Friday, December 31, 2004

When to Revote?
Jim Lindgren at Volokh is urging Rossi to stop calling for a revote in Washington State. To him it is a sign of a lack of class. As he says, "there should be a limit to one man's ambition." This isn't solely about ambition - it is about dirty election tactis. So when are dirty election tactics sufficient enough to urge a revote and not be "classless"? My guess is when it is clear that the party you support will win that revote.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Something Fishy In Washington State
First the Republican wins the Governor Race. Then there is a recount - and he wins by 42 votes again. Then another recount in King County, Seattle - Democrat now wins by 10 votes. Then votes are "discovered" that had been overlooked - dem wins by 130 votes.

Seem odd? Read this.

Anyway, a recount should not be justified on the guise of counting every ballot, because you can never do so with complete certainity. Rather, it has to be justified on counting every ballot more accurately than the previous count. As the risks for corruption, ballot theft/alteration increase with each counting, eventually this justification becomes moot after a certain number of counts. How many counts? That is the big question.
You Call This Journalism?
Summation of Controversy: Op-ed writer for minor paper criticizes prominent blog for being a partisan hack page without oversight. When editor called about dozens of substantial errors in article, its revealed that the piece involved only opinion, no fact, and as such any errors are irrelevant.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

,Oh $#@%#$%!
This will make your day:
MORE to worry about: "So, in summary, there's a 1-in-233 chance of the worst disaster in recorded history happening on April 13, 2029, and a 232-in-233 chance of nothing happening. Have a nice day!"

Related thoughts here.

UPDATE: Uh-oh. The risk is now upgraded to 1/62.5, with a Torino scale of 4. (Via Liberty's Blog). This is moving out of the "isn't that interesting" range, and into the "isn't that worrisome" range.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The risk has been upgraded again, to 1 in 42.

MY UPDATE - Well the odds are now at 1 in 45. You can check yourself here. We'll know one way or another in the next few weeks whether this thing will hit. If it does, it will be a one and a half GIGATON blast (that is 30 times more powerful than any nuclear weapon ever detonated). So what does this mean? Obviously, if you are under the thing, you aren't going to make it. I've been trying to hunt down the formula for a blast radius. Two things I think I know at this point - as explosive power goes up, the radius of the blast does not go up as fast. I saw on the web that a Gig bomb would be about 190 mile blast radius, so I'll hedge for now and assume about a 210 mile radius. Also, there could be a difference if it explodes in the air (airburst) or on the ground. This isn't my field, I'm just trying to figure things out.

UPDATE - New data has made the risk neglible. Thank Goodness.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Regarding Phoebe's Post
Funny stuff. I remember growing up with the words of Robin Morgan's ilk held as a model to live by my summer camps. Years later, all I can say about it is - - - - blah.

Seriously, end of the world alarmism only works for so long. You'll often hear progressives bemoaning a climate of fear that has been irresponsibly foisted on us after 9/11, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, that is designed on purpose to keep us scared, dumb, and voting Republican. While one could reasonably agree with the general direction of the complaint (as opposed to its degree), you rarely see mention in the main stream media of a countering irresponsible climate of fear that is designed to keep us scared, dumb, and voting democrat. Fear of "The Day After Tomorrow," of coathangers in lieu of Roe v. Wade, of Grannie without her social security, of 45 million without health care, etc. If progressives bemoan one climate of fear, then how come they don't bemoan the other? Maybe because what they dislike isn't "the climate of fear" - maybe it is the Republican voting. Just a thought.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

in the interest of responsible advertising.....
reconstructionist feminist theory, elliot? i find this just a tad odd (but not bad odd, of course) that you should list this painfully *dated* area of scholarship as one of the primary subjects of perusal on the fladen experience. i have yet to read even *one* post on this blog that does justice to this relic of times gone by....

in fact, elliot, in the interest of responsible adertising, and of compassionate conservatism in this time of grief for our country's lost and wounded soldiers serving us bravely in the rugged hinterlands of iraq, i would humbly urge all fladenites (and all blogosphere residents, for that matter) to save discussion of this curio of a bygone age, the "reconstructionist feminist theory" to which this blog's banner alludes, until *after* the revolution, and then only in tightly knit and responsibly controlled academic circles.

"what revolution?" you might ask...

and in these dark times (on this i can come clean) your question is a fair one. the late 1960's are fully 35 years ago. But its memory, for better or worse, sputters on. A decade that was first vilified, then forgotten, then excused, and finally exonerated and made into the object of a thousand masturbations... our collective cultural musings on this era have run their course.

i write not to praise the naive excesses of such an age but to bury them in the sands of history, to lay gently to rest 35 years of recent history, and the tired rhetorical flourishes we have inherited from the peace movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the racialist movement the LSD movement and innumerable other movements that moved only minds but did not move them far enough for long enough to avoid imperceptibly slow deaths.... and the texture and fabric of the country was altered, a nearly-chemical change as if heavy molten metals spattering in an enormous crucible leagues below the earth's surface had bubbled up and left the boomers with their vapors that wafted ever so seditiously into their unsuspecting noses) and their children the x'ers (harried and sadistic) forgot forever what it was like to crouch humbly by a campfire (at night a hearth) thanking the gods for existence and for the world and all your fellows, and to expect that someday... someday it would all get better than it ever actually was or could be..........


in the spirit of *giving* and holiday *cheer* in our country's time of *remembrance* and *sacrifice* (even *deja vu* perhaps???) i shall type a few of my favorite passages from one of my favorite advocates of today's initial whipping boy, reconstructionist feminist theory.

From Robin Morgan, The Word of a Woman, "The Wretched of the Hearth."

on putting out...

"As for the myth of the sexual revolution: there is no such thing yet - for women. The double standard exists more powerfully and hypocritically than ever, among radicals and hippies as well as straights. A sexually free woman is still a lay guys can exchange stories about, while a woman who might not "want to" is considered hung-up: she has the pill, so what's stopping her? (Conceivably, a sense of distaste)."

on the war of all against all

"Humankind has polluted the air and water and land of our planet; we have all but destroyed ourselves by the twin suicidal weapons of overkill and overbreeding. The famine is upon us, the cities are in flames, our sisters and brothers all oer the world are locked in a struggle with the dragon that is imperialism. It is for us in America, the dragon's lair, to put every priority of oppression first, to fight on every front for human dignity, to vurn our way out of the dragon's gut while our comrades hack away at its scaly exterior, until the beast is dead, and we rise in joy, a woman and a man, phoenix from its ashes."

on being a psycho bitch from hell

"Let it all hang out. Let it seem bitchy, catty, dykey, frustrated, crazy, nutty, frigid, ridiculous, bitter, embarrassing, man-hating, libelous, pure, unfair, envious, intuitive, low-down, stupid, petty, liberating. We are the women that men have warned us about."

what the one witch whispered to the other witch

Whisper One: All your betrayals of me, my dear, are somehow payments against what we both fear and never speak of: mine.

Whisper Two: Freiendship is mutual blackmail elevated to the level of love.

Whisper Three: We may as well trust each other. They're going to try to burn us anyway.

Merry Christmas, and Good Tidings to All.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

holiday haiku for high rollers

bitter cold outside;
suede booties (in dusty rose)
kiss pedicured toes.

drinking hot toddies
after a day on the slopes
makes for warm bodies.

the limo driver,
he used to live in niger.
he's got an accent.

here is some champagne.
or maybe you'd like coffee?
come give mom a hug.

we like to go shop;
it passes the time away.
then we go get drunk.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Kinsley Gets Fisked
One of the best policy fiskings I have seen in a while. A little bit ago, Kinsley issued a challenge in the LA Times and on Andrew Sullivan's blog to refute a theory of his that Social Security Privatization could not work. Luskin took him up on it, and demolished Kinsley's theory. Excellent, excellent reading for policy wonks.
Well, life continues. My first amendment exam came and went - I overstudied, which probably hurt me. Yesterday I continued writing on my paper. A little bit of background about it: I'm writing about how to calculate interest in the event that reparations for slavery are ever implemented. Not an easy question - first off, do you imply compound or simple interest; constant, annual, or continuous compounding. More importantly, what is the proper interest rate to discount over time - the arithmetic mean or the geometric mean? And the mean of what - the long term bond rate since 1865, the actual rates of interest that the market ended up bearing over the last 140 or so years, or some different rate altogether? Should there even be interest, or should it be a constant or gradually declining balance?

That should give those of you who still read this blog why I have not been posting - I've been phenomonally busy researching and writing this thing. I guess I could make a post on the news as of late, but I don't care for Kerrick's love trysts, and Bush's reiteration of putting a man on Mars makes me feel nauseous. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Blogging Schedule
Due to an upcoming exam on first ammend I will not blogging again until friday night at the earliest. I will then have two papers two write over my Christmas Break - a 30 pager on Raich v. Ashcroft, and a 50 pager on how to calculate the proper interest rate for slave reparations - but these papers should not prevent me from blogging.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Why Aren't There More Repubs in the Academy?
Here is a hint - its not because there aren't enough overly qualified candidates.
China on Verge of Catching US. Then What?
Business Week has an interesting stat - assuming that current rates of economic growth continue (big assumption, but assume it anyway), guess how long it will be until China catches the United States? Answer - 10 years. And you know what else, India is probably right around there as well.

