Saturday, May 31, 2008

Since There's A Michigan Connection

I seems that there are people that read the blog that live in Michigan or did, so here’s a stream of consciousness ode to the hand state:

US 24: Telegraph Road.

Southfield Road (later a freeway).

Briggs Stadium.

Joe Lewis Arena (?).


Lafayette and American Coney Island restaurants (Onassis don’t get it).

Big Boy: hot fudge something or other desserts.

I-94: perpetually under reconstruction since man built roads.



Frankenmuth: Christmas decorations and more importantly all you can eatfamily style chicken dinners at Zenders and the other place.

Interlachen, a beautiful, musical place in the woods.

Joe Muirs, not to be confused with its later incarnations: steamed mussels, clams, clarified butter, bread, butter and creamed spinach before creamed spinach was cool.

The Tulip Festival in Holland

The cool place somewhere off of I-94 where everything was off balance (near Irish Hills): the ground looked level; but you were walking up hill (the Mystery Spot, I think).

M-22 in the Fall on the Lelenau Peninsula. One of the most beautiful places on earth.

Downtown Ann Arbor near the U of M campus where I was driving years ago and almost ran into a building when I stared too long at the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen, who was jogging slowly in running shorts and a white, sweaty tank top. (A confession, she was a strawberry blonde with amazing freckles. That may be objectification, so be it.) (For those of you that have been around for awhile, think of Phoebe Cates coming out of the pool, with a wet T-shirt and the strawberry thing going on. Am I getting any criticism for almost running into a building?) (Sorry dilf, I’m sure such goddesses populate East Lansing, I just never saw them.)

Can’t top that, so I’ll quit now.

Obama, Religion and the 2008 Election

Most presidential races have their sideshows, this year we are seeing a race to the bottom by religious advisors. By my count, McCain and Obama are tied for embarrassing religious sidekicks at two each; though, Obama gets extra points in the boisterous and colorful categories. Wackiness is dead even.

Goofy religious involvement in politics used to be the province of the Republicans, ala Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the like.

I don’t really count the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton as members of the wacky religious movement. Wacky yes; but, the religious aspect of their agendas’ has always been less than window dressing for their political aims. That is coupled with the fact that other Democrats have always held them at arms length.

I’m betting that both McCain and Obama miss the relative decorum of Robertson, Falwell, Jackson and Sharpton, all of whom had honed their public personas and were predictable.

The new guys are second tier (or new wave?) political whores, latching on to politicians not as true believers, rather, as seeking recognition for themselves. Given their goal, they aren’t controllable by the candidates. They also aren’t as smooth as their predecessors. Goofiness aside, Robertson, Falwell, Jackson and Sharpton could always clean up their act for general consumption (well maybe not Sharpton). These new guys haven’t mastered the chameleon qualities necessary for the national stage, especially Obama's two guys from Chicago.

Though I can’t think of a segue, and with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, and you my readers, here’s a song for Sen. Obama:

And here's to you, Barry O
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Barry O
Heaven holds a place for those who pray (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

And here's to you, Barry O
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Barry O
Heaven holds a place for those who pray (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes
Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes
It's a little secret, just the Obamas' affair
Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids

Coo, coo, ca-choo, Barry O
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Barry O
Heaven holds a place for those who pray (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Ev'ry way you look at it, you lose

Where have you gone, MLK
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
What's that you say, Barry O
MLK has left and gone away (Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Don't Get It

I use It tells me who comes here, when, and sometimes, why.

As to the why, I am the number one site in the cyber universe for the “Federal Judge Song” which I’ve posted about before.

Now, people around the world are doing Google searches for “rather than” and rather than. Guess who they get?

We aren't talking a few people, tens, scores. More than a hundred over the last months. What are they looking for? If I knew, I’d do a post that, like the Federal Judge Song, got them where they want to be; but, the why just escapes me.

If any of you have a clue, please, let me know. If we can’t figure this out, I’m left with contacting Google and insisting that it alter its algorithm to exclude me from the quixotic search of these poor people. What, oh what, do they seek?

Friday Funding

Courtesy of Taxpayers for Common Sense here are some earmarks from the 2008 Federal Budget:

Abundant Life Church of God Family and Group Counseling Program
New York, Rep. Israel (D) $24,000.00.

Advanced is a very popular word in the descriptions of the earmarks, easily, a couple of hundred start with it:

Advanced Research to Further National Security Goals.
New York, Reps. Lowery and Nader (D) $1,000,000.

Affordable Weapon System.
Perhaps an advanced slingshot system?
California, Rep. Hunter (R) $15,200,000.

Alien Species Action Plan, Kahului Airport.
I know, it’s alien versus domestic, not human.
Hawaii, Sen. Inouye (D), $1,225,000.

Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, Denver, CO for a naturally occurring retirement communities demonstration project.
If they’re naturally occurring why do we have to spend money on them? Shouldn’t the demonstration project be getting a bunch of people on a bus, driving to one and saying over the PA system “There’s a naturally occurring retirement community, there’s more where it came from.”
Colorado, Rep. DeGette (D) $287,000.

Alternative Salmon Products, AK.
Where’s George Washington Carver when we need him?
Alaska, Sen. Stevens (King of Earmarks) (R) $818,000.

That takes us half way through the A’s. If, I’m bored in the near future, I’ll continue the series.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Which Do You Want First...

the good or the bad news?

Let’s save the good for the end.

You’ve all heard Hillary Clinton say we should elect her because she’d be ready to make the hard decisions “from day one.” Turns out the President would have been lying to us had he made the same statement.

We’ve had “mission accomplished,” “stay the course,” “surges,” making nice with the Sunni tribal leaders and other pronouncements by the Bush administration about “success” in Iraq. Now we learn that the President’s administration is “learning as we go.” He also has the gall to say that he can’t define the word success:

"In the past, that was relatively easy to do," he said. "There were public surrenders, a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship, victory parades in American cities. Today, when the war continues after the regime has fallen, the definition of success is more complicated."

So, with six months and change to go, the President admits that he’s in the middle of a trial and error process on his way to a result that he can’t identify “He described the effort as a "battle of wills" and said loss will come only "if we defeat ourselves."

“Georgie, facing that bully on the playground is a test of your will, are you stronger than Tommy or not?

“Dad, I don’t know, he’s tough.”

“Son, the only way you’re going to lose is if you defeat yourself. The bullies of the world always back down if you stare them in the face.”

“Gosh Dad, you’re right, I’m just going to march up to Tommy and watch him turn tail and run! Who’ll be laughing then?”

Enough of that. For good news we have Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of all Time at

I don’t know that I’d have given “Teen Spirit” its high position.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


From on Saturday:

“And Representative Paul C. Broun, Republican of Georgia, said: ‘Of course Americans engage in propaganda. It’s a vital part of the mission of the United States to promote democracy and protect our country from harm.’”

Representative Broun represents the 10th Congressional District which is Northeast Georgia. His quote was in an article about two new investigations of the retired officers scandal earlier this year when it was revealed that the Pentagon was feeding “military analysts” misinformation that they were passing on in interviews in newspapers and on TV.

In a realpolitik, “we’re in a war” context, I don’t have a problem with propaganda, “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”

But, that isn’t what the Pentagon and the retired military officers were doing. From the original article on April 20th:

“Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as ‘message force multipliers’ or ‘surrogates; who could be counted on to deliver administration ‘themes and messages; to millions of Americans ‘in the form of their own opinions.’”


“Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: ‘I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.’”

So, the Bush Administration lied to us, for no reason other than to not look bad; and Rep. Broun thinks this is good thing, an effort to “protect democracy.” I disagree.

It's interesting to note that Mr. Broun's website says he judges legislation based on four factors. The first is "Is it moral/right?" I guess he's OK on the lying to look good thing by the Administration since there was no legislation involved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Homosexuality, Competence and Kindness

I saw Big Rick at the neighborhood bar today. He said he was a bit worried about my obsession with gay rights and political stuff in the blog this week. I said something about him being unsure of his masculinity. I mentioned my story about my father posted earlier today that is drawing some nice comments. We went on to talk about coffee beans. All of which leads me to this post. Funny how that happens.

On the way to the bar, I had stopped at the coffee store. Not a Starbucks or another chain, Atlanta Coffee Roasters in the Toco Hills shopping center.

For some years now, I’ve bought beans, ground them and brewed them in a coffee press. I usually only make coffee on the weekend (weekday mornings a cup from QuikTrip makes do). The trick to great coffee is freshly roasted beans. Beans roasted today are better than those roasted yesterday. That being the case, you want to buy fresh and then store them in the dark in an airtight container, some say in the freezer, some disagree.

So, I buy a half-pound at a time. I used to get coffee at a great shop in Marietta, Cool Beans; but, it’s a bit far away and I’ve been going to the shop at Toco Hills for a while now. I’ve never liked it, not because of the product, rather because of the cold workers. No smiles, no interest in helping you as you choose what you want to buy. Today that was different.

The young barista (I hate that word) smiled and asked if she could help me. (It probably didn’t hurt that she was a cute young Emory student if her shirt was telling the truth.) I asked what was recently roasted. She wasn’t sure and went into the back to get the roasting records. I settled on a Costa Rican bean that had been roasted the day before. She paused and then said “I’m not sure what’s on the counter is what was roasted yesterday, let me check in the back.” She came back out with a bag that was the newest roast and weighed my purchase. As I paid, I thanked her for going out of her way for me. In return, I got a beaming smile “I knew if you were smart enough to ask about what was the freshest, you wouldn’t want what wasn’t. I’m the same way. Did you notice I didn’t ask you if you wanted the beans ground (a mortal coffee sin)?”

