Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It wasn't me! I swear!

Robert Burns, "A Red, Red Rose"

O MY Luve 's like a red, red rose
That 's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve 's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune!

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

1241 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Monday, November 29, 2004

Another Overused Metaphor

Why is every new electric razor "revolutionary" or a "revolution in shaving?" I'm just asking.

Are They Serious?

Check out this Yahoo news story, via DailyKos.

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped a dispute over gay marriages, rejecting a challenge to the nation's only law sanctioning such unions.

Justices had been asked by conservative groups to overturn the year-old decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. They declined, without comment.

They declined cert. Those who are crowing that the Court upheld gay marriage should be aware that this doesn't really say anything about the merits. Here's why:

Critics of the November 2003 ruling by the highest court in Massachusetts argue that it violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of a republican form of government in each state. They lost at the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The Republican Form of Government argument? Oh yeah, that should constitute a concrete and particularized injury sufficient to give them standing. The Court would spend the next 30 years declining cert on every state constitutional interpretation that someone in the state doesn't like!

Yes, it's good that the Court declined to use a pretextual reason to overturn the Massachusetts high court. But that's all that they did. Nothing more.

Evidence of a Morbid Fascination

America and its media are morbidly obsessed with the possibly grisly fate of pretty white girls. This is probably not news to some of you, but to those who find it surprising, consider.

Madison, WI, is known as a bastion of liberalism. It's safe to say that Madison is a racially tolerant city, if not particularly racially diverse. As evidence of its racial tolerance, I have only once in my nine-year interracial relationship experienced any sort of noticeable, overt discrimination.

Last year, Madison got national press attention with the disappearance of pretty white college student Audrey Seiler. Consider also Jon Benet, Laci Peterson.

In 2002, a seven year old black girl named Alexis Patterson disappeared in Milwaukee. Didn't get much national coverage that I recall. Alexis still hasn't been found.

Today at the bus stop, I saw a poster for a local Madison kid named Amos Mortier. Amos goes to MATC and has been missing for almost a month. You can see the web news coverage of Amos here.

Note that all those news sources are local Madison sources.

Again, I don't think the observation is particularly notable, in that almost anyone who thinks about it will see the differential media coverage. What puzzles and angers me is the giant racial and gender bias in the media coverage we receive, not just in the small picture of missing persons, but in the tinted lens through which we see our neighbors. I don't think this is the result of a conscious decision by shadowy media masterminds; I think it is the offhand, thoughtless commercialism that says that white girls sell newspapers, and black girls don't. It's unconscious sensationalism.

The media has a tremendous agenda-setting power. I worry that the message that we are getting is that perceived crimes against white girls are more heinous than the same crime committed against anyone else. If we are collectively inculcated to believe this, how can we ever hope to banish from our hearts and minds the invidious distinctions that spill over into every interpersonal relation we have?

1236 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

1231 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

1229 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Monday, November 22, 2004

Check out Charlotte Martin

Real Rhapsody suggested that I check out Charlotte Martin.

Yep, she rocks.

1222 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Friday, November 19, 2004

Forty-One, Alone, No Gerbil

That's the title of the poem of the day at Writer's Almanac. I kid you not.

With a title like that, it's no surprise that it's a good piece.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Con Law today

We were discussing the teaching of evolution in schools, when one of my classmates summarized the theory as:

"You've got the big bang, and the soup, and the monkeys, and then us."

That was quite funny. Then, he started teasing the Professor for using big words, in which context he compared

"creationism and evolutionism...anity..."

He's a funny guy.

Stupid Football Commentators, #1

I think I am going to write down some of the just plain preposterous things I hear commentators say when I am watching football.

From this week's Badger game:

"If there is a better defensive lineman out there than (player X), he doesn't exist."

I call this phenomenon "subject-predicate brain schism." Color commentators often start a sentence only to change their mind midstream as to where they are going, leading to a predicate that doesn't follow from the subject. In this case, he probably meant to say "If there is a better D lineman, I don't know who he is." Somewhere along the way, he decided that was not emphatic enough.

I guess that's a general phenomenon, too.

