Thursday, November 23, 2006

Michael Richards

What. The. Hell.

First, I see some conservatives defending him. Why, guys? He's insane. He might not be racist (I'll get to this shortly), but he's still insane in the brain. Since when do we defend crazy idiots? I didn't see any of us going to bat for Al Gore, for instance. Just walk away, and let him go.

Second - remember Seinfeld? Apparently, Kramer was Michael Richards. Or, more accurately, Kramer was a benign version of Michael Richards. The insane, bizarre, inexplicable character in the show was a toned-down, nice version of the actor who portrayed him. Wow. That's rough. Those of you who know the show well - remember the show-within-the-show that Jerry and George were trying to sell to NBC? Remember the guy who played Kramer in the pilot of that? Yeah. Michael Richards all over.

Third - Mel Gibson redux. Mel at least had the excuse that he was drunk. I say a lot of stupid things when I'm drunk, and consider a lot more...options when intoxicated. But Michael Richards strikes me very much as someone pathologically affected by drugs. Apparently, this is not the first time he made racist remarks. He rants. He's crazy and hyper. In Hollywood, some people can get away with this, like Lewis Black (who's not really that funny, guys). Robin Williams says a lot of offensive stuff in his acts. Is he really a bigot? Who knows.

Fourth - Michael Richards? Who cares? He's washed up.

End transmission.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stay On Target

My margins were killing me on the memo. I hadn't even covered half my analysis, and I was already creeping up on the page limit. I think I managed to solve the problem and stay within the rules (MS Word is about as intuitive as any Microsoft program - set one-inch margins, then measure what it gives you at the bottom. Yeah. Brilliant.). One page left, some BS analysis, and then that entire class is done for the semester.

Not as much material to cover in Contracts as I thought. Should take less time than I thought to review for the final. It's my first one, too.

Bl..e..h.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oops!

I need to write a seven-page memo about implied consent searches; I also need to read 116 pages about class actions.

I need to do this by tomorrow.

So, I'd love to talk about Michael Richards (idiot), but that must come when I am on a break.

See you...soon.

Content-ify

I was thinking... I bet that if we posted more things, more people might eventually read this.

How 'bout that?

You may only be able to step into the same river once, but I bet you can (with the mad skills) kill a blog countless times.

More later tonight. If I feel like it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Affirmative Non-action

A highly-qualified Asian applicant was rejected by Princeton. He alleges discrimination. This is affirmative action at work - if the unqualified are admitted based on race, you have to reject the extremely qualified, especially when that extremely qualified group is over-represented in college admissions.

Yep, folks, the liberals have hit on the perfect way to address discrimination - just screw someone else over!

What I like is that the kid says he's qualified not only academically, but also in those oh-so-important extracurriculars:
While the civil rights agency is only using Li's test scores and GPA as evidence in the case, Li said he does not believe these two pieces of information fully represent his admissions profile. In high school, Li said, he was president of the intercultural organization American Field Service, participated in American Legion Boys' State and volunteered for a community service project in Costa Rica.
All right, so we get that the lawsuit is only about his numbers, but the kid himself is saying, "Hey, I'm qualified every single way you care about, except race, and you're not legally allowed to care about race anyway. Accept me." So, while we can understand that the court will not be able to consider the evidence not being brought up, we and anyone else considering the case at a distance can think about all his qualifications. That makes a statement like this just stupid:
Bruce Bailey, director of college counseling at the Lakeside School in Seattle, Wash., said the use of perfect SAT scores as evidence of discrimination is not likely to help his case.

"Anyone who knows anything about college admissions knows that scores are only one part of an application," he said. "I'm sure Princeton and Yale can fill their classes up with people with those kinds of scores."
OK, director of counseling (smirk). Here is an analogy to the situation. Imagine the Asian kid is a computer salesman, and this brilliant college counselor is a customer.

Salesman: "Not only does this computer come with an awesome CPU, but it has a really great monitor too."
Customer: "OK, but what I am really looking for is both a great CPU and a great monitor. A great CPU alone is not going to cut it."
Salesman: "This comes with a monitor. I just said that."
Customer: "Look, if you're not going to sell me a monitor, then just stop wasting my time."
Salesman: "You are a retard."

Do I smell jealousy in the air? I think so - why else would you just ignore what the Asian is alleging and smack out some boilerplate about the inadequacy of academic measures of intelligence? I think I'm actually being nice by not just pointing out that in college admissions, the admissions officers should perhaps give overwhelming weight to academic qualifications. Call me crazy, but I think that in the Academy, academics are important. If you really want to evaluate everything that will make a person have a good college experience, here is what you will need on your applications:

-prospects of success at hooking up
-ability to drink alcohol before the age of twenty-one
-skill at smoking marijuana without being caught by the RA
-begging your parents for money you're just going to spend at the strip club and not on books anyway
-arm strength needed for raising your hand to earn that "class participation" extra credit; making an actual point or critically examining the material is not necessary; generally better merely to parrot whatever your professor or his favorite academic expert says on the subject

More stupidity? I thought you'd never ask:
Alexis Fitts '08 said she was surprised by Li's hope that he would get rejected so he would be able to file the suit.

