Hold off on Ifill

Drudge splashes an implied accusation of bias against VP debate moderator Gwen Ifill.

Hold the phones.  While her book may look like complicity with the Obama campaign, she's not the type who'd have her kids singing Mao-style cult of personality hymns in praise of the great O.  I don't know if the book can truly be called 'pro-Obama.'

Read her Time Magazine piece from a few weeks back.  It shows she's somewhat skeptical of Obama's uniqueness, his oneness in the public mind.  I read the piece in hard copy, and I found it pretty solid - and refreshingly objective, in some ways.

A Good Month for the Blogs

Althouse cracks 900k.

Here at LIB, we racked up what I believe is our best month of visits ever - a healthy 6,000+ (our current sitemeter only has numbers back to September of 06, when it restarted for some reason, but I don't remember us going this high back in senior year of college).

In the page view department, we had an absurdly high number of over 12,000 - safely double our visits.  We're still a comparative small fry stacked up to some bigger blogs, but given our transient, geographically fractured nature and our general restraint, I'm quite content.

Bailout marks Marx's comeback

A Canadian definitely doesn't support bailouts and explains why.

A Thin Harry Lee?

A 14-foot statue of legendary Jefferson Parish Sherriff Harry Lee is soon to be unveiled across the river.

But...the statue will supposedly show a 'trim' younger version of the hefty Chinese Cajun cowboy character, who passed away in 2007 shortly after I arrived here in NOLA.

A thin Harry Lee?  That brings to mind the scene from the Christmas special Rudolph where Mrs. Claus says to her husband, sitting distraught at the table: "Eat, papa, eat - the children like a fat Santa!"  It's about capturing the overall mythical image everyone came to know.

It was part of who he was.  It helped make him larger than life.  And he joked about it himself.  Alas.

Interview With a Pirate

A journalist's dream - a phone call with the pirate spokesman.

ht/Brian M

Tank's Manifesto

Here is the text of the electronic version of the letter from the former Tulane Law student I saw protesting outside the law school today (I've since heard he was escorted off campus). 

I have edited the piece only by removing the proper names of the professors and administrators involved.  I provide this to you that you might better understand the situation and draw your own conclusions as to the veracity of the allegations entailed:

Dear All,

I sobbed lowly in the stall of restroom early July , a week later , I sing a song in the empty reading room. The administrative slander I sob loudly and publicly and I yelled and screamed . I urged them to view the film many times but they say the video cannot play sound. Even if the video cannot play sound , we can view the movement of my mouth to see if I yell and scream .

Then Dean ----- threaten to call police and she says I am a threat to public safety and I am dangerous to law school. They are worried I would kill some like the murder of Virginia Technology University. I feel deeply insulted and then file some complaints to the office of institutional equity. After that, My registration is blocked and I cannot be allowed to attend classes if I do not sign an agreement drafted them . furthermore , I cannot get access to my Tulane email account . How can a famous contract law Professor ---- and threaten a law school student to sign an agreement drafted them ? even if I sign the contract , there is no consideration .

Then I sent two emails to Professor --- and --- trying to ask them help me get back to classes. They think the email messages are threatening and report to Police. Police do not think the two emails are threatening and this is language misunderstanding . I got my charge letter on September 16 th and the hearing took place on September 23rd . All of you know the new facebook already get rid of me before September 16th and it seems I am already expulsed from law school before any hearing Process .

The Joint hearing Board should compose of 2 student members , two faculty and one staff according to code of student conduct . but only One student member attend the hearing and there are only 4 members for the Joint hearing Board . also , I do not get my procedural right such as right to an advisor and reasonable access to my case file . Professor --- and --- did not appear for the hearing.

I am expulsed from law school . The sanction is grossly disproportionate to the offense based on the whole situation. A Professor talked to Dean --- saying " Mr Tang is a good student " . Dean --- respond : " I know he is a good student . ". Even if my emails are misunderstood as threatening emails messages , I do not deserve this harsh punishment . there are 11 different kinds of sanctions and there are so many serious violation such as using drug , stealing property , violation of honor code ……

I have a Tulane law school dream 14 years ago when I was a seaman. I saved ten years for the huge tuition and struggled many years for getting admission to Tulane. I am expected to get my JD degree next May . Right now , I lose everything except my life . I am so despaired and I lose all of my belief on Justice . I cannot trust the Joint Hearing Board appointed by them . It is fair for all Tulane faculty and staff and students to vote for my charges and sanctions . My purpose is to get back my belief . I am waiting for your decision on Freret street . Although I am expulsed from law school , do I still have my civil right to STAND ON THE FRERET STREET FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE ? I will do that and Please DON'T BE SCARED . I am a good people and I will not buy a gun to kill some of you like the murder of Virginia Technology University. ( I am attaching some documents in word 2007) Donation is appreciated . An American classmate says : Do not hate every American , some of us are very nice .


The hard copy version of the piece is slightly different.  In a copy obtained by LIB (ht/JD), the opening consists of the lines:

"Dear Americans, 

I was a third year Tulane University Law School student and I am expelled from Tulane because they are afraid I would kill them like a murder of Virginia Tech."

The conclusion of the hard copy, which Tank was handing out earlier this morning, is also different from his email version:

"Donation for attorney fee is appreciated.  $2 for one picture with me.   Tank"

I must say this is an unfortunate situation.  Having known Tank from a number of classes, I believe there are a huge number of deep-rooted cultural differences and misunderstandings at work in this series of events.

There are still some very real safety concerns for classmates here, as I gathered from conversations between class.

Weinmann Whispers

One of our (former, I now understand) classmates, a student from China, is currently outside the law school across Freret Street wearing a sandwich board sign that says, among other things, "Unjust Expulsion."

He was in classes last year, and he was in school at the beginning of this semester.

Rumors are circulating that he has been arrested previously for protesting outside the school, supposedly in relation to the nature of the activities that got him expelled.  I have no confirmation of this, and I will share any additional facts as they emerge.

