1.31.2008

When It's Sleepy Time Down South


With tonight's Mardis Gras parades canceled due to storms, a tune to set the mood.

Or this version, if you want a bouncing Boswell ball and scrolling, racier time-period lyrics.




















GOP Debate, On Sandra Day O'Connor

Video Here

Responses, toward the end, on whether or not Justice O'Connor was the right choice for the U.S. Supreme Court:

Huckabee: No real answer other than that he's pro-life.
Ron Paul: No.
McCain: Proud of her, but gives a different set of ideal judges.
Romney: No.

Interesting to see that both McCain and Romney held up Roberts and Alito as their standard for judicial appointments, rather than the old Republican standard of Scalia and Thomas.

Also interesting...Rehnquist is never used as a candidate's role model or example of being "too soft" or insufficiently textual.

It would be refreshing to hear more in-depth answers from candidates on their preferences for judicial philosophy and methodology, something that reflected an understanding built on greater depth and nuance.

Schwarzenegger and the Slur

Which will get more media traction?

This or this?

1.30.2008

In Memoriam

For fellow Kielite, "Ginnie" Ortlieb.

I have never encountered a human being who faced down so many medical obstacles to her life. There were so many times I was amazed that she had soldiered through. She never put on a smile through it all - she was a smile. Even when she could barely see, when she could barely walk, when she was rushed to the hospital one more time.

I visited Ginnie once during college when she was in the UW Hospital in Madison. It was unlike any hospital visit I'd ever made. I will never forget how she greeted me cheerily, wearing a bright, colorful Tweetie Bird shirt, the perfect mirror of her personality, a personality that had long ago transcended illness, one that had pared away all the facades and fuzzy lenses we put in front of ourselves and seen life for what it was. She will be sorely missed.

I last talked with Ginnie in September. She was, as always, warm, caring, and genuinely interested in what I was up to at the time. We had a great conversation. During its course, I learned, to my surprise, that she was a reader of this blog. It was comforting to see that she was smiling as we parted, smiling despite the great weariness her body had imparted. But that was Ginnie.

It is tough to lose a person dear to you when you're over a thousand miles away with no feasible way of making it back to pay your respects.

To Ken and the family, my respects and deepest sympathy.

Here's some food for thought...

while I'm contemplating what to make myself for dinner.

A few days ago I saw a story on a new product in Europe: canned cheeseburgers:

I honestly can't figure out how I feel about this: is it the greatest achievement of mankind thus far, or is it an abomination of foodstuffs that deserves to be hucked back into the gaping maw of whatever food processing plant it was spewed from?

Today I saw a story about poor people in Haiti making and eating dirt cookies:

A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

If they start canning mud for dirt cookies, would you even bother washing the pan before baking them?

Update: A guy cooked and ate a canned hamburger here

Rubber Hits the Road

Where are the dollars going in the wake of recent presidential poltical happenings?












From what I know, for the first time in this cycle's real money-backed political futures markets at Slate, a Republican candidate exceeds a price of $25 on the chart.
McCain's trendline rockets up toward Hillary while Obama takes a dip (despite "no delegates at stake" in Florida) and Romney springs a significant leak.

5th Circuit In the House

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is officially in the building today for oral arguments here at Tulane Law.

Here's what's on the docket.

Edwards Out

It makes sense given his numbers - and despite his insistence on staying in for the long haul, which made about as much sense as this.

In the absence of an open endorsement at this time, I wonder how Edward's elimination will play out in states like Wisconsin, where Edwards performed well last time - skew to Obama or Hillary? It's a tough call in my mind.

While Edwards indicated a preference for or alignment with Obama as an "agent of change," I think his base in Wisconsin last time around was a heavily labor-Democrat population that might be more inclined to Hillary policy-wise. Yet that bloc is a bit more culturally conservative in Wisconsin, too, so I don't see how either Democratic candidate would really appeal to that aspect.

UPDATE: Edwards is actually officially dropping out here in New Orleans, down in the Lower 9th Ward, at noon.

Ghosts on Tchoupitoulas Street























Lingering.

1.29.2008

"I'm even in this party - that's a big party!"

Giuliani. To drop out, endorse McCain tomorrow.

Confirmed by MSNBC.

To All My Midwestern Friends























Hope you're having a sunny, balmy day, just as we are here. Current Temp in New Orleans: 72 Degrees F

Hope your city's housing stock is in slightly better shape, too.

Right now, a small, garrulous flock of escaped green and yellow parrots is making a racket in the green magnolia trees across the street.

Campaign Cash and Elected Judges

A new statistical study of the relationship between donor cash and judicial decision-making is slated for publication in the Tulane Law Review in the near future:

A local law professor has completed a study (soon to be published in the Tulane Law Review) that suggests a connection between judicial decisions and campaign contributions. The finding is based on the use of statistics, which no doubt some folks will say are misleading. But, statistics aside, no one should be happy about judges taking campaign contributions from lawyers who appear before them. Least of all judges.