1217 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Funny stuff from Wonkette

via Wonkette, the funniest line of the day:

Walking down President Clinton Way, in the River Market District of Little Rock, passed by Sid Blumenthal and James Carville.

First of all: President Clinton Way? We're guessing that it veers to the right even as signs point left.

That's priceless.

1209 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

John Gard is Dumb.

John Gard, the Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker, continues to amaze with his vitriol. His target this time, local lobbyists he doesn't like:

In a closed meeting last week, Gard told his Republican colleagues to shun meetings with former Democratic Gov. Martin Schreiber and members of his lobbying firm because Schreiber raised money for the Greater Wisconsin Committee, an independent group Gard said destroyed GOP candidates' reputations and personal lives in this fall's political campaigns.

Gard said Monday he's also talked to some of Schreiber's clients. "I think he funded a terrorist organization," Gard said. "I think the Greater Wisconsin Committee . . . says nasty, personally vindictive stuff about people because they believe they can do it without anyone knowing who they are.

Sorry, accusing your political opponents of terrorism is stupid. Particularly if their terrorist activities include such dangerous activities as "say[ing] nasty, personally vindictive stuff about people."

I would like to apologize to stupid people everywhere who I may have offended by comparing them to John Gard.

(link via WSJ, which will no doubt pull the article within 48 hours)

Mo' Deadlines

As you may have guessed, I am underneath a pile of stuff again for a few days.

I registered for classes today. Next semester I am taking Admin Law, Trusts and Estates, a Public Sector Labor Law seminar, Negotiation/Mediation, and CivPro II. If I get into the clinical I want, I'll probably have to drop something.

Law school is exciting. I'd go forever if they let me. Well, maybe not forever.

1199 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Monday, November 15, 2004

1189 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Let it go, already

Wingnuts, to battle!

The Swift Boat and POWs for the Truth had been considering standing down, stating as accomplished their mission to defeat John Kerry in the presidential election of 2004. But now what? If John Kerry is going to start acting like Freddy Krueger, what should the Swift Vets and POWs do?

Every day since the election, I have been getting e-mails, mostly from veterans, who are drafting legal documents and formulating procedural plans to press John Kerry on various charges.


Kerry's response to defeat has been equally dismissive. He now insists he will use the Senate seat as a bully pulpit for continued challenges to President Bush and the Republican Party. He asserts himself as the presumptive leader of the Democratic Party, their candidate in waiting, ready to act out another Adlai Stevenson drama in 2008.


The problem is John Kerry, himself – a defeated candidate who does not accept defeat as final. He cannot be counted upon to go quietly into the night, with what remaining dignity he has left.

Yes, people should learn that losing an election makes them forever an electoral pariah, unfit to serve their country. Let the word go forth across the land that this country neither wants nor needs the service of capable men and women who were too weak to win every election in which they participated.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Site Traffic

So I am getting bunches of hits from search engines. The searches? Apparently, people are looking for analysis of some of the poems I post (probably high school students looking for cliff notes, I guess). I get things like "Robert Frost bereft analysis." They all have the poet's name, the name of the poem, and "analysis."

I could really suck up some traffic by just posting all the poems from this old Modern American Lit class syllabus I have here...

...but I won't do that to the rest of you.

1168 American Combat Deaths

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I'm pretty tired...

from all the deadlines in the last few days. Two papers plus a chunk of my law review note, not to mention keeping up with the normal reading. I am going to take it easy today, and maybe tomorrow, but I will at least leave you with this little springtime love poem, which is both in and out of season.


She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

(Robert Graves)

1161 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What do you do when...

What do you do when you are about 10 pages into a 12-15 page scholarly paper and you realize that your thesis is a pile of dog crap? Not so much legally bad as something that you don't agree with?

Do you a) do the lawyer thing, and make an argument you don't agree with to show that you can, or b) do the conscience thing, and go back to the drawing board to make a new argument?

Oh, when answering, keep in mind that it is due about 1pm tomorrow. Not exactly a good time to start over, unless I want to eschew restful sleep tonight. Also keep in mind that doing the lawyerly thing may result in me agreeing with Justice Thomas in dissent (in a case decided 8-1), if that tells you anything.

1156 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Fallujah operations are really taking their toll.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Good Lord, Casablanca?

