6.29.2010

Programming Note: Estivation - and Beyond

Estivation?

Yes, blogging on my part will be lighter than usual until August.  There's less than one month to go until I take the bar, and it's time to get down to business.

I may chime in here or there - especially if something big comes up. 

You're more likely to find me noting a few key developments over at Inside the Footprint now that the issues swirling in Lower Mid-City New Orleans have reached a crucial stage.  This fall, I'll be working on similar issues as the Ed Majkrzak Historic Preservation Fellow with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

It's the first of several activities in the pipeline for my deferral year (an unanticipated silver lining of the economic downturn) before heading to New York City to work with a large, international law firm.

Stay cool.

6.28.2010

The Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms is Incorporated Against the States

Today.

ADDED:

Justice Alito, joined by the Chief Justice, and Justices Scalia and Kennedy holds that the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Due Process Clause. Justice Thomas concurs separately (in a fifty-plus page opinion) and would hold that the right to keep and bear arms is a privlege of citizenship protected by the 14th Amendment. Justice Stevens dissents alone, and Justice Breyer dissents joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Justice Scalia has a concurring opinion responding to Justice Stevens’ dissent.

ADDED: Full text.

A few questions for Kagan

Although reticent, my compatriots on the blog seem to generally lean against Kagan, as much on the grounds of tit-for-tat punishment of Obama's position on Roberts as for particular positions she's staked out so far (though please correct me in the comments if I'm misreading you). It's a position I largely disagree with -- I've never much cared for the idea of turnabout as fair play. But more than that, I don't really know what it buys Republicans -- I'd rather they not politicize the bench any more than it already has been, and if Kagan is qualified, she should be approved.

But nomination hearings should be held in a spirit of honorable opposition and terribly little is known now as to Kagan's real views; as such, I think a couple of questions are important, and their answers should determine the extent to which Republicans support or oppose the nomination.

Firstly, what is the appropriate reach of government in society? This is the fault line over which American politics divides today -- really, it's the raison d'etre of the Tea Party movement -- and her views need to be made clear. How deeply can the government reach into our lives? Can it, say, force us to buy something we don't want? Can it listen to our phone conversations?

Secondly, what defines an activist judge? This goes to Originalism, but I think it goes farther than that -- how much leeway does a judge have for getting her personal feelings involved with the matter of a case? Is judicial activism a good or a bad thing? Most seem to say that it's a negative, and I'm inclined to agree -- but how does Kagan see it?

Finally, when nominating her, President Obama "called her someone who understands the law 'as it affects the lives of ordinary people.'" Does this suggest the law has to separate effects on two different sets of people? Should we seek to be fair or to be just, assuming, as Obama's focus on "empathy" seems to, that we must choose between the two? There's a lot in that quote, and it needs to be examined.

(And a follow-up question: why do I always want to pronounce her first name "Yelena" instead of "Elena"?)

6.27.2010

Heed the Oracle

Tomorrow.

"I found the people apparently very poor."

But a more industrious crowd of men, women, and children I have never seen.  Many of them were felling trees and clearing land; others were busy shaving shingles by hand, while women were splitting the blocks, and the children were packing the shingles; old people were cooking meals; some men were hauling shingles to Green Bay in lumber wagons drawn by oxen; some men were harvesting, other threshing with flails, other burning logs and branches; many were making or brewing their own beer, and nearly all the men were smoking tobacco which they had raised on their own land.  Many of them had cattle, some of them had wagons and yokes of oxen, a few had teams of horses; many raised their own pork; those having maple trees on their land would make their own sugar from maple sap; and all or nearly all of them had patches of from five to twenty acres under cultivation.

Xavier Martin recalls the Belgian pioneers in northeastern Wisconsin in the late 1850s as they finally got back on their feet following three brutal years in the forests of the New World.

John Dibert Tuberculosis Hospital























From the 1920s, a different time:



Here's a look at modern tuberculosis rates around the world - and a positive sign domestically.

6.26.2010

But not forgotten

The Stalin statue that graced menaced stood on the central square in Gori is no more:
The 6-meter-high statue was removed in the dead of the night in an unannounced operation. Georgian media said police tried to prevent journalists from filming the process, beating some of them.

Local officials said the statue is to be moved to the courtyard of a museum dedicated to Stalin and replaced on the main square by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia.
Video is at the link. Here are some photos of the museum; here is a shot of the statue and some background on the fight over it. Seems ol' Djugashvili is still crushing media freedom, even from beneath six truckloads of cement.

(Aside, Baku's statue of Nariman Narimanov is still standing proud.)

6.25.2010

A good call

Working in a call center, you get a lot of odd things on the other end of the line. Most of the time it's human oddity in all its many, splendid varieties. But every so often, it's someone else's hold music. Usually the latter is either aggressively inoffensive elevator music, or country.

But the other day, I caught the first lines of the third stanza of M Ward's For Beginners. And that brightened the day just a little bit.

Oh yeah, change...

President Obama is sure showing those corrupt old Republicans a thing or two about fulfilling campaign promises and cleaning up politics:

Why, here he is closing down Guantanamo:
“There is a lot of inertia” against closing the prison, “and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind their position that I can see,” said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and supports the Illinois plan. He added that “the odds are that it will still be open” by the next presidential inauguration.
And here he is getting rid of those nasty lobbyists:
Here at the Caribou on Pennsylvania Avenue, and a few other nearby coffee shops, White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists — members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its “outsized influence” in the capital.

On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.

Again, Democrats aren't considering repercussions

Everybody needs an "I beat up on the banks" card going into the midterm season, so of course banking regulation passed. Are you surprised? It's another bill whose contents we won't know until well after it goes into effect:
“The banks will have numerous methods of getting around the most onerous provisions in this bill to maintain their earnings growth,” he added. “But the things they will do will increase the cost of banking to everybody in this country.”

...

“There is still a long way to go in terms of getting clarity on the key issues that investors are focused on, like required capital,” Mr. McDonald said.

Just take an issue like derivatives. It is still not clear what activities the banks will need to cordon off in a separate holding tank. Nor is it clear how much capital they will need, which is a major factor affecting the profitability of the business, he said.[emphasis added]

One part of the legislation known as the Lincoln Amendment, for example, would demand the banks hold more capital. At the same time, another part that drives derivatives trading onto clearinghouses and exchanges could lessen, in aggregate, the amount of capital that banks must hold. “There are a lot of variables in the air,” Mr. McDonald noted.
I can say from firsthand experience that the Credit CARD Act of 2009 pushed credit card companies to either cut services or increase or add fees for services that had previously been free. Coupled with the irresponsibility of ObamaCare, through which Dems learned that they didn't have to actually think about the repercussions of the laws they passed until after they were passed (and maybe not even then), I expect this bill to do nothing but pass on costs to bank customer -- the same people who Democrats are theoretically protecting by passing this legislation.