While the piece seems to focus exclusively on Louisiana judges, I look forward to reviewing Professor Palmer's study.

Beer, Super Bowl, Competition, and the WSJ

America, in an article.

1.28.2008

Night's End























Circle Bar. Post-parade workers. General Robert E. Lee. New Orleans.

SOTU Simul Simul Blog

I'll be doing a bit of simul-blog of President Bush's final State of the Union tonight, simultaneously working on my motion in limine project for Legal Research and Writing. We'll see how it goes.

SCOTUS at SOTU? Looks like Alito, Breyer - who's looking quite old, Kennedy, and Roberts.

Laura and the girls have arrived in the chamber. Jenna's black dress is far better looking and more appropriate for the occasion than Barbara's choice for the evening. Speaker Pelosi's in lavendar, having a great time up on the rostrum with Cheney, no doubt.

CSPAN is looking a little fuzzy for some reason.

8:05 Central - And here's POTUS.

A blue tie? A sign of unity?

Maine's Olympia Snowe gets in a handshake. Mary Landrieu of Lousiana does, too.

Something's screwy with the C-SPAN audio.

A wink from Bush as he sips some water. Was it Hillary? Ted Kennedy? And now a half wink over the Republican side.

Pelosi seems to be clapping vigorously at the prospect of this being Bush's final SOTU.

In the opening remarks, a hint at China's rise as an economic competitor.

And now, the economy. He's a little feisty. No pork for you. Act swiftly.

[But will a tax rebate this summer be too late even if the stimulus is passed tomorrow?]

The IRS accepts money order?

There's Dave Obey sitting next to Charlie Rangel - Rangel laughs (and rightly so) at Bush's remarks about the government keeping a balanced budget like American families.

Earmarks = bad. Talk of veto.

...the Eastern District of Louisiana says so, but does the Fifth Circuit caselaw?


Housing. Housing. Housing.

The No Child Left Behind Act. Hmmm. Read Chapter 9 of Conscience of a Conservative. Education is the province of states, not the federal government. Funded or not, I disagree. Grants or scholarships for students excelling in specific areas critical to U.S. national security are appropriate, like the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for math and science students.

Free Trade agreements. He gets, at the very least, that these agreements are in America's strategic interests, although he doesn't specically detail how we're now competing with China for South American trade.

He whips the word "hemisphere" out as if proud of getting it right after all his practicing.

And now - wait for it, wait for it, one more time...NUKE U LER!

He's right on the unfairness of Kyoto-type treaties.

...let's see, an unpublished source. Man, I despise citations.

Stem Cells - why are we increasing funding? Morals and science aside, why is the government expending funds on it?

8:30 - OOH - now judges. A strict constructionist line. "A prompt up or down vote."

Awesome - the four justices present are completely immobile as the camera pans over. Black robes. No twitching. No movement. Impartial. Nice work.

"The armies of compassion..." in the Gulf?

NOLA! A North American summit headed here to New Orleans. Should be fun.

It looks like Pelosi is reading a book - perhaps it's the speech text - that's more interesting. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a large, bright purple dot in the crowd, stands clapping, alone, on her side of the aisle.

Foreign Worker's proposal gets a chilly reception from the GOP.

"Advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world..." Don't make bellicose talk about Iran.

"blood soaked finery" - that is clearly not a Bush line

"We will deliver justice to our enemies." The young soldier seated above Jenna Bush is very late to clap, claps briefly, and is done before everyone around him. Haunting.

A mini surge for Afghanistan. Marines.

..."It takes two to tango, in court as well as on the ballroom floor." Can evidence of this subsequent remedial remedy be used to impeach or not?

Iraq. The narrative. Widespread applause for the work of the troops and civil servants. Even at least one of the Justices.

A full-throated roar from the Republicans as Bush announces al-Qeada is on the run and will be defeated.

Was that a random elk mating call or a Marine hoo-wah?

"a protective overwatch mission" A new euphemism.

[Bush, really, has not changed over the course of seven years. His rhetoric remains the same, the narrative style, the tone, the unchanged insistence on Iraq. The belief that everything is possible through a little government help. The insistence that things are looking better. A black and white view. A man who needed to create a Reaganesque good versus evil storyline to fit his abilities, his mindset. A man who does not recognize how broad a brush he paints with and what it will mean overseas.]

Iran. Nuke u ler!

"And above all know this...America will confront those who threaten our troops..."

Alito's been clapping rather enthusiastically, even standing, throughout the evening. The other justices have been more subdued. Breyer now gets in a few half-hearted slaps of his thigh.

Fully fund a global poverty initiative? Break the cyle of famine. [Bush, as in SOTUs past, tries to solve all the world's problems - no matter what the cost]

Is there anything we haven't increased funding for?

New measures for vets are great, but talk about the necessary, unsexy cuts in spending that must correspond.

...does this deserve its own subsection in Argument or not?

9:02 - liberty in their hearts (what about in actuality?)

the state of our union will remain strong

[the young soldier seated above Jenna Bush is still seated even as everyone else rises at the end of the speech]

...ok, it's time to buckle down and Westlaw some of these cases cited in the footnotes.