I Heart NOLA

The Morning After

1.  Congress leaves the scene of the accident?  I don't care what holiday it is - if you believe some sort of bailout should have been passed, why in the world would you simply vamoose for two days?  Even with fall elections looming.  Bad PR move - worse than not counting votes.

As the WSJ notes: 'Congress lives up to its 10% approval rating."

Nancy Pelosi, given the numbers from her own caucus, has no foundation for her attacks on Republicans in the bailout fiasco.  Her pre-vote speech, while exceedingly unintelligent, is not worth all the GOP incredulity either.

2.  Markets set to rise?  Oh?  Interesting - here's what I had to say in an email yesterday: I think the precipitous drop in the stock market (and it was not a double digit drop percentagewise, which is key to remember despite the horrifyingly high number of 778 points) is more emotional reaction than anything, especially in the short run. I think private capital will swoop in tomorrow looking for deals - see Buffet scooping up parts of Goldman Sachs, etc.

And remember the numbers I linked to yesterday about market history in the immediate wake of a fall.  Historically, they rise.

3. Suffer through the necessary bankruptcy?  Something to consider.  Although it would be interesting to have the author go out in person and propound his theory to small town merchants these days...

4.  Palin and Fey.  I'm literally getting confused at times about which is which when a clip hits the web or flashes across the cable news.

5.  On a lighter note, Tom S does an in-depth look at the Brewers' playoff prospects.  And recommends an audio recording that contains Bob Uecker's call of the big moments at Miller Park.

UPDATE:  CNN says McCain suggests he might suspend his campaign again?  Please no.

I think this qualifies us as "old-timers"

The Badger Herald ran an interesting op-ed yesterday about Halloween '05, the last of the riots. It concludes:
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy mayhem as much as the next guy, but I’d rather dodge a little pepper spray than avoid glass and smoke bombs while intoxicated. Controlling the festivities is better than outlawing them, but the methods used in the past two years fell flat as ideal alternatives.

So, how did that famous Halloween really go down?

Well, Brad definitely thought the violence unreasonable, and called several people to task on that account. And there were plenty of pictures to document the "chanting, unruly mobs".

However, it really wasn't a riot -- and certainly was not the high-water mark of costumed violence on State St. Having been at Madison from the year the riots started, I called it the "riot that never was," and concluded,
There was a long period of time in which the "party" could easily have become a riot, but the police seemed to have it in hand. In fact, when they split their forces so that they didn't leave a vaccuum on either side of the street, they really seemed to have control of the situation. The riot cops seemed extremely heavy-handed. But that was the method the police chose this year for preventing a riot.

Regardless, I think the central thrust of the article is right -- that the current situation is less than optimal. And with several excellent alternatives suggested -- more camera surveillance, longer bar-times, etc. -- that really is too bad.


"735 points - their largest drop ever"

NEW YORK - Wall Street has ended a stunning session with a huge loss, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging more than 735 points — their largest point drop ever — after the failure of the financial bailout plan in the House.

I presumed Congress had secondary compromise backup plans waiting in the wings to fall back upon in the event of a thumbs down on the first.  Apparently, that's not the case.

I think the vote is largely a function of Democrats facing election this fall who got scared by massive constituent feedback tipping the scales of Republican members already responding to constituents.

Does this qualify as a technical stock market crash?  Here's a look at the generally accepted definition:

There is no numerically-specific definition of a crash but the term commonly applies to steep double-digit percentage losses in a stock market index over a period of several days.

UPDATE: Bloomberg highlights the percentages lost thus far, which gives some reason for moderation (although the Campbell Soup tidbit is eerie):

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 8.4 percent, the most since Oct. 26, 1987, as only Campbell Soup Co. gained.

While 700+ point sounds horrific, it's about the percentages. The 1929 Crash was only a few points, but the percentages of the total market were high.

It sounds like the overseas markets are not faring well.


The bailout plan goes down. Here's the roll call tally.

UPDATE:  The Wisconsin delegation seems to have gotten mixed up.  Paul Ryan voted for the bailout (putting him out of the running for bigger things down the road?) while Steve Kagen voted against (probably under election year pressure).

UPDATE:  There she goes - down 588 at 2:17 p.m. - 

UPDATE:  As of 3:08 p.m., this unfortunate 'Dewey Defeats Truman"esque ad continues to run at the top of The Drudge Report:

Gettin' All Tippecanoe

ABC News beats me to the punch, mentioning former U.S. President William Henry Harrison in a piece on Obama's decision to speak in a Virginia rainstorm :

Astute students of history have noted, weather is not something politicians should take lightly.  The presidency of William Henry Harrison, indeed Harrison's life lasted a mere month after after he caught a cold at  his inauguration, which was held outside on a chilly Washington morning.

Harrison's untimely weather experience was also preceded by a campaign season of unprecedented length and activity - the grueling campaign of 1840.

President Zachary Taylor's death, too , may have been precipitated in part by weather.  It was supposedly his long slog of a speech in a full black suit in the suffocating mid-summer sun of D.C. before gorging on iced cherries and cold milk that laid him low.

Weinmann Whispers

1.  Do you enjoy crawling under the tables in the reading room to plug in laptops?  Is it to keep us humble as we ascend Olympus?  Also, how is this supposed to work for those in wheelchairs?  

2.  More water pressure for the bubblers, no?

3.  At least the seating is top flight.   Quote: "Don't get me wrong. Great school, great professors, but the chairs are definitely better here."  - a transfer from the other law school in town, in class this morning


Life of Brian

Pirate Update

The tank-nabbing marauders are demanding ransom for the Ukrainian crew.  The hijacked ship is currently pinned off the Somalian coast by three warships.

Seth Bloom for Orleans Parish School Board

Here in District 5, Seth Bloom has earned my support in his bid for Orleans Parish School Board.

If you're headed to the polls on October 4th, he's worthy of your vote.

I had a chance to meet Seth a number of times this summer, including once when he happened to be working on a legal matter that brought him across the river to a courthouse in the West Bank.  A graduate of Loyola Law, Seth runs his own practice here in New Orleans.  I've found he never fails to present himself in a professional and conscientious manner.
If the yard sign war on the ground were a surefire indicator, Mr. Bloom has this race in the bag.  But, from what I understand, there are unseen networks at play here in the district, which consists of parts of the Garden District, Irish Channel, Uptown, and Central City.

