Saturday, September 04, 2004

M...m...m...Mr. Vale?

Like Aaron Stampler (or was it Roy?), it seems that Incurious George also was able to "lose time," except that this is reality, what that was just a damn good movie. Apparently, the ranting that I've done for three years now continues to prove to be based in fact, as Salon reports on the truth behind Dumya's "lost year" while defending the mean skies of Texas from the Viet Cong air forces.

A snippet:
In the spring of 1972, George H.W. Bush phoned his friend and asked a favor: Could [Jimmy] Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush?

"The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Allison's widow, Linda, told me. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal."

See the rest of the article here.

Now, about those cocaine use allegations, George...


Friday, September 03, 2004

Can Blakely come out to play?

Upon further review: if ¾ of criminal juries are ready to convict a crim defendant upon commencement of a crim trial, perhaps the notion that we should trust juries is somewhat stilted, and that makes the decision in Blakely even more important. Does this correspond to civil juries and civil trial verdicts, however? To go out on a stereotypical limb, let’s say that conservatives/Republicans don’t like the Blakely decision (they're "tough on crime" after all, right Kenny Boy?), and want uphold the Sentencing Guidelines, placing the sentencing fact finding out of the hands of the jury and in the hands of the judge. (of course, this disregards the fact that Nino Scalia wrote the majority opinion, and that Senator Kennedy, no neocon, he, and Senator Feinstein are signatories to the amicus brief just filed in the Booker and Fanfan appeal. But I digress…). And let’s further assume that liberals/Democrats are in favor of the Blakely sentencing repercussions e.g. the guidelines are unconstitutional because they don’t allow one to have a trial by jury (again, those Dems are a bunch o' wusses on crime, right Rush?). Such a notion, then, would be squarely in line with the current “tort reform” charade being pushed by the Republicans and George W. Bush. The underlying truth to “tort reform” is one of distrust of juries to be able to dispense fair decisions and corresponding awards. Removing the handy-dandy fact that an attack on “trial lawyers” (isn’t that simply anyone who handles cases in a courtroom and thus including lawyers on the defense side too, as well as prosecutors?) doubles as a not-so-subtle attack on Johns Kerry and Edwards, one is still left with the distinct and troubling notion that caps on jury awards effectively say “we don’t give a shit what the details of a case are…we don’t trust the jury to do the right thing, so we’ll remove the discretion from them preemptively.”

It makes me chuckle, then, to think of Shrub’s line from the 2000 debates: “My opponent trusts the government; I trust the people!” Right, George. And I trust you too, because you’ve been so forthcoming with the truth about everything from your TANG service to the reasons for your war hard-on to those lost years in the 1970’s when you were blowing coke up your nose.

The question that still remains, however, is the empirical one at the start of this entry: does the ¾ figure apply to civil juries as well as criminal juries; if juries are ¾ predisposed to find for the plaintiff, that might be somewhat persuasive evidence that tort caps may be needed, but for now, I’m not buyin’.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Four more years!

Just a quick Bushian rant: I hear the common refrain chanted every election cycle with an incumbant: "Four more years! Four more years!" This time around, I have to question whether the people mindlessly chanting that purile statement give any thought whatsoever to what that acutally means.