State of the Apartment

My friends, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the State of the Apartment as my two roommates and I near the midpoint of our lease.

Our two-bedroom apartment had a successful first apartment-wide convention back in August. The main point of contention was the dispute over rent; the large state proposed a plan for each state to pay equally which was met with just opposition from the two smaller states who proposed a much fairer plan. After much deliberation in a hot and humid room, a somewhat amicable settlement was reached.

Shortly after the great Rent Compromise of August, the Apartmental Congress overwhelmingly passed the historic Charter Charter which was needed to establish timely payments of the bill to maintain the security of our stragetic inter-apartmental communications system.

Today, despite those earlier legislative triumphs, the state of the apartment could be better.

In some areas, the apartment runs like clockwork, once such example being the Department of the Interior. In nearly six months there have been no complaints concerning the kitty litter box.

In other areas we have had to come together for a solution. We have to deal with the rising cost and perpetual scarcity of milk. As we all know, our apartment has to import all of its daily milk requirements, which leaves us vulnerable to the whims of the White Hen Pantry. There is no quick fix to this problem, but if we all use what milk we have wisely, we should get through the time to the next trip to the grocery store.

Our policies have been historically successful. Our move to shut the outer aluminum storm windows has successfully mitigated the effect of changing atmospheric temperatures. It's too early to tell if the atmosphere will continue to deviate from normal temperatures. To deal with the ongoing issue of apartment safety, as this is the city, the front door will continue to be locked routinely as well as the windows.

To continue our success, tonight I am proposing a some legislation. The first is the Clean Dishes Act, which says in short, if you make it dirty, don't just stack it up in the sink and look at the rest of us like we're supposed to wash your dishes, the both of us have already washed our own and you should have figured out the pattern by now.

The other is the much needed Take out the Trash Act. The premise is the same as the proposed Clean Dishes Act. Dude, it's seriously starting to pile up and we both know you know because it's totally going to start to block your bedroom door soon. Both Acts have already cleared the committee.

If we adopt my proposals, I know our apartment can continue strong into this next year.

What About Judicial Nominees?

A president's choice of judicial nominees, crucial as it is, has been less of a focal point in the 2008 cycle thus far than it seemed in both 2000 and 2004. At least in my perspective.

A few parties have broached the issue along the way, but it hasn't hit prime-time by any means. And candidates, by and large, haven't said much of anything I'd qualify as new or revealing.

Perhaps the issue simply hasn't risen to the surface beyond the ranks of single issue camps like pro-life and pro-choice groups. The primary races have been awash with other crucial issues - Iraq, the specter of recession, healthcare. The basic need to pare down the oversized fields has also been a significant threshold issue.

Today, however, John McCain sounded off in the face of conservative critics of his take on judicial nominees, reiterating the standard support for strict constructionism and adherence to the Constitution, as well as Justices Alito and Roberts. Interestingly, however, he said this:

I asked whether McCain had ever drawn any distinction between Roberts and Alito. "No, no, of course not," McCain said.

McCain seemed to be defending himself in context, but why doesn't he draw any distinction?

He also offered a defense of the notorious Gang of 14 on pragmatic grounds:

"And maybe as an aside, why would I say anything derogatory about somebody like that? What would be the point, after working so hard to get not only those two confirmed, but the Gang of 14 ­ which I know is controversial ­ but our record of getting those judges confirmed that the president nominated, I'm still proud of."

Some well on the political right aren't buying it.

But in the face of it all, we have this piece on judicial philosophies from Stanley Fish, who, quite aptly, cites a string of judicial nominees who wandered off the ranch as years on the bench elapsed after confirmation:

In the end, the only way to tell the difference between conservative and progressive judges may be the Justice Potter Stewart way. You know them when you see them, and when you know them it will be because of the decisions they hand down, not be because of any interpretive theory they may profess, even one they loudly proclaim. And that means that when a candidate loudly proclaims that he or she will appoint judges who promise to be faithful to this or that theory, you will have learned nothing.

Yet who would they nominate? It's still of immense interest to me. Giuliani, long the subject of most judicial nominee stories given his need to reassure a base, tossed out a telling list of judicial advisors back when he was viable. I like the concept of actually naming a few names and would like to see others toss out even hypothetical names.

What about the other candidates? Ron Paul? Mike Gravel? John Edwards?

Would there be noticeable differences in the lists of Obama and Clinton? McCain and Romney?

Would McCain contemplate nominating this guy along the lines of TR's nomination of this guy?

They agree on one thing at least.

A Petri Challenger

You're going to need a lot more than this, Mr. Kittleson.

And even then, I doubt you'd have a chance.

Also, Petri was elected to Congress and took office by way of a special election in 1979, not 1980 as the APC article states.

Hangin' out


Sumqayit style.