And that's central to the reason I care about a local school board race in the first place.  Moving forward, New Orleans' long term recovery as a whole requires deep and systematic reform of its rather notorious public education infrastructure and practices.  Seth has staked out a clear position as the reform candidate unwilling to accept the status quo.  For that reason, I wish him the best.


Movies Around the Bend

Tom S takes a helpful look at the upcoming season's movie menu.

The Drought is Ended

We all slide giddily down our collective ramp into a giant mug of beer.

The GOP's Proto Race for '12

I pronounced it "Oh twelve" as I typed the post title.  It seems such a long way off.

But one astute columnist predicts the '12 GOP presidential nominee will have been against the Paulson bailout plan.

Does that mean Wisconsin's Paul Ryan is poised as a real contender for the slot?  Or, the VP slot?  Ryan emerged as a member of the 'troika' of House Republicans who led opposition to the initial bailout package who is now a key member associated with an alternative insurance-based plan more favorable to taxpayers (although the WSJ editorial board begs to differ).  He's garnered quite a bit of press as a result.  He does well in a divided district in a swing state.  I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the mix.  

As the thorough columnist notes, keeping a few steps ahead of me, neither Bobby Jindal nor David Petraeus have weighed in on the bailout...


Do You Live in Guyland?

And if you do, is it necessarily good or bad?

In his new book, "Guyland," the State University of New York at Stony Brook professor notes that the traditional markers of manhood—leaving home, getting an education, finding a partner, starting work and becoming a father—have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved from "a transitional moment to a whole new stage of life." In 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30. Today, less than a third of males that age can say the same.

My thoughts? On a grand scale, is the phenomenon not a sort of echo to feminism? Is it the leveling out between the sexes, this 'first downwardly mobile' generation of males?

Also, I would say the evolution we're witnessing/experiencing is toward a whole new way of life, not simply a mere extended stage.

I think the strange new edifice rests on pilings that includes lots of available credit (which might crumble), helicopter parenting, an unbridgeable disconnect with previous generations (grandparents and back), life in non-rural areas, the higher costs of having children, poor parental marriage examples (high divorce rates), arduously long tracks to get into decent jobs, and the increasingly accepted availability of sex outside marriage.


Squirrling around

I heard some animals noises that sounded like what I would have guessed was a raccoon slowly being eaten alive but it turned out to be two squirrels running around the back door. I didn't know that squirrels make noises and they didn't see me in the window. This one was apparently taking a break for part of a minute.

Ill, baby, ill?

That seems to be the whispered, anxious feeling of a number of Republicans going into Thursday's vice presidential debate:

"You can't continue to have interviews like that and not take on water."

Then there's the report of a progressive talk radio host claiming connections inside - who's been picked up by both DailyKos and Huffington Post (and I don't trust the report without any additional factual or named source backing, but I provide to you to winnow on your own):

The Bull Stood Still

An emblem for our times in topiary.

Saturday Classes

Thank you, Gustav, thank you very much.


Thoughts on the Presidential Debate

I don't think either candidate landed a death blow.  Or even a game-changing blow.  I would honestly characterize it as a draw overall.

1.  Obama performed better than expected on foreign policy - but he set expectations low going into the evening.

2.  McCain smiled or seemed positive for a much greater portion of the debate than Obama.

3.  Obama managed to toss out far more topics for consideration and reach more potential constituencies, although McCain tended to nail a few specifics he ventured deeply into.

4.  Given the fact that McCain should have raced breathlessly blustering into this thing after the past 48 hours, he performed very well.

5.  McCain's sense of history, especially about foreign policy, came to the fore, although Obama's alacrity on the economic issues likely resonated with independents.

6.  Obama mentioned the preoccupation with Iraq and terrorism as a detriment to our ability to focus on China - specifically, its incursions into South America.  Pressing.  Relevant.  Crucial.  Solid.

7.  McCain rarely looked at Obama.  In doing so, he risked looking aloof, but he succeeding in avoiding any 'let's get McCain angry' traps.

Pirates Strike Again

And this time, they've taken quite the prize:

A Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and ammunition has been seized by pirates off the coast of Kenya, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told CNN.

The vessel Faina, flying a Belize flag, was headed to the Kenyan port of Mombasa after departing from Nikolayev, Ukraine, according to Lt. Col. Konstantin Sadilov, spokesman for the defense ministry.

According to the defense ministry, the ship was carrying 33 Soviet-made T-72 tanks, tank artillery shells, grenade launchers and small arms.

For more on the surprisingly high piracy figures in recent years off such locales as Nigeria, Somalia, Bangladesh, and the Indonesia, visit the piracy reporting center at the IMB.

It's also interesting to note that Russia's military is getting involved...seemingly on Ukraine's behalf - look out, pirates:

But this time the pirates may have gotten more than they bargained for. Unloading the tanks is likely to be well beyond the capacity of the pirates, experts said. Meanwhile, an American naval vessel was Friday in hot pursuit to intercept the ship and the Russian Navy said it was not far behind.

Because pirates, historically regarded as 'hostis humani generis' - enemies of the human race, fall under universal jurisdiction, any nation's military may capture pirates and bring them to any nation for trial under that location's municipal anti-piracy laws, provided the capturing power does not believe the pirates would be tortured in that location.  

And We're Back

The pilot light on the debate tonight, having wavered, bursts back into a ring of blue.

Bonus points tonight to the candidate in Oxford who mentions William Faulkner.

Southern Art

Is this good enough?

Couric interviews Palin (transcript):

Palin: We don't have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe … that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That's not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys.

Is this responsible talk from a potential vice president? The oversimplification and loose words about fighting goes beyond McCain's firm stances - and at least matches, if not exceeds President Bush's black and white conception of the world.

