cause or the undue influence it might create. Anyway, that she admitted to being in there for a reason other than to vote, and that it's a misdemeanor to go in for any reason other than to vote would seem to suggest that she has broken the law, and I can't support a candidate that can't obey a law during the campaign; it suggests that she won't be able to while in office. This isn't a Republican or Democrat thing. It's a credibility thing. Fortunately for Shelley, I'm not in her district, so she doesn't have to worry about losing my vote, but I doubt I'm the only one who caught on to that issue. Perhaps the president should hold off on supporting her until after she's cleared of any wrongdoing??? A little patience isn't a bad thing.


We went out and bought our Halloween pumpkin yesterday, and carved it up last night. The kids were excited like they haven't been in quite a while. It kind of made me miss the holiday experiences of living farther north. The nip in the air; leaves turning all sorts of autumnal colors (Dang Pung = Korean for "tinted autumnal leaves"); frost on the ground, gloves and mittens, apple cider to warm you up; not just as a "holiday beverage..." I miss the magic that fall and winter had when I was my children's age; and I lament that they don't get to have the same autumn and winter experiences. This is the time of year that I most dislike living in Houston. It just doesn't feel right.

What does it take to win?

St. Louis won the world Series against the Detroit Tigers. While I'm quite disappointed, in that the Tigers are the team I go for above and beyond the rest, the Cardinals are perhaps my favorite National League team. I remember being a big fan of Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, Will Clark, Lonnie Smith, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr, John Tudor, et al. back in '85 when they went to 7 against the Royals. But I digress.

The point is, St. Louis is number 1, and Detroit is number 2. It doesn't stop at baseball. According to this article citing the reference book "City Crime Rankings," St. Louis is the most dangerous city in America, and Detroit is second. Now Detroit was number 2 last year as well. This is kind of embarassing. Really. If you're not going to get any safer, then at least you can try to top the list. Coming in second year after year doesn't help anybody.

I really hope that Detroit can get itself cleaned up again. I still blame Coleman Young for helping make it as bad as it is, and I'd like to see Detroit return to a place of prominence among America's large cities.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I am a Michigan football fan. I've liked the maize and blue for as long as I can remember. My pa is an OSU fan - he's from Ohio originally, so we can forgive him that. Anyway, we both have our team to root for during the Michigan/Ohio State game every year. This is a good thing, and this game is arguably the biggest rivalry in sports.

Drew Sharp is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Today, I read an article of his that submits that if these two teams - two of the best in the country and rated 1-2 at this point in time, end up meeting in the BCS after their rivalry game, it would be bad for the rivalry. I think I agree with him. As much as I'd like to see Michigan in the title game, I would not want to see a rematch of the rivalry game, should Michigan lose. Same with Ohio State.

Of course this is all contingent on USC and West Virginia both losing and perhaps a second loss from Texas, before any talk of title game rematch would really come to bear.

Still, his point is valid, and I think he's right. Go Michigan, and Go Ohio State, but don't Go Together at the end.

Of course, a Playoff would be more appropriate, but if the NCAA did that, it would kill the annual discussion free-for-all ratings giant that is the BCS.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wonder Judge Power, DeActivate!

Reading my ABAnet e-mail, I see that there are several states that have judicial restraint propositions on the ballot this year. This is most likely the states' attempts at corraling those damn activist judges, ruling according to the laws written and based on public policy. Freaking jerks.

Actually, I'm quite aware that there is such a thing as judicial activism, the concept of "legislating from the bench." This occurs where the Court steps into legislation's shoes and not only defines the law, but describes how the law is to be applied. The two biggest examples that I can think of are "Roe v. Wade" - where the Court instructed how abortion was to be handled, and Miranda v. Arizona, where the Court instructed the states what each person must be apprised of when arrested. Both of these decisions, I think most people could agree, would be tantamount to legislating from the bench, but I don't know how many "activist" decisions these days really are "activist" in this sense. The problem is that many people see the courts issuing decisions that they disagree with, or they get confused with the judiciary's role in the system, accusing the courts of undermining the democratic process. This is little more than a fundamental misunderstanding that No Child Left Behind should clear up in our public schools, if civics is still considered important for our children to learn and achieve benchmarks on. Sorry for the snark, but I really hate NCLB.

Anyway, here are some of the issues on the ballot in some states:

Colorado - Amendment 40 - would impose term limits on Appellate judges. Quite frankly, I don't see term limits as a bad thing per se.