So let's say China does catch us in the near future. Then what on the international stage? Will we see the return of the multi-polar world, with India, China, and the U.S. as the main fulcrums and Europe twisting in the winds on the sidelines (ironically, given France's and Germany's repeated desire to become bigger players through a larger United Nations)? How would our policy aims differ? How can these nations become more our partners with their increased strength?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Only Three-and-a-half Months
Yuschenko, the opposition candidate for Ukraine, was given a poison that destroyed his face. Take a look at how effective it was in these two pictures.
Pro-Choice, Anti-Roe v. Wade
New blog of leftist professors trying to understand red-america has a post on the argument here.
James Taronto argues why the death of Roe would be terrible for Republicans here.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Updates and Life
I haven't posted for the last week because I was in the middle of getting ready for my Advocacy Skills trial. Did I do a good job? Yes. I hammered the witness in my cross, had a pretty good direct, and made a mostly good closing argument. It just wasn't enough - the two opposing counsel, Leah Vickers and particularly Aaron Thacker were just two damn good.

Anyway, earlier this week was the Raich case as I posted. I have been incredibly disillusioned since the arguments came down, and I am hoping for a 5-4 split in the respondent's favor with O'Connor, Ginsburg, Thomas, Rehnquist, and Kennedy voting for affirmance and Stevens, Souter, Scalia, and that other guy (yep I forgot, sue me) voting for reversal. Its a long shot as Kennedy seemed highly skeptical of the argument, and O'Connor/Rehnquist have always been very law and order (viewing the war on drugs as a matter of national concern). I have very little faith for the court to do its duty and use its powers of persuasion to limit congress to its enumerated powers.

Finally, its about time Butch Davis is out of the Browns. A coach that won't share credit for success and always looks for scapegoats for failure is doomed to failure. To squash threats emenating from losing seasons, Davis never minded serving up his coordinators on silver platters. As for the talent situation on the Browns, Davis was hired for his ability to recognize talent, and his connections to the players that were coming up the college pipeline in the next few drafts. Yet, his choices have been less than inspiring, and the browns remain one of the least talented teams in the league. Worse still, often talented players would be run off because Davis perceived them as threats to control of the clubhouse. When they brought veteran personal man Tom Wolfe aboard, Davis perceived that as well to be a threat to his rule as opposed to an opportunity to win and had him purged. Ultimately, the biggest threat to Davis was his own incompetance.

Well, those are my random thoughts. Finals are upon me, and I have work to do, but you will see more posting in the next few days - it will just be sparse.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The End of the War on Drugs, or the End of Federalism?
On Monday, the case Ashcroft v. Raich will be heard by the Supreme Court. Nominally, the case involves the usage of medical marijuana, but it is a bit more complicated than that. You see, California passed an intiative a while back called Prop 215, legalizing the use of medical marijuana. The Clinton administration did not like that, so it began harassing doctors who prescribed it (threatening them with loss of their license) and bringing criminal suit against the cooperatives that sold it as a violation of Federal Law. As you might expect, a law passed within an enumerated power (or two/three) of congress trumps the law of the state. Case closed.

Or is the case closed? You see, the defendants didn't buy their pot. It was given to them or self-grown. And it was grow from seeds that came from California. Why is this important? Well, the enumerated power that Congress used to pass the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 (which is the statutory basis for the war on drugs) was that drugs affected interstate commerce. Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution the United States Congress has the power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". Suddenly it begins to get a bit fuzzy seeing how these seeds have anything to do with interstate congress (one of the government's arguments that might have trouble passing the laugh test is that by using self grown marijuana, ms. raich and ms. monson do not use prescription drugs which infintesamally affects the price of a drug making it part of interstate commerce under the old case of Wickard v. Filborne).

Now anything "affects" interstate commerce, but under the "federalism revolution" that is not supposed to be good enough. To be a valid exercise of this power, congress can only pass a law regulating:

(1) the channels of commerce,
(2) the instrumentalities of commerce, and
(3) action that substantially affects interstate commerce

So what is this federalism revolution? If you click on the link above, you'll get the details. Alternatively, leftist ACSBlog (let's just say that organizationally, or at least at Stanford, they are not the biggest fans of it) summary of it has been included below.

Almost a decade ago, a conservative 5-4 majority in U.S. v. Lopez sparked a revolution in federalism jurisprudence by overturning the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Rehnquist held that guns in schools do not have a substantial enough impact on interstate commerce to fall within the Congress’ Commerce Power. Five years later, a similar reasoning was applied to invalidate the Violence Against Women Act in U.S. v. Morison. Both decisions were hailed by conservative groups, with some even arguing they did not go far enough. According to University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit):
The Supreme Court can go further. It can and should underscore that the "affecting commerce" test was not intended to allow Congress to find some incidental contact with interstate commerce (for example, that a gun or automobile was manufactured out of state), claim authority, and then extend federal power to everything in sight. When Congress outlaws possession of guns that have at some time been in interstate commerce, as in Scarborough, everyone knows that Congress is not trying to regulate commerce--it is trying to regulate the possession and use of guns.

Here Congress wasn't trying to regulate commerce - it was trying to regulate pot. And everybody knows it. So will the Court follow its federalism precedent now that it would help a cause that liberals as opposed to conservatives care about? Let's just say that if they are hypocritical and do not, the left is ready to pounce.

One can agree or disagree with Reynolds’ pre-New Deal understanding of the Commerce Clause, and the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the New Federalism is a topic for a different article, but the legal similarities among Lopez, Morrison and Raich are unavoidable. According to Randy Barnett, the Boston University law professor and senior fellow at the Cato Institute who litigated Raich, "it is supremely ironic, therefore, that the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit, much maligned by conservatives, is the court of appeals that is taking the Supreme Court's new Commerce Clause jurisprudence the most seriously." As Barnett acknowledges, however, Raich is distinguishable from Lopez and Morrison in that an issue liberals tend to care about, medical marijuana usage, is now at stake.

If Raich loses, federalism is for all intensive purposes dead for the present, because it will be shown to be a doctrine that only will be enacted to save conservative causes. If Raich wins however, it begins to be easy to see a way to end the war on drugs. Make your drugs yourself or buy them from an instate dealer in a state where they will have been decriminalized.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

What Was He Thinking?
Saddam that is. This piece explores it. Good read.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Think I'll Disagree
Amazingly there was no controversey after these remarks (click link and scroll down).
Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., told about 400 students, faculty and staff at the college [Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo] that women should never sacrifice their primary role as caregivers and mothers for a secondary one in a career. He also said women in administrative roles makes sense but "would you want to work with or depend on being saved by a woman firefighter?"
Republican Arrogance
In the Delay Case.
Helter Skelter
Video of the Pistons-Pacers-Fan Brawl is available here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Marine Shooting
Phil Carter has a piece in Slate on whether it was unlawful.
Professor Volokh has some ruminations on the subject in a series of posts, one of which is here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lack of Health Insurance is a Problem?
So says Jesse Taylor at Pandagon in attacking an argument made by my friend Jon Henke.

I'm sorry, but the overexageration of the health insurance problem is really starting to grate on me. Those who want to engage in progressive action on this "pressing social issue" should first read this piece put out by Cato, lest they overestimate the problem and mislead their audience. Here is the key part for those of you too lazy to click on the link that debunks the 45 million uninsured meme put out in elections past:

As far back as the Clinton administration, some critics have tried to create a sense of urgency behind expanding government health programs by citing a government statistic that said something like 40 million Americans lack health insurance.

Originally, "40-something-million-uninsured" meant the persistently uninsured, i.e., those who lacked health insurance for the entire year. The Congressional Budget Office shot holes in that statistic last May when it reported the correct figure is between 21 million and 31 million. Difficult as it may be to believe, an official government statistic was off the mark by maybe 110 percent.

The CBO's figures may still be too high because they count millions of Americans who are Medicaid-eligible, and therefore have coverage whenever they need it. One-third of all "uninsured" children (2.9 million) fall into this category (the CBO gives no estimate for adults). Moreover, the persistently uninsured are mostly young (39 percent are under age 25, and another 22 percent are under age 35) or healthy (86 percent report their health to be "good," "very good," or "excellent").

Rather than admit they have been overstating the number of uninsured by a factor of two and make an embarrassing retraction, which might tend to deflate the campaign, Cover the Uninsured Week continues to claim there are 44 million uninsured. The only possible way to explain this is that they take refuge in the CBO's finding that the original, faulty government statistic does happen to be roughly equivalent to the number of Americans who lack insurance at any specific point in time, rather than for the entire year.

