Thursday, May 19, 2005
Well not on that general of a scale, but it clearly shows how bias can affect media reporting. Of particular note is not so much the original version, which was clearly biased and factually inaccurate. But more important is the revision, which was clearly done in such a way as to attempt to paint republicans in a bad light, and democrats in a positive light where the facts in a way that is inconsistent with the facts.

And they wonder why Americans consider used car salespersons more trustworthy than the media....
Friday, May 13, 2005
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.
More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were "not to go up" along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.

Not good. If they are going to do this, I say we just fire them all and reform our immigration laws rather than spend millions for nothing.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The opinion is here. Eugene Volokh has a good summary and response, and I generally agree with his analysis, and especially his conclusion that this will be overturned. I think it might be overturned on a more fundamental issue though: standing. It is not clear to me that the associations at issue should be allowed standing to challenge this constitutional amendment.

But more importantly, if the opinion were the law (it is not - it is a horribly flawed opinion frankly), the slippery-slope consequences would be astounding. The case would have to be limited to its facts to prevent those consequences, which is the hallmark of a bad decision.

It will be interesting to see just how harsh the appellate court is on this opinion.
Monday, May 09, 2005
I am starting to wonder if Bob Herbert even writes his columns anymore, or if he just has a collection of 50 anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war (outdated) talking points from which 8 or so are randomly selected and thrown into a column... It really makes you wonder if he is just so biased, he refuses to analyze any information from the last 6 months or so, or if he is just so out of touch with the news from Iraq that his columns appear to have been written a year ago.

And the NYTimes is trying to figure out why they are losing credibility? Here is a hint, trying cutting back to just either biased reporting and columns or factually inaccurate ones. When you combine both it makes it really hard to be taken seriously.

There are legitimate criticisms of the Iraq war, but you should probably have at least some of the facts before you try to make such a criticism. Clearly Herbert does not have those facts...
Friday, May 06, 2005

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- To a dessert shop customer, the severed fingertip found in a pint of frozen custard could be worth big dollars in a potential lawsuit. To the shop worker who lost it, the value is far more than monetary.

But Clarence Stowers still has the digit, refusing to return the evidence so it could be reattached. And now it's too late for doctors to do anything for 23-year-old Brandon Fizer.

"I'm not saying who has it, but somebody has it," Stowers said this week in a telephone interview, refusing to let on where the fingertip is now.

Soon after Stowers found the finger in a mouthful of chocolate soft-serve he bought Sunday at Kohl's Frozen Custard in Wilmington, he put it in his freezer at home, taking it out only occasionally to show to television cameras.

He refused to give it to the shop's owner, and refused to give it to a doctor who was treating Fizer, who accidentally stuck his hand in a mixing machine and had his right index finger lopped off at the first knuckle.

Medical experts say an attempt to reattach a severed finger can generally be made within six hours.

But according to the shop's management, Stowers wouldn't give it back when he was in the store 30 minutes after the accident.

"The general manager attempted to retrieve it and rush it to the hospital," reads a statement posted Thursday on Kohl's Web site. "Unfortunately, the customer refused to give it to her and declared that he would be calling the TV stations and an attorney as he exited the store."

Officials at Cape Fear Hospital said their efforts to retrieve the finger also failed.

Dr. James Larson, director of emergency medicine for UNC Hospitals, who was not involved in the case, said once Stowers took the finger home and froze it, it was too late to even try for reattachment.

So ultimately, this idiot that finds the finger in his ice cream (bad, but not the end of the world - its not like he actually put it in his mouth), tortiously causes the innocent kid to permanently lose his finger. And why? To possibly make a windfall of money from the store. Too bad the kid will probably win 2-3 times more (at a minimum) than this moron when he sues him for not giving him his finger back.

Plus, with the public behind them, the store will never settle with this guy, and even if he wins at trial, I guarantee you the kid's claim will (at least they will try) be tried with his suit (potentially the kid could assign his claim to the store or something to insure that happens - there is probably a workers' comp issue here that I am unfamilar with. I am pretty sure workers' comp preempts a tort claim against the employer, but not sure if (or why) it would preclude a claim against someone other than the employer - such as this customer).

So even if the customer wins at trial, he will almost assuredly also lose, and most likely more than he just won.