In TX, appellate and supreme court justices are elected to terms, though there's no term limits. It's not the lifetime appointment that federal judges enjoy. I think that electing judges to defined terms can be a helpful thing, but I think people need to understand why term limits haven't been imposed as of yet; the idea that judges who aren't subject to term limits will be less burdened by the pressure to listen to groups that are better able to help them get re-elected.

South Dakota - Amendment E - Would eliminate Judicial immunity and allow litigants to sue judges for a number of reasons, including intentionally violating due process rights and deliberate disregard of material facts.
At first, I was going to say that I thought this wasn't a bad idea, either. But do we really want to subject judges, who are supposed to be impartial to scrutiny by those judging them? How does it help the judicial process to have a judge be subject to a lawsuit for an opinion that offends a party? What about jury decisions - how do you approach those? What would the standard of proof be, and how would a prospective plaintiff bring suit? Who would be judging the judge? Quite frankly, even if this amendment does pass, I don't see how it could be faithfully implemented.

Montana - Constitutional Initiative 98 - would allow citizens to petition for recall of judges FOR ANY REASON. I trust my readers (all 4 of you) can see what's wrong with this.

Oregon - Ballot Measure 40 - would require that appellate judges and supreme court judges be elected by district, and that the judges would have to reside in their respective districts. Again, this is one that I'd like to agree with, but just can't, if for no other reason that the proponents say this will cut down on judicial activism. The hypothesis is that by putting districts, then each district will be represented, instead of particular areas having an overpowering majority. I tend to agree with the opponents that judicial quality isn't decided by geographic location. I also think that the judiciary, more than any other branch, is less prone to misrepresenting the people, but that's for another point.

Hawaii - would put a mandatory retirement age for judges at 70. I think this is ok, but I'd have to think about it more before I was really sure.

Anyway, what do you think?

Prove me wrong

If not for the Supreme Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona, Gerald Ford would not have fallen on the steps of Air Force 1.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Speech

I watched the President's speech yesterday on television. I found it uninspiring, which is bad if his intent was to inspire.

I heard rhetoric, I heard him basically say that we won't "stay the course" even though that's what we've said over the years (I understand semantics, but he's running from his party line now, there's little doubt about that). I heard him say that the terrorists want us to leave Iraq before we win because then they will have a powerful nation from which to launch terrorist attacks against America. I heard him say that he's setting benchmarks for Iraq's government, and that he listens to the generals in the field. I even heard him say he's accountable.

What I didn't hear were any answers to details. I didn't hear what would happen to Iraq if they failed to meet the President's benchmarks. I didn't hear what would happen if it became clear that we needed more troops in Iraq (which I thought was clear from the outset, but I may be wrong). I didn't hear why the hunt for terrorists had us leave the nation where the terrorists were while we were hunting for our numero uno terrorist to invade a nation where the terrorists weren't based on the pretext of WMDs that weren't there makes it necessary to prevent the terrorists from attacking us from there now that we are there. I did hear that there were new strategies being implemented to cut down on the insurgency - I am glad he acknowledged there WAS an insurgency, but I didn't hear what was being changed, or what hadn't worked in the past that showed why we were changing.

Most importantly, I heard that we need to stay until we win, and we're winning, but if we leave before we win, then we lose.

I basically heard that sentiment repeated in his speech, in his Q&A, etc.

At this point, it seems like the president is viewing Iraq in a delaying tactic mode. He doesn't provide clear, or any, answers as to how we're going to "win" the war in Iraq, other than to say "we're changing," but he says if we don't win, then we'll lose. It sounds to me as though he wants to drag on the situation in Iraq through the end of his presidency, knowing that there's no victory to be had, just so that whenever a president decides we HAVE had enough of Iraq, then when he (or she) pulls the troops out and all-out civil war erupts, he can say "See? I told you this would happen! THIS is why I wouldn't keep the troops out." This leaves the choice to be between future failure and continous policing action. Neither of those options sound too palatable to me.

One other thing. I heard the president make a veiled attempt to tell voters to not vote Democrat this election. He basically said "blame me. I'm the one responsible, not Congress." In other words, "don't punish the incumbents for the things in Iraq not being good. I know things are bad, so blame me." This logic fails me, though, because Congress acted as the enablers here. The president ran unchecked, basically, and if the House and Senate stay as they are, it will be akin to rewarding them for their behavior. And that's the wrong reason to hold Republican majority right now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The Boy got his report card yesterday. He did quite well; the only real "problem area" if there is one is that he was noted in reading as "not performing up to potential." Of course, he's maxed out the reading tests for second grade, so his potential is quite high. Anyway, we talked to him abou that, and focused on the positives on his report card.