It's strong and decisive talk. And it may have a basis in truth.  But at a time when the United States has two wars under way, a tepid and unstable ally in Pakistan firing on our own helicopters, China launching men into space, Russia on the march and massively expanding military funding, and a domestic economic crisis, I think it denotes a lack of understanding of the complexity and seriousness of our present situation.


What say you?

Will John McCain show up for Friday night's debate in Mississippi?
Yes - if there's a bailout solution
pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: Send Palin?

"a supernova that happens in slow motion"

A look at a major New York law firm's dire state these days:

At yesterday's shareholder video conference Heller's management assured their partnership that their line of credit was still open.

That doesn't mean that they can survive, just that they still have some time to make their next move.

The ties of major New York law firms to vulnerable financial institutions affected by the recent failures certainly makes the summer associate interview landscape in Manhattan a bit more of a minefield.

Here's a story outlining the firm's history and recent difficulties.  And here are reports of possible mergers and takeovers of branches of the firm as dissolution looms:

firms continued to circle Heller, with representatives from some firms reportedly negotiating with groups of lawyers in Heller's office buildings.

A Boyar's Dozen

Lip Service

President Bush, last night, on the bailout:

I'm a strong believer in free enterprise. So my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There's been a widespread loss of confidence. And major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down.

What an interesting contradiction of sorts.  Isn't the market functioning properly - isn't it, in a way, merely punishing excessive risk taking?
As a friend in business notes, though, this is about credit, the backbone of the modern economy.  It's not a mere bailout to Yahoo or GM, but a bailout of the institutions that serve as predicate for almost all American industries.

I'm still very wary, however. That logic means a private entity simply has to make itself so indispensable to the economy, to lodge itself at the center of the spider's web, that it can do whatever it likes, knowing that the government will ultimately come to the rescue in the end.


Goin' to a Show

The Black Keys, at House of Blues here in New Orleans.

I'm excited - I haven't been to a full out show in some time, and I've never seen The Black Keys live.  I'm looking forward to a great break.

McCain Suspends Campaign (?!)

(ht/Jacob D)
Immediate thoughts:

1.  This seems a bit wild - it works to get news media coverage and chatter going, but the electorate may grow unsure about a president who makes such brash decisions out of the blue.  We want stability in this economic time of trouble, not just a dramatic solution.  
Suspending the convention for the Hurricane was one thing, the novel approach worked pretty well to demonstrate McCain's seriousness about a national crisis.  But this, especially calling for a delay in the debates, seems like more of a ploy, perhaps.  
2.  Oh yeah, both McCain and Obama are still in the Senate.

3.  What if Obama just doesn't agree, as with Townhall Meetings?  Will it get any mileage?

4.  Look at the interesting lead-up - sounds like some brinksmanship may have brought this on: 

The Obama campaign said Obama called McCain at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to ask if the Republican nominee would join him in a joint statement of "shared principles and conditions" for the proposal. It said McCain called back at 2:30 p.m. -- shortly before his New York announcement -- to agree, and "The two campaigns are currently working together on the details."
McCain had to agree to Obama's offer, but he didn't want to be one-upped, so he went bold.

5. Can Mitt Romney, assuming McCain actually suspends his campaign, un-suspend his own campaign, even post-convention, and hop back in for a while to peddle his finance prowess? :)

I took down a post

Yesterday, in my haste.  After receiving a very disturbing email about an entirely innocuous post of mine.

It's the first time I've done so, and I plan to make it the last.

On to the Law of the Sea

Now that Congress has passed the Great Lakes Compact, is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) next?  The treaty, which impacts a number of different areas of law relevant to the world's oceans, has been floating around since 1982.

A strange array of forces is aligned in favor of ratifying the treaty - President Bush, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and numerous military commanders.  John Bolton, interestingly, has been quoted as supporting the measure.

And a largely anti-UN, pro-sovereignty crew opposes ratification - Heritage, Phyllis Schlafly, subsets of Congressional Republicans, etc.  Reagan opposed it decades ago.

The Convention faces a deadline, I've read, of May 2009.  It should be noted, too, that the convention, adopted by many nations over a decade ago, has come to have the force of customary international law in the U.S., even if our country has not ratified the document.  It's currently in the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE:  A reader, Caitlyn, writes - 

I want to address one point on the LOS Convention. The deadline is not in joining the convention, it is for countries who joined before 1999 to submit their proposed boundaries for the continental shelf beyond 200 nm along with supporting data. Countries that joined later have 10 years from date of ratification to submit their claims to the Commission on the Limits of their Continental Shelf. For example, Canada, who joined the convention in 2003, has until 2013 to submit their claims.

One of the problems for us is that we aren't there to object if claims cut into areas that we might want to claim in the future. Interestingly, this is more of a problem with Canada than Russia because we have a border agreement with Russia but not with Canada.

Beyond that, by being outside the Convention we have to argue that the parts of the convention that we like have become customary international law and the parts we don't like haven't. That makes a weak basis for law and diplomacy so the navy and industry really want to nail down the rules we negotiated into the Convention while we can. That is really important to the navy regarding innocent passage, transit of international straits, sovereign immunity of warships and high seas.

If you ever want more information, my web site 
has news and reference material, including a long list of high level endorsements of the convention.



Barack Obama Stretches The Wisconsin Idea

It's not quite 'Lambert Field,' but did Senator Obama swing wide in his attempt to connect with a scant Wisconsin audience?

“Change has always come from places like Wisconsin,” Obama said to more cheers. “The state where the progressive movement was born; where laws were passed to regulate the railroads and insurance companies, laws that protected consumers and the safety of factory workers. It was a movement rooted in a principle that was known as the Wisconsin Idea — the idea that government works best in the hands of the people, not the special interests, that your voices should speak louder than the whispers of lobbyists.”

Is that really the definition of the Wisconsin Idea as it's commonly understood?  It's certainly a permutation that suits Obama's rhetorical needs at the moment.

While the idea did interweave with the Progressive Movement in turn of the century Wisconsin, it was primarily - and has come largely to be known - as the idea of the ongoing dissemination of university expertise, innovation, and ideas from the confines of the University of Wisconsin to the general populace of the state.

