The robes probably smell like mothballs, too

November 22nd, 2009

A little sports story in Mississippi has turned into quite the hullabaloo. The University of Mississippi (or “Ole Miss”) band had been playing a song during football games called “From Dixie With Love.” At the end of the song, a contingent of students and fans recently started chanting “The South will rise again!” Anyway, long story short, the school administration banned the song, hoping to quell the chant. Many Rebel fans were upset, but I’m not writing to get into the merits of that call.

The controversy of the banning of the “Dixie” song led to some yokels in the Ku Klux Klan to announce they would show up at this Saturday’s game in protest. I believe the quote was that they wanted to prevent Ole Miss from turning into “another liberal sodomite college.” (Hey, doesn’t everybody do a little experimenting in college?)

Well, the Kluxers showed up all right — about a half-dozen of them. Not exactly a terrorizing turnout for observers. And while the small number of idiots (and the high number of counter-protesters) is a good sign, my favorite image from the “rally” is their flag. In the picture above, which I first saw at Dr. Saturday, notice how perfectly creased the Confederate battle flag is. That thing’s spent a whole lot of time folded up in storage. You know those guys haven’t done much night-riding and marching and whatnot if they haven’t even bothered to iron the creases out of their flag. Or maybe they leave that to the KKK Ladies’ Auxiliary. In any event, a pretty sorry demonstration.

Controversy = Page hits

November 12th, 2009

I’m about to post a thought that occurred to me about the House health care bill, and more specifically the Stupak amendment that secured its passage. I’m not going to weigh in on abortion as a practice. Honestly I doubt it’s even in my top 10 issues I care about when it comes to politics, and I think the bill is horrible regardless of how it’s dealt with. However, many liberal blogs are unsurprisingly outraged about it. Over at the Tapped blog there are many posts railing about the amendment, and there is a great deal of effort to refer to the issue as “reproductive health”. After all, if it’s got health in the name, it must have to be included in a health care bill.

But the question I have has to do more with the basic nature of insurance itself, at least as we currently know it. Insurance does not cover elective procedures. If it’s not medically necessary, insurance doesn’t pay for it. My Lasik surgery payments are proof of that. Abortion, except in obvious exceptions, is essentially an elective procedure. It’s right there in the name of the supporters, Pro-CHOICE. In most cases, it’s a choice made by the woman or couple based on lifestyle choice, not on medical health. So why should insurance cover this particular elective procedure and not others?

I will see your cheesy prop gag, and raise

October 26th, 2009

So recently several DNC members bought mops and took them the RNC headquarters in response to Obama’s call for healthcare critics to “grab a mop” and help clean up the mess. I’m all for gag gifts. The Democrats have shown a penchant for them recently as well, especially with Hillary’s Russian Easy button.

The only proper response from the RNC is to respond with a similar gesture. I suggest they go slightly higher end (and stimulate the economy a little more) and deliver a Dyson vacuum to the DNC headquarters. The rational being that the Democrats will need it to suck all the money out of taxpayers’ wallets to pay for their plan.

I’mma let you finish but…

October 19th, 2009

Can’t believe I never thought of this before: Blegging the Question.

Please read my pitiful bleg at my usual place. If you don’t want to click over, basically it says someone needs to buy me some See’s pumpkin spice lollipops, which are already sold out and I just cannot wait another year to get some.

Kanye brought to you by I’m A Let You Finish

Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt

October 7th, 2009

This week marks the opening of another Supreme Court Term, and Court-watchers have been eager to see how new Justice Sonia Sotomayor settles into her role. I’ve read a few of the early transcripts, and have noticed (as have others here and here; links via How Appealing) that Justice Sotomayor had no problem asking plenty of questions during the arguments. That’s fine and all, and I’m glad she’s willing to be herself and hold her own with some of the more vigorous questioners, even if I don’t think every one of her questions was really necessary. However, it’s a long Term, and they have life tenure — this will cease to be remarkable very soon. So on the whole, I didn’t draw any major conclusions from it.

Amanda Terkel at Think Progress wasn’t so reluctant to find meaning in this. She quotes news articles noting that Justice Sotomayor asked more questions in her first hour on the bench than Justice Clarence Thomas has in years. She appends a photo of a bored-looking Justice Thomas, although he’s not wearing a robe, and they don’t allow photography at the Court, so it’s not necessarily an accurate representation of how he is on the bench. (For the record, I have seen Justices, including Thomas, looking bored during arguments; it’s usually because the cases were boring.)

The comments at TP jump to the conclusion Terkel refrains from making explicitly: that Justice Thomas is incompetent, and his decision not to ask questions very often during arguments is proof of it. Well, to be fair, I could only stand to read about fifty of the comments, but I feel safe in calling them a representative sample. Lest there be any doubt, the maxim in the subject line of this post refers not to Justice Thomas, but to the commenters.

I’m not going to re-hash my defense of Justice Thomas’s practice of keeping his own counsel during arguments. I laid it out here over four years ago. As was the case then, I don’t agree with much of Justice Thomas’s jurisprudence (the notable exceptions being free speech and sentencing), but I have no problem at all with one fewer questioner on what is probably, on average, the nation’s hottest bench.

I have heard many, many lawyers complain that judges asked so many questions raising so many tangents and distractions that they weren’t able to make their case during an argument. No one likes a completely cold bench, but they appreciate some opportunity to do the job they came to do. If Justice Thomas asked questions at the rate Justices Sotomayor, Scalia, or Breyer do, the lawyers would barely be able to eek out a “May it please the Court…” and probably couldn’t finish a whole sentence interrupted. Hell, sometimes it’s that bad now, and that’s with only eight of them asking questions!