We then talked about her experiencing Kona coffee roasted a half hour before being brewed before I went on my way.

That’s the competence part of the post.

To go back to my father, as you know from my last post, the UPS guy showed him kindness at the end of his life; but that wasn’t the only expression of it that he received.

He underwent radiation therapy. I went home to visit him towards the end.

In the middle of a conversation, he said, “You want to see my flowers?”

“Your flowers?”

He unbuttoned his shirt and showed me three black magic marker dots in the center of three multi-colored magic marker flowers on his chest.

“When I went in the first time I was really nervous. The girl (people my father’s age called any woman of a certain young age “girl” whether she was a waitress, a doctor or the radiation technician that he met that day) said don’t worry, ‘I’ve got to mess up your chest with this ugly marker for the machine and it won’t wash off too soon; so, if you don’t mind can I make the dots look better with a flower?’ I said OK, but I wasn’t sure. She did pretty good don’t you think?”

“Why are you looking that way? Don’t do that.”

Being the stoic people that we are, he gave me time to get that look, and the liquid, off of my face.

So, how do homosexuality, competence and a double dose of kindness come together?

We might not need my precious Bill of Rights and legalistic arguments if we all learned from the UPS guys, cute baristas and hospital girls of the world. Three people that went out of their way to do right. I’m thinking if you put them together in a room they’d get along nicely. I’m also thinking that there are many more like them out there in the world. They might teach a thing or two to the Reverend Wrights and Hagees of the world. The Bushes and Cheneys. The Jacksons and Sharptons. As cussed, as I call it, as we all are, I still often wonder why so much of our lives embrace conflict.

The UPS Guy

My father died of cancer back in 1991. It came on in late Winter and he was gone pretty quickly on Memorial Day.

My parents lived out in the country in northern lower Michigan, about thirty miles northwest of Cadillac. Their next door neighbor had a fruit and vegetable farm (strawberries, cucumber pickles) and was a commercial sprinkler dealer. So, he got a lot of deliveries by UPS. The driver passed my parents house a couple of times a day. He always sounded his horn and waved if my father was in the yard.

Early in '91, my father had ordered a swing from a catalogue. A small two person swing that you can hang on a porch or from the branch of a tree. They didn't have much of a porch, more of a stoop with a roof over it. There was a huge tree in the front yard with a nice branch about ten feet up. That was the planned location for the swing.

The UPS driver delivered it and he and Dad talked about its placement. My father was pretty frail at that point. The UPS guy told him he'd come out and help him install it the first good weather weekend that came along.

A day or so later, the UPS guy was driving past and saw my father in the yard with the parts scattered around him, trying to put the swing together. He pulled into the driveway and meandered over.

"Lloyd, I told you I'd help you with this."

"I know, I just need to get this going."

"I'll tell you what, I get done about four, I can get back here maybe quarter till five and we'll get it going."

"Thanks, but that's not necessary, I can manage it."

"You can, but I can help. I'll see you in a few hours."

The UPS terminal was in Cadillac, as I said, thirty miles away. The UPS guy finished his route, turned in the truck and drove back, out of his way. They put the swing together and hung it.

Last I knew, the swing was still there.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Got to be Careful With Those Revs.

Jeremiah Wright: bad guy with fringe beliefs. Bad Obama.

John Hagee: bad guy with fringe beliefs (from whom Senator McCain has sought an endorsement for a year). Bad McCain?

Thanks to Dr. Sardonicus (see Recommended sidebar) see what Senator McCain knew, and when he knew it, as was so popular during the Watergate years:

Those Damned Activist Judges

Don't worry this is not going to turn into a legal blog, it's already too often political.

But, did you know that the word marriage does not appear in the US Constitution? It didn't appear in the Georgia constitution until 2004 when an anti gay marriage clause was added. Even that clause does not recognize a right to marry, it's one of those "unenumerated rights" reserved to the people in the ninth amendment.

So, I've done a little searching.

The word vote does not appear in the US Constitution until you get to the fifteenth amendment which barred discrimination in voting based on race, color or "previous condition of servitude. "Women got the right to vote in the nineteenth amendment. The twenty-sixth amendment lowered the age to vote to eighteen. The "right" to vote prior to passage of the amendments was inferred from the provisions for elections and the fact that people had been voting for centuries, another of one of those unenumerated rights. And, notice there is no prohibition against not letting people vote for religious reasons. Does anyone seriously think that barring say, Lutherans, from voting is constitutional?

Telephones didn't exist at the time the fourth amendment was written; yet, judges inferred that the amendment applied to government wiretapping, based on the inferred right of privacy.

