Thursday, December 30, 2004

While you were distracted...

Another CIA head honcho was purged by ex-GOP Rep. Porter Goss. Jami A. Miscik, the head of the CIA's analytic division told her staff Tuesday that she was resigning effective February 4th. Having filled every other department with Yes Men and Women, Bush is now having his henchmen do the same at the CIA. Even though it would be in there best long-term interest to have an impartial agency which could give them an honest assessment of intelligence, the Bush Administration is a reality-shapping, not a reality-based, community. They wanted a rubber stamp on their plans to invade Iraq, and the damned Agency had the gall to ask questions and doubt the existance of a nuclear, let alone a biological weapons program.

"Every [director of central intelligence] has a desire to have his own team in place to implement his vision and to offer him counsel," Miscik said in the e-mail. "This is a natural evolution of the leadership of our intelligence profession." Very diplomatic of you.

Personally, I think there are a few agencies which should be beyond the President's reach: the Justice Department and the Intelligence Agencies. There is too much room for the political needs of a White House to interfere and ruin sound policy. Like how Gore wanted to handle Elan Gonzalez differently, or how Bush wants the CIA to invent facts for his wars.

I think the US Attorney General should be elected on his or her own like they are in most states. This way, it could be a grooming ground for politicans who want to run for president but happen to annoyingly be in Congress (which always kills a White House run since 1960). Also, this would ensure that the AG would be independent from the President as they should be. That way, when the White House does something questionable, there will be no need for a "independent council" and there will be no appearances of impropriety.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

77,000 115,000 reasons

While America slumbers along this week, wallowing in the afterglow of a buying frenzy known as Christmas, tens of thousands of people are missing family members. George W. Bush is among them, riding his bicylce and clearing his beloved brush in that hot hell known as Waco Texas. Meanwhile, 43 is out consoling South Asians and being the statesman.

The Bush administration added $20 million to the paltry $15 Million in aid to the region, while they spent billions on a handful of people in the all important swing state of Flordia this winter.

The White House spinmachine said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

Nice try in slamming Clinton "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role. Indeed they do, and his actions were not to go to the largest muslim country in the world and Al-Qeada hotspot Indonesia, but to clear brush and ride his bicycle.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

sore all over

I went skiing with my future brother-in-law today, and while we didn't talk much, there was a good level of understanding. Per my calculations, it has been at least 2 years since the last time I skied, what with a trip to Coasta Rica and generally being a snow snob. Usually it has to have snowed, then be warm and sunny, but not too hot to make the snow slushy. But 80 inches at Alta were enough for me this time. In the morning I got a few Blacks under my belt and then had lunch after he finished with his lesson.

The Afternoon we skied down bright greens and I tried to instruct what has become somewhat second-nature to me as I have been skiing since I was six. Sore all over, we left at 4:30 and joined the malstrom down the canyon and went to dinner at my parents house with my Uncle Aunt and cousins in from Washington DC. It was pretty fun and I got fudge out of it.

Here is my quote of the day: "While you're watching it, you don't realize how confused you are, because it either makes sense from moment to moment or, when it doesn't, you're distracted by the sex. Life is like that." -Roger Ebert on Bad Education.

Monday, December 27, 2004

On the flip side

I hope you all had a nice weekend. Mine was great but I am excited to go back to my regular life of living on my own with my fiancee. Staying at my parents house makes me feel like a child, especially with my sister here to boss me around.

Her and my mom are trying out the bridesmaid dresses that my fiancee has picked out at David's Bridal, the perfect place when each bridesmaid is in another state. My groomsmen will do the male equivalent- Men's Warehouse.

Amidst the news blackout, a real story surfaced: the terrible Tsunami in South Asia and how preventable many of the 24,000 deaths were. If India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia (another other poorer neighboring nations like Bangladesh) had the same system for the Indian Ocean that they have in the Pacific where these things are more frequent, they would have had 15 minutes to evacuate the coasts.

The countries that bore the brunt of Sunday's tsunami had no notice of what was coming but the earthquake, the largest for 40 years, had been monitored by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Honolulu.

"We don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director Charles McCreery said.

The other story that is important is that Democracy triumphed over Cronyism and Corruption in the Ukraine with the Yushenko victory. Of course, there will be court challenges. Everyone wants to be like the Americans these days in some ways.

In Hollywood liberal news, Michael Moore is aiming his camera at Big Pharma after his unsuccessful attempt to dethrone Bush. "At least six drug companies have releases internal communications telling their employees to be ware of the scruffy baseball cap wearing filmmaker." AKA don't talk to him or you are fired. Like Jon Stewart and co., I never get why people go on camera with Moore who oppose his views. When was the last time they came off well?

As Jon Stewart says, "They like to be on the TeeVee."

Friday, December 24, 2004

Eve and Hark

Well I hope you all are enjoying the weekend and Christmasness. My dad and I went up to Big Cottonwood Canyon and snowshoed up day creek, a short but steep climb. We went about 3 miles in total and saw about 10 people in total as well. Most of the time, it was just father-son bonding time. Not that we chatted, mostly it was huffing and puffing up the revenes in 17-23 degree clear skies. Say what you will about Utah's politics (and Lord knows I have), but the scenery here is specatular and reminds me why I love it here. I drank about 70 ounces of water on the trip thanks to my parents fancy Camelbaks. Afterwards, we ate a hearty lunch and plopped down to watch the NFL game.

What a life. My sister got Dankso shoes with my grandmother via my car (which I co-own with my fiancee). It was one of the best moments of my life when my sister was begging to use is tough being a little brother to a bossy big sister, and then marrying one. My mom went to her Pilates class in the morning too.

Tonight we go to my Father's female cousin's house (don't ask me to remember all those twice removed things) for our annual rotating family christmas party. My uncle Stewart and his family are in town from DC so it will be more fun than usual. My nuclear family is on help-mode as it is our year to host next year.

Depending on who hosts, the party can be very formal and fancy or very whatever. This one will be nice, but still have an air of whatever. We do a book exchange (of new books) and someone is assigned the job of Santa, or nowadays, elf. Part of the game of the night is too make sure some people in the family don't get too drunk and the race to make it to Saint Mark's midnight mass. Since these relatives live on Walker Lane and we have to help with the clean up, I doubt we will be able to make it, which will make me upset. I love singing Christmas carols, even if I am tone-deaf.

My personal favorite is "We three kings" because it has a funky beat, followed by "Hark! The herald Angels sing" as the best closer of all time. When I was a kid, I used to think that it was "Hark, the herdald angel, sings" and I thought Hark was such a terrible name. Gabreil's cool, but Hark?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Small Lake City

This is what my mom calls it, and I think it is a great name. Because, at least where I shop and live my life, I tend to run into people that I know from elsewhere, like when I go to the airport.

Of course, this is happening all over the country, as people are cloistering themselves into ever-bluer/redder communities, even within Red or Blue states. This self-isolation and "purification" I think is a natural, if not an unfortunenate, human tendency. This is the kind of thing leads down the road to Civil War and Genocide.

Not that me shopping at CostCo will eventually lead me to join into a Holy War against Wal-Mart shoppers, but you get my point.

Posting will likely go down this weekend but I hope everyone enjoy Christmas or the fact that others are enjoying Christmas (like no lines at the movies or ski resorts, etc.)!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Home for the holidays

Well, I don't have to go far, but it seems like a world away. Tonight I am going up with my fiancee to my parents for dinner and then dropping her off in the morning at the airport. She goes home to Chicago, and I will go back up to my parents, this time for the weekend (and Christmas).

We all these holiday traditions in my family, most of which I am looking forward too. Also, my sister is coming in tonight for the weekend which is cool since I haven't seen her in so long.

Speaking of which, I saw a kid from High School at the local bagel shop today (where I got a coffee) whom I had wondered about. He was the type of kid who wasn't school smart but you could tell is actually quite brilliant and creative. Appearantly he has patented (or is trying to do so) a music machine for DJs and performs up in Park City with this device. He and friends are trying to attract attention from the entertainment industry when the Sundance Film Festival starts in a month and a half (which of course is mainly in Park City, UT and not in Vail, CO as my East Coast friends think). I wish him the best of luck. He was one of those guys who, even though he lived in his parent's basement for a couple years and didn't go to college (as far as I know) was pretty smart and ambitious in his own way.

Certainly, he is a lot smarter than some of the over-degreed and under-accomplished people I know from all walks of life. I hope I really don't fit into either catagory.

Eight is enough?

A squeaker up in the northwest: WA AG Christine Gregoire (D) is now up 8 votes over St. Sen. Dino Rossi (R) in the recount for governor. Hypocritically, the state party now is asking Rossi to concede, despite the fact that they thought 42 or so votes was "a tie" last time. Now of course, this is after the recount of the recount. And this isn't even counting the 500+ erroneously not counted King Co. Votes (which presumably will break for Gregoire at the rate of 58% or so). But still...Let's see what the WA supreme court says today (I'm watching it on C-SPAN now). In any event, I hope this woman wins, but what a nail biter.