I know it's boring, but here's our guy:

Jack and Jake's

It's a welcome new venture here in New Orleans - located in a renovated historic building on Earhart Boulevard.  The store/market plans to source its offerings from within 65 miles of the city from local farms and fishermen.

Tomorrow night, the store hosts a benefit for fishermen affected by the oil spill as part of its launch this summer.

I'm looking forward to taking a look at the new space and the new grocery option.

Here's more.

This is just cool

I'm not the biggest soccer fan, but I do think it's fun to watch now and then. Plus, what team USA is doing is pretty damn cool, so I thought I'd share this video I swiped from Legal Insurrection:

Further proof the EPA is a useless agency

Coming on the heels of the controversial CO2-is-a-dangerous-pollutant ruling, the EPA has now declared that milk - wait for it - is oil. No, really. The ruling is going to be very expensive for farmers and devastating to small family farms that are already struggling.

The idiocy of this decision is amazing. There is no way that a milk spill can be as dangerous as an oil spill. It is a natural, biodegradable substance. I'd like to come up with a more thorough refutation, but I'm a little stunned at the stupidity of it all.

What's next? Regulations for men who fart too much, in order to curb methane emissions? If so there are some guys I served with in the military who need to go into hiding...

H/T Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion

6.24.2010

Rand Paul Goes Out on a Limb -

- one that I'm pretty sure all of us here at LIB find to be a strange, rotten, unfortunate one that has little useful purpose on the tree of public discourse.

At the very least, it would be impractical.

Summer jams

After a long bout of radio silence and a (hopefully successful) round of the Foreign Service Exam completed, I think it's about time I get back to the island here. To unwind, I've mostly been picking strawberries -- they were a week early this year, and today was just about the last day to pick (they'll maybe go as late as this weekend, but things were pretty picked over, and over-ripe, today).






That's Oakridge Farms on County Road CB in Neenah. Raspberry picking starts Monday!

Thoughts on McChrystal and Petraeus

I've read through the Rolling Stone interview and though there is little that is directly attributable to GEN McChrystal - most of it is his aides - President Obama made the right call. It is painfully obvious that the General has little or no respect for his civilian counterparts and his criticisms of administration policy should have been in private and behind closed doors.

That this was done in public was why he had to go. It is a shame, but that is the way it works.

Had President Obama refused his resignation - as many on the right hoped for - it would have been catastrophic. The damage to the President publicly would have been irreparable as it would have appeared that he will tolerate insubordination and would have given greater weight to those who accuse the President of chronic indecision - myself included.

As for GEN Petraeus being named as GEN McChrystal's replacement, I don't see a problem. Some are complaining that it is a demotion, but that is absurd. He's still a full General, I doubt very much the title carries matters at all to him. Most importantly, GEN Petraeus is the most qualified person to take the reigns in Afghanistan. He quite literally wrote the book on COIN and - I hope - possesses the necessary diplomatic skills to bring the civilian authorities into the fold. GEN Petraeus is now the indispensable man and should he succeed will go down as one of the greatest generals in US history.

Now, were it me making the calls I would also sack Eikenberry and Holbrooke. GEN Petraeus and SOS Clinton would then recommend who they think should be the lead on the ground diplomatically. Unfortunately that won't happen. It should, but it won't. Still, I think the President got it right militarily. GEN McChrystal had to go and the only man to replace him is GEN Petraeus.

6.23.2010

Isthmus should be ashamed of itself

No, Mr. Wagner, there is no "perspective" needed in the Sterling Hall bombing. An innocent man was killed and three others injured in an act of domestic terrorism. Dwight Armstrong should have spent most - if not all - of the last 40 years sitting in a cell for what he and his accomplices did. No amount of rationalization or justification can excuse what happened. To even offer one is to cheapen the life that was lost.

Sterling Hall was not a sit-in that got out of hand. It was not a brick through a window in the heat of a protest. It was not a swing at a cop during the Dow demonstrations. It was not spitting on a soldier just returned from Vietnam. It was premeditated murder. They took the time to build and plant a bomb that killed a research student named Robert Fassnacht. His is the name we should be remembering. The family - Fassnacht was married and had 3 young children - for which we should feel sorry.

It certainly should not be the man who killed him yet lived as a free man until his death. The editors and publisher of Isthmus should be ashamed of themselves. Dave Wagner should be embarrassed for trying to rationalize murder. It makes me sick.

All Kinds of Activity


Inside the Footprint.

Summer reading

The best part of summer is that I finally have time to read--although this year I've got plenty of academic reading that can be done. At the bookstore a few weeks ago I found two books.

I've kept my eyes open for a book on North Korea and I finally found a decent looking one: Under the Watchful Gaze of the Fatherly Leader. I'm about a third into it which is up to the mid-70's.

North Korea is interesting. It's the last of the hard-communist countries. In pictures and videos it looks like an entirely bizarre place. It's like someone actually tried to implement 1984. On top of that it's run by a truly ruthless family and their heir apparent is only about five years older than I.

Things worth repeating so far: the North was ahead of the South until the end of the 60's then by the end of the 70's the South had surpassed the North. Originally, the North had the industry and the South was farming. About the time of the Korean War some high official in our government said that Stalin was to Kim Il-sung like Walt Disney was to Mickey Mouse--I thought that was kind of funny. Speaking of whom, growing up Kim Il-sung was a church organist.

On deck is Zinn's People's History of the United States. I don't know much about either the author or the book but it's good to read something with what I presume will be a different opinion.

Once I get through those, I'm midway through Ulysses and I should finish that. It seems like that'll need at least a second reading to get an understanding. I try to only have one or two books open at once.

I want to be well read, but fiction is doesn't go down as easily as non-fiction or academic work. It's all the characters that get me. For example this spring I blew through books on the French Revolution and Dennett on consciousness, but Crime and Punishment seemed to drag out even though I was into it.

Also on open books, I'm most the way through Herman Melville's second novel of seven after a year--I'm trying to get to Moby Dick which is his sixth--a bookstore had a tome of his novels on clearance. Even further back, I started on Nostromo having enjoyed the Heart of Darkness in high school, but that just wasn't connecting at all so I put it aside for the time.

That's where I am. How are y'all on reading? Anybody read any good books lately?

6.22.2010

Noooooo!

An intense storm, maybe tornado, went through Old World Wisconsin yesterday.

The park is composed of relocated historic structures and reenactments of 19th century life in the state. Between school and family trips I've been there several times. It's one of my favorite places in the state.