1.27.2008

Things heat up in Florida

There has been a lot of coverage of this all over the Internet and on the cable networks. A lot of conservative bloggers and talk show hosts have been hitting McCain hard for it, but if you look at the transcript posted at The Corner, I think the Senator has a point.

Does Romney support the war? Yes. Has he been as strong as McCain? No and few have been. My question is what do you think? Is McCain lying and smearing Gov. Romney, or is he making a legitimate point?

Karnivale Parades: Sparta and Pegasus





















Carrying the traditional flambeaux.
































Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Posse - this guy had quite the Farvian sidearm when came to throwing beads.





























The chain gang marches down the neutral ground between the streetcar tracks at parade's end.


Obromide

From one of Althouse's commenters, an astute observation:

Why do so many of Obama's supporter's statements remind me of an NPR pledge drive, where marginally talented radio personalities have to fill five hours with repetitive pablum that ends up portraying NPR programming as a kind of corrective laxative?

With a little effort, you could turn the narrative of the Obama campaign into a collection of secular carols to be sung at UNICEF non-denominational holiday events.

Well put.

SC & Beyond

There you have it.

The question is whether the Obama appearance of strength is enough to shift trendlines in the big, moderate states of Super Duper Tuesday:

Dem February 5 Polls
TN: Clinton 34, Obama 20
AZ: Clinton 37, Obama 27
IL: Obama 51, Clinton 22
MO: Clinton 44, Obama 31
CA: Clinton 43, Obama 28

And here's a scattering of GOP numbers, which show a bit of a problem for Romney in states with big delegate prizes even if he takes Florida:

GOP February 5 Polls
IL: McCain 31, Romney 20
MO: Huckabee 27, McCain 26
MO: McCain 31, Huckabee 25
CA: McCain 29, Romney 17
AZ: McCain 40, Romney 23

1.26.2008

The Secret Lives of Photographs

Here, sequestered away from public view

George and the Dragon

I commend to you two items about the overarching forces and factors that are changing your life - or will impact it soon - whether you like it or not.

















Print them out. Take them to a coffeeshop or your favorite snug seat. Grab a beverage and get familiar with:

1. An epic must-read piece for any American concerned about America's place in the world in coming years, especially with regards to the emerging Orwellian "Big Three" poles of China, E.U., and the U.S.

2. A sweeping look at the staggering - and potentially precarious - economic and financial relationship between China and the United States. James Fallows of The Atlantic hints at for whom the bell tolls:
"With a lack of tragic imagination, Americans have drifted into an arrangement that is comfortable while it lasts, and could last for a while more. But not much longer. What’s left is to prepare for what we find at the end of the path we have taken."

Update on the Blogjacking

From Mixmaster in Malaysia, godfather of the Hobohookah, after investigations regarding the recent Indonesian blog-jacking of this blog:

Yo, that website that was swiping your stuff was actually in Malay. They were talking about poverty in the Malay part. Couldn't get much more info that that. Ultra weird.

Indeed.

Guest Blog: South Carolina Democratic Primary Field Report

[More pics coming soon when blogger lets them upload]

Joe Luebke from Clemson, SC here once again to talk to you about what is going down in South Carolina. Let’s recap on my predictions from last week; I predicted McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, Paul, Romney and the real results were McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, Romney, Paul. Also Fred Thompson dropped out of the race as I predicted and unfortunately the Packers lost. So this week the Democrats go to the polls. There are only three candidates that are worth talking about here, sorry Kucinich and Gravel.

Hilary Clinton: She is the one democratic candidate that did not make a trip to the Clemson area. In fact I have not found many supporters of Hillary Clinton around the area. However I have heard she has a lot of support in areas like Charleston and Myrtle Beach. I really don’t know much about here candidacy in South Carolina.



John Edwards: I went and saw him here at Clemson. Just like in 2004, he is trying to play the South Carolina’s favorite son role. He was born just up the road from Clemson in the rural town of Seneca. He went on to attend Clemson for a year before going to North Carolina State. He has also had the most commercials running on TV in South Carolina.

Barack Obama: He has had the most rallies and attention in this part of South Carolina. He has had a lot of celebrates, Chris Tucker, Tatyana Ali (Ashley from the Fresh Prince of Bell Air), and Kal Penn (Kumar from 'Harold and Kumar') to name a few, come to campus to rally support. I had a chance to see Obama twice, once on campus yesterday and back in November in Spartanburg, SC. The November speech was interesting because of the way of he fed off the energy of the mainly African American crowd.

Yesterday on campus, the event was in the outdoor amphitheatre where security was very tight. All the surrounding buildings were closed and there were sharpshooters on every roof. It was by far the largest crowd out of all the events I went to and he didn’t even have Chuck Norris. As always he spoke his message of urgency and change in Washington.

As for my predictions about today’s primary they are as follows: if there is a high voter turnout especially among African American community, Obama wins in a landslide. It gets interesting between the favorite son John Edwards and Hillary for second place. So I say this: Obama, Edwards, Hillary.

