is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


The truth about what happened at the end of the fifth week of law school

Registrar: Ladies and gentlemen, our students can no longer get refunds of their tuition.
Dean: Excellent. You may release the hounds.
Professor X: I will be assigning the following as reading, just for one day’s work:
(Actual portion of assignment) Read pp. 182-183 of the Casebook. Read Rules 4(a), 4(e), 4(h), 6(b), 7, 8(b), 11, 12, 15(a), 19 and 83. Read Forms 19 and 20 (at pp. 156-158 of the Rule Book). For background on subject matter jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332 at pp. 617-618 of the Rule Book. For background on venue, see 28 U.S.C. § 1391 at pp. 625-626 and 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) at p. 628 of the Rule Book. The federal venue statutes allocate business among the different federal district courts. For information about the structure of the districts, see 28 U.S.C. § 133 at pp. 594-596 of the Rule Book.

Professor Y: Are you sure that is good enough? I think that’s rather light. To increase the load, I am going to assign my legislation small group assignments to be due early next week, to make sure there is enough to do.
Professor Z: Simply making a small group assignment does little to increase the pressure.
Professor Y: You are right. I will make it so that a nominal increase in grade is possible if the product is wonderful. Of course, the odds of any group actually getting that nominal increase are akin to being struck by a comet, but the carrot dangled in front of the students will be irresistible.
Professor Z: (Evil chuckle) Much better. And I, for one, will be assigning Rule Explanation and Application papers to be due every week to ensure that no spare time exists for them.
Professor Q: That doesn’t seem so bad.
Professor Z: Ah, but you forget; these students have never written anything like these papers. And we will make it more difficult by not telling them how to do it first except for what they read in their textbooks.
Professor Q: That is stupendous in its evil.
Professor Z: (Noticeably pleased) Thank you.
Professor Q: All I am doing is increasing my reading I require.
Professor R: (disgusted) Can’t you do better than that?
Professor Q: I’m new! Cut me some slack!
Dean: We cut you plenty of slack. I was pleased to see you assigning hard work from the beginning. It helped keep the students’ interest and lulled them into complacency in every other subject.
Professor Q: (relieved) Thank you.
Professor R: You will be pleased to know I am starting our favorite portion of the first year curriculum.
Professors X, Y, and Z: The Kingsfield impersonation?
Professor R: Absolutely. I will be peppering random students with hypothetical tort situations, requiring them to cite authority for all that they say.
All cast: (Maniacally) BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Law Fixation

The Supreme Court of Utah has issued an important ruling that equates crotch-grabbing with lewdness. Remind Michael Jackson to avoid Salt Lake City.

I recommend using the News of the Weird Search function for cheap laughs. Culled from there:
1992 -- Legally, corporations are considered entities separate from their owners, even when only one person owns basically all of the corporation, as in the case of Peter E. Maxwell, employee and 95 percent owner (with his wife) of Hi Life Products of Chino, Calif. Last summer, the U.S. Tax Court ruled Maxwell could keep the $122,000 settlement he won from his firm for negligence when he was injured at work in a 1977 accident. He had hired a lawyer to represent himself as an employee, then hired another lawyer to represent the firm, then worked with the two lawyers to arrange a settlement satisfactory to both Maxwell the corporate owner (which got a tax deduction) and Maxwell the employee (who received his money tax-free).

I have seen the enemy and it is Overlawyered.com.


In praise of George W. Bush and America

This is the last bloggage I ever thought I’d write, but it’s the fair thing to do. For the record, let me acknowledge some things. First, I don’t think that Al Gore would have done anything different from George in the events and aftermath of September 11. In fact, the response to the terrorism has been mundane and rather bureaucratic. On the other hand, those features of current policy are exactly what is necessary. Second, I still would vote against Bush if I had the chance. My biggest concern is the judges that are appointed for life to the Federal Judiciary, and it is my preference to see judges that are more sympathetic to privacy rights in particular and personal liberties in general when it comes to these appointments. In general, Democrats appoint better judges. Third, I continue to worry about domestic events and our general foreign policy. My newfound respect for Bush merely reflects his response to the current crisis.

I admit that many of my worst fears about our president were misplaced. That was hard to say, but it needed to be said. Probably the most fearful I have been about the helm of our country was on the night of the attack itself. I was sure that cowboy George would send a stream of millions of dollars of military hardware immediately towards some rocky hills in the middle of nowhere, or suspend civil liberties of the constitution (the jury may be still out here), or generally be too inept to be effectual. This hasn’t happened. Bush has managed to be firm and resolute, if well coached, and the public is generally responding well. The speech of last Thursday illustrated that the administration is being careful, and thorough, and is responding in a measured way.