Today his school had an assembly to honor students who had perfect attendance, earned good behavior awards, and who made the honor role. I was fortunate enough to get to go and watch The Boy receive his award for perfect attendance (which, sadly, I won't win, and haven't done since fall of '87), and his award for making the honor roll (which I also won't be winning again any time soon).

Way to go, Boy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More than a Thousand Words

The New York Times has a report about a man who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. He decided to approach the disease by chronicling how it affected him. He did this through self-portraits.

The article itself is interesting. The man's decision was astounding. If you know anyone who has suffered from Alzheimer's, or if you're a family member who dealt with a person suffering from it, I highly recommend reading the article and viewing the slideshow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Retirement Benefits

What is retirement pay? Is it property? Is it income? How does one disburse it among divorced people? When do you fix the value/percentage/total? Well, in Texas, we have a great rule, sort of, based on Berry v. Berry.

The basic formula for computing retirement disbursement between divorced spouses is as follows:
You take 1/2 (or whatever the judge deems fair and proper) of the total number of months the spouses were married divided by the total number of months in the retirement plan and then multiply that by the value of the monthly payment at the time of divorce. I will leave it to all of y'all to discuss how fair or sensible this is; maybe I'll do a little more later.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Carefree fun

Today, we took the kids out to Dewberry Farm in Brookshire. This was a great trip. The website discusses how you can get back to life like your grandparents lived (which one must ask, are they talking about MY grandparents, or my kids' grandparents), and it was a nice day's trip. There was a corn maze that we managed to get about 100 feet into before we realized it was just too muddy for the kids to go gallivanting through. We got to play on a giant inflatable balloon/cushion. This was awesome, it was like one of those bouncy rooms that parents rent their kids for parties, but it was HUGE. I had to go on it to make sure the little boy didn't get hurt with all the other kids bouncing around. I even managed to enjoy it, a little.

There was a goat feeding area, a barn with a few barnyard animals the kids could gawk at, a little playground that we didn't go in, a rubber duck race, which used water pumps, so the kids had fun with that. There was a duck pond that the little boy managed to get into, a big roller slide, a haybale pit, which everyone loved, some swings on a pony ride carousel (I can't so much as describe it any more than that, look at the website), hayrides, a tractor ride, a corn cannon (yes!), flowers to cut, and a panning station, where you could pan for gems, arrowheads, etc.

The kids had a great time, even The Boy, who swore up and down he didn't want to go out there because "it's for babies." The wife even managed to stand in line for the better part of an hour for a big bag of kettle corn, that I think she's going to be nursing well into Thanksgiving season.

It was a lot of fun. I'm glad I thought of it. Me. All by myself. Without my wife's input, who I let sleep in while I got up at 5:45 this morning with the children, feeding them breakfast, discussing W. B. Yeats, debating the estate tax problem, and generally cavorting until 10:50 when she deemed the sun high enough to warrant her rise. I wouldn't lie about this.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Seattle's Best

Seattle has a new slogan/term for it's tourist industry. Metronatural. Apparently the city wants to appeal to a slightly more eco-friendly group of well dressed, effeminate young males.

Friday, October 20, 2006


It's 11:38. That's not that late, especially on a Friday night - at least, it wasn't that late 10 years ago. Now, I'm exhausted and am usually in bed 90 minutes by now (laugh all you want; children suck the energy from you faster than those lights in office buildings).

I can't sleep. I'm tired, I just can't fall asleep. This is the fourth night in a row. Just too many things going on in my head. Schoolwork is a chore. Studying is tough going. The Career Resources office so much as said I won't find work with the grades I have, so I need to start clerking now - which is an impossibility with my and my family's schedule. This isn't to say we couldn't use the money - we could; there's just no way for us to fit my working into our schedule. We're compromising things as it is. I've got 7 months until graduation, then I immediately start studying for the bar 2 months after that. I have my MPRE in 2 weeks, which I've not begun to study for - I have no books or study materials and I didn't signed up for the MPRE review course that BarBri offers, and the WWJD approach doesn't work, from what I've heard.