1.25.2008

Bill Clinton as Faust

Clearly, being the first First Man in the history books is worth any short term cost to reputation, worth deploying any conceivable disingenuous tactic (ht/FH).

Clearly, John McCain is the next biggest threat to a Clinton II presidency.

A Dose of Tulane























Gibson Hall, named for a Confederate general, shows off a little Southern Richardson Romanesque at a rare non-denominational public school turned private.



















Green Wave, ever green, since 1834.
























Richardson Memorial, the Tulane School of Architecture.



















Ye olde quadrangle.


















Live Oaks slither across St. Charles Avenue in Audubon Park.

"Death and Taxes"

A great visual representation of where your tax dollars go.

HT/Wolf

1.24.2008

Wisconsin 2008 Primary: February 19 Means More

February 5, 2008 - "Super Duper Tuesday" - will not be conclusive:

"it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day."

I'm increasingly glad I'm voting absentee.

Louisiana holds its primary on February 9. Besides Ron Paul holding an event out near the Louis Armstrong International Airport in the past week (the supporters, from the video, seemed pretty pumped and even greeted him with the local 'Who Dat?' cheer), I haven't heard of much candidate activity in the area.

Truthfully, spend your moments elsewhere

When I saw the commercial for Fox's new game show, The Moment of Truth, I thought it would be pretty interesting to watch, even though I'm not a game show person. What's more entertaining than watching people voluntarily squirm from being asked embarrassing questions on tv for money?

Finally it was on last night and it left me disappointed. They only went through softball questions like "Is your hair real?", "Have you looked at other guys in the locker room shower?", and "Have you been through a co-worker's possessions without his knowledge?" Embarrassing, but not particularly life damaging for some random person.

I was hoping for questions about illegal activities or more touchy stuff along the lines of "Do you hate __ people?" I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that that stuff comes further along in the questioning than where they got.

The biggest blunder of all is the speed of the show. It literally takes an hour to watch the 'moment of truth'. In the first show, an hour long, they asked about 20 questions from two people. It's blatantly obvious how drawn out the show is. It's painful to watch them take at least 2 minutes to ask and answer a yes or no question. The pace combined with the huge amount of over-dramatization of the show is to the point that its condescending to the viewer. They need to work on that.

The same host used to host another game show a few years back, Russian Roulette, the draw being that contestants would stand on trap doors that open when they lose. As far as bang for the time spent watching, that show was better.

"Rudy has fallen like the Dow Jones industrial average,"

In Florida.

DJIA - past three months.

Giuliani's trendline, under GOP, Florida.



















McCain and Romney are gaining support at the expense of Huckabee and Giuliani, if the polls are to be believed. McCain's rate of climb is higher than Romney's, but his overall trendline is significantly more volatile than Romney's steady ramping up.

McCain's resurrection from the tomb of summer and fall is incredible - and I wouldn't be surprised if the closed nature of the Florida primary may deal him another walk through the valley before independents on Super Duper Tuesday can pull him out of it again.

"In July I said a McCain recovery would be a miracle of Biblical proportions. Now I've seen, yet I still find it hard to believe." - Professor Charles Franklin, pollster

I Still Write for the Badger Herald?

According to the byline of a piece on The Badger Herald's website (which has since been modified), I wrote a column supporting Mitt Romney.

Let me be clear: I did not write the column. I do not endorse Mitt Romney for President at this time.

I just posted a comment on the Herald boards to that effect, so we'll see if it gets approved and posted even in the wake of the revision.

Ironically, the reasons the true author uses to justify his support of Romney - namely, the prospect of massive government spending to bailout the Michigan auto industry among other things - are precisely the reasons I don't support Romney.

I don't know if the error appeared in the print version of the paper or not. At any rate, I'm amused - and slightly concerned, because a Google search for "Brad Vogel Romney" now shows this. The curse of the cache...

As a law student, I wonder vaguely what the law has to say about any damages to my reputation resulting from such an error... :)

HT/CB, Mike Fay, Google Alert, Al

UPDATE: As of 4:54 PM Central Time, The Badger Herald has yet to approve my comment on the online story (which I posted prior to noon) for some reason. Additionally, it has not approved my subsequent comment inquiring why the first comment was not approved.

My guess for a motive? This or this.

UPDATE 2: Now the Google search for the same term shows this LIB post as the top two, followed by the cache of the erroneous Herald piece. It's like a mirror reflecting in a mirror. .5wOOt!

1.23.2008

Winged Feet




C-SPAN Simul-Blog

I'm watching C-SPAN2. It's a tape from a Congressional hearing earlier today.

Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag is talking with Rep. John Spratt D-South Carolina, Budget Committee Chairmen. They appear to be almost alone in the hearing room.

It is absolutely surreal.

Billions are being tossed about. Iraq and Afghanistan. Troop level scenarios.

"So it is a pretty dire forecast in that sense?" - Spratt

"Even the medium-term outlook is not good." - Orszag

"The long-term fiscal outlook is quite dismal." - Orszag

Oh - now Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Ranking Member, jumps in.