What is this, tear-jerker Tuesday?

I admit, sad movies make me weak in the knees. It's going to be very hard to accomplish anything when I am a mewling puddle of Casablanca induced weeping.

West Side Story

...is on Turner Classic Movies right now.

Best. Movie. Ever.

I played a small part in the play in 10th grade, and I have loved it like nothing else ever since. None of the kids portrayed in the play is unsympathetic, and yet everything turns out so tragically.

"Can't you see he's one of them?"

"No, I saw only him."

I think I frighten my family every time a song begins, caterwauling as I do like a mangy dog baying at the moon.

John Ashcroft Resigns!

...as expected. Now it all depends on if they can find someone as reactionary to replace him.

Update, from Ashcroft's resignation letter:

"Corporate integrity has been restored... The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

Oh, well, that's a relief. Do we really even need a new AG? I mean, what's he going to do?

1141 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Monday, November 08, 2004

American Combat Deaths

In response to this post, reader XYU says:

i suppose you think that increasing the war effort would decrease that number.
you forgot all the thousands of civilian deaths.

First, I must ask: why would you suppose that? I don't believe I am on record anywhere as supporting an increase in the war effort.

Second, I didn't forget "all the thousands" of civilian deaths. I just don't know of an objective source that maintains a running tally. If I find one, I will gladly post those totals as well. Deaths from this war don't become less tragic when they are not American.

Third, these posts are not intended as an endorsement of a policy position, except that the war is an ill-conceived mess that we were tricked into in the first place. I don't have the military expertise to tell you what strategy is going to "win," if such a thing is even possible. The posts are intended to maintain awareness (mine, principally, but also those of anyone who cares to read this site) of the human costs in brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters that we new pay each day as if not paid before. Each death, civilian or military, is a tragedy writ small and woven into the greater tapestry of Tragedy that is the war.

I hope this satisfies your concerns.

Update: The other thing that motivated me to start watching these totals was a concern that bad news in Iraq was being drowned out of the mainstream media by political coverage in July, before the situation really went into the tank. I want to make sure that even if the media stop talking about Iraq, I don't forget. If you find that tiresome, I'm sorry.

1134 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Energy Plan

I've convened an energy task force to try to control our heating costs this winter. Last year we spent way too much money on electricity and heat, even considering a spike in energy prices over the last few years.

Unlike Cheney's energy task force:

I will tell you who I consult (my wife and my mom).

Our plan will focus on energy efficiency.

The plan will ideally result in me giving the energy company less money, rather than more.

Friday, November 05, 2004

New Mission for Kos and Atrios

Oh, mighty fundraisers for causes Democratic!

Flex your fundraising muscle and start buying and donating optical scan voting equipment to all those minority precincts that still use punchcard ballots in Ohio, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Someone, get this idea to them. It might be the best thing to do in the 12 months before Congressional fundraising begins anew.

Torts and Domesticated Animals

Over at BenefitsBlog, Janell is talking about a funny case she got from Ernie the Attorney:

In this case we are called on to determine whether a cow is an uninsured motor vehicle under appellants’ insurance policy. We hold that it is not. On the night of September 5, 2001, appellants William R. Mayor, Jr., and Wendy M. Mayor were traveling on Interstate 76 west near milepost 41 when their vehicle struck a cow owned by Thomas Wedding. Apparently several of Mr. Wedding's cows had wandered onto the highway. . .

There appears to be no dispute that there was a collision; the cow was not insured at the time of the collision; and that the cow caused the collision. The dispute in this case is whether the cow was a "land motor vehicle" as defined in the policy. While a cow is designed for operation on land, we do not believe a cow is a "motor vehicle." The policy at issue does not separately define "motor vehicle;" therefore we must look to the common, ordinary meaning of this term. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "motor vehicle" as, "a self-propelled, wheeled conveyance that does not run on rails." Id. at 817, 374 N.E.2d 146. A cow is self-propelled, does not run on rails, and could be used as a conveyance; however, there is no indication in the record that this particular cow had wheels. Therefore, it was not a motor vehicle and thus was not a "land motor vehicle" as defined in the policy. The trial court properly found that appellants were not entitled to uninsured motorist coverage. See State Auto. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Cleveland Carriage Co. (1984), 98 Ohio App.3d 361, 648 N.E.2d 590 (finding that a horse was not a motor vehicle for purposes of uninsured motorist coverage;) Wilbur v. Allstate Ins. Co. (Nov. 29, 1991), 11th Dist. No. 90-G-1600, 1991 WL 252851 (finding that a horse and buggy was not a motor vehicle for purposes of uninsured motorist coverage.) To hold otherwise would be a manifestly absurd result. King, supra at 213, 519 N.E.2d 1380.