My car is a wreck; I spent $200 on a new ignition today and I still need to spend another $250 on new tie rods, notwithstanding whatever else my car decides to allow to break on it. I haven't cleaned the apartment (I mean CLEANED) in at least 6 weeks. The cat is peeing on the landing almost daily now. I am on blood pressure medication and I'm 32. I've already had a stress test to make sure I don't have a heart condition. I can't qualify for the JD/MBA program with A&M. I want a federal job, but there's not a lot of pickings in the Houston area, and as much as I'd like to get out of Houston, my wife really likes her job and I'm not comfortable with completely relocating my family again - we got out of the military to avoid that.

Anyone want to hire a 3L with limited time availability, but a motivated desire to gain more legal experience, including immigration work, possibly education work, and simple family matters? And do you want to keep me on while I study for the bar? And maybe pay me more than it costs me to have the job?

I'm so tired.

For Christmas

If anyone would like to give me a new car, I would be rather appreciative...

I prefer American cars, so a Mercedes (Chrysler) or a Jaguar (Ford) would be great!

Though with 3 kids, I won't say no to a Volvo

I'm sorry, so sorry

According to Yahoo!, Kim Chong Il is reportedly regretful of his decision to test a nuclear weapon. The DPRK is also reportedly not planning any more tests.

There are a couple ways to analyze this, but we need to be clear on one thing before we do any analysis: The Chonger is NOT regretful. He is NOT sorry, and if he thought it would enhance his bargaining position, he most certainly WOULD test another one.

As for the week-long delay in the rally, that's easily explained by the nature of the nation. These rallies are not spur of the moment deals. They are planned events, complete with directions on when to erupt in spontaneous applause.

Now, what could be the purpose of this release? Why would the Chonger allow his people to say he's sorry? It's an attempt to get back to the dialogue table; a way of trying to get into bilateral talks again, or, perhaps, to use the remorse as a bargaining chip. Whatever it is, this "regret" is political, not real, and shame on anyone who believes otherwise.

I highly recommend reading "The Two Koreas" for anyone who thinks they know what's going on in the country today. It gives a lot of important background information on the issues that face the country. It's about 10 years old, give or take, but it's rather relevant still. Much better than the talking points many "experts" who have read one or two articles on the country can provide.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My morning, with some background information

Last Thursday, I got home from picking up daughter and taking her to daycare. It was a rainy day, so I'd had my headlights on for the drive home, to be easier seen. When I got out of the car, the "warning" buzzer that is supposed to sound when you have done something you oughtn't (such as leave your keys in the ignition) went off. Unfortunately, it has gone off every time I've opened the door since 2002, so I no longer notice the buzz. This inability to hear the warning allowed me to go inside the house without turning off my headlights. Well, this was a bad thing, because 2 hours later, when it was time for me to go to class, my battery died. Fortunately, I was able to get a jump quickly, but I noticed a rather odd thing - my car started to turn whenever I depressed the clutch - as though the ignition was connected to the clutch and not the key (I've commented on this already). Anyway, things go ok for about a week. Then, yesterday I drive to work. It's been raining, so I turn my headlights on and think to myself that I shouldn't do that because I'll forget to turn them off in the parking garage. So of course I forget. My friend tells me about 90 minutes after I arrive to school that she saw my car's lights on, but this was 5 minutes before class, so I didn't have time to go and turn them off and still get in to class on time. Class is an hour, and then I have another class immediately after for another hour. Result - a total of 3.5 hours where my headlights are on and I can do nothing about it. Then, class gets out, and another friend and I decide to go get some dinner. With school being downtown, we are fortunate enough to be able to walk to the Park Shops and get our meals. Of course, walking meant that I did not go to the parking garage to turn off my headlights. Once we got back to school, we had to do a little reading for Criminal Procedure (still a class I really dig), and then go to class, which lasts for 2 hours. So now I've added to the 3.5 hours a 2 hour break and a 2 hour class. My battery isn't just dead, it's returned from the dead to seek vengeance on me.

