Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Festivus!

With today being December 23, its time to celebrate.  As Frank Costanza explained:

"Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way."

So partake in the airing of grievances, test yourself in the feats of strength, and gather round ye ole’ aluminum pole. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free Legal Advice for a Certain Small Media Company

Suing Google and Microsoft at the same time (let alone with some already discredited legal theories regarding the liability of search engines) is not normally a strategy for litigation success. Unless, of course, you define “litigation success” as driving your company into bankruptcy via legal fees.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The NEA is an independent organization that wants nothing to do with politics, and anyone who says different is a right-wing neo-Nazi troglodyte.

With the recent accusations that the new leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts is merely an arm of the Obama political machine, maybe this isn’t the best time for its website to be featuring a highly flattering recommendation of ultra-leftist radical Saul Alinski’s works.  Or a hit piece on political advertisements that criticize union excesses.

(Hat tip to The Corner for the Alinski review link.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baucus Health Care Bill Dead

It may have passed the finance committee and garnered the support of Olympia Snowe today, but the Baucus health care reform plan might as well be off to the embalmers.  The rebellion of the health insurers yesterday hurt, but the coup de grace came today with the announcement that AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, and the CWA will oppose final passage in the Senate.  Given how terrified Democrats are of those unions the question how isn’t whether the measure will pass but whether the Dems will put it up for a final vote at all.


I gotta admit: After years of smacking my head over the occasional incompetence of the Bush Administration, it’s terrific to have opponents in power who match or exceed any degree of ineptitude the GOP ever put forth.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day

In recognition of our great and brutal European explorer/conqueror ancestors, I present 10 minutes of super-slow motion clips of bullets striking various and sundry surfaces:

(Hat tip: AV Club)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Don’t Normally Link To Things That I Know Won’t Stay Up For Long, But…

Some kind soul has posted the all of the recently released remasters from The Beatles over at YouTube.  The sound is absolutely terrific, even with YouTube’s less-than-optimal audio quality.  Check the tracks out before they inevitably get pulled.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nice Guy

William Donahue,  who you’ll recall is the head of the Catholic League, recently gave an interview to an editor for National Review, on the occasion of the release of his new book.  Among the bits of discussion:

EDITOR: Do you ever worry about tone?
DONOHUE: I worry that some of the people on my side are such cowards. They adore dialogue. I don’t.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Case You Missed It: Krauthammer on Death Counseling

Charles Krauthammer has written the definitive column on the alleged “death panels” created by a (now deprecated) version of the one of the healthcare reform bills before Congress.  His perfectly sane take: they aren’t death panels at all, and calling them such is absurd, but they are (or would be, if they had any chance of being enacted) a slight nudge from government for people to consider non-extraordinary, less expensive end-of-life care for their final days.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Your Reading for the Weekend: Government “Stimulation” Doesn’t Shorten Recessions

Economist Alan Reynolds has a nice op-ed up today addressing the question of whether governmental efforts to prevent or shorten recessions actually work.  Upon a review of the historical evidence, he concludes (prepared to be shocked) that they don’t.

Reynolds goes further, arguing that the inverse is in fact true: recessions last longer and are more severe where governments intervene more.  Reynolds evidence for this latter point (at least that which he presents in the piece) is weaker and not terribly persuasive, but the article is still a good read for exploding the myth that governmental stimulus efforts have had great success in combating economic downturns.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If I Had a Hammer, I’d Hammer in Primetime

From the file of News Items That Common Understanding Suggests Cannot Possibly Be True But Apparently Are, former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay (you can call him “The Hammer”) will be a contestant on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars on ABC.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Place for “Empathy” on SCOTUS

I was going to write something about why President Obama’s repeatedly stated desire for (what he considers) empathy in judges is so wrongheaded and detrimental to the rule of law, but Jonah Goldberg's column today covers that ground very nicely indeed.  So instead I’ll just send you to his column here and get back to writing a pre-trial memo.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So, It’s Sotomayor

After I read the last pre-announcement news coverage (especially this item in the Times) this morning and thought a bit more about Obama’s proclivities I came to expectation that the pick to replace Souter would be either Judge Sotomayor or Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Frankly, I had guessed and was hoping that it would more likely be Kagan –during her career in academia she gained a reputation for being relatively fair toward those on the right—but Sotomayor was always a decent possibility for fairly obvious reasons.  Although we’re hearing a lot about some foolish things that Sotomayor has said in the past,  it seems a fairly safe bet that her confirmation process will proceed fairly smoothly.  Assuming that no serious ethical issues emerge (and that she doesn’t repeat her “I’m an inherently better judge than a white male could be” line in front of the Senate, which she won’t) there won’t be any serious effort to filibuster her approval.