And you thought 537 votes was close...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

trying to go without TV

We have come so dependant on the idiot box that our whole lives revolve around it: our language, our culture, our schedule. And it annoys me too that us folks in fly over country have to watch TV on someone else's schedule: either the Northeast or California. It is funny how the blue states dictate when "primetime" is. TiVo was practically meant for that vast swath of land between the coasts.

I find that TV makes me more upset than happy most of the time. Although it occationally makes me laugh, and for that I am greatful. But there is so much watering down of people, issues, and events that drives me nuts. It is as if our television has to be like our beer.

When I was in Europe they too focused on the mundane, but also spend a sigiificant portion of time talking about what was happening in Africa or the Middle East and the US. And it didn't take a military invasion for these people to learn about other parts of the world. Part of it is that, even when they do the weather report, they are reminded how close they are to Africa and Turkey and Russia. Their geography forces them to be conscious of more of the world than nearby states or Canada, or Mexico. The closest we get to that is a discussion of "El Nino" and a blurb about a horriffic set of deaths in China or Japan or some place along the ring of fire. But then the subtext of newscasters is, "well there are plenty of them Asians anyway, no big loss." Of course, when 5 idiots living along the Missippi in Missouri die in a flood, it makes national headlines, as if their lives are more precious than those who died in a Tsunami.

As for other weather phenominom, we occationally have "the inversion" in Salt Lake during the winter. This is when High Pressure traps all our pollution in the Salt Lake Valley (I watch the weather on TV). As a result we realize what selfish pigs we are for having to drive ourselves everywhere instead of using public transit, walking, or living closer together. After all, the Los Angeles Valley is about the same size, but they have quite a few more people living there. Of course, more people don't think about this and just complain about it, as if they had no part in it. Personally, I like the wake up call that the inversion brings, but my Parents and my Aunt and Uncle like to brag about how they literally live above it.

See, my parents live in Emigration Canyon at about 5,500 feet. So every winter morning this time of year they get to drive into the gunk. My Aunt and Uncle experience the submergence much later in their commute because they live in Park City, which is higher up and further away.

So like I said, I am trying to go without TV today and as much as possible in the coming days. So far, I have vaccumed up the living room and kitchen, listened to David Sedaris on archives and read some "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" stories (as well as read online and talked to my grandmother. Give me strength.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Still Donnie Fowler for DNC

I was just endorsing him based on his letter that was posted on MyDD before. Now I am much more excited about him after watching him on C-SPAN (thanks Kos). Go to his website and read up. I bet you will like what you see.

nothing doin'

Today is the beginning of a week of nothing, which is nice I guess, but the silence of activity is deafing. So it looks like I am going to have to invent some tasks and come up with things to get family members for Christmas, including myself.

Other than being pretty poor these days with lots of expenses and only one salary, I feel so blessed with all the necessary and unnecessary conforts, it is hard to find things I really would like or need. Especially when there are fellow citizens getting shot at who have no proper armor.

My Christmas wishes were that there would be no more Rumsfeld, no more Cheney, no more Bush. But so far, so bad. I guess there is always New Year's.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Black yourself out

Sometimes I wish I didn't read the news. I tried today by watching football and going Christmas shopping. But then a saw how many people died in Najaf and the preminition that more death and violence will come as we get closer to January 30th.

Now there is no law school for several weeks to distrast me from watching the world spiral out of control (and into the toliet). At least there is Christmas and my family stuff to do. I recommend that everyone finds something to do until the 30th. After that, Bush's next puppet government will be in place (or else they will find some irregularities or some other reasons to null the vote).

So how about those Colts?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pharma v. Reality

The pharmaceutical industry would have you believe, via their ads and drug reps in every hospital, that they are constantly innovating and discovering new, important medicines to help humanity. But in reality, they only look for the next Viagra: a blockbuster drug that will keep them afloat until they find the next sure-money winner.

According to the Times, "The number of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration has declined sharply since the mid-1990's, falling from 53 in 1996 to 21 in 2003, even as the industry has nearly doubled its annual spending on drug development, to about $33 billion."

Supposedly the companies claim to have doubled their R&D budgets, but their marketing and lobbying budgets are still much bigger. For example, in Merck's (who has been the subject of all the bad Vioxx news) 2003 Annual Report, the company spent $10,710,200,000 on Marketing (with Administrative costs built in) while spending only $3,279,900,000 on Research and Development (I included their acquired R&D as well). That's about a 70-30 split on their costs.

Of course, this is only one company, but I bet if you look at the industry as a whole, the numbers are similar. And these companies wonder why they aren't finding any new hot drugs. Maybe it is because they are too worried about holding on to their market share and profits and less about true innovation. This despite the cozy relationship between the GOP-controlled congress, the Bush FDA, and big Pharma.

If I had my druthers, prescription drugs would be prohibited from advertising on TV (modeled after the rules for cigarettes), and their lobbying of doctors would similarly be severely curtailed. I have no troubles with advertising products like Advil, where each company is trying to keep its brand name awareness up and is in fierce competition with each other. But patients shouldn't be pushed into thinking they need more pills. Nor should doctors be pushed into giving out these pills if they a) aren't needed b) aren't safe c) more costly than drugs that work fine for the patient and are already out/gone generic.

On second thought, I think it would be fine if drug companies raise the public's awareness of their advances generally i.e. "Is your arthritis giving you trouble? Talk to your doctor today. There are many new and exciting products which can relieve your pain with just one pill a day and little side effects...." You get the idea. How about they spend 50% of their budget on R&D? That sounds reasonable, not that I would legislate that but I just feel it is wrong for them to whine when it is their own dumb decisions that placed them where they are today.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Stick a fork in me...

Cause I am done! That's right, last final was done at 5PM...well I turned it in early because I ran out of stuff to say. After that, I was in a mad dash to my fiancee's office party, where there was an open bar, hot wings, and burgers. They even had TVs in the urinals. Brilliant! Next, I went back to dress up more for the law school holiday party. First a pre-party at one of my friend's houses, a bit more intoxicatation....then off to the Sky Bar downtown. We danced, sweated, caught out drunken classmates before they fell on the ground and shouted "We've done" about a billion times. But boy did it feel great. One of my fiancee's college alumnae board members came with us and she had a great time too. It is too bad they allow smoking in clubs and bars. It really ruins the whole experience for me: I have to immediately wash my clothes and shower and get the sting out of my eyes. Plus, it smells and gives you cancer, but who's complaining? Not me.

Tomorrow I may wake up feeling a bit bad, but I earned this little excursion for all the work I have done this month. Now I just have Christmas shopping, Advent, and family Christmas parties to worry about. Plus the usual clean the car get groceries stuff. I have to say, I like my class. The people are great, kind, and very smart. If any of them are reading now, I would like to tell them they are all doing great and not to worry. After all, there is nothing you can do about it now anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

SUU prof. fired for swearing

Southern Utah University Professor Stephen Roberts was fired for using the f-word in a heated class discussion Oct. 12 over a supreme court case. At the time, he appologized to the student and class, but he stupidly swore during his peer review process.

SUU students picked Roberds as their 2003-04 Professor of the Year. Last week he gave the Cedar City-based university's Grace A. Tanner Distinguished Faculty Lecture.

"We have gone through policies and procedures, and based on a variety of things, the decision was made that a contract for the 2005-06 academic year not be granted to Professor Roberds," said Dean Decker, dean of SUU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Decker sent Roberds a letter saying his contract with the southwest Utah school would not be renewed.

Dean Decker claims that Roberds' ouster had nothing to do with the tenure process or the professor's recent use of the obscenity during a classroom discussion. Yeah right.

Decker placed Roberds on paid administrative leave with full benefits for the next six months - the balance of his current contract, which ends on June 30, 2005, saying "He will not be teaching classes during the spring semester. We have fully credentialed faculty to teach the classes that Dr. Roberds was scheduled to teach."

While Cedar City is a conservative area, there just seems no justification for firing someone on such a frivilious charge. It seems he was a liberal in a conservative region and clashed with the administration. I haven't looked through the school's speech code but I seriously doubt that is something which a student would be let go for, let alone a professor. Hope he comes up to the U and teaches here or a more liberal school where he won't be afraid of speaking. I say, sue the a-holes (that was meant to be ironic)

Blog des Tages: Anonymous Law Professor

This means Blog of the Day:Anonymous Law Professor. I just find Deutsch a more effecient way of writing things some times, sorry.

Anyway this is a great blog. I wonder who this professor is and if mine really feels this way about us. Sample post:

My first-year students take my exam in the next few days. I don't want to say exactly when, but I promised them that if they e-mailed me by this evening, I'd answer their questions by mid-morning tomorrow.

