Saturday, December 13, 2008

One Bazillion Points to Colin Powell

Gen. Colin Powell may have a bunch of stains on his conscience regarding the run up to the Iraq War, but he gets a lot of redemption for one line in this interview with Fareed Zakeria:
When [Gov. Palin] talked about small town values are good -- well most of us don't live in small towns. I was raised in the South Bronx, and there's nothing wrong with my value system from the South Bronx.

This anti-urbanist streak of the GOP is not just anti-liberal ("San Francisco Values" -- though that's also code for anti-gay). It's also both implicitly anti-Black, casting itself against the dark faces of the inner city, and anti-Jewish, as Jews are predominantly centered in and around cities and are the quintissential embodiment of the "cosmopolitanism" that Rudy Giuliani (of all people!) railed against at the RNC. Yet we cower to the idea that being from Wasilla, Alaska, makes one better than someone from Bethesda, Maryland, or the South Bronx, New York. It's good to see Gen. Powell take a stand against that fundamentally divisive and anti-patriotic sentiment.

Give The Seat Back

Rep.-elect Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-LA) is the guy who took out scandal plagued Democrat William Jefferson to win in an ocean-blue Louisiana district. Cao, the first Vietnamese-American to serve in Congress, will be representing a district that is 64% African-American. So, understandably, he's looking to do some outreach. And Newt Gingrich is offering to help:
By midmorning Cao was interrupting an interview to take a call from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who offered good wishes and, Cao said, counseled him "to reach out to the African-American community." Cao said Gingrich offered to act as a go-between.

Now, part of me is sympathetic: It's hard to admit to yourself that a large swath of the American population finds you loathsome. But still, some self-awareness is in order here. Pat Buchanan seems reasonably aware that he is not a popular figure amongst Jews (he doesn't think it's just, but he does acknowledge it). Gingrich can reasonably be expected to know he is not the most popular figure amongst American Blacks.

H/T: Steve Benen. Also, while I don't know enough about Cao to register an opinion (though anybody who knocks of Jefferson scores points in my book, and what I have seen so far has been positive), I can already say I like his wife:
On Monday his wife, Hieu Phuong Hoang, who goes by Kate, celebrated Cao's victory by calling Walgreens, where she worked as a pharmacist, and quitting her job.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Quote of the Evening

Sherry Gorelick, Response To Finkel & Muraskin: Focus On The Lessons, New Politics No. 43:
If we build on Marx's perception, in his essay "On the Jewish Question," that the supposedly secular State in Christian society is deeply Christian, we can begin to understand what Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz has dubbed "Christianism." In her essay, "Jews in the U.S.: The Rising Cost of Whiteness" (in Names We Call Home: Essays on Racial Identity, ed. Becky Thompson & Sangeeta Tyagi [New York & London: Routledge, 1996]), Kaye/Kantrowitz says "In the U.S., Christian, like white, is an unmarked category in need of marking. Christianness, a majority, dominant culture, is not only about religious practice and belief, any more than Jewishness is. As racism names the system that normalizes, honors and rewards whiteness, we need a word for what normalizes, honors and rewards Christianity," an invisible, taken-for-granted system of domination that affects Muslims and other non-Christians as well as Jews (and, one might add, atheists and other secular people regardless of origin).

Via Ignoblus.

Also of note: Gorelick is anti-Zionist Jewish socialist writer. Honestly, I find that welcome: I'm not a fan of anti-Zionism, but if you're going to swing it, it has to take more seriously what Gorelick calls "Christianism" in the Western schema than do most anti-Zionist writers (Jewish or not).

Jill Will Not Be Getting Jewelry From Me This Year

But Sarah Haskins might:


(Love to Jill too. And don't worry -- she loves Sarah Haskins almost as much as I do).

UPDATE: Can't get it to embed, but you can see it here.

Loss of Faith

After the Blago corruption story broke, Michael of Southern Appeal asked "Do corruption stories ever give big-government aficionados any real worry?" A libertarian leaning friend of mine here at UC asked me roughly the same question. My response was twofold: first, corruption in Illinois state politics is hardly something shocking, so no, I'm not having a crisis of faith, and second, to the extent this is indictment of "big government", it's roughly on par to the effect your average "MegaCorp dumps a billion gallons of toxic waste into local waterways -- local children spotted with extra limbs" has on the die-hard free marketers.

In the vein of the latter, out comes another Wall Street scandal (via Balloon Juice):
Bernard L. Madoff, a legend among Wall Street traders, was arrested on Thursday morning by federal agents and charged with criminal securities fraud stemming from his company’s money management business.