He is screwed, and frankly, he deserves to be screwed. What an idiot.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
I say so. Footnote 1 of this opinion, penned by the surprisingly pop culture savvy Judge Evans states:
The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch "hoe." A "hoe," of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's response. We have taken the liberty of changing "hoe" to "ho," a staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps "You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies."
Sunday, May 01, 2005
The comments cover a lot of ground and are a very good read. Here is what they had to say on the housing bubble:

Buffett: "A lot of the psychological well-being of the American public comes from how well they've done with their housew over the years. If indeed there's been a bubble, and it's pricked at some point, the net effect on Berkshire might well be positive [because the company's financial strength would allow it to buy real-estate-related businesses at bargain prices]....

"Certainly at the high end of the real estate market in some areas, you've seen extraordinary movement.... People go crazy in economics periodically, in all kinds of ways. Residential housing has different behavioral characteristics, simply because people live there. But when you get prices increasing faster than than the underlying costs, sometimes there can be pretty serious consequences."

Munger: "You have a real asset-price bubble in places like parts of California and the suburbs of Washington, DC. "

Buffett: "I recently sold a house in Laguna for $3.5 million. It was on about 2000 sq. ft of land, maybe a twentieth of an acre, and the house might cost about $500,000 if you wanted to replace it. So the land sold for something like $60 million an acre."

Munger: "I know someone who lives next door to what you would actually call a fairly modest house that just sold for $17 million. There are some very extreme housing price bubbles going on."

On the market and the dollar their comments are much more ominous and similar to my thoughts, it is not a question of if, it is a question of when:

Buffett: "That really is the $64,000 question. It seems to me that a $618 billion trade deficit, rich as we are, strong as this country is, well, something will have to happen that will change that. Most economists will still say some kind of soft landing is possible. I don't know what a soft landing is exactly, in how the numbers come down softly from levels like these....

"There are more people [like hedge-fund managers] that go to bed at night with a hair trigger than ever before, it's an electronic herd, they can give vent to decisions that move billions and billions of dollars with the click of a key. We will have some exogenous event, we will have that. There will be some kind of stampede by that herd....

"When you have far greater sums than ever before, in one asset class after another, that are held by people who operate on a hair-trigger mechanism, then they lend themselves to more explosive outcomes. People with very short time horizons with huge sums of money, they can all try to head for the exits at the same time. The only way you can leave your seat in burning financial markets is to find someone else to take your seat, and that is not always easy...."

Munger: "The present era has no comparable referent in the past history of capitalism. We have a higher percentage of the intelligentsia engaged in buying and selling pieces of paper and promoting trading activity than in any past era. A lot of what I see now reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah. You get activity feeding on itself, envy and imitation. It has happened in the past that there came bad consequences."

Buffett: "I have no idea on timing. It's far easier to tell what will happen than when it will happen. I would say that what is going on in terms of trade policy is going to have very important consequences. "

Munger: "A great civilization will bear a lot of abuse, but there are dangers in the current situation that threaten anyone who swings for the fences."

Buffett to Munger: "What do you think the end will be?"

Munger: "Bad."

Buffett: "We're like an incredibly rich family that owns so much land they can't travel to the ends of their domain. And they sit on the front porch and consume a little bit of everything that comes in, all the riches of the land, and they consume roughly 6 percent more than they produce. And they pay for it by selling off land at the edge of the landholdings that can't see. They trade away a little piece every day or take out a mortgage on a piece.

"That scenario couldn't end well. And we, also, keep consuming more than we produce. It can go on a long time. The world has demonstrated a diminishing enthusiasm for dollars in the last few years as they get flooded with them – every day there's $2 billion more going out than in. I have a hard time thinking of any outcome from this that involves an appreciating dollar.

[But, Buffett later added, he is not predicting an end to US economic power:] "If you have a good business in this country that's earning dollars, you'll still do OK. Twenty years from now, a couple percentage points of GDP may go to servicing the deficit, but you'll do fine.... I don't think trade deficits will pull down the whole place; the country will survive those dislocations. I'm not pessimistic about the US at all.... We have over 80 percent of our money tied to the dollar. It's not like we've left the country."

The slow down is largely blamed on increasing crude oil prices. But I suspect that is just a small piece of the puzzle. Everyone knew crude oil prices would affect the U.S. economy, yet most economists didn't expect this severe of a slow down:

During the quarter, the gross domestic product -- the value of goods and services produced in the United States -- grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent, down from a 3.8 percent rate for 2004's fourth quarter, the US Commerce Department reported yesterday. Many economists had been looking for a first-quarter growth rate of 3.5 percent.