The word abortion of course doesn't appear in the US Constitution, the right to provide and have one was inferred from various clauses and amendments.

My point is, I guess, that law, including constitutional law, is not static. We have a centuries long tradition of judges looking at new developments and applying law to them. Those judges aren't activists, they are doing their jobs, for better or worse, including those liberal wackos in California last week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some Nice Pictures...

of Atlanta and its people may be found here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Constitutional Debate

I did a post about the Bill of Rights the other day. I've had a couple of comments disagreeing with my position that the institution of marriage should be expanded to include people of the same sex as was done in California last week. Both comments from Pos (a smart guy) and Curmudgeon (a smart guy and a lawyer) argued that "marriage" should be a matter of a civil contract. A guy and a girl, a girl and a girl, a guy and a guy. They form a partnership and register it with the government. The government enforces their commitments to each other and that is the end of its involvement. If the couple, their family and their friends are religious, they are free to have a religious ceremony and call their partnership whatever they choose, marriage, civil union, domestic partnership. If the couple, family and friends aren't religious, they can call their partnership whatever they want to call it and have a party to celebrate it.

I agree, if, a big if, governments establish a one size fits all law for registry of such partnerships. But so far that hasn't happened; and, I don't see it happening. Our governments (read people that run them), at every level, love to meddle in our personal lives. Prime example: there's a movement gaining strength in California to pass an amendment to its constitution to define a marriage as one man and one woman so as to put those activist judges in their place. And just what does that get them? A moral victory as California has extensive "civil union" statutes giving homosexuals pretty much the same rights that heterosexuals have. The majority will get to rub the minority's collective nose in the dirt. "Nyah, nyah, we can get married, God loves us and condemns you."

Curmudgeon argues that when marriage laws were enacted in the mists of the past, consideration of same sex marriage was unthinkable. He's absolutely right. Over the centuries it has been unthinkable for black people to be thought of as human and unthinkable for a white person to marry a black person. It used to be quite thinkable for US citizens of Japanese ancestry to be interned without due process, for poor people to be thrown into jail and prison without a lawyer's representation and for police to beat "confessions" out of suspects. The list can go on. In some government quarters it is currently quite patriotic to lock people away upon suspicion of terrorism without a hearing, without evidence and without meaningful representation. My point is this, historical wrongs do not provide the legitimate basis for continuing those wrongs. (For a tour de force exposition of historical discrimination as a valid basis for current discrimination, read Chief Justice Rehnquist's majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick.)

Curmudgeon is also right that our current Supreme Court often finds ways to enhance federal power over that of the states, unless the desired outcome is better served by "reserving the matter to the states." Justice Scalia is a master at that pastime.

I agree with Curmudgeon that all of this "should" be a non-issue. The trouble is that given our species' general cussedness, discrimination is and will be an issue. I think the eventual solution is cultural and economic assimilation, but that has been and will be a very, very slow process.
Curmudgeon writes in essence that our melting pot isn't melting very well. We are fractured culturally, ethnically and economically, with the Federal government acting as a traffic cop sorting out group rights. He says "[n]o one talks or writes about what unites us and makes us all Americans." I think the "what" is the explicit and implicit freedoms found in our Constitution, the unenumerated "right to be let alone." Where governments (again, read the people running them) act to violate those rights, the law delivers a push back toward basic equality. Normative law theorizes that the push backs effected by law will normalize our relations. That's what we need until the melting pot does its job.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why We Need the Bill of Rights

Curmudgeon at Second Effort got me thinking; so, if you don’t like when I do the law philosophy stuff, this is his fault. The length of the post is my fault. He did a post that proposed that we remove government from the marriage business. Let people religiously or civilly commit to each other and let contract law govern their relationship to each other. I disagreed in a comment. Here are my broader thoughts.

As you may recall, the Constitution was on its own for a few years. The first ten Amendments were enacted in 1791. Alexander Hamilton argued with some authority that they weren’t needed and were a bad idea. From

“Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was "Magna Charta", obtained by the Barons, swords in hand, from King John.

“…Hamilton expressed the fear that protecting specific rights might imply that any unmentioned rights would not be protected:

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”

There was a strong feeling back then in favor of limited government. The colonies, soon to be states, were very leery of replacing the British monarch with a stateside version of the same thing. Federalism was suspect. The States would only give to the new Federal government enumerated powers. Why reserve peoples’ and states’ rights that had not been ceded?

People back then, other than slaves who weren’t people, were fairly homogeneous. They didn’t need too much protection from each other as they for the most part thought alike, at least those in charge were. They probably would have fared well enough without a Bill of Rights.