Unfortunately for them, my tri-weekly professorial poker game got a little rowdy and I had too much to drink. There are now 28 e-mails in my law school in-box. I can't answer just a few and be fair to all, and well, I'm not going to answer them all. Anyway, by not responding, it'll teach them to figure out earlier in the term which concepts they don't understand.

So as I click delete, delete, delete, I can only help but think of those pretty von Trapps singing, So long, farewell, auf weidersehn, good bye...

Oh wait, I'll answer just this one; she's cute.

Funny, yet worrisome.

The biggest waste of money I can think of

Unsurprisingly, yet another balistic missile defense attempt failed yesterday. According to the LA Times, this boondoggle costs "$130 billion and is scheduled to tally $50 billion more over the next five years." Now before conservatives reading this say, "you are weak on defense!" I would like to point out that the cold war ended 15 years ago. There is no need to protect ourselves from ballistic missiles coming in from Russia and really not against China for another 20 years (maybe North Korea in 5-10 years but that's pretty generous). Also, is it not more cost effective to simply take away North Korea's nukes than to build the impossible machine?

The thing that really gets me about the whole thing is that this money could be better spent, even on the same purpose-- protecting our country from attack. Bin Laden and his friends are not going to hijack a missle silo, they are going to buy a warhead and smuggle it into Canada, Mexico, or the US, most likely via a ship containers since only 5% of them get checked. Then they can just drive into a big city (San Diego or Seattle, for example) and blow up the device. It won't kill as many people as a balistic missle would, but the point is to scare the sh*t out of us, not max out the number of dead people.

We could spend some of that 50 billion on protecting ex-USSR loose nukes, which will be secured at the current rate in the next 15 years. We could spend some of that money getting into North Korea and sabotoging their missile silos and nuclear fission thingies. Are they really stupid enought to try to attack us? Maybe they would try going for the South Koreans, but we would get the Chinese on board with such caldestine operations and are pretty good at reigning in their little buddies. And I bet we would still have money left over to buy more protective gear for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Plus, it doesn't work, and I have yet to read any scientist who believes it could work. Sure, my DLC friends say it is a good idea, and so do the people at the Penagon, but both are getting money and smoozing from the defense contractors, not exactly unbiased parties. Missle Defense is a religion among Reaganite GOPers (which is now most of them), you can't reason with them, but for the rest of you, it just makes no sense.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Well something happened to my computer the other day, I am still not sure what, and I was out for whole days running "check disk" and taking its sweet time about it. Finally, I took it down to the computer guys at the law school and after about 30 minutes they finally got my computer back out of its slumber. You never know how vital a thing is until you don't have it. And I was about to poop my pants because I had all the answers I had writen to half of my Contract test on this little guy, which is like a day's worth of work. Plus, it had my professor's sort-of-helpful comments to them so I knew what to do next (in theory). Man, am I ever greatful for the tech guys in the basement. Now I am on an uninstalling spree.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Its the new Win! Democrats have finally embraced reform in their rhetoric, now it is time to see if their DNC chair and platform will match it.

The DLC's Ed Kilgore has some starters that Democrats from all sides can agree on (and so should Republicans like McCain, Lugar, etc.) He names Election Reform (a real Help American Vote Act), Redistricting Reform (no more protectionism), and Ethics and Lobbying Reform (deep six the K Street project).

Now I agree with all of those but I think we need to go further on Election reform: Federalize the elections. No more 2 million different ways to vote with incompetent volunteers, etc. American politicans talk a good game when it comes to how much they value democracy, but we spend money on it like it is an unwanted, illegitimate child who just showed up from Vietnam (appologies to David Sedaris). There should be one system, controlled by a FEC with teeth and real administrators (not party hacks). Recounts should not be county by county, state by state, but federally done (via one recount and contest law for all federal elections). I don't care if these poll workers are unionized, but it might help in terms of their competence.

While we are at it, let's have real Intelligence Reform, Procurement reform(Why don't we have enough flack jackets? But plenty of B1 bombers), Government Accounting and Spending reform (Missle Defense and the Army Corps of Engineers, GAO, etc.), Tax reform (make it more progressive and simplier) We should be getting good ideas from the states and building them into our platform.

Think of how well McCain and Perot did, there is a huge "The government needs reform" constituency out there. Let's have at it.

Joe-pen Senate Seat?

It looks like everyone's favorite loser is considering being the head of Joe-land security. Or at least the Bush Administration is trying to save face with that last implosion and do some more campaign oriented stratego. After all, AP reports are saying CT Gov. Jodi Rell (R) would appoint a GOPer (even though she won't even commit to that), presumably Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-05) "to fill the last two years of Lieberman's term." The line up on the Democratic side is pretty weak since they can't kick out sitting congressmen or beat Johnson even when both are incumbents.

CT AG Richard Blumenthal (D)is already chomping at the bit He said a Lieberman appointment would "change the political landscape here in Connecticut by opening a Senate seat. Certainly I would have an interest in it. But we'll have to wait and see what happens in Washington." Blumenthal called it a "very exciting and promising opportunity for the country because he (Lieberman) would be such a great secretary for Homeland Security." Flattery won't get you an endorsement, dork.

I wish these guys would focus on Rell and the house. Almost any schmuck can be a democratic senator from CT, just ask the other one.

In other Washington news, I had the biggest laugh today when George W. Bush have the Congressional medal of Freedom to George "Slam Dunk" Tenant, Paul "who needs an Iraqi Army" Bremmer, and ex-Gen. Tommy "I spoke at the GOP convention but I am not partisan" Franks. The funniest part was when MSGOP was saying "The White House does not want to focus on what some have called these men's 'mistakes' but want to concentrate on their lifelong service to this country."

Their mistakes are pretty grave: George Tenant gave waffling supporters of the war something to hang their hat on (after all if the head of the CIA says there's weapons there, it's gotta be true right?) and gave Bush the justification he needed to launch this war of choice. Paul Bremer managed to do an even worse job as administrator of Iraq than that Lt. Gen. they had in there, leading to more insurgents with more training and weapons and more dead American soldiers and more captives.

Gen. Franks' sins are just as severe. He should have tried to talk Bush out of two wars at once, but he would have gotten fired at a time they needed him finishing the job in Afghanistan (I guess he didn't do that either). Franks should been more insistent on more troops and a real post-war plan, instead of going back to the drawing board whenever Rumsfeld complained the war plan did not fit with this new conception of warfare.

Of course, he is a Army man and is trained to follow the orders of the civilian leadership so he would have been going against decades of training to fight back. But then again, General Clark did it when he thought the war in Kosovo needed Apache helicopters and ground troops etc. He went around the E-Ring and straight to Sandy Burger and even tried to get in with President Clinton. This is the real reason he got retired early in April of 2000. Clark got the medal of Freedom by Clinton after his retirement, partly because Clinton felt bad that he was conned into approving Clark's retirement.

Those three men are the epitome of what public service is about to Bush: sycophancy. If you agree with the man, no matter how wrong or what road it leads down, you are a hero to him. It also helps to take a bullet or two for him, like Tenet did. I hate to break it to W., but this is a democracy and these people are supposed to be serving the country, not the GOP and you as the president come second to the people. These men served you first, us last, and it showed: you got reelected and Iraq is in the toilet.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What NOT to get me for christmas

'Nuff said

2 down...

Thanks Charley for the words of support after the last test. Now, I only my terrible contracts class. Paperwight, you were right that was more to Kerik's to drop out than a Nanny exuse. But I stand by my statement that it is lame to dismiss canidates because they hired a nanny, or even took bribes from the mob. The was unqualified and when he had a similar security job, he failed miserably. That is why he was unfit for the appointment.

The real end result of the news is that Rudy G. will have to work that much harder to get the GOP nomination in 2008. Because he cashed in all his chips with Bush on this one, even if he didn't mean to do so.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Photo of the Day

Viktor Yushchenko, the would-be next president of Ukrainian was poisoned with Dioxin, most likley by an the head of Ukranian Security Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko on September 5th. His wife smelled something funny on his breath (like medicine) after kissing him that night.

Nanny Problem

When I learned that Bernard Kerik has removed his name (AKA asked to drop out) from the nomination of homeland security director, I was happy. That is, until I learned why: did not pay taxes on his nanny.

How many presidential nominees have been sunk in recent years because they either (1) hired an illegal alien to be their kid's nanny, or (2) failed to pay taxes for them or (3) both? I can think of at least two Clinton nominees and now two Bush nominees. Is it that hard to find good legal help these days? Or is it a symptom of something worse and bigger?

It's the latter. Instead of sinking these nominees on the merits like they should be, political hacks are delving deep into people's private lies to catch them in an error, which just so happens these days to be with nannies. I don't think this is an appropriate way of "advise and consent" the present dear Senate. This is why we end up with the Kerik's in the first place, because truely gifted would-be public servants don't want people combing through their trash and dirty laundry. That, and the pay stinks.

