Monday, January 31, 2005

Some anti-Bush people really get it.

The election in Iraq doesn't mean anything if we don't have a good exit strategy. It wasn't a very good election because a lot of Sunnis stayed home. Now that they are going to pick a constitution, it will require lots of diplomacy to get it all together. We need to bring our boys home. Yeah, right.

Take a look at this statement from this guy who sticks to the truth while finding his way through all the anti-Bush memes.

After 9/11, we were all, for a few days maybe, Americans. Maybe the Iraqi election can let us all be Americans again. Even if only for a few days.

Then we can get back to important name-calling and the press can get down to bidness by supplying us with stuff we can use in our everyday lives, like information and commentary about the Michael Jackson trial.

The consent of the governed . . .

I've been thinking about the Iraqi elections. I'm happy for them and hooray for our side.

But it occurs to me that all government is people with guns who are trained and willing to pull triggers. The only distinctions between government and an armed thug on the street who claims your cash on threat, is that (a) government has way more firepower, and (b) government claims a moral and ethical right to use compulsion and deadly force. Okay, so in a democratically run government, those who are governed kind of cede the right to use compulsion and deadly force. But it's still force and the government still assumes its use of force is legitimate. Government is force, with or without the presumed consent of the governed.

So, to the degree one thinks government should work harder to fix problems of society and "make a difference," that's how much force you are calling down on the heads of your neighbors. Thanks guys. And if the gummint should come knockin' at your door, bet you'll be saying, "But this isn't what I had in mind at all." 'Cause you forgot that when you concede the right to use force, you don't retain control of targeting.

We all mostly know this, but sometimes we forget, particularly when our elections come around.

Think the Iraqis can figure this out? After Saddam? And with the foreign fighters running loose?

Sunday, January 30, 2005


My bride just found this blog and looked at it and I let her. She is, among other things, a skilled, professional editor.

Any further comment by me on the subject would be most imprudent at this time.

Status Report: If You Build It, It Will Suck

Still working on new personal website. Still.

Okay, I'm willing to believe. But can somebody remind me again why it is that I want to use CSS instead of just plain old HTML? I understand tables. <\whimper>

Working on the style sheet. Too cheap to hire it from a pro. Too fussy to make something simple. Too proud to ask for help. Too complicated to settle for less than 10 divs on a page. Too persnickity to accept something ugly but effective. Too slow to remember from one minute to the next what inherits who, what, where, when, how, and how many. Too dull to remember just what it is that I had in mind putting on this site in the first damn place when I decided to build it.

And too old to give up.

But I'm sure gonna think of some colorful and semi-profane file name for this stylesheet. Someday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Did he have that smirk when he was inaugurated?

I live in Portland, and I talk to people. Go here to find out what many of them are saying.

Free Subscription Required.

Not for me. Why do I want to subscribe?

When somebody I don't know offers something to me for free, that just means they don't intend to tell me what the price is until it's too late.

I haven't yet run into something I had to see so bad that I would sign up for a free subscription. If you want me to subscribe, make it for something I want bad enough to pay for it.

Or not.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Nice call, there, Judge.

When the constitution was written one of the big concerns was controlling government. One senses the feeling that human beings are creatures vulnerable to their urges to abuse one another, kept from doing so only only by a lack of opportunity. Thus, the constitutional balance of power that was explained to us in middle school -- when we were unable to pay attention by reason of hormonal afflictions.

We all recognize that in human beings there is the dark side of greed, ambition, pride, vengefulness, and indifference to the needs or rights of others. Oh, and hormones, too. These considerations give us reason to worry about putting creatures such as ourselves into positions of power, and justify constitutional checks and balances.

But there is another human failing that the constitution does nothing to prevent. I refer, of course, to sheer, roaring boneheadedness, such as that displayed by a federal judge ordering the D.C. police department to hand over security information in discovery, as reported by Sherrie Gossett in Accuracy in Media.

You know how sometimes you might say to a person, "What were you thinking?"

Well, sometimes, that won't cover it.

It's more like, "What the hell part of your body were you using to think with, and ohmigod please don't do that anymore."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Television. It occurs to me that I am a bear of little brain.

Yesterday I started looking at big HDTV. Big TV is better, I said to myself, like many other things we Americans need or want or respect. So, I started thinking about all the stuff I could watch which would be improved when I get my new TV.