Generally elections with an incumbant president are a referendum on the incumbant...either people want to give him another term, or they decide they didn't like the results of the first term, and therefore want to change by electing someone else. The incumbant, therefore, if he (or she, someday) is a strong candidate with a legitimate four year record to run on, generally runs on a "I was great already, vote for me again" campaign message, while the challenger has to run on the "the other guy is a _________" (insert quasi-slanderous, below-the-belt, personal attacks here) message. The challenger is the "unknown" entity, in theory at least. That's what makes this cycle so fascinating...Chimpy doesn't HAVE any positive record to run on. He's got about a 6 month window of "heroism" after 9-11 (I put "heroism" in quotes because I don't believe there's anything really heroic about simply doing your job...was I hero because I showed up to every single class for an entire week? methinks not), when his approval ratings shot up to 90% or higher. But other than that (misguided, in my opinion) small chunk of time where MIMS was seen as being our strong, awesome, stupendous, bitchin' leader, his admininstration has been utter dog crap for anyone not white, male, and rich. By every objective measurement (except one, which I'll refer to below), this admininstration has been a failure:
1. the level of people (and children...always for the children!) living in poverty has risen by over a million people just in the last year, and that doesn't include the large increase in such people EVERY YEAR of bush's admininstration.
2. our national "checkbook" has gone from having several trillion dollars of surplus to several more trillion dollars of three and a half years. you can only pay for government spending sprees in two can borrow against future generations' tax rates (and quality of life, i.e. the social support structures that are currently in place), or you can raise taxes now. bush chose to CUT taxes, and therefore you, and I, and my kids, and your kids, and my grandkids and your grandkids will be paying for this fiscal theivery.
3. the number of people employed in this country has fallen quite a bit since bush took over.
4. the number of bankruptcies is up, big-time, over the last three years.
5. the number of people who don't have insurance has skyrocketed over the last three years, again including large #'s of children, who are the ones who get the shaft on that kind of thing, and who in turn end up costing society more as a result...sick kids in school=less educated kids=less kids who are employable, etc.
6. on a global level, the admininstration has just, very quietly, come out and admitted that well, yes, perhaps global warming DOES exist, and perhaps we should think about doing something about that...while at the same time pushing forward changes that would gut our environmental (air, water, and soil) laws here to allow more pollution in the sake of "progress."
7. we're now engaged in two hot wars (that we know about), with a third one gathering on the horizon (SURELY bush wouldn't be dumb enough to invade Iran during a second term. Would he? attention to the news...the admininstration is already laying the groundwork to build public support for "we HAVE to invade iran, RIGHT NOW!" based on concerns about nuclear weapons. either that, or isreal will strike iran, and iran will strike back, giving us an excuse to jump in as isreal's defender and ally...god, i hope i'm wrong).
8. those wars are wars without any kind of foreseeable end...and in a moment of surprising candor, bush admitted as such when he said "i don't think you CAN win the war on terror..." Ummmm...that's funny...a former history teacher in texas has been shouting that for four years now, but no one seems to want to listen! you can't win a war on ideology or a tactic, and terrorism is both, markedly different from fighting a war against another state.
9. bush has taken the immense good will that the rest of the world felt toward us on sept. 12, 2001 and taken a big huge dump on it, effectively telling the rest of the world to eff off. a world 200 years ago, we might have been able to do that; not today. we're too globally connected and interdependent to do that...did you ever notice that much of our manufacturing is now done somewhere other than the u.s.? if world war III went down (heck, if world war II went down today), we would be in a very serious way, very quickly, because we dont' produce such a vast amount of our own goods...we won world war II not because we had better equipment than the nazis and japanese (their technology was generally superior to our's) but because we could crank out many times the amount of stuff that they could, so when we lost 100 tanks it wasn't as big of a deal for us as it was for the germans. today, because he has "legitimized" the "strike first" mode of warfare, we have no moral ground to tell any other country that they can't strike first to defend themselves, even if the threat from which the country is defending itself is a phantom, manufactured threat.
10. the separation between the rich and the poor has accellerated at an alarming rate, spurred in large part by tax policies deliberately skewed to balance the lion's share of the tax burden not on those who can afford it most, but on those who can afford it least...the middle class (i.e. you and me.)
11. the level of hatred and animosity in this country is so great that i can bearly even stand it, and i blame bush for that as well.

These aren't mindless, made-up "librul, moran, conspir-uh-cees" (note: "moron" is intentionally misspelled, thanks to some Freeper's sign), these are simply objective statistical measurements of the country at this point, and where we were three and a half years ago. Well, at least most of the above is...I don't have any data to back up the fact that we can't ever win a war on terrorism, but the current war on drugs, and Johnson's war on poverty went so stunningly well that I think I can safely crawl out on that limb. I also have no empirical evidence to support the idea that the hatred and animosity in this country is "great" but anecdotal evidence will suffice there as well...see, e.g. NYC right now.