It's in Eagle which is midway between Whitewater and Waukesha.

In Memoriam - Dr. J.P. "Doc" Guenveur

The world will be a little more organized.  It might be a little more modern.  But it will be a little less friendly and reassuring place after the passing of a genuinely good person, an icon of my hometown of Kiel, Wisconsin, Dr. J.P. "Doc" Guenveur.

By the time he retired in 2007 from his profession as a small town eye doctor, Doc had been working in Kiel as an optometrist for 58 years.  He arrived in Kiel in 1949, as I recall from our conversations, and he told me one time about how he served in the army in World War II - grinding lenses for B-29 bombsights in Saipan and Tinian in the Pacific.

His office on Fremont Street, as I recall from my childhood and adolescence, was one of the messiest workspaces I have ever seen.  But it was amazing.  While waiting (sometimes for far longer than you anticipated) in the waiting room, he would occasionally appear from behind mountains of paperwork and manila envelopes in his white coat, bobbing here and there, gesticulating, making a joke or good natured exclamation with Angie or Bernice the secretary.

Sitting in the darkened examination room itself, though, you found that he somehow knew where your records where in the blizzard of envelopes.  Mark Belling would be buzzing on the ancient radio off near the window blinds and the white cue ball would be sitting up in the corner of the room on a ledge where it always sat, the target to focus on as he moved the light across your eyes.

"Is it...clearer, smaller, or more blurred?"  That was his mantra.  Over and over he said it as he clicked through the various lenses that made the letter chart shift, focus, grow, and distort.  He was a family friend (my dad was good friends with his son), and he always inquired as to everyone.  He noted one time that he was one of Tom Petri's original supporters - and that seemed to fit.  He was a moderate, even-keeled person - considerate, thoughtful.

When the eye exam was over, it was time to head out...and get tootsie rolls.  He kept an endless supply on hand.  No matter how old I got, he gave them out...and sent one along for everyone at home.

He was also engaged in his community, especially as an active member of the local Kiwanis Club, and also in his church.  You would see him about, wearing his tweedy coat and old school hat, sometimes driving with his dog in the car.  He always brought out a smile in people.  In every respect, he made his corner of the world a better place.

The city has truly lost one of its leading lights.

Feldman Issues Injunction Against Drilling Moratorium

Here's what his order (full text) boils down to:

"After reviewing the Secretary’s Report, the Moratorium Memorandum, and the Notice to Lessees, the Court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium."

I concur.

Asphalters

Farrago

Wikipedia gallimaufry:
Miscellaneous mélange:

A Klostermanic Fisking of epic proportions

I haven't fisked a Paul Krugman column in a while and this one on the "Zombie Debt Panel" certainly deserves it. Thankfully, Lance Burri has already delivered a scathing, utterly brutal takedown of the latest bout of stupidity.

You see, apparently Krugman still believes that a Social Security Trust Fund exists and that it exists with more than just a pile of IOUs from decades of Congressmen and Senators doing their very best drunken sailor impersonations. Anyway, a sample of Burri's "critique:"

Krugman: Zombies Have Already Killed The Deficit Commission.
It must have sounded like a good idea (although not to me): establish a bipartisan commission of Serious People to develop plans to bring the federal budget under control.
But the commission is already dead — and zombies did it.
Now: that either means that the Federal Deficit Commission – the “bipartisan commission of Serious People,” as Krugman calls it – has been entirely consumed by said zombies, because that’s what zombies do, or else Commission members are now zombies themselves, meaning we should shoot them in their brains as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading any further.
Krugman obviously doesn’t understand this. His misunderstanding of zombie folklore is, however, dwarfed by his misunderstanding of Social Security, and possibly also by his misunderstanding of the word “lie.”....

Revenues and spending: totally unrelated.
Alternatively, you can look at Social Security on its own. And as a practical matter, this has considerable significance too; as long as Social Security still has funds in its trust fund, it doesn’t need new legislation to keep paying promised benefits.
Trust fund! “As long as Social Security still has funds in its trust fund!” Did you know Social Security has a trust fund? I didn’t know Social Security has a trust fund. You know why I didn’t know that? Because it doesn’t! There’s no such thing. No such thing, and everybody knows it. The federal government spends that money. It doesn’t sock it away anywhere as, apparently, Krugman thinks.
Definitely worth reading the whole thing, and as an aside, even though we have all alternately blasted social security and other entitlements and the need to reform them, this is apparently the first Social Security tag at LiB. Not really that important, just kind of surprised we didn't have one before.

6.21.2010

Thoughts on the Treme Finale...No, wait...

I found Creighton Bernette!

Or at least John Goodman.

He's sitting two tables away at Rue on Oak - and looking thinner than in the show...by quite a bit.

Advice I hope Walker and his supporters take

Jeremy Shown, over at Rhymes With Clown, has an excellent post about the problems that Scott Walker's campaign for governor is having. I've mentioned something similar to this before, but it is certainly worth repeating.
Call me crazy, but I'm beginning to wonder if Walker isn't a candidate more sinned against than sinning. Only problem is, it's his supporters that are doing the heavy lifting against him.

First it was the ridiculous spectacle of the Scott for Gov blog.

Then it was the Jim Klauser open letter asking opponent Mark Neumann to return campaign contributions because of a perceived negative campaign against Walker. Mr. Klauser, I'm sorry that I wasn't around for your Thompson glory days, I was foolish enough to move to Wisconsin right before we embarked on Doyle train to nowhere, but the fact that you were for Neumann before you were against him makes you less than a credible source. Your letter strikes me as little more than a stunt and reflects poorly on you, and more to the point, on your now preferred candidate, Scott Walker. If you really want to see Walker elected, I suggest you stop making public statements in support of him.

Now it's the campaign against liberal blogger Capper. A campaign that has escaped the blogosphere and spilled over in to the real world....
It's worth reading the whole thing.

Finally

The Supreme Court hands down an opinion in Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha:

In particular, the question is whether a rail carrier receiving cargo from a ship counts as a "receiving carrier" within the meaning of the Carmack Amendment.  Looking at the text, history, and purposes, the Court held that when cargo starts its journey overseas under a through bill of lading, the railroads that take up the goods at a U.S. port are not "receiving carriers" and therefore Carmack does not apply.  As a result, the Court held that this case had to be litigated in Tokyo.

Functionally, that means a lower amount of liability for shipping companies (carriers) [who, along with U.S. companies that ship and receive products internationally, will probably care - despite Daniel Fisher's dismissive language at Forbes].  As SCOTUSblog sums up:

[T]he Court today held that the inland portion of a shipment of goods from overseas under a through bill of lading is governed by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) rather than the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act. 