One of the longest and deepest traditions surrounding the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Idea signifies a general principle: that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Synonymous with Wisconsin for more than a century, this “Idea” has become the guiding philosophy of university outreach efforts in Wisconsin and throughout the world.

The idea of the Idea has long been understood as 'the boundaries of the campus are the boundaries of the state,' although some early connotations were more government focused:

In those days, most people understood the Wisconsin Idea as narrowly defining this unique experiment in popular government, in which Wisconsin’s public university played a significant role in helping shape its legislation. Faculty served widely on advisory boards and applied their knowledge to help guide the state’s administration. Over time, however, the Idea has come to signify more broadly the university’s commitment to public service — a mission that substantially predates the progressive political era.

Obama's version certainly doesn't match up the latter concept - what most Wisconsinites today, I'd wager, consider the Wisconsin Idea.  It might align with the narrower original concept, but even that was primarily about transmitting educational advancements and using university experts to assist in the drafting of legislation - not necessarily about giving control to the people, although the phenomenon ran parallel to and was facilitated by the Progressive Movement which sought rapid legislative reform.

Here's an exhaustive look at the Wisconsin Idea including an opening in-depth musing about the definition of the concept - that ultimately finds the conception - with the exception of this book of the same name by Charles McCarthy - has almost always been tied to the university's contributions to the state, rather than political connotations.

One can divide more careful attempts to define the Idea into two categories. One consists of definitions that emphasize the Idea’s political dimension, even its partisan political dimension (progressive or liberal politics).6 The other consists of definitions that emphasize the University’s service to the state.7 The definitions in the second category are more convincing. The political definitions are somewhat appropriate for the early years of this century, but even for that era they leave out important contributions. Moreover, the Idea has changed since that time.

I don't deny Wisconsin's progressive legislative enactments in the early 20th Century.  I don't construe the term as a fully airtight opposite to, say, the concept of the Bush Doctrine.  But in light of all the evidence, the political version is a far, far less common use - and, for what it's worth, risks misconstruing the concept to the nation.

I think Obama's characterization is a bit of a convenient stretch.

Another reason to love Maritime Law

Ready for some 'Progressive Corporatism' ?

Brooks prognosticates in the wake of the fall.

TaxProf, Classmates on Tulane Imbroglio

A roundup of high profile perspectives on the Palmer/Levendis Tulane Law Review situation.

Interestingly, a 2L classmate in class this morning - who is on the Law Review - asked me if I had heard about the matter.  As a junior member of the publication, it seemed he had only learned about the saga now that significant national attention is being directed at the story. 

I was surprised.  I told him I've been following it since winter.  I guess I presumed that members would have had some inkling from internal communications prior to this late date.

Other friends on the publication seem to be largely shrugging off the entire affair - resting on the impracticality of the Law Review actually recreating the data involved in the study in its editing process.  One - and I agree with him - expressed his belief that Dean Ponoroff's letter had class in its attempt to resolve the impasse.


I forgot to share this - a photo of our back door here in NOLA post-Gus, post-Ike.

Ron Paul, Into the Breach

Dr. No sizes up the recent economic rodeo ride, noting, as I did, that the bailouts create a massive moral hazard:

The solution to the problem is to end government meddling in the market. Government intervention leads to distortions in the market, and government reacts to each distortion by enacting new laws and regulations, which create their own distortions, and so on ad infinitum.

It is time this process is put to an end. But the government cannot just sit back idly and let the bust occur. It must actively roll back stifling laws and regulations that allowed the boom to form in the first place.

The government must divorce itself of the albatross of Fannie and Freddie, balance and drastically decrease the size of the federal budget, and reduce onerous regulations on banks and credit unions that lead to structural rigidity in the financial sector.

Will the average American take to Paul's message with greater alacrity in light of recent events?  Certainly, his suggestions might seem a tad counterintuitive. But that may be precisely why they're superior to the knee-jerk, stability-uber-alles reactions we've been witnessing.

Pas Responds

Pascal Calogero, outgoing Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, weighs in on the Palmer/Levendis affair involving the Tulane Law Review.  After thanking Dean Ponoroff for his letter of apology, he continues:

While I am concerned that this erroneous law review attempted to impugn the reputation of our Supreme Court and brings negative attention to our state, my greater concern is that there are members of the public who will still believe his conclusions because they were offered as the result of a "scientific study."

I think he was going for 'erroneous law review article' - no?  Or is this in fact outright hostility at the law review as a whole?

Still Here

Waiting for the final bell to sound.


Volokh Picks up Tulane Law Review Thread

Eugene himself digs deep into the affair, offering some interesting critiques - and a mixed bag of defense and criticism for law review members and editors.


Stuck in the middle of two...articles for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal.

Sharkey in the Shire

A LOTR look at the current financial crisis and its origins. (ht/OOTM)

Cheesy opening aside, the opinion piece does marshal a number of salient points to keep in mind when assessing the fiasco.


Risky Business: Shaping the Regulatory Response

My professor for Business Enterprises here at Tulane Law, formerly with the SEC, proposes an interesting hybrid self-regulatory scheme for financial institutions.
The paper will likely be good fodder for any debates post-bailout about the exact nature of the regulatory response.  As he asserts:
I argue that the most efficient way to regulate investment banks for financial responsibility is to make them bear (at least some) of the consequences of a systemic crisis. More prudential oversight is not likely to be helpful, in an age of rigorous risk modeling, and complex federal insolvency regimes (as in the banking industry) are not likely to be tractable for investment banks.

The most effective incentive for firms to take a more pro-active role in counterparty and systemic risk management, thus, is to formalize the existing expectation that financial services conglomerates participate (at least, to a degree commensurate with their interest) in the rescue of an insolvent competitor whom the industry deems "too interconnected" to fail.

UPDATE: Classmates Ian M and Kevin W inform me they've been assisting on the paper - and say it's quite interesting.