"If we have the largest tax increase in the history of earth - the largest tax increase in the history of our country, it's not going to make a difference?" - Ryan

"...just a general program of fiscal relief would not do that." - Orszag

This is edifying; Orszag explains, in response to Ryan's queries, why increasing the amount for food stamps are a better economic shot in the arm than infrastructure.

"We spent $933 billion dollars." - Ryan

"Do you agree with Chairman Bernanke's..." - Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas

"In terms of recession insurance...something of that magnitude would be appropriate." - Orszag

"A quadrupling of the national debt in the course of a decade." - Edwards

"The publicly held debt at the end of 2007..."

"So $1.6 trillion over the course of this administration." - Edwards

Now we're talking trillions of dollars of debt. And they're all so calm about it.

"If Congress made all of those tax cuts permanent..." - Edwards

"A reduction of about $2.2 trillion..." - Orszag

"...very sobering information..." - Rep. Gresham Barrett, R- South Carolina

MORE: Orszag's blog. And the video.

What to talk about?

One gets tired after a time.

I dashed off two substantial posts earlier today only to find fatal flaws in the premise of each one at the last moment on the very brink of publishing.

But you, though?

What brings you here this late January evening?

Here, I have one last can of Hamm's in the fridge.

Florida Frenzy

As the Florida Primary approaches, keep an eye on this blog with a view of the Atlantic for some knowing detail and on-the-ground analysis of the unfolding situation.

1.22.2008

Amidst Everything, This

Heath Ledger's death, volatile markets, Democratic race war, Republican Florida flux, Russian belligerence...

...and a question that should not be pushed to the back burner, that I will shove intentionally to the front of the stove this evening:

Are We Ready for China?

It's a brilliant piece - crystallizes my concerns almost precisely in an eloquent, reasoned manner.

The article also references my former professor, a China hand at the University of Wisconsin, Ed Friedman.

I Guess I Met James Dean

Or at least the photo (bottom row, second from left) would seem to suggest.

Besides the nose, the figure's resemblance is uncanny, as a good friend alerted me after coming across the shot. The build, the shape of the head, the hair - it's all there otherwise.

Cool.

Or is it my doppelganger?

Coming to a Youtube Video Near You

A glistening new tool for the toolbox.

The Lost Ark

The Smithsonian follows its own Indiana Jones questing in Ethiopia.

1.21.2008

Fred Thompson Done?

Mayhaps.

If so, will he endorse McCain? If so, will it do McCain any good in a GOP-only Florida primary?

UPDATE: Yep, he's done.

All alone in the dark

What happens to people who try it voluntarily for two days.

I don't know what I'd do. I probably try to keep my mind busy but losing a sense of time would be the hardest part.

Show Review: Peel at Circle Bar























Thanks to my friend Kristen, I made my way down to the Circle Bar for a unique show last night by the band Peel.

An indie pop rock band from Austin, Peel delivered a rousing, if overly brief, wall of sound set in the dim red shabby Gothic grandeur of the venerable Circle Bar as streetcars rumbled past the heavily-draped windows, obscuring now and then the giant white column outside topped by a statue of General Robert E. Lee. Faulkner's "A Rose for Miss Emily" might have been playing out upstairs.























Dakota Smith, the quintet's frontman, combined an uncontrollable Presley-style gyration with Cobainic mop to electrify the intimate living room space beneath the giant glowing red clock face hovering overhead. Fresh off a show in Shreveport, the band was headed back to Austin following the show.
























The venue proved as fascinating as I had hoped; dingy, but highly memorable, the half-destroyed mural above the bar, a steamboat and Southern gentlemen lighted by Chinese lanterns, old bricks emerging here and there into the smoke and bass and conversation.

"Who's your biggest influence?" I asked Dakota after. "My father," he replied. A former country musician. And indeed I had detected a thread of Texas twang infused in the music.























It was all very New Orleans, right down to the viny silhouette scrambling crazily across the ten foot window in the breezeway, the totally inappropriate, roughed up, transparent plastic chairs around the lone front table.

Outside, it was cold and dark. Almost as cold and dark as Lambeau.

15.6% of Jesus

would vote for Ron Paul.

WWBFD?

A classic post-911 conflict emerges between liberty and security, setting the stage for a looming states' rights showdown.

What would Benjamin Franklin do? The qualifiers on his oft-misquoted quote are key.

1.20.2008

McCain as Bullmoose

A column at Cato rips John McCain (again) as an old school Progressive in the mold of post-presidency Teddy Roosevelt and, war views notwithstanding, Bob LaFollette.

While I, too, have concerns with the McCain-Feingold restrictions - the author's chief beef - I wonder whether that legislation is worse from a Madisonian view than the prospect of a general increase in the size, power, and spending of the federal government that the election of Giuliani, Clinton, Huckabee, Obama, Romney, or Edwards seems to portend. While the implications of McCain's view on America's continuing presence in Iraq might negate it, his stance against excessive federal spending has been public and longstanding.