But this broader measure just adds to the count even more not-so-hard cases. In addition to those eligible for Medicaid, for instance, it includes people who lose their health insurance for only a brief period, such as when they graduate from college or change jobs. Over 3 million such people will regain coverage within four months, and another 6 million will regain coverage within 12 months. Various studies suggest that one-fourth (10 million) of this group decline coverage that is offered by their employers, and one-fifth (8 million) live in households making more than $50,000 per year.

Do people lack health insurance? Sure they do. Just not as many as you would think if you only paid attention to the liberal echo chamber cocoon.
Charges Kofi Annan Needs To Answer
We aren't talking one billion missing. Nor 10 billion anymore. We are talking about potentially $20 billion from the food for oil program. With alleged graft of this level, the secratary general needs to stop stonewalling and come up with some explanations.
Mike Zummer Sends Word From Iraq
Long-time readers of this blog and Stanford students know of Mike Zummer, one of my good friends from the class below me at Stanford Law School, who took a leave of abscence to serve his country in Iraq. About a week and a half ago he sent me and a few other friends an email detailing his experience and growing disillusionment with the bureaucracy that is in his opinion hindering our war effort. I didn't have his permission to post it until yesterday, but now that I have it, here it is.

Just thought I'd try to give everyone an idea of how the war is going for me. One of our little jokes is that war is hell, unless you're at Al Asad. A Master Sergeant around here came up with that one.

The problem is what happens outside the wire, or at the gate 300m away from where I am right now, in the case of the suicide car bomb on the 23rd.

You can see what's happening on the news and the lastest if you check the internet are police stations in Haqlaniyah and Hadithah that are my responsibility. Unfortunately, there's little I can do, except read the reports. I've come up with a plan to try to recover everything, but it will take time and may not even be approved. The worst part is that a week ago, I told people that these stations would be next. Nothing I could do to stop it. I had the same thing about the station before these. I'm not trying to say I'm a genius, it's just that I know what's going to happen and I have no resources or authority to do anything about it.

You can read the news and see where the focus is. Our enemy may be murderers, but they're not stupid. While we mass near Fallujah, they're going to roll back any successes we've had with the Iraqi Security Forces, especially the police.

I don't know what's happening elsewhere. I don't know how things are in the south. Apparently, the British learned how things are up here compared to down South. I hear the Army plays baseball in the North.

So, I wouldn't say that we need a whole bunch more troops, but we do need more where I am. I can't say I blame this on the administration as a lot of what I've seen has been a psychosis from the military planners. They just don't seem to understand what it takes to make the Iraqis operational. There's a completely unrealistic view of what we're going to need to do. I used to get mad when I read some of the stupidity emanating from our military in Baghdad or people below that. Now I just laugh.

Anyway, so while my stations get attacked, I continue to plan and hope that I'll get the resources that I need to implement a plan that I hope will work. It's not what I would like to do. It's not everything that I think we need. It's just the best I can do with what I have to work with.

The worst part is knowing that the longer it takes for us to bang our heads against the bureaucracy at our own level and at higher headquarters, the longer it will take to get going in the right direction. The longer that takes, the longer we'll be here, and the more people will die.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Stanford Law Considering Move to Quarter System
I first heard this rumor a few days ago and I was immediatly against the idea. My feeling is that the quarter system has the danger of packing a semester's worth of material into a third the time and giving reduced credit to boot, leading to increasingly stressed out students. When you throw in the addition of smaller vacations and more months studying for exams, it seems on first blush to be a rather ill-conceived idea.

Or so I thought until I talked to one of my mentors, Professor Cole. I don't yield in argument all that often, but Prof. Cole put up a good case of why we should switch. First, the law school acknowledges that there is a fear of increased work for decreased credit, but it is willing to structure the professor incentives so that it will be in their best interest to award the same amount of credit as before by having them be able to teach a correspondingly lower amount of classes if those classes are for bulk credit. In other words, Tax, which is four units in a semester, would now be six units in a quarter or three units in two consecutive quarters. And the professor will want to structure it this way so that they credit for teaching the required amount and not have to teach an additional class. In the off chance that this incentive does not work, there will be a safeguard (of dubious effectiveness I believe) of checking the reading list for each class to make sure that it is the "appropriate" amount of work potentially by a faculty committee.

Second, moving to a quarter system will increase the amount of courses that will be available for law students because it will synch us with the rest of the university. Such a synchronization leads to the third benefit - we will be better able to have courses taught by professors from other departments when such teaching is merited (say for example in the corporate finance classes). This will reduce teaching loads and make recruiting faculty from other schools all the easier (because new faculty will have a drastically diminished load if they come teach at Stanford Law under this system). With more tenure track faculty, this of course leads to the real red meat for us Stanford Law Grads - a move up in the rankings.

As I said, I think this is a good case. I need to sleep on it some more to see how I feel about it. But I think Professor Cole has likely changed my mind on the issue.
Warning Signs For Your Relationship
Yes it was on MSN Women. I didn't care. It looked good. Maybe you'll like it as well.
Why Poland Likes Us
A good read.
(link via polipundit)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Debate on Gay Marriage at Stanford Law School
Tonight’s speakers are speaking to an overflow crowd. We have Tobias Wolff on the left (“in more ways than one”). He has been very active in LGBT rights litigation and was part of the rapid response of the Kerry Campaign. (abbreviation – W) of UC Davis Law School, William Duncan is of the Sutherland Institute, and has been involved in many committees (that I missed) on marriage/family law(abbreviation – D). The event will be moderated by Pam Karlan (abbreviation – K). They are speaking for the upcoming symposium put out by the Stanford Law and Policy Review on Gay Marriage.

As usual, this is a rough “transcript” in that it is not a transcript, but rather my attempt to get the salient points down. I will email the speakers tonight so that they can double check this - so in other words this may be, or is likely to be, revised.

K: Thank you for coming out tonight – but I’d like to thank both Mike Kass for putting this event together, but also you the audience.
Is it possible to separate out personal views from legal/policy philosophy on this issue?
D: Yes. Much does of course go into our thought process of why we would choose one over another. It seems to me that the legislature v. court question is crucial as to what has gone on up to this point. At initial sense that they are parallel is that they are moving in the opposite directions – courts towards same sex marriage (generally) and legislature (generally) away from it (in bits and starts). Certainly since Goodrich in 2003 the momentum has……….

K: Why the difference?

D: I have struggled with that question – on the one hand you have what Scalia suggests (see romer) that legal elites see this differently (professional norms/biases) than legislative elites. [my note – aren’t these often people of similar background???] Clearly, there is a 60% 70% opinion against same sex marriage [i.e. they have tremendous incentives that unelected judges do not].

K: Are there facts that you can learn that would change your position on the issue, or whether it is primarily a gut issue.

W: Uh..NO. Framing the question in terms of facts is important to answer the question [????] Part of what has characterized the legal status of gay people in general . . . is an extraordinary posse of descriptions that are not condemnatory of gays/lesbians. Even today, when less socially acceptable to be discriminatory towards gay people (changed much in the past thirty years) . . . when that is the nature of the state of affairs, when the policy issues are so characterized by misinformation, by lack of a realistic facts of people’s lives, common barrier to right thinking [???] voices within the gay community that have different views of the desirability of marriage rights.

K: Is your view is that nobody could know the fact and could not take some position? That the only explanation for opposition is a lack of factual understanding?

W: No, that isn’t my position, but such a deficiency causes the discussions to be much broader and blunter. Its more difficult to have sensitive discussion of gay parenting in an atmosphere when gay parents are regularly threatened with removal of parental rights.

K: So in your view, if there was empirical evidence that children better with straight parents, would that affect your view of what adoption laws should be.

W: No, it wouldn’t. But I emphasize that evidence does not actually exist. What we do know of course, is that parents that are poor have much worse……………

K: Let’s stipulate than that lesbian couples have few assets than hetero couples on average – why shouldn’t that be taken into account?

W: The way things are taken into account in adoption law is by conducting a case-by-case best interest of child test. There are no, to the best of my knowledge, restrictions on the parental rights based upon wealth for adoption purposes.

K: How about as a tie-breaker for adoption – would that be a risk?

K: Are there facts that would change your view?

D: I think there are, that the facts are becoming more and more, well very little empirical evidence with any of this stuff……well, it depends how we frame the underlying opinion – there wouldn’t be anything that would for me change the def. of what marriage would be…

K: What do you think the strongest arguments against civil unions would be.

D: Lawyerly answer – it depends what you mean by civil unions…

K: Take California

D: Or Vermont

K: Yeah you get the same rights……. (something about over 62)

D: The over 62 category bothers me….

W: one of the things we hear a lot about is that there is a big problem, that it will devalue the concept of marriage. That straight couples will be less committed about marriage. What is your view of that.

D: The argument is that marriage has something of cultural currency – to the degree you have something of a competing institution, it cuts against the value of it. For Estridge, that means you just change definition of marriage as opposed to a separate institution

W: If I interrupt, I don’t get that argument

K: How can you not get it!!!!???!!! If we let 14,000 more people into Stanford Law, the educational experience changes.