COGSA, a maritime limitation of liability, only makes carriers liable for a maximum of $500 per package, a lower amount than under Carmack.  Essentially, the Court permits the ocean carrier to extend the the more protective "maritime" limitation of liability to cargo damage that occurs on land during the overland leg of the journey.

Heartbreaking

a. BP's burning turtles alive, some are from a rare species.
b. What are the long-term prospects for cleaned animals? Is it better for the animals to simply put them down immediately?

By no stretch am I an environmentalist, but I am growing increasingly frustrated at the way this disaster has been unfolding.

I am disappointed by the companies not having a back up plan at the ready.

I am disappointed by the government. The president has not done much at all--so far not much talk of new regulations, safeties, or closer inspections. The last I heard, local governments are not allowed to get together their own clean up activities.

The bright side is that perhaps this can be converted into a wake-up call to get people to think about their decisions and the environment.

Drilling Moratorium Hearing Today

The parties are set to go before Judge Feldman in the Eastern District of Louisiana Courthouse.

ADDED: Now that the hearing is over, Feldman's desire to resolve the matter swiftly...even before his own deadline...would seem to indicate a slight lean toward striking down the moratorium.  But with a mere rational basis standard of review in play, that speculation may be off base.

UPDATE: The Times-Pic provides a surprisingly helpful recap of the proceeding - and gets quotes from such luminaries as former TLS Dean Ed Sherman.

6.20.2010

Central City Summer

Waiving the Jones Act - A Bit Tricky

As I've noted, the Jones Act, a maritime law passed by Congress in 1920 and since amended, bars the use of foreign vessels and foreign crews in some aspects of the oil spill cleanup.

Republicans are pressuring President Obama to "waive" the law as President Bush/Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.  I'm perfectly fine with a congressional enactment waiving the law (Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas has proposed something to that effect).  Here's a helpful, detailed look at how the waivers went down during the post-Katrina time period - and based on a close reading of the text of the "national defense" exception that permits some waivers, I don't know that President Bush's action was proper.

Some commentators, in attempting to press the argument against the "old, protectionist chestnut," have pointed to a recent customs determination that the Jones Act's cabotage provisions do not apply to foreign vessels that might be used to install offshore wind turbines:

Admiral Allen said today waivers must be considered on a case by case basis, but Fox News has obtained a general waiver granted by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff in the days following Hurricane Katrina. According to a news article in Tradewinds Magazine, a US Customs official ruled recently that the Jones Act does not apply to foreign owned vessels installing wind turbines off the coast of Delaware.

As Mssrs. Papavizas and Morrissey pointed out in Tulane Maritime Law Journal's summer 2010 issue, however, offshore wind turbine installation is potentially a whole different story from hydrocarbon- and mineral-based extraction work when it comes to the applicability of the Jones Act and other U.S. cabotage provisions.  Thus, the Customs determination referenced by various observers may be wholly distinguishable and irrelevant to any argument for waiving the Jones Act in this instance.

Guest Post: Father's Day in Afghanistan

Courtesy of Bob T, a Wisconsinite, a combat advisor, and a friend of the blog:

I have been in Afghanistan for a few days now and have had several interactions with Afghan National Army officials.  As a Combat Advisor, my primary task is to build rapport, learn, and use soft skills to push the Afghans towards a system of self sustainment.  To get there, though, I have to sit around, drinking large amounts of Chai (not the Americanized stuff...the real deal) and talk about the important things in life like family, the weather, and World Cup soccer.

Before I go to my forward operating base in a few days, I am learning more about the Afghan chain of command and making connections down here before I am separated by giant mountains and distance. I had two conversations today, both with ANA Col's, that seemed to fit nicely into the Hallmark holiday that we call Father's day.

The first was with Colonel Nazeem, a Supply Officer.  I wished him a happy fathers day. He knew that it was an American holiday and wanted to learn more about it.  I told him that it was a day that we thank our fathers for raising us.  He kind of smiled, asked if I was a father (which I am not), and then began a story that almost brought me to tears.

He stated that "Being a father is good...perhaps the best thing that anyone can do...but as with anything that brings great joy, it can bring great pain."  He has 8 children, 3 boys, 5 girls.  He told the story of his two eldest boys.  Both were translators for the United States.  Both were killed by the Taliban in the last year.  One of them was kidnapped, presumably tortured for information, and then killed.  The other was killed by an IED as he was traveling with an American Marine unit 4 months ago.   He then said that his eldest daughter is nearing completion of school and will become a translator herself...and he is very proud of her.  He finished by saying "Father's day is every day...every day is filled with joys and every day is filled with pain, I am joyful my boys did so good, I hurt thinking I will not see them grow old."

This conversation hit home with me.  He lost two boys to the Taliban, yet is proud and excited about his daughter joining the coalition...as America debates whether or not this war is worth the cost, both in US lives and treasure, we cannot forget the sacrifices so many other fathers have made to make Afghanistan safe.

Another conversation later in the day was an interesting cultural lesson.  This time it was with the Commander of the Forward Supply Group, Colonel NB, a man with 7 children, a beautiful wife, and a great sense of humor.  Again, after using up the little bit of Dari that I know, I used the translator and wished him a happy father's day.  Again, I got that little smile and then a response that shows the greatest strength of the Afghan people: their focus on the family.   Col NB said, "For Afghans, every day is father's day.   In America, when your parents get old, you put them into retirement homes or send them away.  In Afghanistan, from the time a male is 18, his duty is to take care of his parents.  They spend half of their life raising us, we are obligated to do the same.   I would rather live on the streets than allow my parents to go hungry once... " He then quipped, "We have many children, so we can be taken care of well. " In America, we look at 18 as a time to be free.  We are free from our parents, free from our community, free from what we view as chains that tie us to our families. In Afghanistan, they look at 18 as the opporutnity to strengthen those chains.

I have been in Afghanistan for 5 days, yet I have experienced things that will forever affect my perspective on the world.  Today, Father's Day, is one of them.

- Robert Thelen, III

6.19.2010

A Month of Coffeshops: Fair Grinds























Fair Grinds is the inaugural coffeeshop in the "A Month of Coffeeshops" series here at LIB.  I'll be taking a look at some of the many coffeehouses here in New Orleans, long a coffee city given its geography as a port near the coffee producing states of Latin America.  At the end of the series, I'll provide my ranking of the establishments - so feel free to influence the final decision by commenting as we go along.

* * *

Fair Grinds is a good Saturday afternoon coffeeshop.  And that's why I've been here for the past few hours, studying with the Mid-City greenery out the window along Ponce de Leon Street.  It's definitely a neighborhood affair here - whether inside under the pulley-operated fans in view of the "DUCKopolypse" painting (that only people in the greater Bayou St. John area would understand) or outside in the side gallery where the sun peeks in on the giant map of the Fair Grounds horse racing track (the home of Jazz Fest, which is just a few blocks away).  Competition for the colored tables can get intense here - and patrons, usually a highly diverse group, often play a complex game of leapfrogging around for better spots.