''Clearly, the economy lost momentum in the first quarter," said Nigel Gault, US economist at Global Insight, a Waltham forecasting firm. ''The farther we got into the quarter, the softer it got."

Sounds like it will probably get worse before it gets better....
Saturday, April 30, 2005
The committee’s chairman, former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, has been calling senators and congressmen, urging them not to subpoena the investigator, Robert Parton. Volcker has emphasized the confidentiality agreement in Parton’s contract and the U.N.-appointed committee’s diplomatic immunity, said Mike Holtzman, a spokesman for the Volcker committee.

But Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and has repeatedly called for Annan to resign, released a statement saying that he has ordered his staff to issue subpoenas as soon as possible to Parton and Miranda Duncan, a second investigator who also quit.

“I spoke with Mr. Volcker yesterday and expressed my grave and growing concerns about the credibility and independence of the investigation into the criminal misconduct that occurred in the U.N. oil-for-food program,” Coleman said.

At least two other congressional committees are considering subpoenas for the investigators, said Tom Costa, a spokesman for Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., one of the congressmen Volcker called.

I wonder why Volcker is so concerned about having the former investigators testify? Cover-up anyone?
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Wow. If you figure that each episode is about 24 minutes of content (after taking out advertising), that is 140 hours of content, or 11 2/3 days of watching 12 hours a day....
Pretty surprising to find this in the NYTimes, but look at this:

After comparing our relative payments to our pension systems (since salaries are higher in America, I had contributed more), we extrapolated what would have happened if I'd put my money into Pablo's mutual fund instead of the Social Security trust fund. We came up with three projections for my old age, each one offering a pension that, like Social Security's, would be indexed to compensate for inflation:

(1) Retire in 10 years, at age 62, with an annual pension of $55,000. That would be more than triple the $18,000 I can expect from Social Security at that age.

(2) Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $70,000. That would be almost triple the $25,000 pension promised by Social Security starting a year later, at age 66.

(3)Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $53,000 and a one-time cash payment of $223,000.

You may suspect that Pablo has prospered only because he's a sophisticated investor, but he simply put his money into one of the most popular mutual funds. He has more money in it than most Chileans because his salary is above average, but lower-paid workers who contributed to that fund for the same period of time would be in relatively good shape, too, because their projected pension would amount to more than 90 percent of their salaries.

What is surprising is how unsurprising this result is, yet there is still so much opposition to the privitization of social security. Would anyone be satisfied with the same return they receive from Social Security if they had put that money in a mutual fund? The answer is no. Everyone knows (and expects) to obtain a higher return on investment from their mutual fund than from Social Security (of course that is a pretty low expectation).

So this really begs the question, why would anyone be opposed to privitization of the Social Security program?
Of course one of the reasons there is a showdown at all is that one party (hint it starts with a "D") doesn't understand what democracy means....
"What makes it so dangerous for our country is their willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for one-party domination of all three branches of government," Gore said of the GOP in a speech. "They seek nothing less than absolute power."
Hmm. What about the fact that it was American democracy that put one-party in power of all three branches of government (two directly, and one via the Constitutional judicial appointment process)?
Sunday, April 24, 2005
As I mentioned before here, there is significant evidence that the Volcker Committee is engaged in a cover up. Now there is more evidence from Roger Simon, who reports that one of the two senior investigators of that committee has gone public with the fact that he resigned from the committee on principle.


The investigator, Robert Parton, confirmed a report by The Associated Press earlier this week that he had resigned along with another investigator to protest recent findings by the committee that cleared U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion program.

Parton's statement comes after a member of the committee discounted reports that the two investigators had left the Independent Inquiry Committee because they believed the report was too soft on the secretary-general.

"Contrary to recent published reports, I resigned my position as Senior Investigative Counsel for the IIC not because my work was complete but on principle," Parton said.

It is ironic that those who claim to support the U.N. continue to support Kofi Annan and attack John Bolton when it is clear to me that both those actions, if successful, will just continue to allow the U.N. to fade into the history books as a slightly longer lived version of the League of Nations....