Finally, The Nine

At long last, I purchased Jeffrey Toobin's 'The Nine' early yesterday morning.  I devoured about 3/4 of the book on my flights home.
How is it?  It's very readable, given Toobin's nice narrative style surveying the entire Rehnquist Court years up to the present.  There's a great deal of knowing detail about the individual justices - an anecdote about Nixon's first meeting with Rehnquist, whom Nixon referred to as a "clown" since he was dressed in a 'pink shirt and psychadelic tie' - along with a helpful focus on the pivotal cases of the past two decades.  The primitive communications employed by the court seeps through, too - only Breyer and Thomas really used the internet out of all the Rehnquist justices.  The book is also laced with a subtle bias against most things conservative.  Toobin's treatment of Bush v. Gore in 2000 is especially slanted in its framing.
Nevertheless, on the whole, it's quite insightful, and it provides a good lay of the land for anyone interested in the nation's political or legal landscape. 

Brain Scan Used in Indian Court

In all the hubbub last week, I missed this groundbreaking legal tidbit.

Psychologists and neuroscientists in the United States, which has been at the forefront of brain-based lie detection, variously called India’s application of the technology to legal cases “fascinating,” “ridiculous,” “chilling” and “unconscionable.”
I'd put my finger on 'chilling' - as the government and technology pry their way into the last redoubt of personal autonomy. The NYT article linked above is worth considering for the numerous angles it covers.
The piece got my neurons firing, as I recalled this seminal piece on the emergence of neurolaw I highlighted a year ago.


A Rarity these Days

I agree with a wisp of Sullivan sentiment.

Rapscallions from Conception

Born Ruffians.

Badger Seats

Via BadgerBeat.

As a former usher and security guard at Camp Randall Stadium, I found the piece interesting.

A New Tribe in Madison

There's a new tribe back on the island.  And they're adamantly calling themselves 'leftists."

'Forward Thinking' launched yesterday in Madison, and the site appears to be a sort of UW student group blog devoted to progressive causes.  You know, like calling out those shifty, no-good, moderate liberals:

Beginning next week, we hope to make Forward Thinking a focal point for UW’s leftist community. For too long the local online political discussions have been dominated by the so-called “moderates” who have done their best to malign progressive efforts, often with little regard for the truth. Left-wing voices have been consistently maligned without accountability, often resulting in a misperception of the center’s popularity with the student body. We aim to change that.

But there is another goal for this blog. Uniting UW’s leftist groups and voices has been a goal for quite some time. Currently, there are efforts under way to bridge historical divisions and create a major progressive presence on campus. We hope this blog will aid in that effort.

Perhaps this should be no surprise at the University of Wisconsin's flagship campus. Given the history of the place, one need not necessarily bat an eyelash.

But I wonder, given the mission statement of this new collaborative blog -

dedicated to breaking the vague, moderate and connected political consensus, and promoting the progressive voice among the student body.

- if it's not a manifestation of what I've become increasingly wary of as I watch developments in the 2008 presidential race.  What if the Democrats fall a third time?  What if Obama loses?  In particular, what happens if Obama wins the popular vote decidedly and McCain clinches the Electoral College?

After firsthand observation in St. Paul, I'm moderately concerned that a third consecutive electoral presidential loss for the liberal candidate would prompt individuals and groups on the far left, seeing participation within the system as futile given events, to take increasingly radical action in frustration. 

 And it would expand, I think, the political far left to include an increasing number of conventional liberal who are also fatigued and depressed at the state of American politics - especially those who have become disillusioned even with Obama.

Of course, the new blog may simply be focused on UW campus issues.  Or Madison issues.  Or Wisconsin issues.  Or perhaps it won't to amount to anything beyond it's opening salvo.  We'll have to wait and see.

Looking A Little Metro

Wisconsin Within 1 Point

Given what I've been saying, I cannot say I'm surprised.


The Debates approach!

I look forward to the convergence of divergent styles when McCain and Obama meet for the first time in debate this Friday.  McCain will likely benefit from a few of his direct, concise Saddleback-style responses, Obama from a newfound attack mode and the noxious fumes of the Wall Street debacle.  The free-wheeling format sounds promising.

I can understand the McCain camp's attempt to circumscribe the VP debate, however.  I'm sure they fear a parallel to what came off as Dick Cheney's clock cleaning of John Edwards in 2004.

Uncle Sam & His Great Big Net

So, the United States economy regains stability.  At immense cost.

``We're talking hundreds of billions,'' Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in a press conference. ``This needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get to the heart of the problem.''

In the long run, does the government response of seizure and bailout not produce a significant moral hazard for private financial institutions?  

Run wild, run wild - if you're sizable enough to impact the market, Uncle Sam will always be there to catch you when you fall.  The unprecedented extension of federal control and influence into the economy threatens further irresponsibility.  It sets the precedent of socializing risk on a massive scale.

In talking to observers more financially savvy than myself, including one high in an office overlooking the Treasury building itself yesterday, I've heard praise for Treasury's effort to "beat back" impending disaster with every tool available.  I've heard speculation that government takeover may represent a fruitful investment in a number of companies - which could turn a profit.  I'm highly skeptical.  Everywhere, I read that we're now getting to and addressing the rotten heartwood of the matter:

"Everything they had done had been a Band-Aid approach, at the margins," said Jay Mueller, economist at Strong Capital Management. "Now we're dealing with the root problem."

Are we?

It's likely heresy to hazard this point, but for all the fingerpointing at Wall Street, is there no connection back to individual debt decisions?  Isn't the entire wobbly pyramid comprised of individuals and their inabilities to live within their means?  Wall Street amalgamations of all those individual decisions have exacerbated the problems.  But as far as getting to the 'root' of the problem with a government bailout, I think we have yet to start digging.

Any Republican who stands by the bailout bonanza has a great deal of explaining to do.  We have, as I wondered aloud earlier, reached a point where stability matters more than anything in this country.

The counter to all this is likely, 'Well, what would you do?  How would you solve the crisis?  Do you want another Depression?"

My response is this:  When your body has multiple broken limbs and internal bleeding from reckless behavior, you don't simply pound Vicodin and keep chugging.  You take a time-out.  You get the bones set.  You're out of action for a while, and it's not fun.  It's not fun at all.  But it's the only real way to heal at a fundamental level.