Occasionally, the community aspect of the shop intrudes on its "quiet" coffeeshop aspect - musical ensembles will suddenly appear to sparse crowds in the evening.  Or, as is the case right now, a guest author with a slideshow on the threats to the Louisiana bayou will inspire a rather heated conversation amongst the dozen gathered to listen.  Wal-Mart is losing in some tangent of debate, from what I can tell.  This is the place for finding out about Mid-City goings on - the windows, the bulletin boards, and the racks are rife with literature and handbills about the latest.

How are the coffee drinks?  Rather swell.

Numerous people

sent me this article.

The title is certainly provocative.

6.18.2010

Big News Today

Inside the Footprint.

Encouraging.

Friday music video

I'm feeling 80's today.

Feds Urge New Orleans - not Houston - as BP Litigation Venue

According to Bloomberg, reporting today:

U.S. Justice Department lawyers, in a June 10 filing made public yesterday, urged a panel of judges to gather all the federal court suits before a single judge in New Orleans for pre-trial proceedings. The government didn't identify the judge. BP officials have asked that the cases be sent to U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston. New Orleans "is centrally located and is geographically closest to the key events giving rise to liability in these matters," U.S. lawyers said in the nine-page filing.

That's not the last word in the ongoing venue fight - but it could tip the scales.

What is it about NBA championships...

... that make people want to riot and destroy other people's property? I'm not kidding. Why is this a natural reaction for people living in LA?

Shorehenge

6.17.2010

The Other Side of the Jones Act

The oil spill is thrusting U.S. maritime law into the limelight to a greater extent than the country has seen for at least a half century.

In recent days, for example, we've seen a different side of the Jones Act come into play - one that's hampering relief efforts.

Here along the Gulf Coast, most people know vaguely of the Jones Act as the personal injury statute for seamen - those who are assigned to a vessel and perform some task in furtherance of the vessel's mission.  But the 1920 legislation also has what are called maritime "cabotage" provisions - essentially protectionist language that helps to maintain a domestic U.S. "coastwise" fleet for any marine voyages between two points in the U.S. (or one U.S. port with no intervening stops abroad).  Almost every single maritime nation has cabotage laws and the U.S. cabotage provisions date back to 1789. 

Importantly, the Jones Act is not the only U.S. cabotage law potentially in play:

U.S. Maritime Cabotage Laws include 31 separate enactments governing the transportation of cargo and passengers between two points in the United States , its territories and possessions, and all dredging, towing, salvage and other marine operations and fishing in U.S. waters. These laws reserve to U.S.-flagged vessels the right to transport cargo and passengers between U.S. ports.

There's also been continued hating on DOHSA, much of which is probably justified. However, I'm quickly realizing how little people know about the law - and the entire legal framework in which it operates. I'm slightly concerned that the feverish emotions from one incident may cause drastic legal changes that might be recognized as inappropriate if the wider landscape of maritime law was considered. Maritime law consists of a good deal of judge-made law interspersed with congressional enactments, it's a continuously evolving body of law based originally in civil law concepts, and a number of its precedents and seminal doctrines have functioned for over a century.  


Maritime law recognizes that ventures on the high seas are inherently more dangerous and uncertain than those undertaken on land, and many of the limitations of liability, etc. that seem "unfair" compared to the law for land-based incidents in the setting of the BP disaster are a bit less outrageous when viewed in light of that history.

UPDATE: Bryant's Maritime Blog captures the flurry of activity in Congress:
Senate - bill introduced to terminate drilling moratorium;
Senate - bill introduced to require emergency relief wells;
Senate - bill introduced to require containment plans for offshore leases;
House - hearing on MMS regulatory activity;
House - hearing on the role of BP in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill;
House - hearing on foreign vessel operations in US EEZ;

A Take on Takings

SCOTUS hands down the Florida "beach renourishment" eminent domain case.


Holding: The Florida Supreme Court did not take property without just compensation, in violation of the federal Constitution in its ruling governing the restoration of beach front land.

Note: The split is 4-4 on the most important question raised in the case, "judicial takings." There are four Justices who support the proposition that whether property is taken by a legislature or a court, it can constitute a "taking" within the meaning of the Constitution. There are four other Justices who think the Court did not need to reach that issue in this case, but agree that in this case the state supreme court did not violate the Constitution.

"much more mobile, more like a pancake with feet"

Introducing the strange Louisiana pancake batfish, which, after being discovered recently, may be imperiled by the oil spill.

Forgetting How to Swim

The Economist talks about American states "drowning in debt."

Predictions for the US Open

Just because I love golf and let's face it, the US Open is the biggest tournament of the year. Anyway, I feel compelled to bore you with my predictions for this week's championship at Pebble Beach. If you get the chance, definitely watch it this weekend. So here goes:
Winner: Phil Mickelson
Contenders: Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Geoff Ogilvy

Random prediction: Tiger Woods makes a charge but will fall short and be a non-factor.

Winning score: -3 (if the wind doesn't blow hard, if that happens, +2)

Tom Watson prediction: Makes the cut and is near the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend.
Alright, any other golf fans please chime in and we'll see how horribly wrong I am Sunday night.

6.16.2010

Bar Review Fun (?!)

There's one aspect of my bar review course that I do, in fact, look forward to on a daily basis.  We have a number of international students in the class, and I enjoy seeing them trying to process homespun American legal vernacular (and helping them understand it, too, of course).

Yesterday, for example, the term "going on a fishing expedition" came up in the terms of search and seizure.  I had to chuckle as I encountered furrowed brows around me - what in the world was a fishing expedition in the setting of a suspected criminal's dwelling?

Today, another unusual word popped up, something near and dear to my heart: "badgering" in the context of law enforcement officers seeking a criminal defendant's confession.  My colleague from China thought it had something to do with an actual badge.  I proceeded to give a quick synopsis of the animal, my alma mater's mascot, and the verb in question.

There was also the incomprehensible phrase "knock yourself out" - and I realized that my initial definition of "go ahead, suit yourself, give it a shot, but don't drag me into it" barely did anything to clear up the concept.  Physical gestures and facial expressions helped get us half of the way toward an understanding.

Substantively, too, it's interesting to get snippets of comparative legal observations.  My colleague from France, for example, explained the civilian concept of a preliminary "investigative judge" that amasses the factual record before the a matter proceeds on to the second "hearing judge" that actually makes a determination on the merits.  I wasn't anticipating the cross-pollination.