Now some will say that this nanny-gate stuff shows that these nominees have no respect for the law which is really bad when you are appointed to be the attorney general like Zoe Baird was. Or you have no respect for labor laws, which it also bad if you are nominated to be Secretary of Labor, like Linda Chavez was. Or you have no respect for immigration laws, assuming Kerik's nanny was an illegal, when your department oversees the INS like Homeland Security does. Nonetheless, why can't be shoot these people down on the merits?

Kerik did a terrible job in the few months he was in Iraq. And no one explained ever why he left so appruptly. The man's only qualification was his loyalty to Rudy G. This was a patronage job, plain and simple. Rudy called in a favor from George W. Bush. Why can't his resume and past performance be the reason the senate votes him down?

I am just so tired of this gotcha culture in Washington. The "politics of personal destruction" is why we have power hungery men like Tom DeLay who manage to keep their nose clean enough avoid the axe. Congressmen lose power for saying dumb and racist things and yet ones who flaunt the law and commit real crimes (AKA not minor tax evasion) get promoted. There is something wrong with this picture.

Friday, December 10, 2004

From Bad to Worse

Usually I am pretty biased about Utah Democrats, after all, I am one of them. But when you have to step down because you where caught shoplifting and then many years later, you try to run over your son-in-law with your car you are out of my favor, to say the least.

[ex-State Rep.] Dionne Halverson, 57, faces a Dec. 30 arraignment for felony aggravated assault.

Deputy Weber County Attorney Dean Saunders ... alleges the incident happened Nov. 16 at the Plain City home of Alex Williams, a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper who is married to Halverson's daughter. He was not injured.

Halverson resigned in 1991 from her second term as a Democratic Utah House member from Ogden after she was arrested for shoplifting nearly $200 worth of clothing.

A security guard at Mervyn's Department Store in Ogden stopped her leaving the store around Christmas with a bag of unpaid clothing. She first denied guilt, then pleaded no contest to a class A misdemeanor, and was fined $350.

A House ethics committee voted to expel her, but passage by the whole House failed by two votes. Instead, she was censured and subsequently resigned.

Thank goodness she lost in the primary/convention in her attempt to come back in 1998.

Reporter fed Q to soldier: So?

The "dramatic town-hall encounter between" Secretart of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Specialist Thomas Wilson, "an Iraq-bound soldier who worried about his unit's safety took a new twist" 12/9 when Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts said he "helped the soldier devise the question" according to Bandler for the Wall Street Journal. "Since mid-November," Pitts "has been 'embedded' with a unit" of the TN National Guard. His "role came to light after an e-mail he sent to a colleague was forwarded" 12/9 "to a Web site produced by the Poynter Institute. In the e-mail, Pitts wrote that he and two soldiers 'worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have." Pitts "wrote that he 'found the (sergeant) in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd." Pitts added it was "one of my best days as a journalist." I'll bet.

Pitts' editor, Tom Griscom, "'was asked' to include an account of his actions" in 12/9's story, "but it didn't get included, and (the omission) didn't get caught in the editoring." Griscom "said he would publish a letter to readers on the front page of today's newspaper explaining Pitts' role in the event" according to Memmott of USA Today.

Griscom defended Pitts' actions saying "the soldier asked the question" and "could have rejected Pitts' idea." Griscom: "Because someone's in the media who's embedded with them, does that mean they don't have the same opportunity to at least make a suggestion of something that might be asked? Is that what makes it wrong, because a journalist did it? That response from the troops was a clear indication that this is an issue on their minds" (Thanks Howie, you Media Whore)

Of course, Rush Limbaugh is deeply offended, equating Pitts' actions with those of Dan Rather. I am sure or other conservative blogs are going Ape about this "news" because it supposidely validates their "liberal" media conspiracy theory.

In reality, the soldier trusted this guy, and knew him to be good with words, which presumably he was not, otherwise he wouldn't have asked for Pitts' help crafting the question. Maybe the soldier was just not confident, and Pitts helped him find his strength to stand up to Rumsfeld. There were other questions asked that wheren't "prompted" by a reporter, which were along similar critical lines, are they disingenious?

Bush and almost all politicans these days have speech writers, does that mean those politicans don't believe what they are saying and it is just put in their mouths? Maybe for some, but I bet most of them believe what they say but just couldn't craft their words and thoughts as elequently as these writers could. That's why you hire them.

Of course, this begs the question: Should a reporter be a speechwriter? I say, if this is the only way these questions are going to be answered by folks like Rumsfeld, the media should try everything they can to get their questioned answered. The soldier wasn't his puppet, but his willing and likeminded conduit.

I love how people like Howard Kurtz get into a huff about this, but never about folks like Judith Miller who just parroting some dubious unnamed sources with dubious motives. Or the political reporters of the New York Times, who care about nothing but process and internal leaks of disgruntled staffers, who take their disagreements out into the press when they cannot convince their candidate/elected official to go their way. This is interesting, but not nearly as important as the underlying fact that there isn't enough armor. This is a classic media distraction, manufactured by the Right/Bush Administration to get them off topic into their own navel gazing instead of pounding the real story for another couple weeks.

NBC's Miklaszewski: "as of today, only about one third of the military's 20,000 Humvees in Iraq are fully armored. When American troops first took Baghdad, only US military police had the fully armored Humvees. But when insurgents turned up their attacks with roadside bombs, Americans started taking heavy casualties, and Congress came up with additional funds to turn up production of the heavily armored vehicles" ABC's Moran: "The army revealed today that of 30,000 military vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 8,000 are still waiting for armor. ANd the Army's schedule does not call for all Humvees in Iraq to be armored until next March" Operation Truth founder Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, asked if the shortage of armor was a well-known problem: "Absolutely, sir. I spent just under a year in Iraq in central Baghdad, and commanded 38 soldiers on the ground who were poorly equipped. We did not have armored humvees; we were reduced to duct taping old flak jackets to the side of our Humvees to provide protection. We put sandbags in the floors of our vehicles. ... it cost soldiers their lives and it wounded soldiers as a result, and it was absolutely inadequate" Now that is the news, that is the story. Press, I beg of you, run with that.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Cpl. Hassoun charged with desertion

The Salt Lake Tribune has the scoop: Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun has been charged with desertion by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Cpl. Hassoun is from West Jordan, UT and has been the subject of a five-month investigation into his June disappearance from a U.S. military camp near Fallujah, Iraq.

The whole dissipearance, being on Al-Jeziera and reappearance in his native Lebenon thing made the Marines pretty suspecious, especially when they wound Hassoun's things in a raid on insurgence in Fallujah. His Utah family were shocked by the news of the dissertion charge.

Here's your quickie on military law:

If found guilty of desertion, Hassoun could face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and five years confinement for each specification.

Hassoun will be assigned military defense counsel to represent him, and has the right to be represented by a civilian attorney of his choice at no expense to the United States.

Now I know what the fuss is about

So I finally read the questions and answers to Sec. Rumsfeld’s visit with the soldiers in Kuwait and I have a feeling that he won't do that again.

The Times has a good account of the questions, mostly related to the lack of armor for vehicles and personal when they are in a drawn out guerilla war, the back door draft for would-be retired servicemen and women, and the full-time work part-time pay of National Guard Reservists (two weekends a month my Butt!)

Needless to say, most people paying attention have know this problems for a long time, but the fact that media wasn't aware, didn't believe it, and the E-Ring folks basically ignored it is now quite apparent. All of a sudden, reports are trickling in about how new armored Humvees are being made for our troops...good work Pentagon Media Relations! The reality is that we have been in Iraq for two years now starting in next spring and they didn't plan properly to protect the grunt soldiers. It looks like they don't care, and Rumsfeld’s answer show he has about as much respect for them as he does the press corps, that is next to nothing.

After two long years in Iraq, we have next to nothing to show for it but thousands of dead soldiers and a broken country. Sure we have Saddam in some jail, but we could have done that other ways. Ways that would have not left the target on these soldiers with no return ticket and no armor.

Their families shouldn't have to hold bake sales to buy them armored vests when the Pentagon are spending billions on new submarines and stealth bombers (don't forget the hundreds of millions for no-bid Halliburton contracts even while they overcharge the government). Folks, we are in a long-term occupation of a poor, desert country, those things are useless. Body and vehicle armor, however, is vital.

We should be treating these fighting men and women with the respect they deserve by telling them honestly what is happening. And call me crazy, but I just don't get that impression from Rummy.

One down...

Well I finished by Civil Procedure test today at noon and have thus far taken the afternoon off, having a leasurely lunch at Big Ed's (a hole-in-the-wall greesy spoon near campus) with some classmates and then shooting around University field house.