Reporting in from Kathmandu...

...ensconced in a warren of bamboo scaffolding, Hindu temples, Maoist politicos, and maybe even goat's blood...it's Kathmanduma, a blog by UW alum Eli L.

Greenery, Georgetown


Headed to D.C.

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People are stepping across party lines to slap their own in the last couple days, and I think it deserves a look.

Case one: a Rothschild claims Obama's an elitist, and will not vote for him (h/t Folkbum):
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter and member of the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, will endorse John McCain for president on Wednesday, her spokesman tells CNN.
Forester was a major donor for Clinton earning her the title as a Hillraiser for helping to raise at least $100,000 for the New York Democratic senator’s failed presidential bid.

Case two: a prominent Senate Republican disses Palin (h/t Justin Webb):

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is the nation's most prominent Republican officeholder to publicly question whether Sarah Palin has the experience to serve as president.

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said Wednesday in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."

So which will be the more important? On the one hand, the defection of Hillary supporters has been a lingering problem for Obama; but losing one big supporter probably isn't that big a deal for him -- he's proved more than capable of raising money on multiple fronts. But is the Rothschild move indicative? Will it push more women away from Obama?

On the other hand, Hegel's shot at the superstar of the Republican ticket (let's face it, McCain is far and away taking a backseat to his VP candidate, who is the only thing driving excitement on the GOP side) probably carries more weight with independents than the Rothschild shot, and McCain will win or lose on the independent vote. This could be a very major reef that puts the critical hole in the McCain-Palin ship.

I suspect the women-for-Hillary switch will be less of a factor than the independent vote, and I'd be worried if I were McCain.

Update: even more! And because of his prominence, it might mean something more. I still wonder how it'll play with the independents.


Oh my:
This would have been a great opportunity for ASM’s Press Office to jump into action. They could have met with the press and have a great picture of 3650 Humanities filled with students interested in Student Government [emphasis added].

So, has my pet revolution gained the uber-legitimacy it lacked when we started it up, or has it been so completely forgotten that the very term has become interchangeable with ASM?

Too Much Medicine

I think this observation - that too many succeeding government bailouts of critical Wall Street entities will backfire - is dead on.

I made the same assertion to my roommate last night in the wake of AIG.  Moments later, a financial guru echoed the sentiment on TV.

As a matter of signaling, if not actual reality, the ongoing retreat from market instability seems to be making downturn a self-fulfilling prophecy, to some extent.

The scope of the government seizures and bailouts that have unfolded over the past few days is so vast, I have trouble comprehending how it has occurred with so little outcry.  Perhaps many observers are still trying process the unprecedented situation.  I certainly am.


Palin Hacked

Unfortunate - and disturbing.

I haven't looked at any of the screenshots of content from Governor Palin's email account, and I really don't want to - while it is the truth, and getting at the truth is a worthy end, I would like to apply a sort of personal Exclusionary Rule approach to it. It was ill-gotten. And the invasion of someone's privacy, even a public figure's, is deeply disturbing.

I guess McCain's web illiteracy is suddenly a strength - in theory, it means he has no email account to hack and rebroadcast.

'Scansin Shoutout: Sessler's Meeme House

Amid a flurry of anxiety and work, this absolutely made my day - it's a comment from one of my online reviews at Yelp.com:

I want to thank you for the review on Sessler's Meeting House - Val is my Great Aunt & she just had her 89th Birthday Sat Aug 30th. I found your review on the net & sent it to my Mom, she then printed it out & framed for Aunt Val. Aunt Val just loved it & Yes she is still running the tavern! If you are ever in the area you will have to stop by for another visit. 

Thanks again Marj W

Here's my review of Val's place out in Meeme, Wisconsin.  Stop by if you get the chance.


Tulane Law Review Saga

Is it over, now that Dean Lawrence Ponoroff has issued a letter of apology to the Louisiana Supreme Court for the flawed Palmer/Levendis study?  

Or do the qualifications made in the letter raise new questions?

"Obviously, it is not the responsibility of an editorial board of a journal to replicate an empirical study such as this one.  The students were not, and could not reasonably have been expected to be, aware of the errors in the underlying data."

Covering Financial Dominoes

A sound perspective on the grim assessment.

Guest Post: Andy B on Ned Yost and the Crew

After years of frustration for so many Brewer fans, Ned Yost has FINALLY been canned! Personally, I thought this should have happened 3 years ago. Watching and knowing baseball my whole life, its been hard to sit and watch all the potential on the field being extremely misused. His use of the pitching staff had to have been the final straw for management.

His call to leave 39 year old reliever Brian Shouse on to face a right handed batter late in their game on Sunday night, was the prime example of why Yost had to go. Shouse had not only pitched in their first game that day, but right handed hitters have hit .100 points higher than lefties versus Shouse over the coure of the entire season! It's awkward timing at best, but still gives a ray of hope to the entire Dairy State as the Brewers make one last ditch effort at their first playoff run in 26 years.

It's been a trying last 14 games for the Crew (3-11), but this Brewer fan now has the optimism of a 5 year old on Christmas Eve!


Carpe Carp

Live from the Office of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal

I'm laboring to get an article on piracy ready for publication.  Heady issues.  E.g., do the Geneva Conventions apply to captured pirates?
The office has a great sense of place - a ship's bell greets members as they enter; nautical posters and paintings of vessels adorn the space.  I've staked out my favorite blue chair in the small computer lab, and many of my co-members are toiling away at desks out in the main area, wooden ship models overhead.  Members past line the walls above in photo montages.
We've faced a bit of a learning curve in our first 'sub and cite' process, but we're getting by pretty well. 
It might be a long night, as it has been several times in the past week.  But I managed to procure two Spotted Cows for the mini-fridge for me and my partner.  He's a fellow Sconnie, oddly enough.

Sitemeter Lives!

When I added the new sitemeter code, I left both bits of sitemeter html in the LIB genome just in case.
Three cheers!