Statistically speaking, UW-Madison's Charles Franklin shows what looks like a strange nationwide Republican consensus emerging on McCain - even before his win in South Carolina. Romney is the only other GOP candidate with an upward trend.

Also: I also wonder whether James Madison would view financial participation in elections as "speech" protected under the First Amendment, the author's contention, or generally protected under traditional fundamental conceptions of representative government and campaign finance in America (tangentially, see George Washington's election to the House of Burgesses by hard cider), perhaps reserved to individual citizens by the language of the Ninth Amendment.

Worth a Ponder

Jib raises the right questions, concerns about the intersection of blogging and history:

Bravo.

I was discussing a smaller scale venture along the same lines with the intent of archiving a bit of UW-Madison campus blogdom with HP a few weeks back:

"..it would be nice for the [campus] archives to have a snapshot of a genuine development in campus life and dialogue, especially since unlike a student newspaper that can simply be subscribed to and archived, we would probably have to actively facilitate the creation of any record. Further, as blogs die out, the potential for all record to be lost gets pretty high - the Slanty Shanty's audio is all gone already since the files were stored on UW server space and a number of the smaller short-lived campus blogs, like Schneeberg, have disappeared. (the same concern applies to campus phenomena that are largely or exclusively conducted on Facebook)"

I know CB is accruing some blog history for an independent project, but I think the greater scale anticipated in Jib's observation is right on target.

Politicking

Slate's John Dickerson talks straight about Barack Obama's failure to do so.

Nevada, South Carolina - McCain's win in light of 2000 means something. And Ron Paul #2?

It's about the delegates? For Romney.

Florida or bust. Is Huckabee now gunning for VP under McCain? Will Fred Thompson hang around just to be the albatross around his neck?

---------------------------------------------------

THE LOUISIANA CAUCUSES, PRIMARY - GOP Caucus: January 22, 2008; Primary: February 9, 2008

The lay of the land.

Ron Paul's engaged in the caucus stage.

Will Louisiana matter in the electorate's mind if Super Duper Tuesday is less than conclusive?

1.19.2008

Big, Easy, January























In introducing the new roommate, Phil, to the city, the shores of the Industrial Canal seemed a good place to begin.









































The banks of the Mississippi are rather industrial in places, too.





































Shooting a Nike commercial on a basketball court at night.


Green, Gold, Cold

Are you ready for Sunday night?!

Treating death

Turns out starving cells of oxygen isn't what kills a body when the heart stops. Rather the damage, called a reperfusion injury, is caused by the sudden reoxyidation of the body when the heart is restarted. I came across this article about it. There's a doctor who's developing new ways to treat people, with things like blood chillers and heart-lung machines instead of cpr and defibrillators, at higher success rates.

There Was Blood

Last night. At the theater. Down on Canal Street.

There Will Be Blood.
Monstrous and monumental. The viewer is wading chest deep down in a deep, dark oil hole when the film rushes at him like a wayward drill bit - uncompromising, ominous, and with deadly force. But also an eerie, tense, epic beauty.

I have not seen a movie that rocked me at my core quite like this.

The cinematography proved stunning - meeting and exceeding the hype, evoking the most powerful techniques of Kubrick and Hitchcock at times. Daniel Day-Lewis towered darkly over the film as he should have. The musical score by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood drove blackening tension into every nook and cranny and made the movie.

Roger Ebert faulted the film for "its unbending characters, its lack of women or any reflection of ordinary society, its ending, its relentlessness." In a Lawrence of Arabia vein, I found those qualities were precisely what catapults 'There Will Be Blood' to the upper echelons of film. The lack of maudlin, commercially targeted Titanic-like romance and other stock bits gave it its power. It was barren and gritty, focused almost Rand-like on one man's daringness to rise up from the plain despite an Ellsworth Toohey (ht/OOTM) and the tragic costs that it entails, but not necessarily the failure, even in consuming madness.

The father-son relationship was presented without sentimentality and became real. The brutal interaction between reality and religion was not toned down. The landscape mirrored the harsh, flinty personas. The film brought to mind some of the starkly powerful aspects of Bad Day at Black Rock, Citizen Kane, and even Kill Bill.

Perhaps you'll find otherwise, but I was riveted. I don't find terribly many movies worth my time, money, or praise. I want one that's not shallow, one that respects me, one that has some historicity and heft to it, one that leaves me stunned, trying to make sense of it all.

Last night we missed the streetcar home. I found one. The collective, lingering silence in the seats as the credits rolled had lasted longer than we could have imagined. And that, as a friend pointed out beside me then and again as the three of us walked past the Mardis Gras bleachers in the rain, is a rare thing.

MORE:

1. Mr. Plainview hails from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, of all places. (!) So was the man who inspired the book that inspired the movie.

2. Greenwood's score also evoked Stockhausen.

1.18.2008

Tax rebates and the economy

I saw the president was speaking about sending out anti-recession rebate checks to taxpayers. I think it's completely stupid.

First of all, every $100 billion is 0.76% of our $13.13 billion economy. It's a drop in the bucket.