Now I am kicking it in my exercise gear. I think I will take off the rest of the day to clear my head before I dive into Torts over the weekend (8 hour take home starting at 8:00am on Monday).

Sorry for the lack of discussion of the days events. I have no idea what happened today. Except that stupid Scott Peterson case.

I will tell you, I am conflicted about the death penalty and would love to hear people's arguments for it. On the one hand, that NY Times article really summs up my problems with the death penalty: the administration. Those folks in Texas seem determined to kill, the facts be damned. Illinois had similar problems, but they are doing something about it, instead of thumbing their nose at the supreme court like the 5th circuit did. A 8-1 decision, and they copy and paste the one dissenting opinion (by none other than Clarance Thomas)in theirs? Terrible.

But I really have no problem killing Peterson, from all that I have read, he did a horrible crime and its a person who cannot be rehabilitated. In California, they spend more money per a prisoner than they spend per a college student in the UC system. Our country has its priorities all messed up.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Video Game of the Day

I am out studying for Civil Procedure, which is tomorrow at 8:30AM for 3.5 hours (after that, I have two 8 hour take home finals, the last of which is really much more than that since we have had half the semester to do 2 of the 4 questions...Top that Michelle!)

In the meantime, please enjoy the clip from this old video game made by Japanese programmers in the late 80s who obviously didn't pay enough attention in English class:

Courtesy of, via Kos

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Website of the day

Today's website of the day (and blog of the day) is the grouchy but brutally honest Unemployed Kerry Staffer. Money quote: "Ran into somebody today who still has a job. ... I found myself wishing I could push her down and kick her"

So far I have taken the 2000 and 2003 CivPro exams writen by my teacher and I always manage to miss one thing that I should have gotten. But then again, I am short changing myself about an hour each time because I get too bored. Wish me luck (test is on Thursday)

The most unsurprising news of the year

NY AG Eliot Spitzer: "I have decided I will run for governor in 2006," the New York Democrat said. "The state is at a point of crisis," he said. "The state is in dire need of leadership that will address budget issues, tax issues. We are bleeding jobs. We need reform in the process of government." His announcement comes just two days before the campaign committee stages a $1,000-a-person fund-raising lunch in Manhattan aimed at raising more than $2 million to add to its $5.5 million coffers.

And Eliot is the man to do it. A pro-business New Democrat who has gone after corporate crime when Bush's SEC looked the other way, Spitzer has been a headline whore for 4 years now and shouldn't have a name recognition problem. As NY Governor George Pataki's spokeswoman Lisa DeWald Stoll once said, "We all know that A.G. stands for aspiring governor."

Equally good for him, someone (maybe it was him) talked Chuck Shumer into staying in the Senate and taking over the DSCC job. I guess the idea is that Hillary might come begging to Chuck for money, but really, it will be the other way around.

The Journal reports of a Zogby poll which has Spitzer leading Gov. Pataki 44% to 41% of likely voters, with ex-NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, topping Spitzer, 52% to 36%. However, "Giuliani hasn't shown any interest in the governor's race." Psst, that's because he is planning on running for President, and a governor's race will just complicate things and force him to run to the center (away from his new found conservatism).

For what it is worth, The Third Avenue proudly endorses Spitzer for NY Governor. He's our kind of Democrat.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Waging war over the war, 2 years later

I wish someone could explain to me why liberals love fighting the same battles over and over, like Bill Murry in Groundhog Day. The purfect example is once liberal icon Ralph Nader, who thought it would be fun to fight for the New Deal again by making such a fuss in 2000 (and 2004).

The big bloggers are currently having a meta-debate over the Iraq War. Atrios believes that those who didn't support the invasion of Afghanistan weren't necessarily against war in general while CalPundit and Matthew Yglesias take the opposite position. All three were against the Iraq war and all want to talk about why the Michael Moore's of the party get shamed while the Bruce Reed's stay in prominance. [see BOPNews' summarization and discussions]

It all makes me feel like Punxsutawney Phil. There is definately something to what Kevin Drum and his camp is saying, that is, many of the people that opposed the invasion of Afghanistan are pacifist-leaning. Of couse, not all of them are. I am still very tired of refighting the war about the war.

There's no doubt in my mind that our generation will be talking about Iraq the way my parents talk about Vietnam. And my kids will be like who cares? I guess the reason for the constant refighting is to remind ourselves that the Baby Boomers finally came completely full circle. In the 80s and 90s they succomed to greed and in the 00's they gave into military might over right. They are now the people they were railing against in the 60s and 70s. Ironic isn't it? Of course, this is another generalization that doesn't fit all. But I am sure polls will back me up on the Baby boomers being at least marginally (52% or something) in favor of the war at the time and for most of it.

All this rediscussion makes me understand why my conservative friends get so exaspirated with liberals. You never see such hand-ringing and re-navel gazing amoung conservatives. Everything is honky dory when you are winning. We will see if they have a bout of re-examination if they lose big time in 2008. But I doubt it will be as bad as the ones Democrats and other progressives have been doing for 4 straight years now.

Anyway, I should get back to Civil Procedure. Enjoy folks.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Nuclear Option

Since I took a Civil Procedure practice exam yesterday (the reason there was no posting on Saturday), I thought I would share this nugget of scary knowledge I gained from learning about Article III of the Constitution: Congress has the power to create, and hence get rid of, the District Courts and Appellate Courts of the Federal Court system.

If in 2006 the GOP win enough seats to have a 60-40 majority in the Senate (unlikely but possible) or they get rid of the filibuster rule altogether right now, they could pass a bill to remove these two lower federal courts only to recreate them the next day and George W. Bush would get to appoint the entire judiciary save the Supreme Court (which it looks like he will get to appoint at least one now that Rehnquist can't even talk).

Now my CivPro teacher assured me that such a move, while technically possible, is politically untenable. That might be true because even many hard-line GOPers would freak out about such court packing and seeding such power to one president. After all, these new Judges would be there for life.

Still, the GOP has such discipline and force to drag its members of Congress further and further to the right with fealty oaths to the party's dogma and the will of George W. Bush. All I am saying is, I doubt Karl Rove hasn't had a wet dream about this one. If they could do it, I think they would try.

After all, Bush et al doesn't seem to care about how he is perceived or how many people he alienates, as long as his people stay in power. Happy nightmares everyone.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Kerik's Legacy

via The Onion

Emptying the cabinet

So now Tommy Thompson is out too, and ex-Senator and UN Ambassador John Danforth as well (because he didn't get the secretary of state job, the baby). I wonder if Tommy will try for governor of WI again or if he too will try for President in 2008.

According to the rumormill, Bush wanted Giulliani to be his Homeland Security Director, but Rudy turned it down (he doesn't want to be under Bush's thumb in the race for 2008), so Rudy suggested the guy who held Pataki's coat during 9/11: Benard Kerik, the ex-NYPD chief. Kerik's done a great job training the Iraqi army hasn't he? Boy, they are just whipping out the insurgents and with no help at all from the US/"Coalition" [hopefully you could tell the last bit was scarastic]!

I am assuming that Bush will be the kingmaker in 2008, but I wonder if there will be Bush-fatiuge amoung even conservatives by then. I was tired with him on January 20, 2001 12:00:000000001. Didn't like the way he walzed up to the podium.

Ukraine gets a second chance at Democracy

Good news. In Kiev, the Supreme Court declared the results of the disputed presidential runoff election invalid and that the runoff should be repeated on December 26, just what Yushchencko wanted. Look for every Western country and the UN to send observers to make sure there is no funny business this time.

Ukraine up until now had had the best democratic government, in terms of free elections, in the former USSR. I am pleased that they will continue down the old road and not on the Putin/Bush/DeLay ends justify the means route.

This was a victory also for Yushchenko, the so-called Ukrainian Al Gore in this election (only that his proof of a stolen election was much more complete than Gore's), who didn't want a new election altogether. His yellow-wearing supporters contended that Yushchenko had won the run off [got over 50%] despite the results touting a plurality win for him. Current president Kuchma and his party have been so embarrassed they have been trying to drop their candidate Yanukovych like a rock, despite Putin congratulated Yanukovych on his victory three times.

In news more related to the US but still Ukrainian themed the Wall Street Journal reported, "the Ukrainian Parliament, which earlier this week passed a no-confidence vote in Mr. Kuchma's government, raised its pressure on him, calling in a nonbinding vote for a withdrawal of the nation's 1,600 peacekeepers from Iraq, where they make up the fourth-largest contingent."

"'Due to the sharp deterioration of the situation in Iraq, the Parliament addresses the president with the proposal on withdrawal of [Ukrainian] troops from Iraq,' the resolution said. The chamber voted 257-0 in support of the proposal. Forty deputies who were present did not take part in the vote."

"Most Ukrainians want the troops brought home, and the deployment has been a rare topic of agreement between the two rivals vying for the presidency. Both Mr. Yushchenko and Mr. Yanukovych support a pullout."