But then our society burst at the proverbial seams. There were the necessary, but pesky, slaves of course. And then the further waves of European refugees seeking the promise of the New World. Oriental people came from the other coast. Each group in turn faced a majority that was not aligned with its interests. Economic advantages shifted and those losing traction fought to protect against their losses.

You see very little in the way of use of the Bill of Rights in the Nineteenth Century. The Fourteenth Amendment passed following the Civil War was not applied to State action abridging freedom until the 1920’s.

Slowly in the Twentieth Century, the courts began using the Bill of Rights to protect people against the excesses of the majority. The easier Amendments were used first – the First, guaranteeing freedoms of press, speech, assembly, religion, in fits and starts.

Due process found in the Fifth Amendment found real life by way of the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of equal protection of laws only in 1954. Separate but equal fell by the wayside the same year.

The Supreme Court slowly addressed other rights afforded people found in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. It took leaps in finding an “unenumerated” right of privacy in the Ninth Amendment, implicitly found in other Amendments.

The Court has not found it proper to find a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment by way of the death penalty.

We have seen a retreat in protection of our constitutional rights in the last ten to fifteen years, a result of the will of the majority, the very thing the Bill of Rights was to protect us from.

And that brings me back to Curmudgeon’s post about marriage and law. In a perfect world (mine at least) we wouldn’t have to worry about rights. We would all “just get along” in the immortal words of Rodney King. But, we of course have the people that beat on the Rodney Kings of the world, the people that would wiretap our conversations and communications, that would discriminate against people because they have a different skin color, religion, ancestry or sexual orientation.

Until the lion lies down with the lamb, law must protect the lambs, the minorities of the world. They must be given due process, no railroading and short-cutting “in the national interest.” No disparate, unequal treatment because of “traditional family values.”

To quote another old document:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Day in and day out, I don’t need the Bill of Rights as our ancestors didn’t need it some two hundred twenty years ago to protect the rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence. I’m a member of the ethnic, religious and economic majorities in our country. I see the Bill of Rights to be a fundamental protection for those not in power to live the life that the majority enjoys.

I applaud the California Supreme Court for its recognition that “in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”

Too bad that the majority as represented by many state governors, legislatures and courts and the President, Congress and the Supreme Court doesn’t think the same way.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

God Love Him


Columbus — Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party's presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

"John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross," Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. "He never denounced God, either."

Everhart was praising McCain for never denouncing the United States while he was being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"I'm not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I'm looking at the pain that was there," she said.

Given the criterion, McCain is “kind of like” Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Confucious and a host of other religious leaders, of course other than the swearing and bad temper.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Help Wanted

I have Vista on both of my computers. XP’s mouse function moved to where you pointed it and didn’t do anything until you clicked. Vista, not always but too often moves up or down in a drop down box when I don’t want it to.

Let me try to explain it better. Say I want to surf my Favorites. I’m at Hedy’s place and have finished with her brilliance. I click the Favorites icon and start to scroll down to the next place I want to visit. Vista moves of its own volition past, say Pos, and down to Thomas.

Does that help? Any ideas?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is There a Full Moon?

From least important, to most:

My state’s Governor, Sonny Perdue, prominently featured in the post below, actually vetoed a repressive bill passed by our Legislature. They had decided that police could seize any car stopped, which was driven (not necessarily owned) by an illegal alien. I’m not at all sure what drove him to recognize that the State and the Country have constitutions which protect against violations of due process; but, I applaud Sonny.

Next, the California Supreme Court (I know this doesn’t really count) ruled that gay people can get married, not just civilly unioned. The sky has not yet fallen. If the sun comes up in the east in the morning, I’m going to assume that the world will continue schlepping along.

Finally, here’s an article at that reports that military lawyers have refused to play nice with our Government’s attempt to conduct and win show trials of detainees at Guantanamo. And their ethical stances are working.

Well not finally. So as to establish that all is not right with the world, President Bush equated those who would actually talk to countries with which it disagrees to be appeasers of the like that aided Hitler. Yep, we aren’t ever goin’ talk to those people. We’ll just spend trillions with the hope that they’ll just quit bein’ bad guys and just stand back while the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq kill each other and our soldiers.

No Toots If You're Toting

RTW New Service. Atlanta.

Beginning this summer, servers in Georgia restaurants will question patrons ordering drinks.

"Very good Sir, Bombay martini, olive, very dry. And, may I ask Sir, are you packing?"

"Why yes, a Glock nine mil. Oh yes, I forgot, I'll just run it out to the car. Could I have extra olives?"

"Yes Sir, I'll have your cocktail to you before you're back."

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue just signed a bill allowing people with carry permits to bring their weapons into restaurants and state and local parks and onto MARTA buses and trains. The "tradeoff" is they can't drink there if they're armed. They can re-arm at their car after they get loaded inside.