If you truly support the U.N., and you have any intelligence whatsoever, you would realize that it needs massive reform, including a massive house cleaning. And also people like John Bolton to be the guard dogs against future corruption (which is rampant at the U.N.).
Inflation is surging, wages are flat, all sorts of deficits are exploding — how do we sleep at night? Just imagine how we'd feel if the economy weren't doing reasonably well.

Is that underlying reality of a healthy economy about to change? It's an unsettling question, and one that is getting harder to answer. Hence the return in recent weeks of gut-wrenching volatility on Wall Street. The stock market cares little about the past. It strives to predict where the economy is headed, and watching the latest back and forth between bulls and bears is like watching a ballgame in which the lead keeps changing.
The U.S. economy is indeed in for a troubled future, and I really don't think there is any policy that will change that fact. You cannot legislate demographics (at least not in a democratic nation - so I exclude China from that statement).

The driver of the U.S. economy (and probably all economies) is productivity and consumer spending. Our workforce is disproportionately comprise of older workers - the baby boomers - who are starting to retire. As they retire they likely will spend less since they will have lower income streams. They will also start selling off their investments to fund their retirements, they will start selling their large homes to move into smaller ones, and of course they will no longer be working. At the same time, more and more people will be collecting social security income - starting in about 2017 this will require expenditures from the general tax revenue fund in addition to social security tax income - an additional drain on our government. And perhaps more importantly, these same people will need more and more help from medicare and medicade. And in addition to purely medical related costs there is the incredibly expensive, and largely prefunded expense of long term medical care once these retirees can no longer care for themselves.

So what you have is a major reduction in productivity corresponding to massive increases in the needs for government programs to care for our elderly. The economy will tank when this happens. The only real question is how bad it will get.

I for one plan my future with that 2017 date in mind. I will "only" be 42 on that date, but I want to be financial set at that point. Because it could get really, really ugly. I suspect my generation will not be as bad off as those 20 years behind us who will be entering the workforce at that point. Probably with massive school debt too. For them it is a dark future....
The circulation of daily U.S. newspapers is 55.2 million, down from 62.3 million in 1990. The percentages of adults who say they read a paper "yesterday" are ominous:

• 65 and older -- 60 percent.

• 50-64 -- 52 percent.

• 30-49 -- 39 percent.

• 18-29 -- 23 percent.

Americans ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes a day with media of all sorts but just 43 minutes with print media.

I bet there is a good percentage of high school students who hardly know what a newspaper is - that is scary. But really, why should they? They have lived in the internet age since the day they were born essentially. And why would anyone wait to read tomorrow what you can read online today? Really the only advantage that newspapers currently have is portability. You can bring a newspaper with you anywhere and read through it. But whereas content online is free, newspapers carry a price. And as technology improves newspapers will lose their portability advantage. And when that happens, the newspaper industry (as far as being print media) will be dead. It will exist almost essentially online or not at all.

I call it the toilet test. Once I can read online content on the toilet as conveniently as I can read the newspaper now, I will no longer need the newspaper. And I suspect that goes for the vast majority of current newspaper subscribers. It might take awhile, but in 10, 20, or maybe 30 years, newspapers will be essentially non-existent.

Title IX, the 1972 federal law mandating equal opportunity for females in high school and college sports, has helped spur huge changes. But its supporters have trouble believing their eyes. Despite the enormous gains for female athletes, they act as though the gains could be erased overnight.

They are currently outraged by a new Bush administration guideline that offers colleges a new way to show they are not discriminating--by asking all women students if they are interested in participating in athletics. If the number who say yes isn't enough to justify adding teams, a school would not have to do so.

The reaction was swift and harsh. Donna Lopiano, head of the Women's Sports Foundation, called it "incredibly bad policy that will disenfranchise generations of female athletes." The National Women's Law Center said the change "threatens to reverse the enormous progress women and girls have made in sports since the enactment of Title IX."
What about all the men who actually want to participate in sports who have had their programs cut in order to meet the Title IX equality requirements when the schools were unable to pay women to participate? That is right, schools have tried to bribe women into participating in sports and they still can't find any willing participants. Most often schools use rowing programs for women as it is a relatively inexpensive sport. See here, here, here, here, and here.

Essentially many of the Title IX proponents want to force women to play sports or force schools to cut men's programs if they can't find women willing to participate. It is simply a bad policy. The premise seems to be that all women want to play sports, they just don't feel they have the opportunities. Well Bush's new proposal will test that premise, and it is clear that those who make their livings off of Title IX graft are worried that this proposal will demonstrate what most know to be true. Despite the fact that 56% of college students are female, more male college students want to participate in sports than female college students.