So who's number 3? Poland or Australia? How is this a coalition? I still chuckle with sadness when the Pentagon or the press say "coalition forces." I still can't believe 53 million Americans think Bush has the best handle on fixing the mess he created by choice. "It's your bed, lay in it."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Absurdity has a new name

It's mandatory minimums. The idea behind taking the sentencing phase for drug related crimes was to create uniformity and more importantly, for politicians to claim (in the Nelson Rockefeller mold) that they are "tough on crime,"

The Wall Street Journal reports, "when it comes to measuring the weight of drugs, procedures around the country are anything but standard. The amount of cocaine or marijuana in the defendant's possession is just the start: What really matters is how much a person intended to procure or produce. That question leads the justice system into a speculative realm where botanists, chemists and forensic scientists imagine what might have happened if the defendant had had more time or skill."

"... Prosecutors and defense lawyers have debated, for example, whether a man who hoarded bags of Chinese tea could have made a significant quantity of speed from it were he an expert chemist -- which he wasn't. Another man was caught growing thousands of baby marijuana plants. Had they grown up, how much marijuana would they have yielded? The answers to such questions can mean the difference of a decade or more in a prison sentence."

"The Supreme Court is now weighing whether the federal sentencing guidelines are constitutional. " I hope they say no. The whole thing is idiotic, that someone who caught with a couple bags of weed should do more time than someone who tries to blow up a plane.

We should make sure the judges in our city, county, state, and country are compassionate but fair and tough on crime and drugs. The legislature has no business taking away the judge's gavel on these issues, in my opinion. The arbitrariness of sentencing when it comes to predicting how much drugs they would have made is even more silly.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Donnie Fowler for DNC

I know I said good things about Dean, and good things about Simon Rosenburg, and bad things about Terry, but now my mind is made up ex-Clark Campaign Manager Donnie Fowler is my pick. I also know that he was the fall guy (and maybe partly to blame) for Clark's stumble out of the gate that probabbly cost him the nomination and maybe the presidency. But I am a forgiving guy and Fowler's rhetoric is right where I stand:
The Democratic National Committee

Embracing the New Politics and Perfecting the Old
Donnie Fowler, Candidate for DNC Chairman / November 2004

In a time where America's progressive movement and the Democratic Party feel the pain of defeat, Democrats must reaffirm our soul and commit ourselves to the new politics while perfecting the old. Today's Democratic Party is the legacy of our nation's greatest accomplishments - the American Revolution, abolition of slavery, giving women the vote, the right to organize, winning two world wars, and the civil rights movement. Standing up for this tradition is the charge of the DNC and progressives everywhere.

Democrats must stand up for our beliefs and take risks. Democrats must be defiant in defeat. When we lie down, we get run over.

Democrats must cross the values threshold. Democrats love issues, but we must remind voters we have a soul before we convince them that our policies make sense.

Democrats must find new voters. To return to power, Democrats must maintain the loyalty of traditional Democrats and recognize that huge parts of the electorate have arrived, changed, or shifted in our country over the last forty years.

Democrats must remember that voters don't live in Washington. Conventional wisdom and an aristocracy of consultants have created a national party that has lost the handle on what is truly important to voters and what is really happening in their lives. Local people know better. Let them lead.

The Democratic Party must increase its communications capability. Democrats must communicate year round with voters where they live, through their local news outlets, and by using trusted local opinion leaders. Regional political and communications offices plus a true understanding of new media and new technologies are essential.

We must form a shadow government. The DNC should coordinate the Party's leadership, not just our congressional members but also our governors, party chairs, DNC members, and leading thinkers. The Democratic Party needs a single entity, acting as a clearinghouse, so that the resources and message of the progressive movement do not duplicate each other or directly conflict.

We must raise money. Continued fundraising success requires a message that attracts donations and proof that the money produces real results.

We must measure what we do, hold ourselves accountable, and review our progress. The DNC must perform more like a business by setting measurable goals, quantifying its progress, holding staff accountable, and reviewing its activities on a semi-annual basis.
- - -

Donnie Fowler has achieved a leading role in political and high technology circles through his work in Silicon Valley and at the Federal Communications Commission, service in the Clinton White House, and work on six presidential campaigns. He has advised dozens of companies, policymakers, public advocacy groups, and political campaigns on how to manage their media, policy, business development, & technology agendas.

Six Presidential Campaigns / Four Presidential Cycles
o Gephardt '87-'88, Jackson '88, Clinton/Gore '96, Gore/Lieberman '00 (National Field Director), Wesley Clark '03 (Campaign Manager), and Kerry/Edwards '04 (Michigan State Director)

Political and Campaign Work in Fourteen States on the Ground
o S.Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Wyoming, California, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Virginia

Technology & Telecommunications Background
o Federal Communications Commission ('97-'99)
o TechNet, Silicon Valley ('01-'03)

Courtesy of MyDD and DailyKos

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another one bites the dust

The latest resignee is Tom Ridge former governor of PA and one time Presidential-Candidate-Only-in-Corridors-of-Washington. By the way, he was head of the Department of so-called "Homeland Security" which really strikes me as a Nationalistic term along the lines of "Mother Russia" of USSR and "Das Vaterland" of Nazi Germany. Our country was founded by immigrants; the only people who can truely consider this their "homeland" are the Native Americans and if you really want to get into semmantics our only true homeland is Africa's Rift Valley where Homo Habilis first walked.

[By the way, I just love those WSJ sketches of people, don't you?]

According to the Journal, "Mr. Ridge told the president that he will remain in office at least until Feb. 1, but would like to leave his position for a more lucrative job in the private sector to help pay for two daughters in college. Those around Mr. Ridge, however, have said that his exit plan is part of his own political strategy to build a base so he can be a Republican presidential contender in 2008." These are his lackies doing a whispering campaign. I am sorry, but the guy who came up with the dumbest color-coding system in the history of mankind shouldn't be president. We have a system of two colors (orange and yellow)with 3 other colors (red, green and blue) as distractors.

Back in the rumor mill, reporter Robert Black culls a list from GOPers calling him up trying to get their boss' name dropped. "One name that has frequently surfaced as a contender is that of Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security undersecretary for border and transportation security. Officials inside the department say that Mr. Hutchinson has been lobbying intensely for the secretary's job, but in an interview with reporters from his home state of Arkansas, he said he was considering whether to remain in his current post or explore other jobs in the public and private sectors. Mr. Hutchinson has developed tense relationships inside the department, particularly with the Deputy Secretary Admiral James Loy, who is widely liked and respected by both the White House and Capitol Hill. Some senior respected figures in the department have been saying that they will resign should Mr. Hutchinson take the reins.

Other names that have surfaced as possible Ridge replacements include: White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend; New York Governor George Pataki; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik; Rep. Chris Cox (R., Calif.); Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and former Utah governor and current EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt."

OK, here's my take on reality: Asa maybe, Townsesnd would follow the pattern of placing WH operatives into the various departments for ultimate control, Giuliani and Pataki and Romney are running for President, Kerik I doubt it, Cox is too powerful where he is in the House, Leavitt might want this to "move up" to a higher-profile but equally thankless job.

If Kerry had won, I think he would have put Gary Hart up for the post, or another buddy ex-Senator Warren Rudman, who is a GOPer of the old school and more like the current Kerry.

WSJ also has a handy score card to keep track of the Bush Administration's revolving door: [sorry, scroll down a ways, I am not good at making tables]

Seat Current Holder Future? Successor?
Justice John Ashcroft Resigned Alberto Gonzales
Defense Donald Rumsfeld May stay
State Colin Powell Resigned Condoleezza Rice
Homeland Security Tom Ridge Resigned TBA
Treasury John Snow May stay
Agriculture Ann Veneman Resigned TBA
Interior Gail Norton No plans
Commerce Don Evans Resigned Carlos Guitierrez
Labor Elaine Chao No plans
Education Rod Paige Resigned Margaret Spellings
Energy Spencer Abraham Resigned TBA
Transportation Norman Mineta May leave
Health & Human Services Tommy Thompson May leave
Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi No plans
Housing & Urban Development Alphonso Jackson No plans
Source: research

Monday, November 29, 2004

the Legacy of environmental lawsuits

Utahns know, and some out of state environmentalists are well aware of the so-called Legacy Highway. This route is supposed to be an alternative to I-15 from Davis Co. to SL Co. (from the 3rd to 1st populated counties in the state). Folks like the Sierra Club were able to block the highway that was going through wetlands because of an inadaqueate environmental impact statement(made in 1997). Many people were upset that SLC mayor Rocky Anderson intervened in the lawsuit in favor of the environmentalists.

That was 2001. The Salt Lake Tribune reports, "Three years later, with nearly $18 million in delay costs racked up, UDOT is prepared to release the results of that supplemental study, which cost around $3 million."