"It seems like a really bizarre way of applying to college if he was really taking the process seriously," she said.
Actually, it seems like a really bizarre thing to require him to show some substantive harm before filing a suit for discrimination. What the stunningly intelligent (cough) Ms. Fitts is saying is that as long as discrimination doesn't hurt anyone, it's fine.

So, separate but equal, right, Fittsy? Let's reaffirm Plessy, because it's just not fair to require an actual show of harm before we stop racism. Benign racism. What a concept.

I wish this kid were at MIT, because, really, this is pathetic. Princeton and Yale for the lose.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

RIP

I freely confess that I know little of economics, but I know by the respect accorded to Milton Friedman that he was a brilliant economist.

Milton Friedman has died. Requiescat in pace.

Pelosi: 0

And not just her IQ. Just over a week from her party earning (or should I say "stealing" as they so often do following losses) power in congress, the Speaker-to-be has ALREADY lost a battle. The bloated hog from my own state (from a bordering district, as a matter of fact) was handily defeated for majority leader.

This is clever too:

Speaking to the caucus after winning the nomination by acclamation, Speaker-to-be Pelosi vowed to keep the party clean.
Except for, I guess, supporting Murtha (ethics? what ethics?) for majority leader. That puts her at a, what now, 0% success rate for the clean party thing?

Cross this off the list

On the list of things that I no longer need is a moat. Here in Central PA it is raining like crazy, and my building is flooding on the first floor. It is impossible to leave this building without sloshing through about 5 inches of water. Some of it is moving, which leads to safety concerns; six inches of moving water is enough to sweep a car away, never mind a frail human body.

I think that soon the crick outside the back of the building is to breech. This will be fun. Yay flood-blogging.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oral Argument

This is fun - recent oral arguments from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Just yesterday, the panel members included Posner and Easterbrook. They are vicious in oral argument. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chief Justice John Roberts

A few things stand out about Chief Justice Roberts, when you've heard him speak and answer questions. He is very well-spoken. He is always looking for a chance to make a joke. He's extremely humble, but not in an artificial way. You become so at ease listening to him that you forget that this man is a brilliant and successful jurist and that he is one of the most intelligent men in the nation. He had nothing bad to say about his fellow justices, and went out of his way to be diplomatic about, for instance, Scalia's and Ginsburg's personalities. One gets the sense that he is a fair and competent leader of the Court.

Some of you may know that Chief Justice Roberts clerked for William Rehnquist in 1980, while the latter was still an Associate Justice. Rehnquist died after Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court, but before his confirmation hearing (Roberts was originally selected to replace retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor). Roberts says he got a note from Rehnquist saying that he looked forward to working on the Court with his former law clerk. Something that was pretty apparent yesterday was that Roberts admired his precedessor more than you could realize, if all you know of Roberts is gleaned from coverage of his confirmation hearing.

The man we have leading our highest court is one of the best judges and best men this country has. I hope he continues for a good many decades of service.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Inequality

I just got back from one of those echo-chamber "panel discussions" that make the square circle and non-mammalian whale seem plausible. Hosted by a student group with some name roughly like "The Society for Human Rights," this panel consisted of three intellectuals who might have been mistaken for each other. It was sort of a trinity of dull agreement. "I hate the death penalty" followed "The death penalty is barbaric" followed "I am fighting to get death row inmates out of prison;" naturally, you can see how their views absolutely ran the gamut of intelligent discourse on capital punishment. Several students made painfully sophomoric declarations of the injustice of administering the death penalty, and all I could do to stem the tide was speak rather awkwardly and airily about Kantianism, unfortunately. What comes out beautifully on paper does not come out of my mouth so well.

In sharp contrast to the anti-rationality of the afternoon will be a speaking affair by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts, to be given in less than four hours on campus. Though it means an extra four miles on foot, I am nevertheless braving the pavement to hear our leading jurist speak intelligently on...whatever he's speaking on.

I guess the balance is kept.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tinfoil Hats, Activate!

Bush is Hitler, again.

I am sure glad this is marked "Opinion." Otherwise, I might have mistaken it for real news.

Nice turns of phrase:

"Bush's fascism lite"

"December 2000 coup d'├ętat"

"unpopular, highly partisan lame duck"

"concentration camps and secret prisons"

"cornered like rats"

Oh, and I found it strange that he spoke of concentration camps but called Bush and Cheney "neocons." Denouncing Nazism and using an anti-Semitic term in the same article!

That, friends, is true journalism.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Har har har

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Not Ed Bradley!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So?