So, despite the drudgery, there's always something that makes a little light bulb or two go off in any given class period.

Getaway Van

A great day for Wisconsin and golf in Wisconsin

I heard on the news this morning that later today the USGA will announce that the 2017 US Open will come to the Badger state. The lucky course is not one of the gems built by Herb Kohler - the plumbing magnate, not the Senator - but rather a fairly new course, Erin Hills near Holy Hill.

This is awesome news.

Blackwolf Run, one of the Kohler courses, was the first to host a professional major in Wisconsin when it welcomed the US Women's Open in 1998 - and will do so again in 2012. Whistling Straits, perhaps the crowning achievement in Wisconsin golf, hosted its first PGA Championship in 2004 and will play host again this year and in 2015. The Straits course is also the tentative site of the 2020 Ryder Cup, quite possibly the premier event of professional golf.

Now, the state of Wisconsin will get to host the national championship of golf. This is something I think every person in the state should be proud of. Not only is it a huge economic boon for the state, but it gives us a national stage on which to showcase all that makes Wisconsin great.

Over the next decade, the center of the golfing world will be in Wisconsin 6 times. It's not just the 5 professional tournaments, but Erin Hills will also host the US Amateur next year. Wisconsin is quickly becoming a leader in championship quality golf.

I hope that we use these opportunities to promote the state and its natural beauty. These tournaments should be a great selling point for tourism and I hope we use it. It really can set us apart from the rest of the country because each and every one of these courses is public. No other state that I can think of off the top of my head can boast that. Most major championship venues are private clubs, but here in Wisconsin our top courses are open to all - yes, I realize they are very expensive, but the point is that you can actually play them. It would cost twice as much to buy a pass to the Masters just to see Augusta National, let alone play it, and we're still cheaper by $100 than this year's open venue, Pebble Beach. Erin Hills is less than half the price.

Today is definitely a good day for Wisconsin.

Mitch Daniels is now my favorite possible 2012 candidate

Recently, in a profile by The Weekly Standard, the uber-popular Indiana governor stated that in order for the next President to tackle the "existential threats" facing the nation - the pending fiscal disaster and the war on terror - controversial and divisive issue such as abortion and gay marriage need to be put on the back burner. The rationale is that we need to make some very difficult decisions over the coming years and we can't afford to be sidetracked.

I think this is exactly the type of leadership the GOP needs right now. Daniels is about as conservative a guy as you will find in electoral politics, yet he is also a rare breed among leaders on the right today: a pragmatist. The defining battle for the next 10 to 15 years is going to be over the size and scope of the government and our crushing national debt. It will not be gay marriage - a state issue anyway - or abortion or even global warming and climate change. We have reached a point over the last two years where Americans are finally beginning to seriously question the limits of government effectiveness. That is the battle we will be fighting for the foreseeable future.

Gov. Daniels has received a lot of criticism from the right for his comments, but he stands by them. He clarified his position to Washington Examiner columnist Mark Hemmingway, stating: "It wasn't something I just blurted out. It's something I've been thinking about for a while." Daniels went on to add, "We're going to need a lot more than 50.1 percent of the country to come together to keep from becoming Greece."

This is certainly not what many conservatives want to hear, but I think he's being very serious about what needs to be done in the next decade. It's also a shot at the Bush administration tactic of ginning up the base to win. Focusing on the big issues of cutting wasteful spending and limiting government intrusion is a great idea and a winning one at that. I'm glad someone is taking this seriously.

Wrapped in Humor

Christian Schneider makes a serious - and damaging - point about Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann:

Neumann would actually support governmental censorship of political speech – if only that pesky Constitution didn't get in the way.  He would trust the government to determine what is and isn't a political ad, and allow it to ban whatever it believes to be objectionable.

There isn't a "conservative" alive that would trust the federal government with that much power to abridge the First Amendment.  At least none with a fundamental understanding of what conservatism means.

6.15.2010

"The Most Unique City in America"


















Fed into the maw.

Sentencing Truant High School Students to Military Service?

The Louisiana House of Representatives will consider a measure that would apparently permit judges to do just that.

Especially in the absence of a national draft, how exactly would this bill be legal?

A judge hearing a truancy case against a high school student could require the teen to enroll in the Louisiana National Guard or other branch of military service, under an amended bill that cleared the House Education Committee.

Outside of a national draft imposed by the federal government, where power is rooted in an interest of preservation of the nation in time of conflict, how can a state judge compel someone to service in one of the nation's armed forces, much less a minor?  That seems like it might be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ADDED: I originally thought it might offend the 13th Amendment as well - but as the text states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted").

Apparently felons were sentenced to military service during World War II (during a draft), for example, in Illinois.

Military service might be a good prescription to turn the life of a troubled youth around - but giving a judge the power to compel a high school student to serve seems unorthodox and troubling.

If anyone finds a decent link to the text that passed, please send it along.

In Advance of Tonight's Oval Office Address

It looks like President Obama is planning to "take over" the oil spill claims process from BP:

He noted in one interview that Obama "has the legal authority" to make the claims process independent. And Gibbs said "the best way to prevail upon BP is to take the claims process away from BP."

"The president will either legally compel them," he said, "or come to an agreement with BP to get out of the claims process, give that to an independent entity."

That seems to be possible under the claims process outlined in OPA, the Oil Pollution Act, which was passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez incident.  Several provisions specifically outline a role for the president (see any non-delegation issues, though?).

Unlike my concerns about the offshore drilling moratorium, I'm convinced there's a much more firm basis for presidential (or, more generally, executive branch) action in this realm.  Still, I think it's important for legal observers to keep a close eye out to ensure that the actual presidential exercise of authority is rooted in that basis...and doesn't stray beyond in a further attempt by the President to overcompensate for earlier perceived failings in addressing the spill scenario.

Take A Closer Look

At the seemingly positive private debt reduction numbers...and consumer financial behavior during the financial crisis:

That means consumers, on average, aren't paying down their debts at all. Rather, the defaulters account for the whole decline, while the rest have actually been building up more debt straight through the worst financial crisis and recession in decades.

Blast from the Past

Recently when I was visiting home I discovered a little cache of ancient computer media. Included were several floppy discs, one of which was a set of Word Perfect files I had saved in the spring of 1999, placing me in 5th grade.

I can't remember what the assignment was but I wrote five very short stories and made illustrations, I can tell from the formatting. To read these gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, given how I remember events from the 5th grade-era and stuff from before that, I would have guessed that I could have been able to compose ideas better by that point. On the other, I can recognize the roots of my sense of humor.

Without further ado, here they are:

Downriver

A Shifting Breeze

Dennis Bryant notes (and links to) a number of bills introduced in Congress to change various aspects of maritime law and environmental pollution law in response to the spill.