The arrest and criminal complaint were confirmed just before 6 p.m. Thursday by Lev L. Dassin, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and Mark Mershon, the assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the complaint, Mr. Madoff advised colleagues at the firm on Wednesday that his investment advisory business was “all just one big lie” that was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme” that, by his estimate, had lost $50 billion over many years.

Fun fact: I never thought I'd see a business executive describe his own malfeasance as "a giant Ponzi scheme" outside a Dilbert strip.

Exam One Done

I even wrote three more pages than I did on any practice exam, and I've yet to see a better predictor of success for law school exams than "length". Certainly, "how I felt after finishing" doesn't even come close.

Fingers crossed, but I won't get any results until February, probably.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Study Break

My first law school exam, in Civil Procedure, is tomorrow morning, and I've been studying hard all week. Of course, too much studying leads to stress and burnout, and we don't want that. So I spent most of today ignoring my books and playing a downloaded ROM of Final Fantasy VII instead.*

It's a brilliant move, I tell you!

* In a shocking upset, this might not actually be illegal, as I own both an original playstation and FF7 (although neither is with me currently).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Does Harry Reid Have To Choke a Bitch?

Ezra Klein relays a story from Harry Reid's past explaining his hardball approach to any last-minute shenanigans from Rod Blagojevich:
In July of 1978, a man named Jack Gordon, who was later married to LaToya Jackson, offered Reid twelve thousand dollars to approve two new, carnival-like gaming devices for casino use. Reid reported the attempted bribe to the F.B.I. and arranged a meeting with Gordon in his office. By agreement, F.B.I. agents burst in to arrest Gordon at the point where Reid asked, “Is this the money?” Although he was taking part in a sting, Reid was unable to control his temper; the videotape shows him getting up from his chair and saying, “You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!” and attempting to choke Gordon, before startled agents pulled him off. “I was so angry with him for thinking he could bribe me,” Reid said, explaining his theatrical outburst. Gordon was convicted in federal court in 1979 and sentenced to six months in prison.

Yikes. Watch out, Blago.


Law professor complaining about too many footnotes in Delaware judicial opinions = least sympathetic claim ever? Discuss.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yenta for Senator!

JTA has a profile on Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who has emerged as a leading candidate for Barack Obama's senate seat in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich scandal (mostly because Blagojevich apparently wasn't considering her at all). Here's my favorite paragraph:
Schakowsky is among the most liberal lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is one of the few in the body who can claim opposition to the Iraq War from its outset. Her record is solidly pro-Israel, and she conveys a Jewish mother vibe, actively seeking out dates for her unmarried staff.

A liberal Jewish mother who is anti-Iraq war and solidly pro-Israel? What more could a guy ask for? Of course, it doesn't help hurt that she's close to both Rahm Emanuel, and probably soon-to-be Governor, current Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

Blackwell for RNC?

I didn't know former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was in the running to be the new RNC chief until I read that Steve Forbes had endorsed him. The field is crowded to begin with, but this above all is bad news for Michael Steele: Blackwell is African-American, but doesn't use scary egalitarian rhetoric of inclusion, and has the advantage of being (in contrast to the former Republican Leadership Council affiliated Steele), absolutely crazy to boot.

Dodging Bullets

As Jason Zenegrle points out, the Rod Blagojevich scandal was this close to being an outright disaster for Barack Obama. If Obama had engaged in even a little quid pro quo for Blago's favor, it'd have been caught entirely on tape, and his presidency would be ruined before it started. Instead, Obama gets a rousing endorsement of his incorruptability through Blagojevich yelling futilely into the phone "Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him."

Meanwhile Spencer Ackerman marvels at the sheer gangsta displayed by the Illinois Governor, while Adam Serwer calls it an act of self-suicide of Scarface proportions and Ta-Nehisi Coates goes with the simple but evocative "inter-stellar fail".

Meanwhile, in (slightly) better news for the soon to be ex-gov, Eugene Volokh wonders if one of his alleged acts of corruption really ought be considered illegal at all.

Revenge of the Blip

Lay observers who watched a good old fashioned spread debater in high school LD invariably come out appalled. What possible use does this serve? What is the educational value? When will you ever be faced with a situation where the goal is to spit out as much information as possible with reckless disregard for accuracy or even coherency?

The answer, my friends, is a law school final. Years of debate training have finally paid off.