There's a two fold problem on a more macro level: how do you protect the environment and how do you promote commerce and industry effiecently? Our environmental laws are in a way being abused by the Sierra Clubs of the world by blocking projects on technicalities and not the merits. The environmental lobby effectively is raising the costs of building such bridges and highways to a point where people won't build them via court costs. At the same time, if this highway truely does mow down wetlands when they could have built a light rail system or had the highway get a better route away from such areas, shouldn't there be some mechanism to make them do so?

There has to be a better way.

holiday shopping

Two bits of good news out there on the economic front: This weekend's holiday shopping was near record setting, and even better, Wal-Mart had one of it worst seasons yet.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart on Saturday took the unusual step of slashing its prediction for November sales growth, citing disappointing holiday sales at its stores. Wal-Mart predicted that November same-store sales in the U.S. would grow by only 0.7% over a year ago, far less than the 2% to 4% rise the retailer had expected."
This from a company that tried to seem labor friendly by allowing Unions...but only in China. I guess it is the least you can do for the people that make all your stuff.

The Nation quotes Andrew Rothman, "a former US diplomat who is now the China country head for CLSA Emerging Markets, an investment bank, says, 'Most multinational companies of any size in China have a union presence, and I've not heard of it causing a problem for anybody.' That's little wonder, because the federation unit at most companies confines itself to such things as organizing outings for workers or, less often, administering workers' health or unemployment insurance payments." Seems like the same old same old, find a way to push the cost of insurance for your workers (health etc) onto the workers or taxpayer, as long as it isn't Wal-Mart's bottom line.

Do you ever notice how the workers at Wal-Mart seem so depressed, even when they are smiling and saying "Welcome to Wal-Mart!"? This is why. For a nice contrast, go to CostCo: all the employees are jolly because they get way higher pay, health insurance, etc. there. And guess what, CostCo is doing great. You don't need to screw your workers to post profits.

But back to the first point: Holiday shopping. According to the Journal: "Historically, the post-Thanksgiving weekend isn't especially strong for online spending because so many people are out in stores. The busiest shopping day on the Web, according to Verisign, is the Monday after Thanksgiving, when consumers get back to their high-speed, broadband Internet connections at the office." American workers are so efficient these days that they can get more work done, and still use the boss' fast internet connection to order gifts for their relatives in Toledo.

Here's a cool chart via the Journal and Visa, on how much more people spent this year just with their Visa over last Thanksgiving Weekend:

Interestingly, the big rush this year was again discounted electronics, but nothing else drew in consumers. There is no talking elmo or anything like that (is elmo considered an electronic?) this year. It seems people want iPods, DVD players, DVDs, and TVs for Christmas and not clothes.

This has another happy effect for me: stores like GAP will do poorly. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend with friends and family, I know I did. Now I just need to get some sleep, refill the barren fridge, and study my brains out until my last final.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Do you enjoy the break?

sorry dear readers, for not writing in so long. I have been busy with family-oriented projects and relaxing, along with reading lots of Glannon's Guide to Civil Procedure. On the plane it will be Examples and Explainations of Contracts. Yipee! Well not really, but I do feel a bit more rested than before.

The only reading a really did other than law school was a cursory glance at the continuing mess in the Ukraine and that there was another spat among the BOP crew. That reminds me that I need to talk to my old college professor who is now at the University of Ottawa as head of the Ukranian Studies department. He must be busy these days.

I think it is interesting that no one that I have seen has directly referenced the strange similarities with the outcome of the Ukranian and American elections. Both had a surprising 3 point victory for the incumbent party, both were "supported" by Moskow (remember how George W. Bush looked into Putin's eyes and said he was a "good man?" ... first of all, he says that about just about everyone, secondly, it makes you wonder about his judge of character and hence his nominees to various posts), both losing sides complained that the exit polls and actual results didn't match up, both losing sides complained of fraud and a stolen election (it seems those in the Ukraine have a better case than liberals like those at BOP).

The people that rule Russia right now and who want to rule Ukraine for another term do not understand democracy. They still are stuck in the Soviet Union mindset of power justifies anything, the rule of law comes second to the their rule. I dare say a less extreme version of this view of might makes right has taken hold of the American Republicans as well, with Tom DeLay demanding special exemptions, Bush's Adminstration justifying torture and all manner of power grabbing under the "War on Terror" Rubric.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Poem of the Day and EBay of the Day

This poem was originally pointed out to me via a Slate article on Dan Rather's retirement (good riddance, looney toons), but I think it applies to the Blogoshere as the Blogger's credo:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

by Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

And the E-Bay Item of the Day is the other grilled cheese sandwich. Not that Virgin Mary one that went for $28,000 to some online casino, but one of St. Hello of Kitty

It's good to be the groom

So I am here now at my future in-laws after a medium length plane ride and late dinner at a Chinese resturant. After we got back, I did some Contracts but now the course seems even worse than I imagined: there's a hidden math element. I know, adding and subtracting shouldn't be so hard, but they are for me.

Anyway, back to the point...Christina is scrambling to get family to leave in time for her appointment at David's Bridal to look at bride's maid dresses and flower girl dresses for my little cousins. Luckily, per custom I am not allowed to go. Not that I don't care, I just get terribly bored (b/c of ADD) and I have short Achilles tendons so my heals start to hurt if I have to stand around too much. You can see I have all my excuses down pat, including medical rationales.

Unfortunately, I have a two-hour Torts practice test and another 20 pages of contracts plus three restatements to read, but at least I am not standing around for hours looking at dresses I will see out of the corner of my eye for a day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tort and Tax "Reform"

These are two GOP ideas whose time has come and gone. The proof is out and it isn't pretty, at least for Tort Reform.

A study was done for western states, looking at medical malpractice insurance costs and cross-tabbing that with states that had caps on "pain and suffering" damages. (see chart). Conclusion: in states with caps, insurers are more likely to charge premiums exceeding the national median than those in states without caps.

As you can see, states with caps still have pretty big increases in insurance cost.

As the Salt Lake Tribune noted
, "Even the nation's largest medical malpractice insurer, GE Medical Protective, admitted in a Texas regulatory filing that 'noneconomic damages are a small percentage of total losses paid,' and that capping them would save the company only 1 percent." And of course, such caps hurt only those who need the money to pay for their horrific injuries (because lawyers take a third of the damages in fees).

Now on to lame duck Governor Olene Walker's Tax Reform Package. Walker, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, "on Monday proposed eliminating corporate income taxes. To make up the difference, the state would begin taxing services - including everything from medical care to haircuts - and raising property tax rates. At the same time, every Utahn would pay a lower flat income tax of between 4 percent and 5 percent." Flat tax? Now that's a terrible idea. Walker wants to replace our regressive tax system with an even more regressive system. Flat taxes are always in vougue with Republicans but that's because they favor the rich who make up most of their campaign contributors.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Photo of the Day: Mononi

This great Utes fan dressed up like the Angel Mononi on top of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake and the Angel that, according to the LDS faith, spoke to Joseph Smith and began the whole faith.

Very funny picture, and I didn't get it at first.

US House=Bush's Hit Men

It doesn't surprise me that the Intelligence Reform Bill died. Bush pretended to support it after not supporting it for months. He never tried to push it, he never told his own administration to wholeheartedly support it, including the DoD and CIA, who had the most to lose. DeLay and his Lt.s just went ahead and killed it for Bush so that Bush could do the phony blame game again.

When ever a nasty piece of legislation comes down the pike that Bush wants to get passed or fail, he turns to the hyper-conservative House to do his dirty work, just like a mafia Don and Mob Hit Man.

The reason why Homeland Security passed was not that Bush thought it was a good bill (it wasn't), but that he could use it to beat the Democrats over their heads with union support. This time, there was no boogeyman argument to make and both sides were generally in favor of it, except those in the Intelligence Community that didn't want to lose their control of their turf.

Even the amazing 9/11 widdows couldn't do it. This is the second shameful vote GOPers in the House had to make this week. Dr. Marshall has been documenting who voted for the "DeLay Rule" which allows leadership to be indicted by state courts. Well, I guess Dr. Marshall also found the Istook amendment as well, which allows Committee Chairman to do a sneek-and-peak on Non-Profit groups's that makes three embarressing votes.

How can those guys sleep at night?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

get out the Tortilla chips...

because the Utes are going to the Fiesta Bowl! Well, most likely, (after all, the official were handing out thousands of sombraros to people in the stands) maybe they will go to the Cotton Bowl, but a BCS bowl for sure. The Liberty Bowl is trying to extort as much money as possible from the Conference and the team because they are contractually supposed to get the Mountian West Champions Utes automatically.

After beating BYU and having a perfect regular season (with no teams coming within 14 points of them) while other teams around them struggled the last two weeks, Utah is locked into the 6th seed and an automatic BCS birth. We're crashing the party and I couldn't be happier for the team and the University...especially since it came at the expense of BYU who had a crappy season and whose coach is going to be canned.