6.14.2010

Where people are moving

Check out this interactive map!

Obviously the big cities have lots of connections. Clicking around more, counties like Dane or Champaign have lots of connections, whereas even the neighboring counties only have connections with neighbors.

Uber-quick thoughts on Treme #9

What I noticed:

+ The black beam with glass panes sculpture on the Tulane quad behind Creighton's character (as he read his book outside) was not in place in 2006 - the artwork on the quad first appeared in about 2009 or so.
+ Bacchanal, from what I recall, had the outdoor rotating chef station at the rear of the courtyard - and didn't have steps going to the upper deck - from 2007 until about last summer.
+ Is the girl that Annie moved in with...the saxophone player from Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?

What I liked:
+ The steamboat Natchez calliope playing in the background as Creighton smoked his (final?!) cigarette on the ferry.  [Also, as someone who took the ferry regularly in the summer of 2008, there is definitely a no smoking sign on the ferry].  Ferry passengers are far more likely to be drinking 40s of Red Dog in paper bags, however.
+ The Rue de la Course coffee mug at the Bernette residence - excellent choice.
+ The talk of Chief Tootie Montana - one of my fellow watchers was actually at the meeting where he died.
+ Creighton's Dodge.
+ Antoine saying "What dat is?"
+ The opening scene with the street musicians on a bench on The Moonwalk as a big ship passed by on the river.
+ Janette's musings about New Orleans being a place of beautiful moments...and not a life.  It's a lot to think about.

What I didn't like:
+ Seriously, will Sonny just get it over with already?
+ Creighton can't have died...or we wouldn't have John Goodman going forward (although the Kate Chopin foreshadowing would seem to indicate he really did drown)...but if he's alive, how did he move so quickly toward the stern?  In my time here, I've never heard of anyone surviving the jump into the river off the ferry.  Mega points to David Simon et. al if he's found mumbling outside of William S. Burroughs little white house in Algiers.
+ I know it's probably driving some meandering plot line along - but what's up with the creepy Texan guy?  I still don't have a good idea of what was going on between him and Sonny - and where he goes from here.

Really, NPR? Really?

Alternate title: No, but this is why a lot of conservatives can't stand NPR.

Do we have to politicize everything? I don't like soccer, does that have to make me a racist? There are a lot of sports I don't like and a lot I do. Hell, it can't be that soccer is boring because I'm addicted to golf. I just don't care for it.

I don't mind the World Cup coverage, either. It makes no difference to me at all. I'd like to see the US do well out of national pride, but I'm not going to care nearly as much as I do for the Olympics or the Ryder Cup or the President's Cup. It would be pretty cool for South Africa to win it this year, too.

Can't we just enjoy or ignore sports anymore? Does it have to be politicized?

On endorsements, conventions, and the GOP primary for Governor

Before I get too far into this I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not criticizing the Walker or Johnson campaigns for seeking and receiving the GOP endorsements last month. They played within the rules of the game, and so did the other campaigns. They did what would help them most and I don't think you can fault them for it.

Now for some tough criticism of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. We are screwing this up. The gubernatorial primary is nasty, bitter and it could have been avoided. We all know that Scott Walker has been the odds-on favorite since 2007, but for all of Scott's hard work he is not entitled to the nomination. When former congressman Mark Neumann entered the race I expressed my hope for a strong and respectful race. Not many people welcomed Mark into the race. Most in the GOP establishment were openly hostile to the idea of a primary challenge and had - until Ron Johnson announced his campaign - urged Neumann to jump to the senate race. The message was essentially: Go away.

Similarly, between the calls for Neumann to switch races, the whole Tommy drama and the emergence of Johnson, the Senate race has been poorly managed. While I am confident that we will have a top-quality candidate, I do think that rather than encouraging all interested candidates we were saying to the public that the two declared candidates stunk. Dave Westlake and Terrence Wall are both decent, honest men who are proud Republicans and deserved better than that.

What does this have to do with the convention? Well, plenty. The purpose of a convention when there is a popular vote primary is to be a giant, GOP love fest. The statewide candidates should each get their chance to make their case to the delegates and the focus should be on beating the Democrats in November - not beating the crap out of each other. The party's endorsement system encourages a more bitter experience, rather than a celebration of the values and principles that bring us together. By removing the competitive endorsement, we can encourage candidates to present their vision and their platform and not tear down their opponent.

There's a whole ocean of metal under our feet!

And no one can get at it but us!

Who knew? There's something valuable—other than opium—in Afghanistan on the order of a trillion dollars. It's roughly been known since the 80's, but only confirmed a few years ago, and now known publicly for the first time.

Immediate thoughts:
  • We're never going to be leaving Afghanistan now—we're set, economically and geopolitically with Iraq for oil and Afghanistan for metals.
  • I remember hearing that China was shifting money into acquiring raw materials the last few years, looks like we've really one-upped them.
  • If the wealth from the resources is going to end up in the hands of a few warlords, this seems like a case where nationalizing them seems positive, or at least less bad in comparison for the people of Afghanistan.
  • If what follows below is true, then the Bin Ladin/Taliban crowd played right into our hands by giving us a cover to lodge ourselves deep into the region.
Bigger thoughts:

The topic of an interventionist versus non-interventionist foreign policy has been brought up before here and I've usually been stridently non-interventionist. However in having conversations with people in the lab, some foreign some native, I've realized that everything the country does abroad is for the country's benefit.

I mean, of course, that statement is obvious, but what I realized is the view having re-framed everything in that light.

6.13.2010

The Pending SCOTUS Opinions

24 remain to be handed down this term.

It's an interesting crop (and synopses can be found at the link above).  

Among the most interesting cases are: a crucial Second Amendment question, a takings case, a separation of powers case involving Sarbanes-Oxley, a case involving speech and terrorism funding, a 10(b) securities matter, privacy rights of petition signers, law school funding of a religious group, and a maritime cargo case.

Vuvuzelas Poll

Vuvuzelas?
Yay
Nay
What?
WHAT DID YOU SAY?


  
pollcode.com free polls

Shadows and Flames

























The power went out for quite some time last night on our little corner of S. Liberty Street.

I have a sneaking suspicion it may have had something to do with the armada of movie trucks that recently anchored on the cross street (filming starts tomorrow - but a guard wouldn't tell me what it is).

Sound Thoughts on the 17th

As someone who hasn't been entirely averse to recent discussion of repealing the 17th Amendment, I have to say Ilya Somin's point brings me closer to dismissing the idea.  As he points out, state legislatures have become so enthralled with federal spending (largely due to their own profligate spending habits and the refusal of the judiciary to enforce many limits on the strings attached) that having a state legislature appoint a senator doesn't necessarily mean "pure state interests" as opposed to federal interests would even be represented in Washington.