W: If you suddenly open wide the favored status (Stanford law admittance), sure there is a loss of status of being a Stanford law student. But this analogy isn’t descriptive for the question of marriage – marriage is not thought to be exclusive – its more open. Gay couples, sure get marked as outsiders – but what I don’t get is that given the catholic definition of marriage – I don’t understand the cognitive moment a straight married couple…well we have had gay marriage now for six months in MA – are there straight couples who are now questioning their marriage’s value?

K: What about Polygamists?

W: Well you can say the same thing about incest…

K: Well I see the argument against incest (laughter) harm, genetics, exclusivity of famility relationship, but about polygamy – what is your argument there

W: (1) Law that prohibt gays from getting married deny them any meaningful opportunity to get benefits from state. It is a social fact that sexual orientation is both a fixed fact of life and exclusive -

K: But how does that differ from people whose religion tells them what meaning is?

W: Polygamists can still get some satisfaction. Yes there are those who think they are religious required to be polygamous – but that is a different question. Prohibitions on gay people take a class people, who have only one . . . pool in which to fish, deny them the right to fish [not the same for polygmists]

D: Concerns about polygamy – this doesn’t strike me as a crucial argument – we can all draw lines. But the argument is slightly different than often framed. That the logic that those is used to justify same sex marriage would apply in other settings. I was at University of Utah – argument made by one side of table was that people who want to marry should be able to marry. The audience than said why not apply that LOGIC [marriage defined by choice/consent] to polygamy. It becomes difficulty to cabin logic. This brings us to question of what is Marriage. Historically, culturally, marriage is very tied up in the reality of children/child rearing.

K: I see that argument – but does that argue for a more tailored def. of marriage – where we would only allow marriage for those who can have children – and bare those who can’t. I think as a policy matter, yes we as a society have interest in children’s welfare….

D: As a practical matter how do you cabin that definition. The other thing is that things change……

K: We certainly could say that women over 50 can’t marry, or if they can’t get pregnant in five years, we “unmarry” them

D: The distinction has been on couples who have been at least “theoretically capable” of having children

W: There is a fantasy – that gay people can be made not to exist. A lot of conversations about child rearing – often seem to proceed on the assumption of whether it is a good idea to have gay parents or not. There are gay parents. Women who are bisexual have the same fundamental rights as other women – to chose to get pregnant. The question is not whether should they exist, but rather whether we are BETTER OFF AS A SOCIETY to give these families the same support structure as other families. It seems that your framing of the issue is a way of disappearing gay people from the question.

K: What if anything of these policy arguments, should be relevant to courts in making decisions, or should these arguments be left to legislatures?

D: I think some of this is of limited relevance. The relevance is that this is a core social institution – this is not a state creation. Been around before the state. What the policy arguments say is that this issue is so fundamental that courts should be EXCEEDINGLY cautious before doing anything.

W: Couple things I want to respond to. First, the marriage that we are talking about is a series of state laws, like any other series of state laws, that create rights/obligations and doll out benefits. We are not litigating the rest – what churches say marriage is. People often conflate these two which is a mistake. One possibility is that in definitions of who is able to be married, with bans on gay marriage, for the first time since the civil war, there will be discrimination against a CLASS of people in the constitution. Second thing is that you are using a classification to define marriage. Not only would you be using that classification, but you would also be using it give [approval] to long standing social mores in the constitution at the expense of others. The case is still being made that discrimination on sexual orientation should receive judicial scrutiny. There is a misperception that gay people are white/rich because those people are more visible – so we end up with the judiciary being cautious. Why – because idea that these are privileged non-needy people that are getting special rights.

K: Suppose you were to win a case – and Supreme Court says that all bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional – good thing or bad?

W: I’m against it – the backlash would be huge and the momentum for an amendment would be tremendous which would be far more damaging in the long-run. I think, personally, that gay-people have a constitutional right to marry, but I think there are more important things in the short run.

Questions – these will be even more rough – because they are fast paced and I want to ask things myself. But I’ll try and get a few things down.

Q (Nolan Reichl) – to Duncan – if there was incontrovertible evidence that being gay is genetic and irreversible, would it change your view. And the opposite to you for Wolf.

D: No, it wouldn’t change my view
W: Nor mine. Its not helpful conversation [genetics and choice in this context]

I’m taking a break:
I’m back

My Question: To Duncan – You said that one argument against civil unions is that some are afraid it will cheapen marriage. Which rights, in this bundle of rights that constitute civil unions, would be seen by social conservatives as cheapening marriage?

He dodges.

Follow up. What about property inheritance, visitation, for example?
D: Well those rights would are barely challenged outside marriage
W: Like hell they are not! Read some of the gay marriage bans.

I missed a bit of the rest because I had to type.

Next question: To Duncan – you said no facts would change you view. What if the divorce rate plummets in MA and couples there (heterosexual) find themselves more committed than ever before, would that change your mind.

D: Yep, you got me. That would probably cause me to rethink.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hearings on Corruption in the United Nations
Are slated in the Senate. Stay tuned for this one...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Recount in Ohio?
Don't expect it - the chance is virtually nill that it will happen. And if there is no recount, there is no contested election.
What Conspiracy?
Debunking many election-fraud myths, here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Drudge and Viruses
On the Drudge website, I was prompted to download a program that would give me the option to have 10,000 smiley face characters on my computer. Of course, I googled around and found that program was filled with viruses, spyware, and annoying pop-ups. Why do reputable websites like drudge allow these kind of advertisers? And can those who are harmed by them bring a tort suit? Just wondering......
More Post-Election Conspiracy Stuff
Not Nuts - here
Nuts - here
This Doesn't Feel Right
SCOTUS blog is adamant that John Roberts of the DC circuit will be Rehnquist's replacement. The logic is that (a) He leans conservative (b) He is confirmable (c) His nomination will open up a slot on the DC circuit for Estrada or somebody else.

While the logic flows - something about this doesn't feel quite right - Bush has said that he has earned political capital, and he is going to spend it. Spending it on a Mitch McConnel nomination would make sense - it could shape his legacy for decades. The worry is that the Dems will block the nomination with a fillibuster like they did for many of the circuit court nominations of the past four years. But is that worry overblown?

A Supreme Court nomination will attract much more attention then a Circuit Court nomination. Additionally, the composition of the Senate has changed - there will be 55 Repubs in the Senate, which is either four or five (sorry I forget) more than over the past two years. Don't overlook the fact that the attitude of Dems in red states will be different - the horse in the bed of the dems which was the defeat of former Minority Leader Daschle is not likely to forget. Finally, if Bush wanted a moderate, he could have put Alberto Gonzalez on the court. Yes Gonzalez isn't on the D.C. circuit, but he is hispanic, and Repubs. love to play the racial preference game that they decry so much at the grassroots level. Bush's choice of this frequently rumored Supreme Court candidate to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General in all likliehood forcloses this possibility and could be viewed as an early positioning to avoid the charge of governing from the far right.

The real question is if Bush, assuming that he will go for a judge on the verbotten list, will pick a one who is very verbotten (say Edith Jones of the 5th circuit) to soften up the opposition and then compromise on a less verbotten candidate (McConnel), or will take the less verbotten candidate from the get-go to minimize the controversey. My bet is on the former course.
It is Impossible to Consistently Beat the Market
Unless you are a U.S. Senator that is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Price is Right - Bob Barker Donates $1 Million for Animal Rights
Why is this newsworthy? The donation wasn't to PETA - it was to UCLA's Law School!
[Barker] said he hoped the endowment would encourage more law students to get involved in protecting animals.
"Animal exploitation happens throughout this country and elsewhere," Barker said. "Animals need all the protection we can give them."
The Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights Law will pay for teaching, research, seminars and lectures. The effort will be led by UCLA professor Taimie Bryant, who teaches a course in animal law.

And why can't anybody donate a million dollars to endow a class on something interesting - like how to navigate the NFL Salary cap. There are legal issues there - plus those who take the course could start to have better fantasy teams. Just a thought.
(hat tip - J2db)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Tough Questions For Mohammad El-Baradei at Stanford Law School
Mohammad El-Baradei of the IAEA was at Stanford Law School on Friday to give a discussion. Due to one of my friends getting himself in an emergency situation (and me being required to get him out of it) I had to miss this event. Which is a shame, because Clint Taylor took El-Baradei to task, as his email to me to shows:

Here's what I asked Mohammed el-baradei in his Nov. 4th lecture at Stanford, which caused quite a gasp:
Mr. El-baradei, on Oct. 1st your office sent a memo to an Iraqi scientist about the HMX nuclear trigger explosives at Al-Qaqaa. His response was leaked to CBS news, who planned to run it on Oct. 31st, immediately before the election. Columnist Bill Safire and reporter Cliff May have charged your organization with trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. elections. I'd like to hear how you respond to those charges, but more importantly since I'm sure you'll agree with me that these accusations have damaged the credibility of the IAEA. I'd like to know what, if anything, is being done to find the party responsible for the leak, and what would be an appropriate reprimand.