Read my original post for the longer defense, but I’ll mention two things briefly. First, I cited a couple of cases where Justice Thomas did ask a question, and they were the most perceptive, incisive, and important questions in the cases. The second point is related: people who think Justice Thomas is a dummy are themselves dumb, because they pay no attention to the vast evidence to the contrary.

As Steve “Feddie” Dillard has noted a million times, Justice Thomas is the Justice most willing to re-consider Supreme Court precedent, so any litigant would be wise to engage his views on the merits, especially if one wants to overturn a long string of cases (or wants to avoid that result). The opposite approach — the intellectual laziness displayed in the TP comments — is at best unwise and at worst flat-out embarrassing. It certainly does no favors to those who find honest disagreement with his views and raise those disagreements head-on before the Court.

As for Justice Sotomayor, I don’t think she’ll turn out to be “Obama’s Souter,” but I doubt her penchant for asking questions will save her from obloquy at TP the first time she votes against their preferred outcome.

Eat Mor Ethix

October 2nd, 2009

Recently, I had a craving for some Chick-fil-A. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and as everyone knows, Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sundays. I won’t get into the merits of that decision, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the business. But anyway, the whole thing prompted a discussion between me and a friend about whether Chick-fil-A franchise owners can (or do) drop in on the occasional Sunday, turn on the fryer, and enjoy a nice after-church chicken sandwich. My position was that this would be one of the primary perks of being a franchise owner: a set of keys that work on Sundays. My friend was practically aghast at the notion that a manager would violate the sacred bond of franchisor-franchisee just for some waffle fries and some fricassee. All I know is, if it were me, I would not only go in on Sundays and make my own food, but I would sit by the window so passing traffic could see me and get jealous.

So, I put myself upon the country: Am I totally out to lunch here? Would you slip in the back door and have a Sabbath sandwich? Does your answer depend on whether Chick-fil-A headquarters would approve of a manager’s Sunday luncheon? Your answer might affect how I use my life savings.

Statutory Trivia Question: UPDATED with answer

September 1st, 2009

What federal crime is required to be reported to a judge instead of a law enforcement officer?

I’ll update this post with the answer later in the week.

UPDATE: I got the guesses I was expecting, perjury and contempt, which are typically crimes against the judicial process, and so one might expect them to be reported to judges. But in some ways, E. McPan had the closest guess, with barratry. Barratry is an old common-law offense.

And so is the answer to my trivia question, treason. I know that’s not intuitive, but there is a federal crime called misprision of treason. “Misprision” is basically the offense of knowing about a crime but not reporting it. Most jurisdictions have done away with the concept that one has a duty to report a crime one simply knows about (mere knowledge being short of assisting, criminalized as aiding and abetting or being an accessory). But some retain the crime of “misprision of felony,” which is knowing about a felony but not reporting it. Under the federal code, it’s a misdemeanor, codified at 18 U.S.C. sec. 4.

Misprision of treason, then, is what it sounds like: knowing about treason but not reporting it. But the misprision of treason statute, 18 U.S.C. sec. 2382, states as follows:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States and having knowledge of the commission of any treason against them, conceals and does not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President or to some judge of the United States, or to the governor or to some judge or justice of a particular State, is guilty of misprision of treason and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than seven years, or both.

So, if you owe allegiance to the United States (we’ll save for another day how broad that category is), and know about treason, you have to report it to a judge or the president or governor. And while the misprision of felony statute allows for reporting to any “person in civil or military authority,” which I assume would include an ordinary law enforcement officer, the misprision of treason statute requires that treasons be reported to specific authorities, including judges. I suppose my question might be considered a trick question if you think that the president or a governor are “law enforcement officers,” given that they’re at the head of the executive branch, and kind of at the top of that chain of command. But that makes the question less fun.

How would you like your meth-tini, sir?

August 25th, 2009

Shaken or stirred?

The post wherein I ask you to support my point of view, just so I can feel like I’m right

August 19th, 2009

Let’s pretend I do criminal cases. Let’s further pretend that a non-lawyer (let’s say, a student intern) is personally familiar with a defendant and the victim. As in, he used to hang out with Defendant when he was younger. You know, before Defendant murdered his (the defendant’s, not the intern’s) dad.

When the case got to us, Pretend Intern wanted to be very involved. I personally thought it was somehow inappropriate, although I suppose anyone could find out the same stuff by attending the trial. I couldn’t really articulate a good reason for him not to have any involvement whatsoever and I wasn’t the attorney on the case, so I didn’t have a lot of pull there.

So we get the stuff in, and when he saw the crime scene photos, he got really upset. Gee, surprising? I tried to convey my concerns about him getting upset beforehand to the attorney handling the case, but he brushed me off. Even after witnessing the Pretend Intern getting upset, he still didn’t think that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to let him handle this stuff. I mean, nobody (except maybe necrophiliacs) really likes seeing dead bodies, and I imagine it’s even worse when it’s someone you know.

I was kind of mad at the attorney for not being more proactive. I felt like he should not have let Pretend Intern look at the stuff, and/or not keep him on the case, and/or at least prepared him for looking at the stuff. I opined at great length with colleagues, and nobody really sided with me. Some thought the intern knew what he was getting into and that he was a grownup and that he chose to look at the file, knowing that it was a murder. Some thought that the attorney didn’t have a responsibility to try to shield Pretend Intern.

Maybe I’m just too hard on this attorney because he irritates me on a regular basis. Maybe I’m being hypercritical because I’m not overly fond of this attorney or maybe I have a right to feel like he should have done something. I don’t know what, but something. Or maybe I should just mind my own business.

Netbook Thoughts?

August 16th, 2009

I’m thinking about getting a netbook. Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations? Also, I don’t have wireless at home, so what do I need to know about getting wireless for the netbook? Thanks.