Of course I have cable, which means that I pay for extra stuff beyond the mere local broadcasts. Need to be up to date, doncha know. So I've got 50, 60, maybe 70 channels of televised excellence to choose from. But it should be no surprise that if I go to HDTV, I'd have to upgrade my cable service. But still, the shows I watch would be better. So, what do I watch?

When I get up in the morning I watch about 15 minutes of local news on a broadcast channel. Sometimes when I feel like a nap, I turn on the golf channel and snooze happily. It's always the same program and let me just say that there's nothing like an infomercial peddling a phony. 16 cent bracelet that, through a poorly explained set of qualities, is able to do so much good, improving athleticism, complexion, and humor, all while turning back the ravages of time and poor nutrition on one's body. That's pretty much all the TV I watch. Local news and magic bracelets.

But as I've learned, the little bracelets are great. There should be a United Nations program to distribute one of these little bracelets, free of charge, to each and every poor citizen of the third world. And there will be, as soon as the U.N. moochocrats can figure out a way of extracting a couple billion dollars from the program for themselves. The fact that it hasn't happened yet, simply means that it hasn't happened -- yet.

Also, I think I need to cancel cable TV. I can fall asleep just as well drinking a beer, and beer is better for you than TV. And what you get for your investment in cable tv is about what you get for your investment in a magic bracelet. A little bit of subtance and a whole lot of marketing.

And that is why they sell magic bracelets on the cable tv channels.

Marketers know where all the suckers can be found. If we'll fall for cable tv, we'll probably fall for magic bracelets. And steam cleaners. And magic air filters. Pills to make selected portions of your body smaller, or bigger, as desired. And evangelism. And exercise machines.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The big story! Democracy!

Jonah Goldberg says that the expansion of democracy is the big story.

Maybe so, and it is certainly a bigger deal than whatever happened to Jennifer Anniston's love life.

Or Teri Hatcher's career.

But isn't a big part of the big story the expansion of capitalism and rejection of socialism as well? 'Cause nothing says that a democratic, majority vote can't go for socialism. I mean, we've done it before. Again and again.

Friday, January 14, 2005

New pictures from space.

This is a big deal. Really. First pictures here. Let's see the self-indulgent green-weenie environmental-activist know-nothing anti-technology crowd match this. If you are for space exploration, you just got to love this.

On the other hand, if you are against space exploration, you are against knowledge. The pious dedication to the notion that we should spend all available resources on social issues rather than wasting it on entertaining some scientists with rockets, is just a pose. I suspect it masks a feeling of insecurity that comes from being aware that one is already a little behind in the inderstanding department, and any new information is just going to make one all the more behinder. Further, exploration beyond our own planet suggests that maybe, just maybe, we might not be limited to those resources already located on our own planet. But all the aggressive know-nothings base much of their faith on the premise that we should use earth's resources sparingly so as to make them last. Cause earth is all we've got.

We sure shouldn't spend resources just for looking around at other people's moons and stuff. We might learn something that contradicts what we already know. (Of course, when I talk about what we know, I mean authentic knowledge. You know. What we know to be true deep down and not just some stuff that can be proved by science, logic, tests, or observation. No, I don't mean that stuff. I mean higher knowledge.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We don't need no steenking mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Maybe I'm not a very smart lawyer, but it's not been obvious to me why the federal sentencing guidelines should be a problem if the sentencing judge determines the facts to be applied in calculating the sentence after a conviction. I can see keeping the judge out of the jury room when it comes to determining guilt, but afterwards -- well, we are no longer talking about the rights of the accused. We're talking about what to do about a convicted felon. I kinda thought that as long as the disposition of a convicted felon wasn't cruel or unusual, we could pretty much do what made sense. And the sentencing guidelines, as a procedural response to the problem of inconsistent sentencing from judge to judge, made sense, even if some of the weights or considerations might have seemed a mite peculiar.

But we should need a jury to determine facts used to apply the mandatory sentencing guidelines? What about a bench trial? If a defendant were to waive a jury and try the case to the judge, could the mandatory sentencing guidelines apply in such a case? What about a guilty plea? Or. how about if a defendant wanted the sentencing guidelines imposed in a mandatory fashion, and waived a jury for the purpose of determining the sentence under the guidelines, so as to avoid being maxed by a judge with propensities?