For our law review write on, we were talking about trying to use the negligent entrustment doctrine to sue gun manufacturers who deliberately flooded the black market with guns. One of the elements of negligent entrustment is that the thing entrusted be a "dangerous instrumentality." One of the cases we were given in our canned research was Matkin v. Country Skillet Poultry Co., 514 So.2d 1356:

Although the Matkins argue that the term "chattel" ... is broad enough to include chickens, we agree with the trial court's conclusion that chickens confined in wire cages are not "dangerous instrumentalities" as required by the doctrine of negligent entrustment.


Indeed, the Matkins readily admitted, in their memorandum in opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment, that "This is not a case involving killer chickens . . . ."

If you are a law student who is keeping score at home:

Cows are not motor vehicles, and chickens are not dangerous instrumentalities.

1127 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

At this rate, we may break 1200 by the new year.

Update: 1128.

One more reason I love John Kerry

Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

(Christina Rossetti)

...but only partially.

Update: The link is not working. Go to Atrios and look for the post titled "Tax Fairness Act of 2005."

It might be because he has comments shut off for the weekend.

Winter in Summer. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ghosts of Christmas Future

A possibly-winning strategy the Democrats should probably not pursue:

The Democrats could elect not to throw up the full range of procedural roadblocks, opposing the Republican agenda only substantively and vocally. In other words, allow the successful enactment of the whole radical Republican agenda: regressive sales taxes and no corporate or income tax, tort reform so severe that plaintiffs can no longer get lawyers, complete privatization of public schools, drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security, rampant environmental destruction, demolition of church-state separation and federalism, and preemptive military policy that isolates the United States.

In other words, no equality, no justice, and no peace.

It would take them decades to recover from that catastrophic success once its effects were seen. Unfortunately, it would probably take that long to fix the SNAFU as well.

Holy Crapo!

And I thought Obama's race was a blowout.

Justice Jackson

Just ran across this quote in Board of Education v. Barnette:

"Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard."

319 U.S. 624 (sorry, no pinpoint). Oh, to be eloquent and a judge!

To Senator Kerry

From his concession speech:

Our fight goes on to protect the environment, to achieve equality, to push the frontiers of science and discovery, and to restore America's reputation in the world.

I believe that all of this will happen, and sooner than we may think because we're America and America always moves forward.

No, Senator, not always.

1124 American Combat Deaths in Iraq

November 3 and on

Jennifer asks:


How are those Democrat friends of mine holding up?


I am sick at heart today, as you might expect. I had high hopes for the election, and the contrary result pains me. I am worried for the future of our country. How will we endure?

How will we endure four more years of a foreign policy that is aggressive and militaristic, even by American standards?

How will we endure four more years of rising inequality, when the administration and the Congress are ideologically committed to domestic programs that ossify and entrench extreme wealth while failing to effectuate any programs that really help the poor?

How will we endure four more years of assaults on our rights and liberties by an executive who has proved to be willing to flaunt the law to achieve his aims?

Senator Kerry called on all of us to unify. I'm sorry, my Republican friends. There are Republicans in America that I could bring myself to unify behind today, but George W. Bush is not one of them. It's not just sour grapes; I haven't drunk the liberal kool-aid. I respect conservatives who believe in fiscal austerity. I respect conservatives who have strong religious beliefs. I don't respect soi-disant conservatives who use fiscal austerity and strong religious beliefs as pretenses to enact a radical pro-corporate agenda.

Count me, reluctantly, among the loyal opposition.

Please forgive my pretentious attempts at eloquence. I am too often a man ruled by his heart and not his mind.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Me and my mom. Posted by Hello

1121 American Combat Deaths in Iraq