I manage to get a jump last night and am able to drive my car home. This morning I go out to start my engine at 7:10 - remember my whole "it starts turning when you depress the clutch?" Yeah, it didn't. I tried to get a jump, but it wouldn't do a thing. By this time I've got about 10 minutes to get The Boy to class, and I also want to get the little boy to daycare where he can have some fun (I realize my day is by this point shot). I move all the kids to the minivan, and drive to The Boy's school, thinking I should have dropped off the little boy first, for efficiency sake. I get to the turn around to turn into The Boy's school parking lot, where I look into a mile's (1.4 km) worth of oncoming traffic lights moving at 20 mph (about 32 kph). I realize that there's no way I'm going to get him dropped off before class starts, so I decide to take the long way around the school back to the apartment complex on the other side where there is a breezeway he can walk through to get to class. This of course takes about as long as the oncoming line of traffic, and by the time I get him there, get through the exit gate because my gate key doesn't work on that side (which I didn't know until today) and get him to the breezeway, he's late for class, and I have to get the van back to the wife who needs to go to work. This is a little problematic, because we have 1 car, the little boy is in his seat waiting to go to daycare and the daughter is in her seat waiting to go to school - usually the bus stop, but that's not going to happen today. As soon as I get out of one side of the complex, my cell phone rings - the wife is trying to figure out why I took her car. I inform her that I'm pulling into the parking lot now to pick her up and take her to work. On our way to dropping her off at work, about 5 minutes before we get there, we hear daughter inform us that "her bunnies are trying to put the nasties out," which apparently means she's gotta poop. We get wife to work about 3 minutes late, but still before the rest of her coworkers, which gives me 27 minutes to get the daughter to school in time, but of course we have to wait for her bunnies to get the nasties out, so by the time we hit the road again, we have about 23 minutes to get her to school. I was rather fortunate getting back to where our apartment is, in that I still had about 7 minutes to get her to class from the intersection nearest our apartment en route to her school. Unfortunately, every stupid driver and every red light had to make its presence felt on the remainder of the trip, and a six minute drive ended up taking us about 16 minutes. Anyway, I get her dropped off to class, and on the way back to the car, I held the little boy like a football and ran as fast as my out of shape legs could take me. He loved that, and actually got mad at me for stopping 20 feet before we reached the car. So I gasped one last breath of pre-death air and chugged the remainder of the way, his head bouncing along in jubilant glee.

Anyway, I get him to daycare relatively unscathed, and then get back home at 8:55, where I got to embark on the wonderful journey that was the rest of my day, but which is quite frankly not what as frenetic as this portion, though still busy and frustrating, but I'll spare y'all the chronicling at this time.

So, how was your morning?

Tag! You're out

What American child hasn't had several hours of fun playing tag? I'm pretty sure I played it every recess from 1979-1982, and several times after that. I don't think anyone ever equated this child's game with vicarious liability torts, yet one Massachussetts elementary school has banned tag, touch football and other unsupervised chase game for fear that children will get hurt and hold the school liable.

This is borderline ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Want a Federal Job,
But will they hire a C-Plus
Guy from South Texas?

I know I missed last week; the semester's been rough at spots. sorry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The country hit 300,000,000 people. That's a lot. And all of them apparently are driving in front of me when I'm on the road, going 5 miles below the speed limit with their turn signal on in the fast lane while trying to read a map, talk on the cell phone, drink coffee and smoke a cigarette at the same time. Stupid 300 million drivers.

North Korea again

Apparently North Korea has declared that any sactions enacted against them "cannot be construed as anything but a declaration of war," and that they won't sit idly by now that they are a nuclear power.

Of course, this is part of why the DPRK wanted a nuclear weapon, to be able to claim nuclear power for leverage and negotiation purposes.

Now, to be fair, North Korea construes just about anything, from sanctions to dipping your donut in your coffee, to be construed as a declaration of war. Anyone who's read the Pyongyang times at any point over the past 15 years would likely have seen the press in North Korea referring to various acts, such as Tony Shalhoub winning an emmy for Monk, as declarations of war. (note, I am a big fan of Tony Shalhoub, and absolutely love Monk - one of the few well written shows left on television).

North Korea is a formiddable force. When I inprocessed at Osan Air Base, the inbriefers all started their briefs with "welcome to Osan Air base, four minutes from death." The DPRK has enough firepower collected at the DMZ to level Seoul rather quickly (the South has similar force built up on their side - it's the most heavily armed area in the world), so they are a group to be dealt with. But it's hard to take rhetoric like this statement seriously when it's been used SO MUCH over the years.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It's been raining here. A lot.

I drove in this morning to school and saw the bayou deep enough to bury trees, running trails, everything. It was closer to the street (just a couple feet away in spots) than I've ever seen. It was kinda neat to see.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A great year to be a Tiger Fan

The Tigers beat the A's last night 6-3! A three run home run by Magglio Ordonez of Huston Street with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th sealed it. What a year!


The president urged sanctions against North Korea. The U.N. approved the idea. There is some conjecture that enforcing sanctions will be difficult - well, yes, that is the burden.