His response follows; my laptop ran out of power just as he spoke so there is only one verbatim quote but it's pretty close:
The work of the IAEA is ongoing. It doesn't stop for the American elections and one shouldn't think that the whole world revolves around the American elections (applause.) The October 1st memo was a regularly scheduled occurrence. When I received the report from the Iraqi scientist, I also informed the US officials so together with the Iraqis they could try to redeem the explosives. I also had to inform the UN Security Council, as is my job.

It could have been the Americans who leaked this, or it could have been the UN Security Council. It wasn't our intent to influence the election but the media-some of the media, see it that way. And some journalists need to get some maturity, because life goes on outside the US elections.

(Jerry Springer-like applause).

There was certainly no indication in his response that the leak would be investigated. Nor did I hear a denial of the charges, only assertions that it could have been someone else. I talked with two of my students on the way out who also didn't hear any specific denial that his office leaked it, and a third person, a stranger, concurred. (Another person told me, "good question. Someone had to ask it.")
Message to Dems - Don't Become Socially Conservative
Today's meme on Kos, which I agree with. The path for the Dems back to majority status is to embrace fiscal conservatism/sanity while pushing for progressive change on social values (war on drugs, gay marriage, safeguarding abortion rights in the legislatures when Roe v. Wade goes down in defeat). If it does those things, here is one borderline Republican voter who would be eager to jump ship. More on that later.
Affirmative Action
Yes, I'm lazy today. So I'm just providing this link as good reading material.

Oh yeah, as a throw in, considering the author of this piece, will this be on my first ammendment exam?

Also, there was a study that was released about the time of Gratz that suggested Affirmative Action had a negative effect on the discussion of ideas. For the life of me, I can't remember where to find this study. Does anybody here know?

Monday, November 08, 2004

More Ohio Election Oddities
Somebody please try to explain this:
In Miami County, with 100% of the precincts reporting at 9am EST Wednesday, Nov. 3, Bush had 20,807 votes (65.80%) and Kerry had 10,724 (33.92%). Miami reported 31,620 voters. Inexplicably, nearly 19,000 new ballots were added after all precincts reported, boosting Bush’s vote to 33,039 (65.77%) to Kerry’s 17,039 (33.92%). CASE is investigating why the percentage of the vote stayed exactly the same to three one-hundredths of a percentage point after nearly 19,000 new ballots were added. CASE members speculate that it’s either a long-shot coincidence with the last three digits remaining the same, or that someone had pre-set a database and programmed a voting machine to cough up a pre-set percentage of votes. Miami County uses an easily hackable optical scanner with the central counter provided by the Republican-linked vendor ES&S.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A Quick Reminder
While the vast majority of the posts on this site are written by me, not all of them are. Some are by other posters such as this post by Phoebe. You can always check who is the author of the post by looking at the bottom of it. A post by yours truly will say "Posted by: Elliot Fladen" at the permalink section. Likewise, a post by Phoebe will say "Posted by: Phoebe", a post by DC Rybicki will say "Posted by: DC" and so on. There has been some humorous confusion on this point, so I hope this clears it up.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

An Open Letter to the Dems
From a reluctant Bush voter on why she didn't vote for Kerry
More Bad News for Dems
Dems who are looking towards '06 need to face this point - it is likely that they will lose even more seats in the senate to republicans. Ellis Oster has the goods at GOP Strategery.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. Dems win a select few states that are rich in electoral votes. Repubs win a high number of low electoral vote states. Since more states are republican, the senate should with time, drift to be more heavily republican body if the current red-blue political alignment holds. How heavily? Well, as a rough measure, there are 31 red states, and 19 blue states which implies a natural equilibrium at around 60 senators for the repubs and 40 for the dems.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Does This Story Have Legs?
Only if the problem of extra votes to Bush in Ohio was replicated in other precints.

Update: Looks like no legs. From the Guardian:
Deducting the erroneous Bush votes from his total could not change the election's outcome, and there were no signs of other errors in Ohio's electronic machines, said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

Franklin is the only Ohio county to use Danaher Controls Inc.'s ELECTronic 1242, an older-style touchscreen voting system. Danaher did not immediately return a message for comment.

A New Blogger to Take a Look At.
Ellis Oster, President of Cornell federalists, and insider to the National GOP (where he worked for several years) has joined the blogsphere. Let me put it this way - when I want to know what the scoop is - I call Ellis. You should bookmark his webpage for the future - I'm sure many others will as well.
Here We Go Again!
RE:Dems think Repubs are stupid MEME

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Why Did Bush Voters Choose Bush?
Mike Kass asked this question to the Bush-supporting-stanford-law community. Sean Hayes answered the call with this well-written explanation.

Ok, let me make sure i go through this properly:
Why did you vote for Bush?

I'll avoid a boring point-by-point of his programs that i like. Instead, I like to fashion myself a 9/11 Republican--i voted for Bush in 2000 (in CT, of all places), and wasn't really a big backer of the man. Just liked him a little more than Gore, who always (like Kerry), just struck me as a beltway insider. Bush is obviously one by lineage as well, but he hides it well.

9/11 really made me a gun-ho bush supporter. HBO had that "9 Innings From Ground Zero" special on a month ago, and one of the commentators summed it up perfectly, when talking about bush throwing out the first pitch: "He was my guy, my representative, and i've never felt like that before." This from a guy who didn't vote for him.

I felt the exact same way, the greatest thing i have ever seen on television was Bush's impromptu bullhorn speech at ground zero. You couldn't help but feel the president of the US was fighting for you specifically. Obviously, this doesn't translate to a lot of people from the west coast, but 9/11 affected my undergrad in a big way.
Is it moral issues? If so, which ones, specifically?
I generally stay away from the pro-choice debate, because i don't have ovaries. The marriage thing, however, i do have an opinion on, but its not even that, because we mostly knew that state initiatives, and not a federal amendment, were going to decide that.

But "moral issues," to me just doesn't mean where life starts or what marriage is. Bush obviously has had his moments of truth stretching, but i don't think he ever deliberately lied to us. Kerry, on the other hand, consistently reeked of political opportunism. His constant Monday morning quarterbacking was becoming embarrassing. His answers on abortion were a joke--"I can't legislate from my belief"--but kerry would always say his faith affected everything else, just not that.

But the Swift Boat guys guaranteed that Kerry would never get my vote. I don't care if those guys gave money to Bush. I don't care if a lot of their funding came from a Bush supporter (who would it come from? Soros?). What bothered me more than anything was that here were 260 dudes with an opinion on Kerry, contrary to the opinion of Kerry's 12 supporters--and they can't speak without Tad Devine calling one of them "a bigot"? The press, Soros, the 527s went after Bush with all they had for 4 years, and a bunch of verterans aren't allowed to say, "hey, this guy isn't worthy of being president"???? Viewpoint discrimination at its finest.
Do you believe he'll fight the terrorists more effectively and why?
Yes, predominantly because Bush is going to let the fight be fought regardless of polls. We're going to destroy Fallujah in order to save it. Would Kerry have done that? Not if one country said no. I have faith that Iraq is going to turn around now.

Furthermore, as much as Kerry tried to turn Afghanistan into a failure, that is a remarkable success. Sure, we lost Osama and opium production is up, but we also installed a democracy in 3 years. Not bad.

Libya's disarmed, and regardless of kerry saying "we could've always had that," Bush still got it.
Do you believe Bush is better for the economy? Why?

I don't think Presidents create jobs. They sure do like to take credit for them. Apparently Bill Clinton created the internet boom. They create situations where job growth is encouraged, and Kerry's 11th hour admission that he would tax corporations more sure wasn't going to do that. Most of you know I don't particularly care what economists think, so the fact that Jack Welch was practically stumping for Bush on the talk shows is enough for me.
Do you simply want to have lower taxes in the short term?

Who doesn't!
Finally, is there anything more Kerry could have done, while remaining at least a moderate Democrat and retaining his personality and personal history, that would have swayed your vote?

There's the catch 22! Voted against every gun rights bill ever? Go shoot some geese! 100% pro choice rank? Talk about not legislating from faith! Against every conceivable American defense initiative and policy? Whore out your military service!

The problem is that the "more" Kerry could have done would have been seen as "more" of the same--John Kerry pandering for votes.

However, Emily makes a good point--if Kerry's "health care plan" had been more specific and understandable (it was synonymous with a tax hike, for heaven's sake), that might have given him a lot of credit.