Who cares if Urban leaves next year? We can worry about that later. Let's enjoy tonight Ute fans. Some of my favorite signs: "U bring the salsa, we'll bring the bowl" "Hey [BYU head coach]Crowton, we hear Wall-Mart is hiring" and the all time meanest..."Where Is Your God Now?"

I had a great time tonight with my female 1L friends, what a hoot they are. Maybe I should have camped out in the cold overnight to get tickets to the game, but I am glad I stayed warm and yuked it up with the ladies. Stacy's mom's 7-layer bean dip is slaying me though right now...but it was worth it. Oh and readers don't worry, the future Mrs. was there and enjoyed the revelry with me. GO UTES!

Friday, November 19, 2004

The $15M question

Why did Kerry have so much left over? And what was he saving it for? I doubt another ad in OH or FL would have made any difference, but maybe a few more vans, a few more hired guns to get people to the polls might have. Maybe he could have spent more in ads in AR NV or WV, or again GOTV, which he likes to remind us "doesn't mean Get On TV"

Was he hoping no one noticed the big pile he had left over? Was he planning on using it to get his people installed at DNC and give out the leftovers to ensure a smoother 2008 campaign?

After a few days of tremendous pressure, advisers say that John Kerry will donate a "substantial amount" of the "more than" $15M remaining from his campaign to '05 and '06 Democrats. But what exactly is a substantial amount- $10 million? $5 Million? If you ask me, John Kerry just blew his shot to run for president again.

IA Dem Chair Gordon Fischer, on the Kerry money: "Several million dollars left over -- it seems like that shouldn't happen. It should be much closer to zero." Lots of other Democrats agree.

The party and anti-Bush sympathizers gave him enough much money to tackle Bush. It was amazing that the Democratic nominee was on the same financial footing as a sitting pro-business president. Three billion dollars were raised for federal elections this year, and over half a trillion of that was just the post-primary presidential election. Kerry had large leanway to do whatever it took to dethrone the hated George W. Bush, and he didn't do it. He got more votes than Al Gore, but George W. Bush got a lot more vote than he did, and in key states like OH and FL.

So the 15 million (plus) question is: why did Kerry do it? There were so many close elections in the house and senate that could have made the difference, especially KY maybe NC and certainly SD. What does Kerry expect to do next? If he really wants to be the nominee again, he best lead the oposition and be a vocal critic of the President and not dissipear like Albert Gore, Jr. That poor guy dissipeared so well that he got pulled over for speedinig in Oregon and the cop didn't even know it was him until he saw the driver's license (maybe it was the bead phase or the fat phase too).

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The "holidays"

Something about this time of year really gets to people. I never understood until recently, before then I was too naive to notice all things happening around me.

This is the second year in a row that a grade school classmate of mine has committed suicide. Both happened leading up to Thanksgiving. Both were fun guys to hang around with whom I grew further and further apart as time went by, but I still felt like I knew them, or at least the child in them went we both were younger.

Patrick was one of the shortest boys in the class while I was one of the tallest, yet his personality was huge and everyone loved hanging out with and talking to him. I still remember one of our mutual friends, who is about my height, went to the movies together once. The man in the booth said, "Oh isn't that nice, you are taking your little brother out the movies." My tall friend had to correct him saying, "He's isn't my brother, he is my friend"

Colin's death was equally sad and tragic. Colin and I were best friends up until 4th grade. I can't tell you exactly what happened, maybe it was the pursuit of coolness (and trust me, I wasn't it). Colin was an amazing drawer, a brilliant mind, but his lust for fun-loving and popularity made him pass up other schools to go to UVM with his friends; he was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Soon there after, he realized that he wasn't happy there and went on and off to the U and waited tables at Bacci in downtown Salt Lake. From what I heard he was happy, but clearly I was wrong.

One of his best friend and relative of mine, John, is still shaken up by it. I couldn't bring myself to go to the funeral, and I don't think I was necessarily invited.

Sorry to leave everyone with such a sad, depressing post of the day, but I guess it serves as a reminder that as bad as your family or life in general seems around this time of year where the sun doesn't come out much, there is still much to live for and to keep trying. I haven't always been the happiest of souls, but I never got even close to where Patrick and Colin found themselves. And I am glad for it because I would have never found myself with my fiancee and where I am today. I am surrounded by smart people who care about the issues I care about, although many have different opinions than me, it is still exciting.

As tired and stressed out as I am right now, I am looking forward to the weekends and to next semester and really to my wedding in June. There is so much live out there yet to live. So watch out for yourselves and your friends and family this holiday season; make sure they don't head down the road that Colin and Patrick took.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The best rivalry

ESPN has a live poll asking people to rank the top 15 rivalries in college football. Personally, I think Utah-BYU trumps them all because of the underlying religious battle which defines the whole state. This clearly makes is more important than Florida v. Florida State or the Texas rivalries even though more people watch either of those.

Where you stand on Utah-BYU says a lot about who you are and where you stand politically, or where you live, or what you believe in your gut. The hatred for each other is friendly yet strong. Why else would they call it "The Holy War?"

Obviously, I have always been a Utah Man, even if I never went to school there until law school. The campus was in my neighborhood until 4th grade. As a non-Mormon, I always identified with the Utes even if many of the players had to miss whole seasons because they were off on LDS missions.

I would rank Southern rivalries higher than the Midwestern ones (but Midwestern over Pacific Coast rivalries and certainly higher than New England rivalries) because football is so fundamental to live in many small towns in places like Texas. Just watch "Friday Night Lights" to see that.

As dumb as college football is, I am happy to have a the team I root for to finally be good. Brown really only could beat places like Forham and occationally an fellow Ivy. The whole time they were any good and won a co-Ivy League championship, it turned out the school and the late Dave Zarconi violated the Ivies recruiting and scholarship rules.

Dave by the way was a great man, and treated me to a awesome lobster dinner I will never forget.

Party leaderships and a good idea by a bad GOPer

So the big squabble out in the bloggosphere is who should be the next DNC chair: Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack or ex-VT Governor Howard Dean or NDN head Simon Rosenberg.

Today, the new Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said that Vilsack would be a "real good person" to chair the DNC. Most on the internet are not too hot on Vilsack, and I agree with them, but for other reasons. They think Vilsack is an insider who is opposed to reform which the party needs so badly, and while that may be, you can still be an "insider" or "non-reformer" and not want Tommy.

After all, this is a guy that won Iowa for Gore, but managed to lose it for Kerry. I am all for swing state governors being in positions of power in the party, but not when they blow it like that. Ditto for Richardson, he should have had New Mexico in the bag for Kerry.

Plus, Vilsack's main motivation is to keep him hope state newspaper reporters and homestate legislators in positions of ridiculous power for the inane Iowa Caucuses. I don't care that much that they are first, but it should at least be a real primary.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Dole "says she is confident she will win today's election" for NRSC chair, which is something her and Norm Coleman are fighting over.

And by the way, thank you Chuck Shumer for putting your party ahead of yourself and being DSCC chair instead of a fruitless campaign for governor. Spitzer owes you one.

On to my good idea from a bad GOPer: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) "is trying to prevent Congress from ever again naming things after sitting members of Congress"

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Judge Cassell in da House!

Judge (and still Utah Law professor) Paul Cassell had on his docket a case he really wished to rule otherwise: a young adult (a few months younger than me) who he sentenced to 55 years (and one day) in prison because of a mandatory minimum (28 USC sec. 924(c)). His fellow law professors and judges filed amicui (more than one amicus, or friend-of-the-court brief) trying to pursuade him to rule that this minimums were an unconstitutional encroachment of the legislative branch on the judicial branch (and the whole Due Process, Equal Protection, and Cruel and Unusual clauses). Instead, Cassell gave the man the smallest sentence allowable and begged President Bush, who just appointed him a couple years ago, to commute the sentence to a more reasonable 18 years.

All seriousness of this person's future aside, I had to laugh a the first paragraph of the facts section, per Cassell:

Weldon Angelos is twenty-four years old. He was born on July 16, 1979, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was raised in the Salt Lake City area by his father, Mr. James B. Angelos, with only minimal contact with his mother. Mr. Angelos has two young children by Ms. Zandrah Uyan: six-year-old Anthony and five-year-old Jessie. Before his arrest Mr. Angelos had achieved some success in the music industry. He started Extravagant Records, a label that produces rap and hip hop music. He had worked with prominent hip hop musicians, including Snoop Dogg, on the "beats" to various songs and was preparing to record his own album.

If you want, you can read the whole decision (via the SL Tribune article) and the rest of Angelos' gun-toting Marijunia-smoking life, but this was the most entertaining part for me. But really, read the case. It really makes a solid case why, mantatory minimums, or at least section 924(c), should be amended or repelled all together.