Hopefully this proposal becomes the law. Gender discrimination is a two way street, and while it used to be females being discriminated against, the pendulum has swung and it is now male student-athletes who are being discriminated against.

In high school, girls outnumber boys in nearly every extracurricular activity except sports. One type of interest may preclude another. There has been a vast increase in athletic participation by females since 1972, but it has yet to match that of males, even in arenas where discrimination can't explain the gap.

College intramural sports, which are open to all, attract far more males than females. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, the ratio is 3-1. At the University of California at Los Angeles, 69 percent of the intramural players are men. Women attending all-female schools are less likely to participate in intercollegiate athletics than men at comparable coeducational schools.

To get women and men to take part in anything close to equal numbers in varsity sports, schools have to do things like create scholarships and do extensive recruiting to fill female crew teams, even though it's hardly a sport in great demand. At the same time, many limit rosters in men's baseball and other sports, even for non-scholarship "walk-on" players.

Feminist groups complain that though women are a majority of college students, they account for only 41 percent of varsity athletes, as though disparity proves discrimination. In fact, it may show only that colleges know better than outside critics what female students want.

After all, these institutions can ill afford to alienate a group that makes up their chief clientele: Nationally, 56 percent of all undergraduates are female. Title IX aside, colleges are under intense competitive pressure to cater to their interests--athletic, artistic and academic. A school that shortchanges women in any way is a school that is inviting its own demise.

Feminists act as though we live in a world in which institutions of higher education are itching to relegate women to second-class status. But thanks in part to Title IX, that world is gone, and it's not coming back.
Well said.

Nicholas Kristof writes about interracial relationships in today's NY Times, but has some pretty absurd arguments when trying to criticize Hollywood for not representing the gains that have been made in society. For example Kristof writes:
The latest "Guess Who" is about a white man in love with a black woman, and that's a comfortable old archetype from days when slave owners inflicted themselves on slave women. Hollywood has portrayed romances between white men and (usually light-complexioned) black women, probably calculating that any good ol' boy seeing Billy Bob Thornton embracing Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball" is filled not with disgust but with envy.
Huh? So it is not good enough that they have an interracial relationship, it has to be the right mix of gender and race.... And the "usually light-complexioned" line just kills me. So according to Kristof some people are not "black enough," for Kristof. What a joke. Should this same logic be applied to affirmative action programs? We could set up two boxes, one for dark skinned African-Americans, and one for light-skinned persons. And only the dark skinned persons would qualify for the programs, because according to Kristof light-skinned minorities don't really count.

Pathetic. And racist really. I wonder why so many people think liberals are idiots, when this kind of logic is floated around.

"Guess who," and movies like that could be criticized for the fact that when a interracial couple is cast in Hollywood it is too often done to perform a plot function (i.e., it is intentional that the relationship is interracial). What we should be seeing more of is movies where race is irrelevant to the plotline, yet there is an interracial relationship.

Kristof tries to think of movies with interracial relationships and doesn't do a very good job. Just off the top of my head you have "Fools Rush In" with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek; Austin Powers (I forget which one, but the one with Mike Meyers and Beyonce - of course, maybe Beyonce doesn't count per Krisof's "logic"); Monster Ball was named by Kristof earlier; pretty much every Jennifer Lopez movie, but I was thinking primarily of "Out of Sight," where race was totally irrelevant to the plotline; and "The Bodyguard," with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. I am sure there are plenty more.

So to me Kristof's criticism rings hollow (and certainly seems uneducated). But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be more movies where there happens to be interracial relationships where race isn't a plot line. I can think of a half a dozen movies where I can think of a black actor that would have been much better in the lead role than the white actor. I wonder how many of those movies were cast without ever considering black actors. If any of them were, than that is a problem worth writing about. Kristof should engage is some actual journalism and find that out before he writes on this topic again.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Criminal defense attorney Ronald S. Miller does more than file briefs -- he also takes them off.

Miller has spent days in front of a judge and nights in front of a camera as Don Hollywood, a porn star. His wife, a former accountant, is also a porn star.

''My whole life, I've been one of those people who sees the wet paint sign and has to go up and touch it to see if it's wet,'' said the 56-year-old Miller. ''I want to experience everything, try everything.''