Waiting on Ohio's Votes
130,566 votes seperate Bush from Kerry in Ohio, but the Kerry campaign wants to wait until the provisional votes are counted. With only a few counties remaining to be included in the total, there are only 135,149 provisional votes. However, Summit county (which includes Akron) and several other small counties have not submitted their provisional totals. Don't expect them to significantly push the number higher. Cuyahoga County, which is much larger, only had 24,788 provisionals. So maybe there is 160,000-140,000 provisionals - but even then many of them will be thrown out, and those that remain will be split by some indeterminate proportion between the two, but Kerry would have to win close to 100% of those votes to close the gap (assuming enough provisionals don't get thrown out to make the gap impossible to close). So for Kerry to win the following must happen

1) Get a lot of provisional votes from the few remaining counties
2) Hope that an extremely large percentage (maybe 90% - depends on how many more provisionals are found) of these votes don't get thrown out
3) Hope that the provisionals break almost 10 to 1 (or higher if not a lot remain after being eliminating the invalid counties) for Kerry
4) Hope that this pulls the race close enough for a recount, which could possibly make up the difference
5) Hope that in the event of such a recount, rumors of massive fraud in key democrat cities designed to raise Kerry's vote total don't turn out to be true, or at least demonstratable.

Is all this possible? Of course! But technically speaking, it is all always possible that if you take a 1000 monkeys, give them typewriters and several years, one of them will compose by random hitting of the keys the complete works of shakespear.

But being an ohioan who has suffered from the drive, the fumble, jose mesa's game 7 implosion, a myriad of michael jordan last minute shots, I don't like this possible thing, no matter how long the odds are. With that in mind, I have to keep reminding myself - patience, patience.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Risk Is Called Bush
From today's "Der Standard:"
(By the way, Der Standard is not the only newspaper I have been checking on, it is simply a coincidence that I mostly chose articles from that paper.)

"American politics are a phenomenon: After four years during which the USA survived the bloodiest terrorist attack in its history, two wars and one radical change of direction in its budget policy, during which approvement ratings ranged from 40 to 90 percent, public opinion is exactly the same as it was in November 2000. (...)

There is much suspense on its way after the elections - especially if Bush is the winner. Usually, the current president is a well-known person and the challenger unfamiliar. This time, it is the other way around. We more or less know what Kerry's presidency will look like. With intellectuality, pragmatism and occasional dilatoriness, Kerry's Democrats will make their way through the minefield that is Iraq and the Republican Congress without major accidents. Whether or not Kerry increases the military presence in Iraq or initiates a troup cut-back, whether or not he will raise taxes at home or lessen the misery that is public health care is ultimately dependent upon factors that are out of his control. The world can follow Kerry's thinking and roughly knows how he is wired.

Nobody can say what Bush II will bring the safety-hungry Americans. Last time, the Texan threw all expectations overboard. Once in office, the compassionate conservative, who had criticized Bill Clinton for his actions overseas, became a radical revolutionary. However, the second terms of American presidents have often proved to be a time of moderation. (...)

Such a change could also occur after Bush's reelection: His leeway for new military adventures has been considerably reduced by the Iraq fiasco, the aggressive unilateralism has lately made room for some more friendly signals towards allies; and, given the gigantic budget deficit, lowering taxes has become almost impossible. Maybe Bush will let Donald Rumsfeld go and discover his new love for climate protection.

However, a lot indicates that he will regard winning the elections as God's stamp of approval on his politics and an instruction to continue. Less in foreign policy - when it comes to Iran, even hardliners avoid unilateral military action - more at home. There are still some remains of a welfare state that can be dismantled, the retirement system maybe; (...); abortion is still legal and the separation of church and state is still intact. For the extreme right, the USA is still a land dominated by godless liberals and left redistributers that needs to be liberated.

Revolutionaries are unpredictable. Even more so when they believe that a higher power speaks through them."
Black. All in Black.
Yes it is early. Yes the midday exit poll gap between Bush and Kerry was skewed against the Republicans. Yes this will not be decided for quite some time and is still too close to call. I don't care. I'm pessimistic, and putting on all black for the rest of the day. If Bush pulls ahead, then I'll look at my outfit, remember the feeling of dejection I had mid-day, and feel all the better.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I Hope I am Wrong
My gut says that 36 hours from now I will be waking up to President-Elect Kerry.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Observations from Vienna
What I still want to say is that, aside from the essay I just posted, the Austrian media has stayed pretty clear of judging either candidate, at least from what I have noticed in the past days. What is being reported on are the missing ballots in Florida, Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigning with Bush, and Michael Moore planning on keeping an eye on things at the polls on Tuesday. Oh, and the Bin Laden tape. The newspapers I have been checking out are reporting equally from both campaign trails, have bios and slideshows of both Bush and Kerry up on their websites.
However, this does not mean that the sentiment out on the streets is the same. The majority is clearly rooting for Kerry, and one unfortunately does not hear much sensible debating or discussing going on anywhere. So I am extremely curious about the reaction here following Tuesday. I literally live around the corner of the American embassy and have witnessed not just a few demonstrations marching on by my window or chanting for hours. So will the chanting resume should Bush win? And if so, I would love to ask them what their point is. Regardless of who I am personally voting for, I would not see any point in goings on of the sorts.
"USA in the hands of a radical sect"
This is what Hans Rauscher has to say in yesterday's "Der Standard:"
(I am sorry if anything sounds a bit odd due to my translation.)

"[...] This is not a choice between a more conservative and a more liberal candidate; this is not a choice between two varieties of American democracy.
It is not even a choice between two personalities, as different as their character, their socialization and their world-view may be and actually are.
In essence, this is a choice between a normal American type of politician (Kerry) and an ideologically radical sect that aims to force its unbelievably narrow and bullheaded ideal upon the entire world.
Some of the American media have overcome their submissiveness after 9/11 and are reporting the almost unbelievable supported by researched facts: George W. Bush believes he has been sent by God, his politics are agreeable to God and lead by God.
At the age of 40, Bush was the useless son of a rich and famous father, an alcoholic who was saved from slipping away into a completely messed up life by an Evangelist preacher.
Ever since, he believes to have been put on the right path by God himself. One can probably consider this to be the most successful psychotherapy in history.
An aimless, rich roamer became a president with a radical agenda, which has significantly changed the world and the USA and will still change them more.
As any sect leader, Bush impresses with his inner conviction and own logic. This leaves an impression, at least in the USA, and that is why he still has the better chances of winning.
Of course, his agenda has partly been fed by right-wing cynics surrounding him (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.).
But only he has the messianic belief to lead a war under false pretences, which is not meant to lead to anything more than the already damned bare-footed of this world fearing the USA more and willingly complying; or to follow through with an economic agenda that undermines the financial basis and especially social security through huge deficits - in order to make the institutions of a welfare state ripe for the attack of total privatization.
These are the two things at the core of his agenda: military solutions for all problems of the planet (especially the "war against terrorism") and the radical dismantling of the state.
This agenda has already partially failed (Iraq is lost; Islamic terrorists metastatize; there is not enough military power left for Iran or North Korea) and he will also fail in his economic ideals.
However, this will lead to immense damage for everyone. But Bush marches on, oblivious of reality (and his own incompetence). That is why, in the end, this election is about answering the question of whether or not the only super power will remain in the hands of a radical sect."
Funny Halloween Costumes
Hope you have a sense of humor when it comes to politics......

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Anatomy of a Sexual "Predation."

50% of infants born to mothers 15-17 years old are sired by males over 20. Males over 25 are implicated in twice as many teenage births as are males under 18 (The Oregonian, May 11, 2004). Why did the Oregonian deem this tidbit newsworthy?

I feel I must admit my personal interest in this matter: my father is seventeen years older than my mother, yet no one in our family greeted my conception with outrage, nor did anyone call 9-1-1 to rat my dad out as a statutory rapist. Indeed, the matter was never even mentioned during my childhood. My parents' age difference was taken completely in stride by a family whose members' general behavior has been described by objective observers as suffocatingly conventional. Admittedly, my parents met when mom was 40 and dad was 57.

Hence, a nagging question presents itself to my mind: At what age does it become socially respectable for a self-respecting woman to copulate with an older man?

After much deliberation and significant consultation with experts in the field, I have determined that there is no definitive answer to this crucial anthropolical and/or sociological inquiry. Surprisingly enough, with respect to any given pairing, the answer to the respectability question posed above appears to vary significantly on the basis of a number of factors, including the following: (1) age of the male, (2) yearly income of the male, (3) the male's likelihood of gifting the female with small samples of the carbon allotrope commonly known as "diamond"; (4) strength of the male for his spawn to attend an educational institution more prestigious than that attended by the female's father; (5) the female's father's occupation, if any; (6) the female's independent means, if any; (7)

In Austria, George Bush would not stand a chance
This is what "Die Kronen Zeitung" (not the most respected, but the most widely read newspaper in Austria...go figure) has to say:

"If the Austrians had their way in the upcoming US presidential elections, George W. Bush would not stand the slightest chance against John F. Kerry. However, Austrians know that the spirit in the States is a different one - and they expect a suspenseful decision, with a small advantage for the current president. [...]
Kerry is supported the most by young Austrians, more educated citizens and the Austrian Green Party supporters.
What seems to speak for Kerry are not so much his specific qualities, but more the prevention of a second Bush administration: Sable-rattling and very little concern for the environment are not well received in a country of neutrality and waste separation, particle filters and reduction of harmful substances. [...]
However, who does become the next commander in chief of the US has very little meaning for Austria, according to the Austrians themselves. The relative majority even assumes moderate or no meaning at all."