I guess we are saying that if we want mandatory sentencing guidelines, there would have to be a jury to hear the facts to be applied in determining the sentence, right?

Oh, right. We've worked our way around those little problems by making the guidelines advisory, not mandatory. Well, isn't the same judge going to determine those same facts to consider what to do with the guilty guy's sentence? Hmmm. Maybe I'll get smarter as we go along but I have two observations right now.

One: I think confirming new Article III judges just got a whole lot more complicated and fun to watch. It isn't as if those who can be expected to grill judicial nominees on their sentencing philosophy vis-a-vis the sentencing guidelines are all that interested in preserving the rights of criminals. It's that now there's just one more consideration providing an opportunity to wrinkle foreheads and bite lower lips for the news cameras, and to express grave concerns about the candidate's fitness to blah, in light of the blah, particularly when blah blah. Blah.

Two: It feels good not to be practicing law.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Social Security funds hitting the market?

One of my students asked a smart question today. At least I thought it was smart because I didn't have the answer. Worse, I couldn't make some plausible sounding answer up on the spur of the moment. So, I figure it was a really smart question.

What happens to the market when we have whole lot of new Social Security money seeking a home in the market?

I have heard that its gonna be a whole bunch of wonderful for all of us employees to be able to invest some of our FICA clams in the market where, we are assured, we will become rich without need for knowledge, judgment, or luck. (Contrary to the experience of some others who've tried investment. )

And I'm prepared to believe something like that. Take the market history of the last 40 years and dump an amount equivalent to the amounts I put into Social Security over the years, and calculate earnings based on what the market as a whole (a hole?) has done, and the market looks like a better deal. And, if we are all invested in American industry, we all become a little less socialist in our thinking and values. And I've always thought less socialism would be a fine thing for all you out there.

But the market of the last 40 years isn't what we are going to get. Leave out the question of which particular investments to buy, and which not to buy. The market we get will be one where there are a whole lot more little investors than before, trying to park a few bucks each in the market by placing money the hands of so-called pros running funds. The market we get will be one where there are a whole lot more dollars trying to buy a relatively inelastic supply of quality investments. Well, what happens when demand for a commodity increases, but the supply of the commodity doesn't?

I don't think there are that there are all that many great business plans out there neglected and decaying for lack of capital.

That isn't to say that there won't be money to be made. But I've observed that sometimes while much money gets made, it just doesn't get made by the people who expected to make it. And not all companies that make money are making product that would survive without the constant injection of breathless imagination and lies -- I mean marketing. Lots of money is being made producing and selling product whose only utility is that it can serve to separate rubes from their money on its way to the landfill. So, I guess we can always whip up a few more IPOs to soak up the extra cash all us employees are going to place in the market for our own good. And I guess we'll need people to tout investments to all us new investers. There will be enough action for everybody.

I think the market we get with social security investment is basically going to provide just a lot more action. But if it's American action, I'm for it -- provided, of course, that some of it sticks to my chubby little fingers.

Friday, January 07, 2005

A question troubled me.

I used to worry about what will happen if those who would do harm to Americans in the name of their savage god might fail to find anybody who could see the good in them? (There's good in everybody, right?) But I am now comforted seeing that there are Senators who can love them, and there will be media publicists to approve of them.

Now, those who Move-On claims to own are seeking to protect both the dignity and the comfort of captured Islamist thugs.

In their rage to slander and diminish American values, some senators on the left are using the confirmation hearings as a platform to publish slander and flat lies about the attorney general nominee's and the president's position on torture.

Ankle-biters, sure. But ankle-biters with rabies. And, to puff up the metaphor, they've formed together into a feral pack.

Another question comes to me. Just when was it that Al Qaeda signed the Geneva convention? And what does their uniform look like?

And yet another. Since when is humiliation of jihadists torture?

We are dealing, here, with a culture which cuts off hands for minor crimes, and lovingly, methodically, impeccably, stuffs people in sacks and pounds them with rocks until they die. (And they don't die quickly.) Their culture feeds on culture; it loves torture, it needs torture. By hooting that we are torturing the jihadist captives, these socialist clowns are promoting the raggedy-assed captives into mighty heroes who withstood American torture - basically by just sitting around and not answering questions.

I say, don't torture them; that's what they crave. But laugh at them, mock them, and feed them pork.