I have many friends that are pacifists. To a degree I am too. I would have likely not stuck around for Vietnam, as it seems to have been patently a dirty proxy war that didn’t affect US interests and was about stopping local sovereignty. I am, as my last post would imply, afraid of the US embroiling the rest of the world in an armed struggle with no objectives and no goals. I have now heard from several friends that have been to anti-war rallies or are organizing anti-war organizations. Yet, now is essentially two weeks from the bombing and the only responses to the bombing have been political, covert, and diplomacy based. What would the pacifists have us do? I recognize we are on a war footing, but no shots have been fired. We are responding in the way I would have us do it, if I were the president. I am growing convinced that the diehard element that is against war and against the president would be so no matter what the policy would be, or what the war may be.

The anti-war element is mostly very intelligent, and very earnest, and very concerned with humans all over the world. They decry the deaths that result from US policy and reckon that the deaths in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington are tantamount to payback for what we have done abroad. They are against the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the spread of American culture. It is not besides the point to say that these are goals shared by the terrorists. I think that the tepid nature of condemnations of the terror attacks have less to do with the lack of consideration for innocent lives lost and more a lack of regard for the symbols of America that were attacked. The WTC towers represented the crossbars of the largest dollar bill on earth, as one columnist termed it. It is no coincidence that a prominent anti-capitalist rap group, the Coup, featured the same destruction on the cover of its latest album.

I offer the following for this group of disaffected young academics: This crisis is the last best chance for you, the vocal minority to make a valid case before you are shut out in the new political consensus that is now developing. Working for peace in this case means helping people wounded by the attacks, not by speculating as to the next wicked steps of what you regard as a fundamentally evil government—ours. If I perceive the reservations you have with current policy as tinny, sour, and mean-spirited, how does the rest of America see it? To succeed in a democratic society, you need to capture the hearts and mind of people. And I am not impressed with your efforts thus far.
MO? Mar Cod-Hoff-e?

I enjoyed greatly this list of 32 acceptable ways to transliterate the name of the leader of Libya. Very neat.

Yes! More British Profanity! I love this stuff.

Oh, and in other good news Saint Genarro’s blood liquified this year. Sometimes it doesn’t. Whew.


"Now we can no longer hold back. It will be a terrible war."*

Steps necessary to start a world war.

1. Have an awful act of terrorism taken against your country by a non-state actor.
2. Proclaim a state of war exists because of this horrible incident.
3. Issue an ultimatum to the country most associated with the suspected non-state actors.
4. Despite the acquiesence to most of the ultimatum, reject the answer.
5. Make sure your allies are ready, and go to war.

*Emperor Franz Joseph, July 1914.
Still thinking

I apologize for not maintaining the incredibly somber mood here. Below this personal bit I am re-starting the search for light faire because I am wanting to entertain and be entertained again. There’s only so much awfulness you can contemplate. In reality, my feelings have changed about the attack from shock to horror to anger to nationalism to something else. I have much to say and few are speaking the way I would about it. The pacifists in this have an excellent point in not responding out of kind, but I resent the justifications they put into the mouths of the terrorists about what we did to deserve what we did. Undoubtedly someone deserves death for this, but whole countries? And after we strike, then what? We need to take a look at the long term policy outcomes likely to result from our short term anger, which is undoubtedly justified.

I recognize also that my questioning of our military and foreign policy can be traced back to a seminal event in my childhood, when President Reagan ordered a major strike on Libya to retaliate for a terrorist attack on discotheques in Germany. My father wrote a letter to Senator Boren expressing his anger and deep disagreement with this step and deploring the loss of lives. The attack was immensely popular, the American people seemed wholeheartedly behind it, so I didn’t understand then why my father would go against what everyone else wanted. Furthermore, I didn’t understand what he thought he’d accomplish by writing that letter, and the form letter he received as a reply seemed to reinforce my thoughts on the matter.

I think I get it now. Thanks, dad.

On your way out, say hello to LARGE MARGE

On this very night...
10 years ago...
along the same stretch of road...
in a dense fog...
just like this...
I saw the worst accident I ever seen...
There was this sound...
Like a garbage truck!
Dropped off the empire state building!
And when they finally pulled the driver's body...
From the Twisted... Burning... Wreck...
It looked like...