And some poll results from "Der Standard:"

Who would you vote for?

82.1% (1441 people) - Kerry
9.9% (174 people) - Neither
8% (140 people) - Bush

Who will the Americans vote for?

51.5% - Kerry
48.5% - Bush
Reporting from Austria
Hi everyone, I am a friend of Elliots, born and raised in Washington, DC and now live in Vienna, Austria. Elliot asked me to write a little bit about the American elections from the point of view of the Austrian media and people, as an example of how they are perceived in Europe. Please remember that what I will write are not necessarily my personal opinions, but simply what I have read in the paper, heard on TV or was told by a friend of mine. Just consider me the messenger.

I will start with something a little on the lighter side:
This is a small bit from today's edition of the Austrian newspaper "Der Standard."
The retired Mrs. S. has never mistaken when it comes to Austrian politics. Whoever she votes for wins the election. This has been going on for many years.
Who would she give her "winning" vote to if she were able to vote in the United States? John Kerry. "Kerry leans more towards Europe." Her second reasoning: "Bush's laughter is not sincere, but malicious." The newspaper counters: Kerry barely laughs at all. Mrs. S. simply says: "Well, there is not much reason to laugh." - And there she has a point.

More later...
Bin Laden Tape
Well, at least we know he's alive. If you want a transcript of what the tape says, click here. Belmont Club, who provides it, additionally provides an interesting point of the tape - that what is striking about it is what is MISSING FROM IT. I suggest you read the linked post.
Missing Explosives Confusion
You know how I said that this was debunked? Well, I take that back. I can only say now that I am rather confused as to what is going on with the issue. If you want a nice round-up of the current state of this debate, click here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Remember Afghanistan
From the WaPo
President Bush put in place a military campaign that did in two months what everyone had said was impossible: defeat an entrenched, fanatical, ruthless regime in a territory that had forced the great British and Soviet empires into ignominious retreat. Bush followed that by creating in less than three years a fledgling pro-American democracy in a land that had no history of democratic culture and was just emerging from 25 years of civil war.

This is all barely remembered and barely noted. Most amazing of all, John Kerry has managed to transform our Afghan venture into a failure -- a botched operation in which Bush let Osama bin Laden get away because he "outsourced" bin Laden's capture to "warlords" in the battle of Tora Bora.

Outsourced? The entire Afghan war was outsourced. How does Kerry think we won it? How did Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar fall? Stormed by thousands of American GIs? They fell to the "warlords" we had enlisted, supported and directed. It was their militias that overran the Taliban.

"Outsourcing" is a demagogue's way of saying "using allies." (Isn't Kerry's Iraq solution to "outsource" the problem to the "allies" and the United Nations?) And in Afghanistan it meant the very best allies: locals who had a far better chance of knowing which cave to storm without getting blown up.

Read the whole thing (registration required).
My Thoughts Exactly
I often read Bush or Kerry endorsements in a disgusted fashion. They usually are written trying to sell me something as opposed to explaining their thought process. This one is different. I suggest you read it. Plus, I of course agree with just about everythign that is said, positives and negatives about both campaigns.
Kerry - Harder on Drugs than Terrorists
Frequent reader and commentator of the Blog, Clint Taylor, has the goods at NRO.
If Only We Had Clinton Back
Or not. Jayson takes a look at the (lack of) differences between the economy when Clinton was getting reelected to the economy of today.
Kerry and the Draft
Lorie at Polipundit posts the comments of a reader who thinks that a draft would be more likely under Kerry than under Bush. Here is a point for consideration. If Bush tried to institute a draft, his name and party would be mud for decades. Why? He promised, repeatedly on the record that he would not do so, and he cannot blame the source of the need for a draft (the war on terror) convincingly on a past President.

Kerry, on the other hand, does not have this last constraint. Yes, Kerry has said he would not reinstitute the draft, but Kerry is not exactly known as a man of his word. If the "nuance" of greater casualties or apparent inability to do the basic mission would be able to be blamed on not having enough troops, Kerry could "reluctantly" change his mind because "he is incorporating new information" into his decision making process as an excuse.

More importantly, Kerry would be able to blame the need for the draft on the past administration, to keep from bearing the heat personally. "If it were not for the disastrous policies of my predecessor" he would say "this step would not have been necessary. However, now that we are involved in the Iraq war due to the rush to judgment of the previous president, new developments and our national security demand that I ask Congress for permission to take the step of reinstituting the draft." Who do you think his base will blame after such a move - Kerry or the Republicans? Who do you think swing voters will blame? It seems pretty clear that Kerry could get a free pass with such a move.

But is that a good thing? Personally I am deadset against the draft for a number of reasons that I do not want to get into now, so this is one of the big strikes that I have against Kerry. On the other hand, there quite a few grizzled oldies out there who think that a draft would stop the "moral decline and selfish nature" of our younger ones, spread the cost of military action around, help prevent future wars, and most importantly, give us the necessary tools to win the war in Iraq. If you hold one of those beliefs, although I would passionately disagree with you, the freedom Kerry would have compared to Bush to reinstitute the draft would have to be a plus in your book.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Saddam's Id
The Wall Street Journal has a brilliant piece on how to look at the Iraq war now that some of the dust has settled:

Now, let's step back and put this all in context--the context offered by Mr. Duelfer's report. The news there isn't that there appear to have been no large stockpiles of WMD in Iraq at the time of the March 2003 invasion. That's been clear for more than a year. Rather, the news is that we now know straight from Saddam himself, his scientists, and his fellow high-level detainees that Saddam intended to restart his weapons program the second U.N. sanctions were lifted. And we now know that he would never have unambiguously come clean on his WMD programs because he wanted his enemies (especially the U.S. and Iran) to believe he had them.

In other words, had the weapons inspections been allowed to continue, as Mr. Kerry says he wanted, a U.S. President would have eventually faced the same uncertainties and the same agonizing choice that Mr. Bush did when he decided to commit the U.S. to war. Remember, too, that the final round of inspections was won only with a build-up of U.S. troops in the Gulf, and that a decision to accept as satisfactory the desultory cooperation that Saddam gave these inspectors would have meant overwhelming international pressure for immediate lifting of all sanctions.

Read the whole thing - there is a bonus. You get to see some of who was getting bribed by Saddam!
About Those Missing Explosives...... looks like a key member of the international community could perhaps be able to shed some light on where they went......
Ohio Federal Judge Blocks Voter Eligibility Hearings
A new development in the debate over whether there is fraudulent registration. I don't think we have heard the last of this.
A Withering Attack on Bush
I have frequently said that Bush is the lessor evil when compared to Kerry on this blog. But what does that mean, the lessor evil? It means that he still screws up massively. For those who are die-hard Bush supporters out there, you still have to deal with these valid conclusions of Andrew Sullivan when evaluating how successful the Bush presidency has been:

The reason the story of missing munitions at al Qa Qaa is an important one is not that, in and of itself, it's a huge deal. As Bill Kristol points out in one of the weakest defenses of the administration yet, the NYT story "didn't put it into context how important 380 tons are when there are tens of thousands of explosives in the country." Yes, that's right. Compared to all the other munitions sites that were looted during and after the invasion, al Qa Qaa is not that devastating. But what about all the other sites? What about the fact that a war begun as a means to restrain Saddam's weaponry actually helped disperse it? That's the real issue. And as the facts emerge, I've become convinced of one astounding thing: the Bush administration didn't care very much about the dangers from Saddam's alleged WMDs, or conventional munitions. Safeguarding those sites, keeping those weapons out of the hands of terrorists, was not a major priority.

Remember, I'm not a Kerry supporter. This would not have swayed my vote due to Kerry's other numerous flaws. But it is damning not the same, especially when you read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Kerry Has Positioned Himself to Benefit From a Terrorist Attack
My fear has been that if a pre-election bombing occurs it will most likely be in the Republican section of a swing state. Say the counties around Milauwakee in Minnesota. Or the Panhandle of Florida. Or the Suburbs of Cincinnatti in Ohio. A bombing there, on election day, would disrupt the polls, causing the democrats to lose less votes than the republicans. The danger with this for a terrorist was the backfire danger - it would possibly encourage voters to vote for Bush, diminishing the chance of an attack. That danger has been significantly reduced now because of the demagoguery of Kerry on the missing explosives issue, which in the event of one of these bombings, ecourage voters to wrongly blame Bush AND suppress the Republican vote in a swing state.