If repeal would not actually result in greater dilution of federal power, then it's hard for me to see departing from the status quo.

And no, this doesn't mean I support the proposed Feingold Amendment, which seeks to change the present text of the 17th Amendment to give states less flexibility on how they replace senators.

Coming Soon




















I'm writing up a day-by-day guide to New Orleans coffeeshops.  I envision a month-long calendar of coffee houses fit for every occasion.  There are more than enough candidates, as I've found from personal experience.

I won't focus on the coffee so much as the atmosphere of the establishments.  I'll leave the grinds to percolate through the commenters.

But I will denote the places where I've had the best and the worst of a few things.  Like Laurel Street Bakery and Cafe - which has the dubious honor of serving the worst iced mocha I've ever tried.  Absolutely undrinkable.  But their king cake is nice during Carnival.

6.12.2010

Mark Neumann brings a gun to the airport

As I read this article, I took in the quotes and the arguments about the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial primary.

But the whole time...something kept flitting through the back of my mind.  I kept revisiting the caption of the story's photograph.

Why did Mark Neumann bring a gun to the airport?

While it was only a conference room at Austin Strabel Airport in Green Bay, it still struck me as odd.  Why would you hold a campaign event at an airport when you sought to criticize your opponent's concealed carry stance by wielding your grandfather's 1899 Savage .303?  Sure, the Second Amendment is a significant issue - especially since the Supreme Court will hand down a case any week now that will likely tell us whether we have an individual right against the states to bear arms.  Sure, Neumann likely posed no threat to anyone.  

But at a very basic level, legal considerations aside, our country knows from recent history that weapons and airports don't mix.

The move seemed emblematic of the Neumann campaign's ongoing lack of wisdom in how it went about its attacks - on an opponent who had essentially locked up the state party base long before Neumann even entered the race.  He's launched several attacks on Walker that I would never have expected from a member of the same party.

Bringing up Walker's vote years ago against concealed carry is, in a vacuum, a legitimate point of contention that should be up for debate and discussion.  But as with most of his attempts along the way, Neumann misfired.  The firearm he brought to the airport certainly isn't concealable - at least not for most normal people.  His mention of the state's hunting tradition also has little to do with concealed carry.  And the general salvo on concealed carry comes so late in the game that I wonder why Neumann took so long to bring it up.  

Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing against Neumann's posing with the gun in isolation.  My grandfather, a resident of Brown County, has a collection of antique firearms that I find quite engrossing - my favorite is an old Turkish camel-mounted musket from the 1800s.

It's just that when a candidate makes an unwise move that sets me wondering about his judgment...after he lost the statewide party endorsement by a landslide...it's far more difficult to dismiss the statement by Walker's campaign manager that this is an act of desperation.

6.11.2010

Trees Spring up on S. Claiborne



















What a difference a few trees make.  It was quite a surprise to see greenery on the otherwise barren neutral ground.

I think they're water oaks.  They appeared yesterday starting at Napoleon Avenue and proceeding uptown.  This morning, crews were planting near Jefferson Avenue.

Strange

And fascinating...in South Carolina.

If this is the best they've got, Feingold really is in trouble

The state Democrats are really grasping at straws on this one.

I'm not saying that Ron Johnson's campaign is a sure thing. We still don't know enough about his positions and we have yet to see how good he is going to be on the campaign trail and if he's going to offer real, tough solutions. That said, asking for an extension - one that is perfectly legal and fairly normal - on financial disclosure is not a big deal.

But DPW is acting like it is the end of the world and Johnson's campaign must be hiding something. Obviously he needs the extra time to hide his illegal shell companies or his Cayman Islands accounts, not because he was in the race only a couple of weeks before the deadline. Nope, it has to be something shady! He's rich, so he must be evil!

Give me a break. The "smoking gun" is a letter informing the campaign of the new deadline and that he could only get one more extension. I think DPW is trying a little too hard.

Visions of Venice























Don't expect any gondolas. This is the Venice of airboats. And shrimp boats. And oyster boats.


6.10.2010

Decisions

David Frum talks about his decision-making process for vetting Republican candidates, and hits a tremendously important point:
Through this campaign season, many Republican primary voters have asked the question: “Is Candidate X conservative enough?” Whoever can claim to be the stronger voice of protest against Washington has tended to win, even when that protest comes from a strange or suspect quadrant, as with Rand Paul in Kentucky or Sharron Angle in Nevada.

I’ve had a different ballot question in my head. Republicans got into trouble in 2006 and 2008 because we did a disappointing job of governing the country in the 2000s. Incomes didn’t grow, job creation was weak, wars were not won, we lost control of spending, and almost every major presidential initiative launched after the first 6 months in office floundered: Social Security reform, reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, immigration, healthcare.
The simple fact is that Republicans put themselves in exactly the spot in which they now find themselves -- and it wasn't because they didn't adhere rigidly enough to a set policy line, but because they did a fairly terrible job of actually governing, of making the hard choices about what was best for the country.

Will an opening close out the US?

Confronting Canada as the North opens:
With the polar icecap shrinking, the Canadians are gearing up for a confrontation eventually over whether other nations' ships will need their permission to transit the Northwest Passage. They say it's an internal waterway; we maintain it's an international strait.

Poor Show

What we've got here...

Yes, over 50 days later, why hasn't the President communicated directly with the CEO of BP?

It seems like an impossibly stupid omission - and I don't throw the word stupid around wantonly or thoughtlessly.

What's more, while I think Obama has done a rather poor job all along in his approach to showing leadership in the context of the oil spill, I actually think Ron Paul made a reasonable tempering point when he said it's unhealthy for our country to view the presidency with almost pseudo-monarchical expectations.

Obama continues to be on the defensive, though, and rightly so.  The PR game, at the least, has been mishandled - a Paul McCartney concert, etc.?  I'm not asking for a John McCain-style "we're canceling the convention" erraticism, but simply prudence befitting a president in a time of crisis, even if it is a regional one.

Today, Mitt Romney provided some decent insight on how things could have been done differently.  I'm not necessarily convinced Mitt Romney could actually cook up such a dish as president - but he envisions something approximating the right recipe.  It boils down to this:

And when a crisis is upon us, America wants a leader, not a politician

Demolition Accelerates

Inside the Footprint.

This is unacceptable

Barring an unforeseen reopening of the oyster beds that supply P&J, Thursday was to be the final day of shucking at the family owned business in the city's French Quarter.  


ADDED:

Here are some photos of the P&J Oyster building in the French Quarter on what may have been its final day of oyster shucking ever.