So, are we happy now? We screwed the country over to teach the Republicans a "lesson." I hope you ponder that lesson as we undermine the security of this nation by pulling out of the War on Terror.

Enjoy.

Ugh

Feh. We needed Santorum. He was one of the best and brightest. Now jerks like Kerky, Clinton, and Kennedy will be more powerful as Bobby Jr. realizes that his father's name doesn't mean squat.

Oh, and Rendell's a crook and a liar. Seriously. Why do so many dead people vote for him?! Don't they know he opposes dead marraige and favors a death tax?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This one ain't botched

As I was driving to work this morning, the local radio morning drive show played a pre-produced comedy bit. In this segment John Kerry was doing stand up comedy. He opened with the following gem:

I just flew in from Washington, and boy are the troops stupid!

Well, that just made my morning. In fact, I laughed so hard at the delivery that I decided to go vote right then, rather than waiting for this afternoon like I had originally planned. Remember, any vote for national Democrats is a vote of power for people like Kerry.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The horrors of sensibility

On Saturday I had occasion to ride in a truck with two of my friends. We rarely discuss politics, as we are brought together for musical pursuits. On this occasion, however, given the length of the trip and the impending elections, the topic of conversation tuned decidedly political.

Eventually, the percussionist mentioned that he had read in the Times (whether local or New York I am uncertain) that the U. S. government had spent many billions on research. In particular, military research.

My woodwind friend mentioned that he had read something similar, and yet had only spent a relative pittance on energy research. "And all that research," he added, "was on oil and coal based technology anyway."

Both of my friends mean well, I can assure you. They are decidedly liberal, but without the all-too-common rabid streak. I normally remain relatively quiet during such activities, but could sense this time would be an exception. Especially when my woodwind friend continued, "With gas prices so high and oil about to run out, the government should be doing more to research alternative clean energies."

Is that so? I wondered. I asked, "What brand of car do you drive?" We had a Nissan and a Volkswagen, as well as my own Saturn. "I notice," I said, "that none of us drive a U. S. Government brand car." When I received the predictable confused looks, I asked whether they even "priced U. S. Government brand cars last time" they shopped?

Of course, you needn't have me tell you there is no such thing. I asked, then, who protected them from invaders and enemy states. After allowing that they could disagree with the Iraq war for this particular exercise, they agreed that it was the Army and other military that served these functions. It wasn't private militaries or other such independent entities.

"Great!" I said. "We are all - and by 'we' I mean everyone in this country - protected by the U. S. government-owned and -controlled military, and we buy our vehicles from private businesses. Why would we expect the government to research on behalf of the private companies but not for their own military?"

The silence from my friends was very satisfying. They both with minimal coaxing admitted my point and proceeded to discuss the merits of the Iraq war (merits indeed, they said). Why be so imperialistic when we have so many problems with education that could be solved with all that wasted money (or something to that effect)? I again took up my silence and allowed their conversation to run its course, content with my victory, such as it was.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Weekend Update

Weekend updates are rare, because making content when no one is watching is worthless.

Of course, no one ever watches us.

Had to post this, though: Why Scalia is awesome, in case you forgot.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Activism Metric

Judicial activism is a dirty phrase among me, Auskunft, and our conservative colleagues. Rightly so, we think; activist courts impose their ideologies on the legal system irrespective of that system's established rules. Often, activist courts overturn laws created by the state and federal legislatures, indirectly repudiating the will of the people by substituting unelected judicial officials' judgment for the judgment of elected, popularly-accountable legislative bodies.

So far, so good. Another thing that bothers me, but perhaps is not so closely tied to my political alignment, is assumption and speculation divorced from empirical grounds. I know philosophers are often guilty of shutting their minds from reality and following the trail of an abstract thought to higher and higher levels of abstraction, until the way back to the ground can no longer be discovered. Speculation is useful only if it can constantly, at each step of logical inference, relate its new insight to concrete facts of existence.

Now combine those two thoughts - instead of calling this court or that court activist based on presumption, we would do better if we could examine courts' activism or restraint by a concrete measure. Assign a numerical weight to activism, call it the "Activism Score" or whatever you want, really, and you have an objective basis for evaluating judicial activism.

That, I think, is what the first note of this paper from the Federalist Society is trying to do. Define activism unambiguously, then balance the number of decisions that fall under the "activist" side of the dichotomy with the number of decision that fall on the "restrained" side, and you decide how activist a court is. A perfectly balanced court (though a supporter of restraint would hardly call the balance perfect) would have equal numbers on each side; the greater the proportion on one side, the farther the court in question would lean toward that model of judicial interpretation.