Lorie at Polipundit has this to say:
For the past year or so, many have feared that the October Surprise would be a terrrorist attack on U.S. soil. So far, we have been fortunate that one has not occurred. I, however, won’t breathe easy until the day after the election. A Polipundit reader, who chooses to remain anonymous, sent me an email raising a frightening possibility found in several comments posted by Moonzoo at Belmont Club. These posts led the reader to speculate:

…that NYTrogate is a set up so that if a Madrid-style attack occurs before the election, Kedwards will have positioned themselves perfectly to lay the blame on the administration’s incompetence. Moonzoo goes so far as to say that if you look closely at what Kedwards have been saying, they seem to be INVITING jihadists to attack.

I don’t know how much to make of this or to overly alarm anyone. But I worry that Bush supporters and all of us in the nation might have to brace ourselves for a lot more than the latest inane MSM propaganda.

Go and read the posts she links to.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Missing Explosives
As expected, it appears there is more (and much less)to this story than the NYTimes would have had you believe. Check at PoliPundit for the goods.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Decision on My Vote
I decided yesterday to vote for Bush in the state of Ohio. Coincidentally, a lifelong Republican friend has suddenly decided to vote for Badarnik in California.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Report from Bush's Speech Canton, Ohio
So I went with my mom (who was in the mood to see a spectacle) to the speech at the Palace theater today. Did I go inside and listen? Of course not! I've heard his canned speech a thousand times, and I saw him speak in 2000 anyway. No, the real action is outside at the protest, and the protestors were out in force. No, I have not decided between Badarnik and Bush yet, but I don't want to get into that now.

So I approached with my Bush-Cheney '04 Yard Sign (it has the two prongs, which I used to hold by each hand in the air) over to the opposite corner where the Kerry supporters were organizing. Immediatly the jeers started. Expected. What was unexpected was that quite a few of those jeering were yelling in accents that weren't quite from this area - and those were the people yelling the loudest. More unexpected was a group of these people who seemed bused in surrounded me, and grabbed the plastic portion of my sign from me. To the cheers, applause, and laughter of the crowd.

I was pissed. I ran at the 6'2 300 pound guy and demanded my sign back. Bare in mind that I'm 5 foot 7 inches, and 150 pounds. Not a fair fight, and the guy was on the verge of slugging me as he pushed me aside. I went back and demanded the sign again. He said "Fuck you, your guy is a jerk." I responded that may be his ignorant view, but we live in a country where I am entitled to my own view - and its ironic when the supporters of a candidate (Kerry) who claims to support civil liberties go around acting like fascist goons. He pushed me away again, but I saw him put my sign in his back pocket (remember, it's printed on a plastic bag). So I pickpocketed him and started fighting with the guy for it. At which point some men from the Kerry Campaign, to their credit, asked him to give it back to me.

With my sign back, the Kerry people then did next best thing to theft - they started to put their signs in front of mine. So I danced around them, trying to keep my sign in view. At which point my mom arrived, who was accosted by a large woman who started ejecting spittle at my moms face as she demanded that my mom put her son to rights. My mom just laughed and told her to get her chest out of her face.

At this point the protest moved to the outside of the theater itself. We followed. On the way steel workers demanded to know why Bush cost them their jobs. I asked why Bush should reward special interests such as them. That caught them off guard, but they then just reverted to other slogans. Such as "Outsource Bush! Outsource Bush!" Of course, I can yell louder than most, so I said with a grin "Get a creative slogan! Get a creative slogan!" Surprisingly, people started laughing - I had reached the palace theater and there were now people with Bush signs (one of the more creative ones had a butchered drawing of Kerry with the line Scary Kerry). I was no longer outnumbered 100 to 2 - now it was more like 250 to 50!

I spent a long time working up the crowd that supported Bush. I pointed to my sign, which was tattered but in one piece - "Does what happened to this sign look like the work of those who are in favor of civil liberties?" - I asked to a chorus of "No!" It got caught on TV Camera. Reporters asked me what happened, and choosing my words carefully, I told them. I doubt anything will come of it.

Soon a small crowd of the Kerry supporters surrounded me and wanted to grill me on Bush. Having grilled Bush myself mentally on a daily basis, I knew the arguments, and have quite a few original counters of my own. The crowd grew larger until it was about 1/4 of the protest. Arguments on why Bush is greatest possible disaster of all time were flowing two, three, four at a time. One frequent question was why wasn't I in Iraq if I was against Kerry? Shouldn't I enlist, or wasn't I a coward? I responded with the following argument that even Sasha Volokh liked in the past, and which I posted here before - if only those who can support a war are those who bare the cost (i.e. fight in it) then it stands to reason that only those that pay the majority of taxes (i.e. the rich) should be able to vote on them as well. Clearly we don't have such a policy.

Other questions dealt with Bush's Iraq war. My response to that was it is not a question of whether knowing what we know now if Bush made the right decision - rather the question is if Bush made the right decision knowing what he knew at the time it was made. Of course the "tax cut for the rich" came up, and I pointed out that government revenue would most likely be maximized with a tax that was more flat, and to arrive there, cutting the taxes for the rich is a necessary first step. Others wanted to end steel production overseas an outsourcing, but I pointed to them that this would serve to raise the price of that product, costing jobs in industries that rely on it, hurt the consumers who purchase it, and will result in retaliatory tariffs that will hurt the country much more than jobs lost to imported steel ever would. I pleaded with them that even if Bush was in their minds a bad president, Kerry could not help but be worse.

He will appoint judges that believe in a "living constitution" - the idea advocated by Bruce Ackerman that you can ammend the constitution not just through traditional means, but by a popular reinterpretation of the document. He will raise spending signficantly more than bush - his programs come in at over $2 trillion on paper. If you use the old rule of thumb that you multiply a government program's stated initial cost by three to get its eventual cost, you end up $6 trillion - of which he can find, AT BEST $800 billion (more likely much less) to pay for them. His diplomatic policy towards North Korea is dangerous (he wants to remove China from the bargaining table, which is the only country that has any real leverage). Along with his stated belief of a need for meeting a "global test" before international action, there is little evidence that he will take an internationally unpopular action that is in our nation's best interest when the two diverge. Add his increase on demogouery over Bush on issues dealing with international trade, and we will have a disaster on our hands.

The arguments went on and on. Many have not been put in this post, but I can't remember them at this time. The crowd grew larger and more calm as they heard my answers, but then new angry people would come in, demand answers to the same or similiar questions, and then start fighting with those that had heard my answers as they wanted more. In the end I don't know how many, if any minds I changed today. But I do know that one kid told my mother he learned more from listening to me in one day than he had by reading the BBC, the NYTimes, and other publications in the past year. Another high school teacher told my mom that she was going to make my blog required reading for her class so they could be better informed. So maybe I made a small difference after all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Another Voice
Famous blogger Lorie of Polipundit joins most of my immediate family (ironically, recently converted by me to the Republican cause) in trying to convince me to vote Republican in this election:

Oh, Elliot, go ahead and vote for Bush. I can tell that even though you disagree with him on some issues, that you want to vote Bush, and besides, I disagree with you – every vote DOES count.

If I didn't have any desire to vote for Bush or Badarnik I would have already made up my mind. Besides it is more than "some issues" that I disagree with Bush on. Bush sold us down the river by (a) Supporting Affirmative Action (b) Instituing Steel Tariffs (c) Passing an egregious farm subsidy bill (d) Passing the biggest entitlement in recent history - the prescription drug bill at a cost of over $500 billion and counting (and lying to the Republican House about the true cost of the bill, which he claimed to be at $300 billion) (e) Presiding over the largest growth in domestic spending since Carter (no defense/homeland security spending does not account for all of it). Additionally, I personally disagree with Bush on (a) His attempts to pass the Federal Marriage Ammendment (b) His continuance of the War on Drugs (c) His efforts to federalize education (d) His limitations on Stem Cell Research. So it isn't a few issues that I disagree with Bush on. Its a lot - I just happen to hammer the democrats more because I think they are far worse.

Anyway, I have changed my decision several times in the past day. As I stated before, it will come down to who will I enjoy voting for more - Bush or Badarnik? Additionally, while I agree with Lorie that my vote "counts" towards the final result, it will not be the vote that swings the election - so if my goal is to elect Bush or Kerry, voting is not the way to success (Bush will win or lose regardless of my vote). Thus, as I said earlier, I have to base my vote on some other category - such as which I will enjoy voting for more.

Either way, I will be volunteering for the Bush Campaign off and on until the end of the election.
Off to Volunteer
Hey, if nobody at Stanford can debate me, why shouldn't I put my skills to use in Stark County, Ohio, while I'm in town? I'm off to volunteer for the Bush campaign for the day. No, this does not mean I am voting for him (I'm leaning heavily Badarnik). But I support the President over Kerry, and I'm willing to put my time that I should be using for studying to help him swing the county that swings the state that will swing the election.
Crack Cocaine for Votes in Ohio
And who ever said voter registration efforts were "non partisan?" Anyway, enjoy the read. And no Clint, this will not affect my decision whether to vote. I've made up my mind - I just want to rest on it.