There is one statement that Bush can make and rightfully claim, and that is that there has not been another terror attack here in the U.S. since 9/11. However, that overlooks the fact that BUSH WAS THE PRESIDENT ON 9/11, AND THE SECURITY FAILURES INHERANT TO THAT CATASTROPHE THEREFORE FALL ON HIS SHOULDERS. So, to claim that Happycrack has kept us safe from terror, is by definition, bullshit.

Hence, I have to ask myself, when hearing "Four more years" echoing from the walls of Madison Square Garden...Four more years of WHAT? Do you really WANT four more years of bodybags...errr...sorry, transfer tubes...coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you really WANT more...transfer tubes coming back to Dover AFB, stamped "Iran" or "Syria" or "China" or "Korea"? Can you honestly say to me that having a country on the express train to bankruptcy is a GOOD thing? Are you going to tell me that you want another four years of a man who believes that he can do no wrong because he's doing God's will with his hands on the tiller of the ship of state?

It makes me think of the immortal Top Gun line: "Son, your ego is writing checks that your body can't cash."

Time's up, Incurious George. Go cut some shrubs.

Aaa-nuld needs to get his facts straight...

First of all, let me just say that I'm so effing sick and tired of hearing the Gropenator pepper his speeches with lines that either reference his films...well, they're not really films so much as movies...or the lines are lifted right from the dialogue of the movie. Coopting TV show writing from a parody of Arnold isn't much better, especially when it's used in a derogitory manner. However, all of that doesn't bother me as much as Arnold's claim of how he became a Republican. He claims that he was listening to the Richard Nixon-Hubert Humphrey Presidential debates as a newly arrived immigrant, and not knowing much English, Arnold had an German-speaking friend translate for him. Now, putting aside the somewhat dubious notion that a German-English-speaking bodybuilder with an interest and knowledge of politics sufficient to translate accurately even existed in the late 60s, there is a bigger problem with this story...there was no such debate in 1968.

Arnold has told this fib on quite a few occasions, apparantly, but unfortunately for him, there doesn't seem to be a hint of truth to it. Why, then, is that fact not being headlined in the newspapers from the Gropenator's speech coverage? If this were Al Gore saying "I kissed Tipper before I came on stage for this speech" the coverage would not be of the content of Gore's speech, it would about whether in fact there was a pre-speech buss, and how Gore was a serial lier for saying that he played tonsil-hockey with his wife. Hell, I found an LA Times article from a freakin year ago that debunks this "All-'Merkin" tale of Arnolds, why the hell don't people call him on it?

I'm gonna be sick. Below you can find the text of the article...

Fresh from Austria, a socialist country, Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to become a Republican after listening to "the debates of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon when they were debating for the presidential race," or so he told television talk show host Bill O'Reilly in May 2001.

" ... Hubert Humphrey spoke about things I heard in Austria under socialism."

But there was no presidential debate in 1968. Although Humphrey challenged Nixon to a debate, Nixon, who won the election, demurred.

Schwarzenegger previously recounted his version of history during an interview at the 2000 Republican National Convention. "When I came to this country, I was sitting in front of the television set, and I watched a debate between Humphrey and Nixon, and I didn't even understand half of it because my English wasn't good enough then. I had a friend of [mine] translating...."

Much the same account reappeared in a recent Newsweek magazine article about him. Schwarzenegger "was a Republican before he was a citizen," Newsweek wrote, "having watched a 1968 presidential debate for which a friend provided the translation. "[Hubert] Humphrey stood for the government [that] will solve all your problems," Schwarzenegger recalled. "[Richard] Nixon said no, free to choose, let the people decide. So I said to my friend, which party is Nixon? He said Republican. OK, I said, I'm a Republican."

In other accounts of his political conversion, including a TV interview with "Hardball's" Chris Matthews last year, Schwarzenegger made no reference to presidential debates, instead saying that he made up his mind to be a Republican after listening to news conferences and speeches by Humphrey and Nixon in 1968.