Restaurant owners, small animals and MARTA drivers are "up in arms," with the latter demanding bullet proof shields. A spokes-animal had not been heard from at the time of publication.

Inexplicably, gun owners cannot bring their weapons into the work place, dry or wet, they must leave them in their car in the parking lot. The USPS exception we surmise.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Update on Political Racism

The other day I did a post about how racism might impact this year’s presidential election.

I posited that the racial bias would come from the political parties, though disavowed by the bigwigs and the candidate.

I forgot about the actual people that are racists.

As it turns out, the there’s a bar in Metro Atlanta whose owner says he’s not a racist. You be the judge. He’s selling tee shirts that have “Obama 2008” on the front over a picture of Curious George, the children’s book character from the fifties or sixties. George is eating a banana.

Mike Norman, the owner of Mulligans in Marietta, Georgia said “those offended are ‘hunting for a reason to be mad’ and insisted he is ‘not a racist.’ Norman said he sees nothing wrong with depicting Obama as Curious George. ‘Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears, he looks just like Curious George,’ Norman said…. He said he views it as just coincidence that the character on the T-shirt is a monkey.”

Sunday, May 11, 2008


4 x 3. 16:9. Stretch. Zoom 1. Zoom 2. I’ve even got one that says “fit screen.”

I have a 40” screen now. Why does nothing recorded on DVD fit the screen? Why does it waste two inches at the top and two inches at the bottom (or more sometimes)? Those are expensive inches.

In case you’re wondering, I just started “Gone Baby Gone.” So far so good, but back in the old days of only a 4 x 3 aspect ratio, I didn’t know what was outside the box. Now that I’ve got a bigger box, I want it filled.

Race and Politics in 2008

Would Obama be a less appealing candidate if he looked like 50 Cent

and talked (style not substance) like Al Sharpton?

Would Obama, saying and doing exactly the same things, be more acceptable if he was a white male?

I think the answer to these questions, put to “White America,” is yes. Therein lies what will be a major and mostly unspoken challenge to Obama’s general election campaign. He’s black, and that still matters to a lot of people. Those people "see" and "hear" 50 Cent and Al Sharpton when they think about black people.

Obama has to overcome White America’s aversion to people like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Louis Farrahkan and the multitudes of rap and hip hop artists. (This is a generational issue for the most part. Under thirty White America isn’t really White America anymore.)

Young voters aside, race will matter to more people than will admit to its importance to them. An April AP/Yahoo poll found 8% of white voters uncomfortable voting for a black person.

And the campaigns know it. Hence, Bill Clinton’s comparison of Obama to Jackson. Descriptions of Obama as “articulate” (as opposed to?). North Carolina Republicans' Obama/Wright attack ad and McCain’s tepid request that they not run it.
“'Americans want a respectful campaign. Do we have to go to the lowest common denominator? I don’t think so.’ But McCain told reporters [in North Carolina] that he may not be able to micromanage the situation here. ‘I cannot in my role dictate to the North Carolina Republican Party what their message is but I can condemn it.’” The Candidate takes the “high road” and the operatives sling mud. We won’t see any prominent Republicans engaging in racial politics; but, we will see mailings, state and regional advertising, soft money spending, all toying with race, all quickly, and not so quickly, “condemned” by John McCain.
I wonder if it will work?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Think Some Good Thoughts...

for someone who would not want to be mentioned. Don't know if it will help; but, it surely can't hurt.

Friday, May 09, 2008

What Do You Use?

I just did a Google search for the term “search engine” and was amazed at the results. There were no paid results. Number one? Alta Vista. Then, in order, Dogpile, a Wikipedia article about search engines,, Yahoo, and then a bunch of garbage. No Google or MSN on the first page.

An Associated Press article on reported that Bill Gates said that Microsoft is going to go its own way after walking away from a deal to buy Yahoo. The article says that Google has 58%, Yahoo 22%, and Microsoft 10% of the business.

What’s up with the famous algorithm?

I haven’t used anything but Google for years now. It for the most part works; and, works giving me what I want within the first five or so results.

I have noticed that it skews to blogspot. Using and Google Webmaster Tools, I see that I get weird hits that are obviously not responsive to what the searcher was really looking for. For some odd reason, last week a lot of people in other countries were typing “rather than” into Google and getting me as the third result. I’m high on the results of searches for “buying beer” “on Sunday” and “in Georgia.” I still get a lot of hits from a search for “Federal Judge Song” for a post I did soon after I started the blog that linked to the actual song on another site. Why does Google send people to me to send them to the source? I’m number five on a search for “eldridge cleaver” whom I’ve mentioned twice. I’m number seventeen for “ijaza” which I talked about in a post.

But, I still use Google, often many times a day. What do you use? Does Microsoft have a chance? I’m going to go to Alta Vista and search now, then try Dogpile.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

President Obama?