Yes sir...
That was the worst accident I ever seen...

If you know what this means, click here.
If you don’t… I’m sorry.

I was sure this would be a lawsuit when I saw it advertised on late night television. I feel smugly proud to be right.


One foot in front of the other

Those who have seen me in real life know that I’ve had a recurrence of skin problems and eye inflammation over the last two weeks, and so I went to the doctor for the second time today and now have a couple of neat prescription drugs that are greatly increasing my quality of life. On top of the general mood today (which is again somber, sad, angry, and vengeful) feeling bad sucks worse than everything. Many people I know are desperate to get back into a state of normalcy and routine in the wake of the unprecedented terror attack. I understand that. That’s why I really enjoyed class more than usual even today. For a brief amount of time it felt great to concentrate on something that wasn’t evil. My doctor’s appointment was the first bit of social intercourse I’ve had in the last three days that didn’t even mention the events on the East coast.

Part of my malaise has been a general feeling of questioning of my personal philosophy. As I’ve pointed out, I am a committed personal libertarian and it seems inevitable that we will be surrendering more and more of our freedom and liberties in the near future. Also, I am committed to the principle of civilized society that includes the rule of law. The initial statements of our president seem to indicate that since this was an act of war, the response to it would necessarily be extrajudicial. Beyond just the sweeping feeling of national sentiment against these two views I have, is the questioning I am subjecting myself to. Is a libertarian orientation obsolete? Do we have to live in a less free society from now on? Will we simply kill the perpetrators of this, or do we trust our system of law? On the last point, I am comforted by the arrests and scrupulous treatment of the investigation that have begun domestically, but I cringe at the rush to judgment I see in assigning blame initially to people and organizations.

It is my sincere hope that the following will emerge from the unified political feeling that is developing:

  • A recognition that we have seriously squandered our intelligence capital on the ill-formed and counterproductive war on drugs, especially foreign interdiction programs.

  • A subsequent reassignment of resources from drug war surveillance to anti-terrorism surveillance.

  • An abandonment of the absurd National Missile Defense program, which obviously is no protection for the country.

  • A commitment to remain involved in the world and as a leader but not a dictating hegemon.

  • A re-evaluation of our commitment to countries and rulers that flout the rule of law and support our short term interests at the cost of our long term security.

  • A general emphasis on the value of life as the basic cornerstone of the moral compass of civilization.

And that’s my wishlist for the day.

Thank you, Obscure Store, for running the same bizarre crap that always is. Always guaranteed to make you chuckle.


Mark this day

Not much to say about this. I’m in a state of shock as is everyone I know. It was difficult to understand what happened until I saw the pictures, then I broke down. People die every day, yet this is about as unjust, horrible, and evil as is possible to do to any other human being. No ideology is worth the kind of suffering inflicted today. For those who visit wanting to find news, most news sites are being bombarded and are therefore impossible to reach. The Daily Oklahoman site has an AP feed and many video clips loaded, and is still accessible. Also, the Robots.CNN.com mirror site has been up for most of the day as well. Less comprehensive sites like the Economist are also still available. Call your mom and tell her you love her. If you are in New York and can't get word out by phone, try the I'm Okay page that some intrepid netizens have put together.


Passing of a president, passing of an era

One hundred years ago today, President William McKinley was shot, dying eight days later, at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The third assassination in 36 years, this may be the event that really started the American Century, as we think about it. Consider the immediate effect of the killing, in the installation of Teddy Roosevelt as the youngest ever president. Teddy had just undergone the most meteoric rise to power of any politician in American history, going from Assistant Undersecretary of the Navy in 1898 to Governor of New York, and then, when his reformist tendencies ran him afoul of the Republican party bosses there, pigeonholed him in perhaps the safest job possible for a maverick politician – vice president (although GOP boss Marc Hanna is said to have remarked at the time “[d]on't any of you realize there's only one life between this madman and the presidency?"). The presidency of TR thus began our emergence on the international stage in a way that even the Spanish-American War didn’t. No longer would we content ourselves with the Monroe Doctrine; we instead began to walk (not talk) softly and carry a big stick.

McKinley’s elections (1900 was a re-election) were also political turning points, in that they were the best chances of perennial candidate William Jennings Bryan. Both elections were cast by Bryan as referenda on imperialism, debt, and progressivism; and with the benefit of hindsight we can genuinely say that he may have been right. The business interests that supported McKinley won over the populists that were in favor of Free Silver and against empire. Interestingly enough, Bryan also fought hard against tariffs and in favor of free trade.