Corruption Machine

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on allegations that he tried to literally sell the appointment to the Senate seat currently held by Barack Obama. Anybody who even remotely follows Illinois politics is, shall we say, less than surprised, as Blago has quite the reputation for sleaze.

Word is that federal prosecutors received a tip from none other than Rahm Emanuel, Chicago-area Congressman and Obama's to-be chief of staff. That'd be a nice touch -- in addition to adding to the "don't mess with Rahm-bo" vibe, it's a good thing when Democrats don't tolerate their fellows corruption.

Indeed, with William Jefferson knocked out of office and Blago looking to follow him to federal prison, the Democratic Party is losing two of its biggest blights in the space of a week. As far as I'm concerned, this is good news.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You Know What That Makes Us?

Karl Rove is set to reveal a new class of big damn heroes:
Enemies of President Bush take heed: Karl Rove is set to name names.

The man widely credited with Bush's two presidential victories says his new book will include an accounting of those in Washington who never accepted the president as a legitimate commander-in-chief.

"I've got behind-the-scenes episodes that are going to show how unreceiving they were of this man as president of the United States," Rove told Cox News in an interview published Sunday. "I'm going to name names and show examples."

Given the reputation President Bush is leaving office with, I'm sure these guys are just quaking in their boots that they might be revealed as "enemies" of the administration.

Great Moments in Airline Routing

If I want to fly from Minneapolis to Chicago for anything approaching a reasonable price, I have to connect through Atlanta. Because Chicago's not, like, a major hub or anything. And I'm pretty sure that if I fly from DC to Minneapolis, I have to connect in ... Chicago. Maybe they just can't imagine anyone would want spend more than a two hour layover in the Windy City.

Amtrak it is, then.

Supreme Court Denies Review of Obama Citizenship Case

Unsurprising. The article says what I suspected but was unsure of -- that both the orders of Justice Souter and Justice Thomas were routine decisions that had nothing to do with the merits of the case itself.

The Obama case was dismissed on "standing" grounds, which is essentially the doctrine the courts use to avoid hearing cases they really don't want to hear (see also: The Pledge case). Now, courts do this all the time, but there is something admittedly unseemly about it. If a Justice who is particularly incensed about the practice is faced with a case such as this, what is he do? Should he just let it slide because it'd be really awkward for the court to hear the issue?

The answer might be that the judge should wait for a less politically charged case to present itself with the same issue. The problem is that elections are always politically charged (albeit some less so than this), and in any event, that sort of thinking is precisely the sort that points towards these faux-standing rulings in the first place. So I can imagine a somewhat ornery judge trying to make trouble for his colleagues by sending a message that he thinks they are engaging in extra-legal reasoning -- a point that can be made while still thinking the underlying merits of the case are absolute garbage.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Link Disgorgement

I took my first practice exam yesterday. It could have gone worse, which is all I'm asking for at this point. Unfortunately, I still have another week of study study study. Blegh. In the meantime, a roundup comes your way:

Kenya's President calls for troops, African or otherwise, to come and overthrow Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

The Vatican has come out against a UN resolution urging the decriminalization of homosexuality -- the only European state taking that stance. In a world where gays and lesbians can still be legally stoned in some places, this is an unconscionable decision and a formal decision to cooperate with intrinsic evil.

If Mary Beth Maxwell is appointed to be Secretary of Labor, as is rumored, she would be the first openly gay person to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Speaking of cabinet appointees, Spencer Ackerman and Hilzoy wax lyrical about the appointment of retired Army General Eric Shinseki to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Blackwater employees alleged to have killed 17 Iraqi civilians in a shooting spree have surrendered to authorities in Utah, where they are hoping to be tried (instead of the presumably less friendly Washington). The Iraqi public rejoyced upon hearing the news.

Tragically for my plans to rib them over Winter Break, my parents appear to have born about a decade too early to officially have been part of the dumbest generation.

Finally, if you haven't seen this episode of blogging heads TV, featuring the brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates and the recently shot Brian Beutler (who by all accounts is also brilliant, but who I haven't really read), you really need to. I don't recommend BHTV that often, but this edition, focusing on street crime through the lens of Beutler's incident, is phenomenal.

Has Anyone Checked To See If The Philippines Are Still Intact?

Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao on what by all accounts was a dominating victory over boxing's biggest star. I didn't believe he could do it, and I certainly never dreamed it would come by stoppage.


Oh, and in answer to my question, The International Herald Tribune reports that the country basically came to a halt on Saturday -- including a one-day ceasefire between government forces and Muslim insurgents.