He has appeared in more than 90 films in the past seven years.

My Post 2005 NFL Draft (First Day) Predictions
One of the beautiful things about having a blog is that you can make predictions on them, and then have proof when it turns out you are right. So in that spirit here are a few of mine:

(1) Troy Williamson will do almost nothing in the NFL, he will be a mediocre wideout at best. Mike Williams, on the other hand, will dominate the league (although I suspect that Detroit will have such a potent pass offense that it will be fairly random which WR gets the TDs etc., sort of like with Indy last year).

(2) Mike Williams will have a much better career than Braylon Edwards, and I sort of suspect Edwards will not have a good career. You hear rumors about him driving around campus in a Bentley, and you have to buy stock in the "flameout" category. There is a good chance he will just not put in the work necessary to be a great player, but we will see.

(3) Alex Smith will not be a successful NFL quarterback. I have 2 premises to support this prediction: (a) he will be rushed into starting at SF, and given how messed up that team is he will have no support (any QB at SF would fail right now); (b) he just doesn't have a sufficiently strong arm to be a success. When I see his highlight reel, all I can think is that if those throws were made in the NFL they would have all been picked off.

(4) Jason Campbell will be the starter by the end of the season in D.C., and he will also have a significantly better career than Alex Smith.

(5) Aaron Rodgers will be a success. He fell to a perfect situation, he won't have to start since Favre never gets hurt, and he can learn from the best. Plus despite the idiots on TV (only Mel Kiper got this right), Rodgers mechanics are perfect with one exception, he holds the ball to high. Well guess what, he was coached to do that in college. Which means (a) he didn't naturally do that, so it won't be as hard to change back or improve his ball position; and (b) he is very coachable. It probably will take him all of a month to fix where he holds the ball. And once he does that his mechanics are as good as they get. And compared to Smith, Rodgers has a cannon for an arm.

(6) "Pacman" Jones will not be a success. I don't care how fast he supposedly is, it seems to me he had to use that speed too often to recover against college wideouts, and in the NFL he won't be able to do that. Also, against a WR like Mike Williams he is screwed - he is only 5' 9, good luck covering a guy almost a foot taller.

(7) Matt Jones will be awesome. I don't care what position he plays at, he is going to be a huge impact player from day 1.
Someone needs to explain to me why the Vikings took this guy, over Mike Williams. According to most analysts it is because he is the fastest WR in the draft. But if he is so fast, why did he only have 7 TDs and 43 receptions in his Junior year. And why was Mike Williams able to double that production in his freshman year, and do better than double that production in his sophomore year.

And is Williamson really that fast when he ran the 40 slower than Matt Jones, who is going to play tight end after being converted from a QB?

The Vikings are idiots.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Via the Volokh Conspiracy, David Garrow concludes that Justice Blackmun became merely a clerk to his clerks in his final years on the Court. In support he relies primarily on a few notes from one clerk:
[Clerk Michelle] Alexander gave Blackmun a note that read, "This morning at breakfast you mentioned that you would like to release the death penalty dissent by the end of the calendar year. I think that is wise," because several pending cases offered appropriate opportunities. In particular, "there is little chance that a better vehicle for your dissent will come along before the end of the year" than Schlup v. Delo, an "extraordinary" capital case. In closing, she stated, "I would love to hear your thoughts."

Schlup was postponed, however, and Alexander reported that she had reviewed all petitioners with scheduled execution dates. "I recommend that you plan to release your dissent when Malcolm Rent Johnson is executed on January 31," she wrote. Alexander once again concluded her note by saying, "I'd love to hear your thoughts." One week later, with Johnson's execution indefinitely delayed, Alexander advised that "[i]nstead of searching for the ideal vehicle for the dissent, the dissent should be tailored for any death case," so that it simply could be issued whenever the next execution occurred. Two days later, she told Blackmun that she had revised the existing draft to remove the Gary Graham references, but explained, "I have not altered any of the cites. It is therefore unnecessary for you to recheck the cites for accuracy."[WOW!!] . . .

Readers of Alexander's and [clerk Andrew] Schapiro's memos may rightly wonder who was functioning as a justice, and who as a clerk. Alexander twice told Blackmun, "I would love to hear your thoughts" about the opinion, yet her memos suggest that Blackmun was most concerned with whether he should "recheck the cites."