Secondly, 'infusing' quick money into an economy to be spent doesn't really pull the economy out of a recession. Economies and their wealth grow only when the total amount of capital increases. Fiat, or paper, money isn't capital.

Suddenly having more money does stimulate an economy, but it doesn't make true, good, sustainable growth; it's the inflationary kind. There's more money demanding products so producers make more and charge higher prices, appearing that the economy has bounced back, but soon it fades again and the currency has lost some value.

Our current trouble, the housing bubble, was caused by too much money. Interest rates were set too low starting in 2002 which made getting money cheap. Money was so cheap that banks loaned it out to people who didn't ordinarily have the means to afford those mortgages. Bubbles are caused by mal-investments from money being too abundant.

Back in November and December, over a few weeks the Fed threw at least $200 billion at the banks to cover their bad loans. Now we find that last year, picking up in December, had the highest amount of inflation in nearly two decades.

The government can stimulate a recession away by lowering interest rates, but low interest rates cause the dollar to be cheap, encouraging more bad loans, more inflation, and the dollar to lose value against other currencies. The main ways the government interacts with the economy are through the interest rate and its spending and taxing. They've already exhausted the interest rate option and the dollar is at historic lows. Politicians cut spending as often as hell freezes and running a big deficit is like pouring money into the economy anyway. Ironically, there's nothing they can do without causing damage somewhere else.

Now might be the second quarter of the recession already and it'd take until March to pass the bill, and then it'd be summer before people even started seeing money anyway.

Furthermore, if Washington realizes that giving money back to people in tax cuts or rebates helps the economy more than whatever the government usually does with it, then why don't they try to lower taxes more? In the CNN article it says that the $100 billion refunded to people's pockets in 2002 worked out to an increase in GDP of 1%. From here, the government takes in about $1100 billion in income tax, so if they cut that, then GDP would go up 11%!

How are we going to pay for this? Our national money tree is tied up with the war on terrorism right now; maybe the Chinese will help, after all, these dollars will probably end up there anyway. The government is going to 'give' us $x billions now, but in a few years we'll have to pay $(x + interest) billions in taxes? We're robbing future-Paul to pay now-Paul. It doesn't make sense.

As a matter of fact, if we're going to just toss around billions of dollars, instead of telling people to buy junk that'll break in a few years, why not do something productive and give it to NASA and tell them to get people on the moon or Mars using only American companies? (And you know how I hate government spending.) We could use another round of new technology as well as national engineering inspiration (not to mention a national non-military rallying point).

For a moment I thought about writing to some of our elected democratic officials to encourage them to oppose this but the democrats are on board with the gop for this. It might just be an election year stunt.

South Carolina GOP Primary: Guest Field Report











Hello, my name is Joe Luebke, a student at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. Right now it is primary season in South Carolina with the Republicans going to the polls Saturday and the Democrats to follow next week. Here is what I have seen so far on the Republican front:

Ron Paul: He was the first candidate to come to our corner of the state (we're in the Northwest corner of South Carolina, not far from Greenville, close to Georgia), so the Ron Paul Revolution hit the area hard. To this day there are more Ron Paul signs in Oconee and Pickens counties than any other candidate; he certainly has vocal supporters.

John McCain: He was the second Republican candidate that I had a chance to see. It was the day of the YouTube debate. I was impressed because he decided to do a town hall format and answer questions from the audience. He was able to defend his position on illegal immigration stressing that we must first secure the border before we do anything else. He also claimed he would veto pork barrel spending bills. If you saw the YouTube debate, it sounded pretty much the same.












Mike Huckabee
: He had by far the biggest crowd because of his celebrity guests. However, he seemed more content at his rally to play bass guitar, tell jokes, and show off former wrestler “The Nature Boy” Rick Flair, and of course Chuck Norris. In an effort to ask him a real policy question, I got a door slammed in my face. I then tired to track him down by his bus, but I was stopped by security when I was talking to him because Chuck Norris was coming through.












Fred Thompson
: He was at the Family Restaurant in Seneca, SC today. He was doing an interview and open Q&A with the local news. He seemed desperate. However, he was able to defend himself as a stronger conservative than the rest in between bashing the other candidates. He admitted himself that he must win or place well in South Carolina to stay competitive, so he has been on a bus tour throughout South Carolina for the last two weeks.

Conclusion: I did not get a chance to see Romney; he has actually been campaigning in Nevada the past few days. Huckabee has pretty much just been campaigning on his charm and theology degree in South Carolina, Fred has been the strong conservative voice, and despite all of this McCain leads in the polls. In the school newspaper, The Tiger, Ron Paul has been leading among all candidate Republican or Democrat the whole way.

My predictions go like this: McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, Paul, and Romney. However this is probably not even close to what will happen, but I have two more predictions for you; this may very well be the bitter end for Thompson, sorry “Friends of Fred.” Finally I am just going to throw a Packer’s Super Bowl Victory prediction for good measure.

[Thanks, Joe!]