A very small part of me wanted Hillary Clinton to get the nomination. What?

If she were the nominee, it would simplify my decision. I could never vote for her, so I'd be left with deciding between McCain and whoever runs as a Libertarian, probably the latter.

Now I have to look at what I like about Obama and what I fear.


1. He will get us out of Iraq "sooner," though not fast enough.

2. He won't have people like Cheney and Gonzales around him.

3. He won't blatantly violate the protections afforded us by of the Bill of Rights.

4. He may appoint two or three Supreme Court justices so as to move the Court back to the middle.

5. He'll probably close Guantanamo and make the Justice Department try the detainees in Federal Court, or let them go.

6. With Congress, he might devise a rational immigration policy.

7. I won't cringe when I hear him talk as I do when I hear Bush talk.


1. He'll try to spend us further down the road to national bankruptcy.

2. He'll try to tax the country into "economic and social health."

3. He'll try to make the country an economic isolationist and a social globalist.

4. He'll try to move the regulatory pendulum too far.

5. It will turn out that he really is a smooth-talking lightweight.

What will really happen? Of course, I don't know. But all of my "likes" items, except the fifth, can be done without Congress. That's good. The first two of the "fears" items, require the cooperation of Congress. That's good.

I guess I have to ponder that fifth fear.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One Thing At A Time

I read an article yesterday about cell phones in the classroom. The writer bemoaned that they were a given, calls and text messages sent and received. So what to do, what to do?

My response? Shut the phone off or get out of here.

I’m always put off when people interrupt or ignore. You’ve been there. A conversation is in progress. A person in the group, or a person walking up, starts talking about whatever they find to be compelling, not what was being discussed.

Polite people stop talking when interrupted and the conversation is lost.

You are talking to someone on the phone, or, you’re talking to someone in person, and their phone rings. They stop talking to you, answer the phone, not saying “I’ll call you back,” rather, completing that transaction, then getting back to you.

Someone walks up to you while you’re talking to someone else and you say “hang on a bit till I’m finished here;” and, you get a look that says you are odd.

I’m probably a throwback, my friends say I am. I don’t always answer my phone, even when I’m not involved in “something.” I turn my phone off when I get home and often forget to turn it on till mid-morning.

I don’t always answer my business phone, rather I wait until I’m done doing what I’m doing and then listen to the voicemail and return the call.

“Multi-tasking,” a recent word and concept, is not a good idea. One thing at a time, gets more done, quicker, and more importantly, better.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo's Yang: No Doesn't Always Mean No. Please?

The Microsoft/Yahoo deal isn’t over. The founder of Yahoo (what the hell is he doing negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal) seemed like a defeated small time negotiator in a session with Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer this weekend, in an interview reported today.

“’They chose to walk away after we put a price on the table, and they didn’t want to negotiate,’ Mr. Yang said.”

“Doggone them. I’d have eventually come down. I’ll still come down. Steve?” RTW News Service.

Walking the Walk, Second Try

Over the weekend, I did a post that I intended to be directed to the failings of lawyers. I didn’t quite get there, as my example was too prominent in it. You can read it here. Read the comments, especially Dilf’s and my response.

Here’s what I wanted to say in the post, which may not interest you, as it’s really a narrow, “professional” thing:

I’ve been a lawyer for now almost twenty-one years. To be a lawyer, you have to have a license. To get a license, you have to graduate from an accredited law school, and pass the bar exam and the background check. You then become a member of the “Bar.” I have a nice little laminated card that I’ve used exactly once, to avoid the line for the magnetometer in a municipal court, something you can’t do since 2001.

To misuse a legal phrase, quid pro quo, something for something, requires a return of some quo for the quid we have.

As lawyers, we see ourselves as privileged. There’s an unspoken noblesse oblige’ thing going on. Maybe it’s broader, a matter of “professionalism.” Here’s an online definition of the word that I kind of like:

“An occupation, the practice of which directly influences human well-being and requires mastery of a complex body of knowledge and specialized skills, requiring both formal education and practical experience.”

Whatever the genesis, lawyers have a tradition of giving back. No boos now. Almost all lawyers that I’ve known over the years do free legal work – pro bono – for the good. But not always, and too often, we leave it to “the system.”

I’m as guilty as my brethren. I do pro bono, not criminal, usually helping someone with a problem that economically doesn’t justify hiring a lawyer or helping someone that flat can’t afford to hire and pay a lawyer. I give money to the legal aid folks. But I don’t go out and find people that need help.

Then someone like Gary Hilton comes along. The poster child, albeit of the “Chucky” variety, for the need for lawyers to live up to their obligation as lawyers. To return to the example of the weekend’s post, there shouldn’t be a need for a law that requires the State to provide him a lawyer when he needs one. We, the lawyers should step in. We didn’t and that’s a failure.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Walking the Walk

Late last year or early this year, a man named Gary Hilton gruesomely raped, tortured and killed a woman in the North Georgia mountains.