I know nothing about the author of this article, David Garrow, but I strongly suspect he is not a lawyer, or certainly was never an associate at a large law firm (where you work for many masters so to speak). I think the notes are ambiguous at best. I work with many partners that are, how should I say, anal about citations or other similar details. Certain partners (or people more generally) have pet peeves and things they focus on in their work product. So I would be inclined to let them know that the citations didn't change so that they wouldn't have to double check them (or more likely, so that they wouldn't ask me if they had changed - you learn to anticipate questions which may be exactly what this note is doing).

The rest of the note - for example the "I think that is wise," comment is properly respectful and a bit brown nosing at the same time. It is something a good associate would write to a partner. And the "I would love to hear your thoughts," is similar to the way almost all associate to partner communications end - asking for any comments/input or whatever from the partner.

In short, the conclusions reached based on these notes are specious at best.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Via Drudge, here is some strong evidence that the celebrities are pathetic. Of course what that says for people that idolize them is probably just as bad.

I have never understood the celebrity-craze in this country. Most celebrities are some of the biggest losers you will ever meet in life. I certainly respect some of their talents (although more and more celebrities have less and less talent). But I can't imagine caring about their lives the way it seems most Americans do....

On a positive note though, I think there is a backlash against that trend - and it is somewhat intertwined with the backlash against democrats too.
Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, was interviewed for the show Q&A last week on CSPAN. During that interview he displayed his laptop which was adorned with several anti-GOP stickers. sums up the interview by apparently only focusing on those stickers and stating:
Arch political consultant and rising Democratic Party star Markos Moulitsas [] Zuniga of Daily Kos was interviewed on C-SPAN’s Q&A last Sunday, and proudly displayed his laptop computer—a revealing demonstration of the mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, debased state of the modern left.
But as someone who actually watched the entire interview, Kos came across as very reasonable and intelligent. In fact, LittleGreenFootballs, based on this article alone, comes across as the mean-spirited, and unreasonable party.

If you don't agree with Kos, you should probably try to take on his arguments on the merits. And before you criticize him for something, you probably should at least watch the interview. For example, I wonder if LGF knows what Kos said about Fox News? He actually noted that his sticker was inaccurate in representing his views. He thought highly of Fox News vis a vis its power in pushing its ideology. He was just critical of it for claiming it was fair and balanced when it was biased. I would agree with that. But I would also say the same point can be made with equal force about the NYTimes, CNN, etc., and their clear liberal bias.

Kos didn't want to take Fox News off the air, to the contrary, he hoped the left would create their own version of that network. You would think Soros would be all over something like that by now.

Its too bad LGF didn't actually watch the interview before posting about it.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Maureen Dowd has a good column today, until she tries to use political corruption as a partisan attack:

It's a far cry from today's lobbying. Sleazoid lawmakers like Tom DeLay gulp down the graft from sleazoid lobbyists like Jack Abramoff, who took Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, to play golf in Scotland in 2000 as part of a $70,000 trip with Mr. DeLay's wife and staff, and for a six-day "fact finding" trip to Moscow in 1997.

If there are any ethics questions, Republicans helpfully gut the House Ethics Committee, while DeLay & Co. try to gut the New Deal.

Before he became a $750-an-hour superlobbyist accused of defrauding Indian tribes of tens of millions of their gambling dollars and pitting them against one another to pay for lavish trips for congressmen, "Casino Jack" had never been a White House wise man or spent years in public service. He produced B movies like "Red Scorpion" and "Red Scorpion 2."

Unlike the cultivated Tommy, who was a bit of a Robin Hood, taking care of lots of people who were down and out, Mr. Abramoff leeched off a group that's always gotten gypped and then wrote ugly e-mail deriding his Indian clients as "monkeys" and "idiots."

Another lobbyist, Tongsun Park, a South Korean at the center of a Congressional bribery scandal in the 1970's known as Koreagate, blasted back from the past this week. Mr. Park has been charged with secretly collecting at least $2 million from Saddam Hussein for clandestine help setting up the corrupt U.N. oil-for-food program and carting away bags of cash from Iraq's diplomats in New York, partly to bribe a U.N. official.

Not exactly broad daylight with a brass band. More like midnight in the sewer.

I am all for indicting dirty politicians, and trying to clean up politics. But it is naive, to say the least, to think that either party is "less dirty," than the other. So if you are trying to push a partisan agenda, you might not want to choose this route for your attack strategy....
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!

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