Sean Walsh, a spokesman for the Schwarzenegger campaign, said Tuesday that the candidate never saw any debate. He said Schwarzenegger recalls having heard Humphrey and Nixon talking on TV, and he asked a friend to translate what they were saying for him. "He heard the two of them talking and someone was translating for him what they were saying."

Los Angeles Times August 20, 2003 Wednesday.

Of course, SOO many people saw the article last year, because it was on PAGE 18!!!! Yet stories of Billy's cigar habit are front page news. Unreal. Biased liberal media my ass.

I'm kickin' my ass! Do ya mind?!

Well, I must say that the old saw about law school has tended to be true thus far:
"The First Year they scare you to death. The Second Year they work you to death. The Third Year they bore you to death."

I won't know about the last part, and it's certainly not literal (aside: that's a pet peeve of mine: "I literally flew down High Street to get class in time!" No, no you didn't LITERALLY fly down High Street, unless you're of the type that has access to flight technology that the rest of us don't. But I digress...). However, it seems that the amount of "stuff" that has to be done this second year of law school is almost bordering on the overwhelming. Granted much of it is my own doing, in taking on responsibility for various and sundry things, but at the same time, while last year I felt I couldn't take an entire weekend off from doing "law school stuff" so that I was prepared for classes, this year it's hard to take a full day off so that I don't fall behind on any number of elements: work, classwork, journal, law-school-related extracurriculars, outside-of-lawschool extracurriculars, trying to send out an obscene and ungodly number of plaintive "please hire me, i'll do a nifty job, i swear" appeals to firms about which most of us know nothing except the name, making time for one's significant other, blogging...let's just say it's getting to be a bit much.

I feel like Jim Carrey's character in Liar Liar when he's in the bathroom while on a continuance for a "short bathroom break" and he resorts to self-flagellation in an attempt to get out of a court appearance for which he can't lie (aside: wouldn't it be interesting to have ALL lawyers, just for one day, unable to physically tell a lie? would make court hearings that day rather eventful and perhaps illuminating, I think). If I can just get myself to kick my own ass, then I can have an excuse to not do what I know needs to be done!


Sunday, August 29, 2004

And she'll have fun fun fun...

Fun with the Commerce Clause!!! I deliciously love a paradox, namely a situation in which the Supreme Court will run head-on into its own dogmatic political ideology. Here's the situation: Slappy Thomas, Nino the Duckhunter, Bill "Look at my nifty gold stripes!" Rehnquist and Sandra "Dammit! I can't retire if Gore wins, Bush needs to win!" Day O'Conner have ushered in their Federalist Society wet-dream (can Sandy have a wet dream? just curious) of scaling back the reach of Congress by redefining the SCOTUS Commerce Clause jurisprudence in Lopez, and then in Morrison. Now, putting aside the issue of "activist judges" for a moment (itself a situation ripe with irony), let's confront the situation in which the Court will find themselves this coming term: How will they simultaneously narrow the scope of Congressional Commerce Clause power (the federalist argument) while still allowing the DEA's Congressionaly mandated (and mostly failed) federal "war on drugs." To be able to allow Congress the power to federally overrule California's (and a whole slew of other states) state law allowing medicinal ganja, Nino and the gang will have to put aside their federalism hard-ons; Conversely, to continue the Lopez line of cases and thereby advance the Federalist Society love of states rights (boy, don't you just LOVE a loaded term?), the SCOTUS will have to effectively hand a mighty big club to those working for saner drug laws and policy by allowing the voters of Cali-for-ni-yah the right to toke it up without fear of the Feds (provided they're under the supervision of a doctor, etc. etc. etc. But c'mon, let's be that an icy slope I see ahead?).

All in all, it appears that the Court will have to turn its back on one hallowed precept (state's raahts) or another (drugs are bad, m'kay?). Should be interesting, and probably will have Commerce Clause ramifications one way or the other; either we continue the Lopez/Morrison confining of federal power, or Morrison becomes the outer limits of federalism related to the Commerce Clause.