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that this assassination may have been the final straw in the mind of the people of America against the philosophy of anarchism. As this article written two days after the shooting notes, a speech by Emma Goldman was in the pocket of the assassin, and she herself was arrested and questioned repeatedly about her role in the shooting. Personally, I think that anarchism relies far too much on the belief of the innate niceness of people. I am eternally hopeful but eminently realistic about the nature of humanity, and therefore know that anarchism won’t work. The shooting of McKinley ended the chances (if it had any) that more people in America would support anarchism, or perhaps any revolutionary political thought.

Incidentally, another milestone of the 20th century, the X-ray machine, was in the exposition too. Had it been used, the surgeons who operated on the president might have found the bullet and removed it, thus saving his life. Another fantastic “might-have-been” of history to consider.

Fun, fun, fun

Philosopher or Warrior? Jeff posts a quiz asking whether quotes are either the Ultimate Warrior (that’s right, the Pro Wrestler) or a major philosopher. I only got 6 of 11 right. This indicates to me the value of these philosophers. Or maybe it shows that the Warrior is brilliant? Nah. Answers posted soon.

I never really felt like I had to return link love, but it’s been a looooooooooooong time since any blogger but the usual suspects linked here. And Brandhast is a neat long form blog that writes about politics as well as sundry personal and funny stuff. I like it! (Yeah, and I get dissed for being in Law School, which reminds me I should wrap this up and go study Contracts)


The company of old men

(This bloggage owes much to Jeff Shaw, who has also taken over my much neglected project the Debater’s Corner. Debaters of all levels, or the curious, should check it out.)

After the much discussed election of 2000, it appeared briefly that the Republicans would control all facets of government, seeing as they had maintained control of the House, seized the White House through an ideological coup of the Supreme Court, and tied in the Senate. However, as Maggie says, “Thank you Jeffords,” in the defection that gave the upper house of our legislature to the Democratic party. I may not have much respect for the Democrats, but the Republicans are just meaner.

Now three of the most reviled Republicans have confirmed they will be out of the Senate next year. The latest, Phil Gramm, is the least well known but perhaps the most insidious. His seat will undoubtedly be won by another Republican, but few could be as ideologically fanatical about tax issues than Gramm. He was the biggest voice pushing for the ill-conceived Bush tax plan in the Senate, and has been pushing the supply-side gospel in the Senate since 1978.

Even his colleagues now admit that Strom Thurmond isn’t all there anymore. As mentioned, I saw Strom on the Senate floor when I visited Washington in 1991, and he didn’t look alive then; more like an animatronic puppet. He was being led around by nubile young interns who probably kept him going with their mere presence. After all, Strom’s virility and lecherousness was as legendary as his racism, which he at least had the decency to recant after the civil rights movement changed the heart of America. Nonetheless, few of those that advocate progressive causes will weep for Strom’s retirement.

And then there’s Jesse Helms, the last unrepentent racist left in Congress. As late as two elections ago he was pushing racial buttons in a cynical attempt to divide white and black voters and scare the white working class into voting for him. Remember the ad where the white hands crumpled the rejection letter and the voiceover intoned “you needed that job and were better qualified, but they had to give it to a minority.” That was Jesse. Even Strom apologized for his race-baiting, but Jesse never has. Don’t let the door hit you in the rump on the way out, Helms. Laugh at him through this Onion infographic, and pray that someday his car gets broken down in a bad neighborhood in Charlotte.

First week down

So I’ve now finished a whole week of Law School. What to say… Hmm. So far, my biggest problem has been restraining my smile that keeps breaking out unbidden when I am in the middle of class. I am having so much fun, and I really appreciate this in a way that most people who never take any time off of school possibly could. I also understand the value of education more than most people my age. When you work four years in the “Real World,” paying rent, getting a mortgage, and understanding the burden of debt you begin to realize what education is really worth. I am more motivated for this than for anything, ever. I remain convinced that this is the correct thing to do and for the first time in a long time I know that I’m on the right track. I do know that the whole journey of Law School is not likely to come as easy as the beginning, and that I am likely to get discouraged or feel overworked. But when that happens, I know I have a reservoir of resolve to come back to, which is the memory of how miserable working in the dank basement of the parts warehouse made me feel. I know my enemy, and it is complacency and status quo.

Oh, and please do your part to FREE TV’S WIL WHEATON. That is all.