However, if the standard for evaluation is misleading, it's useless. And, sadly, I am not sure a numerical measure of judicial activism is possible. Let me explain. If "overturning a statute" is activist, then what of the cases where the clear precedent of the court is that the type of action authorized by the legislature in the overturned statute was unconstitutional? Whichever side the court comes down on, it's overturning some precedent, either the expressed will of the legislature or its own doctrinal history. I think it is important to recognize that activism constitutes many different judicial actions, some of them potentially in perfect line with contemporary legislative actions.

The consequence of this ambiguity is, well, ambiguity. Sometimes the mind has to synthesize a general activism "vibe" coming from a case or line of cases, and no concrete numerical analysis is going to help. It's imperfect, but an inappropriate insistence on science where the subject matter is not purely scientific is hardly perfect either.

Anyway, keep reaching for that rainbow, guys!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad Experience?

Given what Auskunft just, you know, said, and what everyone is talking about anyway, what's John Kerry's deal?

Let's take the joke at face value. Apparently, President George W. Bush did not receive a good education. Remember, the President went to Yale. John Kerry went to...yeah. Yale.

So, obviously, if you don't get a good education, you might end up a) in Iraq or b) as a loser crybaby senator from Taxachusetts. Ouch, stay in school, kids!

All right, second point. President Bush is not literally "in Iraq" most of the time. Usually he is, you know, in the White House, or at his ranch in Crawford, or traveling the world being the president. We have to take Senator Kerry somewhat less than literally, of course, and assume that being "in Iraq" means "planning, funding, or fighting the War in Iraq or otherwise intimately connected with those who are doing such actions." If Senator Kerry is trying to say that he is not "in Iraq" but President Bush is, that's rather telling. I would say, as an American, that I am "in Iraq" by the senator's definition. I would never dream of saying that I am taking on any risk, being merely a civilian and not bravely risking my life for the country, but the senator said he wasn't talking about the troops, so I have to take him for his word - being "in Iraq" does not mean "being a soldier in Iraq." I have a friend who may very well be in Iraq soon as a second lieutenant.

So on the one hand you have people "in Iraq" and on the other, Senator Kerry and his supporters. If we construe his words as he wants them construed, he does not feel like he is involved at all with a war that our soldiers are currently fighting, and, mirabile dictu, this man is a United States Senator. I hear he voted for the war (before, well, you know). He does not feel that this is his war and he is not in it.

I think that says a lot about him. Americans, I think, believe this is our war, even if many Americans no longer support the goals of the war. We are in Iraq. John Kerry is not.

When people say liberals hate America, this is what they mean.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Botched Jerk

My father was a marine. I am insanely proud of him for it, and respect him for his service. I did not follow in his path, choosing instead to concentrate on college and a career, but that does not in the least temper my respect and adoration for this great man.

Verny's father was also a marine. I can assure you that he feels very similarly towards his father in terms of pride and respect. Verny chose law school over service, but I can guarantee he is one of the Corps' biggest supporters.

That being said, I feel that we are allowed to take offense with Kerry's recent remarks. Neither of our fathers served in Iraq, but follow the reasoning here. Who is "stuck" in Iraq? The military. It takes absolutely no deductive insight to see who Kerry is attacking here. As our fathers were a part of the military, I find myself very offended by Kerry's remarks.

But the kicker was how Kerry defended himself in his press conference yesterday. Originally he said:

Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

He passed it off yesterday, saying:

My statement yesterday -- and the White House knows this full well -- was a botched joke about the president and the president's people, not about the troops.

Ahhh yes. I see. So, when he says "Soldiers are stupid," he really means "How many George Bush people does it take to change a light bulb?" Well, I don't quite buy it. If I disagree with the chief of police over his methods for protecting my city, do I hold a press conference and announce I will abduct and rape his daughter? I mean, I am just making a joke about his failed policies, right? And he should know it full well.

In Kerry's "statement" yesterday, while never apologizing for his rotten remarks, he managed to squeeze in the following Democrat gems:


  • broken policy

  • failed team

  • [White House's] abject failure

  • willingness to distort

  • willingness to mislead Americans

  • willingness to exploit the troops

  • not told ... the truth

  • classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic

  • despicable Republicans

  • Republican attacks

  • people who never wore the uniform

  • never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves

  • Rush Limbaugh

  • Michael J. Fox

  • Katrina

  • unwilling to have a coalition

  • Republicans are afraid to stand up and debate a real veteran

That's a nice fun sample. I was going to put asterisks after items that he offered with no proof, but why bother? He offered no proof on anything. Why wear out my asterisks budget for the year?

The moral of the story is, Kerry was tricked into slamming the "uneducated troops" by "despicable Republicans and Rush Limbaugh (when he isn't attacking Fox) by attacking without ever wearing the uniform during Katrina." Or something.

I can take away two things from this. First, thank God Kerry couldn't possibly become President now; second, the GOP's chances in the upcoming election suddenly look brighter. Kerry could often moan about the Republicans having an October Surprise; I bet he would have never guessed he would be it!