Nader Speaking at Tulane Wednesday

Ralph Nader Speaking Engagement 
Date: 9/17
Time: Press Conference 2:30, Event 3 pm 
Location: Freeman Auditorium, Room #205 in the Woldenberg Art Center
Price: Suggested Donation $10/$5 for Students 
Phone Number: 414.915.8883, David Peyton, votenader.org 
Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez discuss their upcoming bid for the White House, opening up the presidential debates to small party candidates and other critical issues in the forthcoming election. 


Google Floats Out to Sea

Could acts of traditional marine piracy and online technological piracy converge at last?

In a move reminiscent of The Pirate Bay's bid for Sealand, an offshore oil rig turned independent nation, Google proposes offshore data barges on the high seas to avoid taxes and regulation.

Yet another reason for me to pursue a career as a Maritime Lawyer!

Luck be a Lady

Judge Posner opines on prediction markets and the election.

ht/Erick B


Questioning Wisconsin's Continuing Lean to Obama

What a misleading Chicago Tribune headline.

No actual poll is cited in the article to buttress the proposition that Obama still leads in Wisconsin.

And only one poll has been conducted in Wisconsin in the past month, it seems.  Strategic Vision, done in Wisconsin between September 5 and 7 shows Obama up - by three points.  Which is inside the margin of error.

RealClearPolitics, too, bases its overall electoral calculus - even a 'no-toss-ups' version - on that that shaky foundation.

'Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood'

I'm beginning to like this Aaron Rodgers Era.

Sitemeter is Gone

I know a transfer of formats was scheduled, so I hope it comes back.

UPDATE: I did the legwork. We now have Sitemeter back. But I concur with Althouse and many others - it's terrible.  The new iteration embodies all the excessive complexities that made me dislike Google Analytics.  

It's now more difficult to get a simple assessment of blog traffic.

Galveston - Damage through Comparison Photos



Then - Murphy's Pier.


An old view of the Flagship Hotel.

'Now' comparison photos courtesy of the Houston Chronicle. 'Then' photos from my March stop in Galveston.  Fortunately, it seems that most of the historic Balinese Room pier restaurant survived from the photos.

UPDATE: Wow. Check this out. Here's a photo from the New York Times of the Galveston Seawall Monument after the hurricane's landfall. Look back at my photo from March (which I posted the other day) to see just how much the immense top stone portion moved.



McCain's Web Illiteracy

The ad slammed him.

And the topic should not be off limits.

But the ad's thrust seems partially thwarted by this - a sad connection I never made, a connection that makes me think of FDR, frankly.


Virginia's anti-spam law falls on First Amendment grounds.

The pullout method

It looks like Russia is pulling out, again, from the marching grounds of Georgia:
Starting before dawn, hundreds of Russian soldiers packed up their gear and abandoned earthen-walled bases they had set up on the outskirts of the Black Sea port of Poti and at three other locations in western Georgia that they had promised to leave by Monday.

"They have fulfilled the commitment" made in an agreement worked out by French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, Georgian Security Council chief Alexander Lomaia told The Associated Press.

But Lomaia said that even with the departure of those 250 soldiers and 20 armored vehicles pulled, some 1,200 Russian soldiers still remained at 19 positions inside Georgia.

Of course, the Russians have done more than enough to make it clear that they can come back any time they want, and may well do in the future: after I visited Gori after the original withdrawal of troops there, Michael Totten reported that Russia was back in control there, apparently with Chechen militiamen in tow. Strange and eerie.

(As a related aside, Slate has a fanstastic piece on dining at the height of the Georgian romance. You should read it.)

Flight Interrupted

D.C. - I didn't plan a pitstop, but here I am.

Delta cancelled my flight out of LaGuardia.  So I'm sitting watching Ike coverage at Reagan, hoping the second leg of journey actually happens - the flight number that ends at New Orleans on my ticket is listed on screens here as destined for Atlanta.  We'll see.

New York proved an absolute whirlwind visit.  After marching through three law firms' batteries of interviews over two days (and having my green and white Tulane umbrella mysteriously 'lost' by one big firm [!]), I had a chance to walk past Lehman Brothers and meet up with a few friends in town. 

This morning, after a sound sleep, I had brunch with the lovely Suchita Shah, a UW alum, Columbia med student, and friend of the blog.  Among other things, she talked about the med school interview process.  Interviews!  What a concept - maybe law schools should take the hint.

Manhattan, I found, is crisp and almost glorious in the morning.

[Images from the WPA mural 'Flight' at LaGuardia's historic Marine Air Terminal.]

1.  Palin, need I say it, has utterly stolen the critical chatter and buzz from Obama.  Three weeks ago, all the checkout magazines had glowing photos of Michelle Obama, or Barack and his family.  Now, everything is lipstick and Trig.

2.  Those who stayed for Ike on the barrier island that is Galveston.  They should not expect rescue.  While I considered staying in New Orleans for a hyped up Gustav, I knew I would be on my own.  Given the pervasive, and dire warnings, it is difficult to have a great deal of empathy for anyone voluntarily stranded now seeking rescue.

3.  Palin's interview with Gibson.  She was quite evasive in certain regards, and she had a glaring tendency to cleave to prepared, slightly un-related patriotic responses when she felt cornered.  That needs to end before she faces Biden if she wants to look legitimate.  I do agree with Krauthammer on the vagueness of the Bush Doctrine as a concept, despite Gibson's effort to frame it as a Gotchya moment.

4.  Lafitte, Louisiana floods.  I visited the little town on the bayou earlier this summer.  Apparently, everyone has been rescued.  It's interesting to note that surge from Ike was actually two feet higher in southern Louisiana than it was for Hurricane Rita - one reason the world's one and only Tabasco Plant on Avery Island was building its own huge levee when I stopped by this summer.  I wonder if it helped.  Levees are being overtopped in Plaquemines.


The Galveston Seawall

Here are a few photos from the Galveston Seawall - the only thing standing between Hurricane Ike's massive anticipated storm surge and the barrier island city, devastated in a monstrous earlier hurricane in 1900.

I visited Galveston on my spring break foray into Texas this spring, and it's hard to see how the wall would do much in the face of a 20-foot plus surge.