I've spoken openly several times about how the Chonger was the one that we should have focused our efforts on, not Hussein - primarily based on the fact that he was flaunting his dismissal of IAEA inspectors, continuing with nuclear proliferation, and the 2 million in negative population growth which seems to be less important than some 30K in an oil rich nation.

However, we invaded Iraq, killed anywhere between 400 and 800 thousand civilians (the "official" estimate was 655K, but that had a plus-minus of 200K). We're stuck in Iraq because the people haven't embraced our version of liberty as heartily as we assumed they would, and our continued presence is needed to delay all out civil war. Combine that with our resources commited to putting out the appearance of hunting for OBL, and we simply don't have the resources to overthrow the Chonger's regime. As such, the President's urging of sanctions is probably the next best policy. One might argue that it was the first best policy in Iraq, but it's a moo point now. At any rate, it doesn't seem to make sense to criticize the President for doing now what so many thought he should have in the past.

Now, sanctions must be very tough on North Korea. I think we need to suspend all food aid to the country, no exportation of natural resources, and effectively blockade the country - check all shipping for evidence of arms, contraband, etc.. The country is scarecely hanging on as it is, and it knows that we can't attack at this time. We need to take as many balls out of North Korea's court as possible and force them to move decisively toward explosion or implosion. At this point, there's little more we can do to a nation we've so much as declared an enemy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Car

As I attend law school, I don't have a lot of money. With rent, daycare, groceries, utilities, gas, and whatnot, we don't have a whole lot of money left over each month. One of the things we've done to keep expenses down is not buy a new car for me. This means I still drive the same '95 Ford Escort I bought used in 1998 when I got back from Korea. Ironically, I bought this car as a short-term, use it until I save enough to buy a better car-car, and I've now been driving it for half as long as I've had a driver's license. (math majors - how old am I according to these facts?)

My car is kind of a junker. It started out OK, but it's gone downhill somewhat over the past 3 years. Before 2003, the biggest problem with it was that it broke down in West Virginia on the freeway at night between towns - a situation I was not comfortable with, but which turned out OK.

Since 2003, though, I've had a few interesting issues. First, one day, I got in the car and the rear window was foggy, so I pushed in the rear-window defrost button, and it kept going in - there's now a hole where the defrost button used to be. The upholstry on the ceiling is starting to separate - it's now one of "those" cars. The black vinyl stuff that they put around the windows on the doors has started flaking off. Someone stole my stereo a couple years ago, so I had to put the factory stereo back in, but since the thief ripped my stereo out, I had to kind of balance the factory one in the right spot. Also, apparently there was a problem with reconnecting the old stereo, because the stereo itself no longer works. This means that if I want to listen to anything, I have to plug in the CD player adapter I have and play CDs, which is ok. I changed my battery back in 2003, and when I did so, I put the old battery in the back seat on the floor to drive it to a place where I could drop it off. It leaked. Of course. So I have a vinyl mat that I bought covering the eaten-up upholstry on the floor in the back seat. The heater doesn't get any hotter than "slightly above room temperature," so on cold days (there are some in Houston, not many, but enough), I get to shiver the 35 minutes to and from school. A couple days ago I had to get my car jumped because my battery died. That went fine, except now, whenever I push the clutch in all the way, even without the keys in the ignition, it tries to turn, and then it tries to start itself after it's turned on when you depress the clutch fully. Not only that, but I realized about a week and a half ago that after I start my engine, I don't, technically, NEED to keep my keys in the ignition; it will keep running if I just pull them out. Talk about a convenience. The A/C works, but when it does, it semi-regularly makes this loud clicking noise, as though someone put a playing card in the spokes.

Part of me thinks that the car is planning a getaway and is jury-rigging itself for its eventual prison break.

I want a new car.

Few things are more embarrassing

Than having the answer your professor is looking for on your brief, and having reminded yourself OF that point before class, and then forgetting it when asked.

In other news, I still dig Crim Pro.

Monday, October 09, 2006


North Korea conducted a nuclear test today. This is a bad thing.

What the folks at Gun Toting Liberal have to say on the matter.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

William O. Douglas

The longest sitting Supreme Court Justice had more than a few things to say about the way the country is, and should be. Here are some examples.

- As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

- The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedoms.

- When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen's constitutional rights is acts lawlessly and the citizen can take matters into his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all.

- An arrest is not justified by what the subsequent search discloses.

- The framers of the Constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They had lived in dangerous days; they knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty.

- Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. it is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

- Whatever the reason, words mean what they say.

- Tell the FBI the kidnappers should pick a judge that Nixon wants back.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Day

The Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees today to with the divisional series 3 games to 1. Way to go Tigers!


Our cafeteria at school is not terribly large. It's got room enough for quite a few people, but it's still a room. I was in there yesterday and there was a group of students about 7 feet away from me having a conversation. While I was busy reading for class, these folks were sufficiently loud enough that I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. One of the students was apparently complaining because one of his professors had commented on how she might drop a student because every time she tried to call on him, he wasn't in class. You see, our school has an attendance policy based on the premise that the ABA requires a law student attend at least 80% of the class days in a semester in order to take the final. Usually the professor will pass around the roll sheet so that everyone can sign, but this professor at the beginning of the semester said that she would not take roll. The guy speaking then said that the professor had better not try to drop him because he relied on her promise not to take roll, and if he were dropped for missing too much class, he had relied on her representation to his detriment, therefore she "couldn't" drop him.

You see, he's wrong. In order to have a contract, which is what he was suggesting she would be breaching, there must be a bargained-for exchange. There was nothing given on his part, except, perhaps the promise that he would exercise self-governance and attend at least 80% of the classes in exchange for her not passing the role. If that's the case, then by not attending 80% of the classes, he has breached his promise as well. Additionally, for there to be a breach in this situation, there must be detrimental reliance - the guy must have relied on the professor's promise and that promise must be the cause of his harm. Again, if he's dropped for missing too many classes, the harm is not that he relied on the professor's promise, it's that he didn't fulfil his obligation as a student. He started from a faulty premise and reached an incorrect result.

What's really going on is he's proactively trying to deflect blame for a potential harm that will likely never come to fruition. He's seeing that, in theory, he might be dropped from a class. Rather than accept that it would be his own fault for not attending class, he's trying to foist the responsibility for his actions on someone else. I know that's exactly what I look for in a lawyer.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Random Trivia

While cleaning them for a tour, it was discovered that the pistol used by Alexander Hamilton in his duel against Aaron Burr had been modified so that it would require less PSI to squeeze the trigger (without verification of numbers, this is an approximation) to about 1.5 PSI instead of the 9-10 on Burr's pistol. This gives the impression that rather than nobly shooting above Burr's head, it was an accident caused by rushing his shot as a result of nerves. In other words, Hamilton tried to cheat in his duel, not take the high road.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Random Trivia Style!

Henry Ford was Charles
Lindbergh's first Spirit of St.
Louis passenger.

All right, your turn!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More from the Chonger

Over the past 60 years, North Korea has intermittently done things to ensure they get back on the newspaper. These have included acts of aggression (the submarine incident, the poplar tree incident, the crab war), acts of sheer ridiculousness (heroin exports, the importation of 600 cows from the hyundai founder), even plain rhetoric (you sycophantic stooge).

Now, in their latest attempt to provide evidence to their continued relevance, North Korea announced it would conduct a nuclear test.

Look, I wasn't a fan of the Sunshine policy. I didn't think the oil and food agreement to help NK build light water reactors was a good idea inasmuch as North Korea can't be trusted. But if this isn't an indictment against president Bush's foreign policy, then I don't know what could be. North Korea does these things to ensure that they get aid. They want to blackmail the rest of the world into doing their work for them, and we do nothing to stop them. President Bush's foreign policy has created a situation in Afghanistan where Senator Frist is even calling for the Taliban to resume government work, h/t Gun Toting Liberal. Iraq is so screwed up that nobody knows what to call it. The current situation is bad, but the only choices so far seem to be the dreaded "stay the course" or "cut and run." Why do we always presume there are only two options? How about "Do something different?!" If it gets worse, then we change again, we improvise, adapt, change how we do things. Unfortunately, what we have shown is that we're good at making messes but we suck at trying to clean them up afterwards.

Our actions, according to the NIE, are helping to make more terrorists. Our troops are committed to two nations that we can't stabilize, and we stay because if we don't, they'll slip into civil war, or "we'll fight the terrorists on our land." This gives the other nations who we've as much as declared our enemies (the axis of evil) enough latitude to get fiesty, to put it mildly.