Fairly quickly, he got arrested. In exchange for a life sentence, he confessed and led the police to where he’d left the woman’s body.

He currently lives in Jackson, Butts County, Georgia, in a not pleasant prison.

As it turns out, he’s suspected of murdering an elderly couple in North Carolina, and was recently charged with murdering a woman in Florida. Florida sought to extradite him. He’s fighting it. Though I’m a lawyer, I know nothing about criminal law other than to refer people to a criminal defense lawyer that I practice with. That said, I was surprised to learn that the current state of the law in Georgia does not afford a person facing extradition on criminal charges a lawyer, as the extradition proceeding is a “civil matter.”

So, a couple of days ago, after having filed a handwritten petition opposing extradition, Hilton faced a trial judge without a lawyer. He argued that he should have a right to a lawyer because, since extradition would result in a criminal proceeding, the extradition process itself should be considered a criminal matter, which under the Sixth Amendment requires that he be given a lawyer. Made some sense to me.

“State Bar of Georgia, lawyers, dedicated to the promise of justice for all.” That’s how a Bar TV ad ends. I’m not a fan of lawyers, as a group, getting involved with politics. I think it’s especially silly to have feel-good concept PSA’s to improve our “image.”

For the purpose of this post, I’ll assume that the judge that ruled that Gary Hilton did not have a right to a lawyer for his extradition hearing this week correctly applied current Georgia law. A criminal defense lawyer might have been able to better make Hilton’s argument and failing, provided a record for an appeal that might change the law. But Hilton didn’t have a lawyer. Where were we, the Georgia lawyers “dedicated to the promise of justice for all?” He’s a fairly detestable guy; and, a lawyer volunteering to represent him would be taking on a thankless task. But, if we mean what we say in the TV ads where we “talk the talk,” one of us should have been in Butts County next to Mr. Hilton, nauseating as he is.

"Are You Now...

“…or have you ever been a member of…”

That’s how the famous question posed by Eugene McCarthy starts. He was ferreting out Communists in the early Fifties.

Our current national obsession with all things primary got me to thinking. I don’t know, and I don’t think I’ve ever known, a single actual member of the Democratic or Republican parties (beyond a few actual candidates that I’ve met). I’ve voted for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Independents. Most of my friends skew to the Republican side of things, but they aren’t Republicans. Many of you who read me skew to the Democratic side; but, are you actually members of the Democratic Party?

Here in Georgia you just register to vote, you don’t declare a party membership; though, in the primaries, you do have to make a choice as to which primary you want to vote in. In other states that make you declare a party when you register, are the voters really members of their declared party? I’m thinking they aren’t, for the most part, though a twenty minute Google search isn’t giving me any hard numbers.

So what’s my point? We, the practically independent electorate of the United States, get what they, the Dems and the GOP, give us. Two relatively small groups of people control the process that produces our state and federal governments. And that process leads to division as the candidates “play to their base.”

At a local level, people actually participate in government. Town councils, county commissions, school boards. In most places, the candidates, while nominally party members, are elected or defeated, based on their performance, or promise of performance. “Sue’s done a good job.” But to reach that next step, Sue has to declare and hew to the party line. If she just has good ideas and a strong work ethic, she’ll go nowhere at a state or federal level. She has to put time and effort into pleasing one of the two groups, time and effort that has no productive result.

I don’t have a solution to what I’ve laid out as a problem. The days of the town meeting are gone. Our leaders aren’t really accountable to us. They spend their time insuring their position in their party so as to be their party’s choice in the next election cycle. Then they mouth the platitudes they’ve calculated will trigger our votes, and start the process over again.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The End of the World as We Know It

Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, had $1.6 billion in pre-tax losses in the first quarter of this year, related to derivatives, what ever those are. Net income per share fell from $1,682 to $607.

If the financial guru of the past thirty or so year's income is down some sixty percent, times are a bit bad.

From the article: “In Friday trading, Berkshire's Class A shares fell $300 to $133,600, while its Class B shares fell $12 to $4,448.”

I’m not sure if the title of the post is serious or sarcasm. If I had ten class A shares as my worldly worth, I don’t suppose I’d be too worried.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Here's A New Pitch

I just powered up the Dell laptop. I got a popup, not identified as from Dell, that told me that my battery may be “nearing the end of its useful life.” It gave me the handy option to click a button and buy another battery. Now I'm wishing I'd clicked it and confirmed that Dell had planted a little ad in the software, rather than clicking "don't show me this [garbage] again."

The computer is just over a year old. I’ve used the battery, rather than the power cable, maybe ten times.

Just how stupid does Dell think I am?