North Korea could have, and should have been dealt with. They have countless human rights violations. They have WMDs, that THEY announce they have or are about to have. They have committed acts of aggression against South Korea, Japan, and US Soldiers. In north Korea, we have a nation that is split. One half of that nation is already a representative republic. The other nation is filled with countrymen who, after defeated, would welcome the opportunity to be back with their families, back in their hometowns, back together. The hatred would have dissipated, not festered. Yet, instead of dealing with them then, we determined they weren't worth our while, and now they're ready to test nukes. This is in large part a result of bad foreign policy on our part, and that stems from poor leadership.

Monday, October 02, 2006

As papmoka would say,

Things that make you go HMMMMMMM?

One of the original framers of the Constitution was George Mason. He took his appointment rather seriously, noting that the final work would affect "the happiness or misery of millions yet unborn." However, he did not like the way the direction the drafting took, and passed a list known as the "Objections to This Constitution of Government" which outlined points of contention, foremost being the lack of a Bill of Rights (which came some years later and was a condition for ratification). Listen to some of the things he feared, and see how they sound in today's environment.

In the House of Representatives, there is not the Substance, but the Shadow only of Representation; which can never produce proper Information in the Legislature, or inspire Confidence in the People; the Laws will therefore be generally made by men little concern[e]d in, and unacquainted with their Effects and Consequences.

These (right to alter bills and set salary), with their other great Powers (viz: their Power in the Appointment of Ambassadors and all public Officers, in making Treaties, and in trying all Impeachments) their Influence upon & Connection with the supreme Executive from these Causes, their Duration of Office, and their being a constant existing Body, almost continually sitting, joined with their being one compleat Branch of the Legislature will destroy any Ballance in the Government, & enable them to accomplish what usurpations they please upon the Rights and Liberty of the People.

The Judiciary of the United States is so constructed & extended, as to absorb and destroy the Judiciarys of the several States; thereby rendering Law as tedious intricate and expensive, & Justice as unattainable, by a great Part of the Community, as in England, and enabling the Rich to oppress & ruin the Poor.

The President of the United States has no constitutional Council (a thing unknown in any safe & regular Government) he will therefore be unsupported by proper information and Advice; and will generally be directed by Minions and Favourites. Or he will become a Tool to the Senate - or a Council of State will grow out of the principal Officers of the great Departments; the worst & most dangerous of all Ingredients for such a Council, in a free country.

From this fatal Defect has arisen the improper Power of the Senate in the appointment of public Officers, and teh alarming Dependence & Connection between that Branch of the Legislature and the supreme Executive.

The President of the United States has the unrestrained Power of granting Pardons for Treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from Punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the Crime, & thereby prevent a Discovery of his own Guilt.

This Government will set out a moderate Aristocracy: it is at present (in 1787) impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a Monarchy, or a corrupt tyrannical Aristocracy; it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.

Interesting how one of the principal drafters felt back in the infancy stage. Very interesting.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


After church today, we went out for brunch. This time we went to le peep, which is a place my wife likes. The food is all right, but it's not my favorite place. She likes it, and the kids didn't want my choice, so le peep it was.

We got there and had to wait for a table. There are a couple benches to sit at while waiting, but there's not really a whole lot of room, and a family of five takes up a bunch of that space. So I decided I'd stand, let others who might prefer to sit, sit.

Le Peep also has coffee and water available at a service counter for those who are waiting - not a bad idea. It turns out that my wife and kids were seated right next to the service counter with the coffee and water, which means that I was standing right next to it. I didn't consider this to be an issue - I didn't even consider it at all. Until this man whose family came in after us decided he needed coffee, and rather than asking me to move, or saying "pardon me," or "excuse me," he merely walked past me, pushing me (not a shove, but a shoulder push) aside without so much as making eye contact. As he did so, I said "pardon me" (politely) and moved.

This upset me some. I'm not exactly a confrontational person, but this ticked me off. So, I passive-aggresively stated that courtesy must have gone out of style. Of course, the guy didn't hear me, but his wife apparently did. She didn't say anything though, which means she was either turned off by her husband's rudeness or mine, and in either situation didn't feel comfortable commenting on it. I probably wouldn't mind so much, except the man and his two teenage sons all looked as though they were somehow "above" us common folk flocking around where they deemed fit to be. To be fair, I decided that these folks were elitist jerks after I was bumped, but since I feel secure in the thought that I probably won't encounter this family again, at least not in a manner where we'll recognize each other, it doesn't matter that much to me; I'll think of them however I want.

In conclusion, if you're going to bump someone out of your way, be courteous enough to excuse yourself. It's the polite thing to do, and you won't have some random guy in Houston thinking you're a complete ass.