So, the first Supreme Court Justice placed on the Court by Obama will be a pick that satisfies demands of two very important interest groups in the Democratic coalition, will take Souter’s place as reliable member of the “progressive” block on the Court, and won’t draw as much confirmation fire as a full-throated, no separation-between-law-and policy jurist would have. An entirely predicable but fairly safe political move, just like President Obama likes em.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

WV Man Sues McDonalds For Mental Distress, Etc. After (Supposedly) Finding Part of a Fingernail in His Iced Mocha

And the hits just keep on comin’ . . .

Per this story from the West Virginia Record, a Mr. Jason Lycans of Putnam County is suing McDonalds after he bought an iced mocha and allegedly found “part of a fingernail”  in his drink.  Alas, no other details were given in the story about the  characteristics of the horrific contaminant.

Mr. Lycans, to no one’s surprise, apparently cannot present any proof that he actually contracted any disease from the item. Instead, he asserts that he is entitled to (presumably hefty) compensation for “medical testing”, emotional distress, and the lost ability to enjoy an iced mocha.

Of course, in many ways the real story here is not that someone is willing to bring  lawsuit against a deep-pocketed company (and its franchisees) with flimsy proof  and, even if the incident did actually occur, having suffered no real harm; everybody knows that there are many such greedy dirtbags walking around. The real story is which member of our glorious West Virginia Bar was willing to sign their name to such a suit.  According to the Record,  one Bree Whipp Ogle, Esq. of Atkins Law Offices  is representing the now mocha-less victim.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

About Bloody Time

According to the New York Times, Chrysler will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization today.  Negotiations with debtholders to restructure the company’s debt have, apparently, fallen through.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gov. Rick Perry: Treason May Not Be Such a Bad Idea

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) claimed today that Texas entered the Union reserving the right to secede if it later chose, and postulated that circumstances might make that advisable in the future.

Specifically, according to the AP he said:

There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.

Now, it seems that Gov. Perry didn’t actually suggest that Texas secede, but maintained that the state has the right to do so.   Accordingly, when I note that our national government has the perfect right to hang traitors,  don’t mistake me for saying that Gov. Perry’s neck should be fitted for a noose just yet.

By the way, this is the second time this month I’ve heard an idiot “Republican” claim that states have the right to secede.  (The first person shall not be named: let’s just say he’s a particularly, uh, strident fellow who I have regular dealings with.)  Thus, on behalf of my Republican, pro-Union ancestors, let us reaffirm: “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible union, of indestructible states.”

Saturday, April 4, 2009

But I Thought Europe Loved Us Again?!

Despite public and private pressure applied by World Beloved President Barack Obama, our erstwhile continental European allies have yet again refused to commit more combat forces to the fight in Afghanistan.  Moreover, this time around even Britain is shirking its responsibilities, sending only a few hundred addition troops after President Obama had asked Gordon Brown to send thousands.

A small voice  pipes up again, wondering if the U.S. couldn't strike a deal with the Islamic terrorist groups to confine their attacks to Europe and leave us alone. Of course we can’t, and even if we could that would certainly not be in our longer-term security interests.  But the voice is there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Show, Gov. Huntsman

Refusing to accede to a popular but pointless and probably unconstitutional exercise of governmental power, Utah Gov. John Huntsman yesterday vetoed a bill to create penalties for retailers who sell video games recommended for adults to minors.

Even the bill’s sponsors conceded  that in its final form the bill was basically worthless policy-wise: in an apparent effort to aid the provision's prospects of withstanding a court challenge the Utah legislature added a loophole allowing retailers to avoid penalties just by covering up or removing the ESRB rating stickers on game cases.  But it seems that proponents still kept pushing the bill because of the standard urge to “send a message,” in this case that violent video games are bad, legal bills from defending the measure in court be dammed.

The pundit class has speculated about Huntsman as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.  Can’t say I’ve read a great deal about him before this, but this certainly makes a good first impression.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Joseph Albright, R.I.P.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Joseph Albright has passed away.  Albright had recused himself from the Court’s business since last fall, battling esophageal cancer.  He was 70.

I didn’t agree with his judicial methods on many points, but I heard from various sources that he was a good man and a force for conciliation on the Court, an impression that was supported by the few and brief times that I met the man and heard him talk about the Court’s business. R.I.P.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama: Signing Statements Are Wrongful Attempts to Expand the Power of the Presidency (Unless Issued by President Obama)

Remember candidate Obama’s denunciation of President Bush for using signing statements to announce that the executive branch would not abide by certain measures passed by Congress on the grounds that they infringed on his constitutional authority?  Well, today President Obama made a slight, uh, change to that position. An AP story informs us that Obama issued a signing statement today after putting his signature on an omnibus spending bill:

Obama's signing statement said he wouldn't be bound by provisions of the bill in five areas. They involved negotiations with foreign governments, limits on using U.S. troops in U.N. missions, protections for government whistleblowers, a congressional claim of authority over the spending of money already approved by Congress and congressional demands that the administration submit budget requests in certain forms.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Reminder: Tuesday, It’s On.

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in a case I never, not-in-a-million years thought they would take: Caperton v. Blankenship, the judicial recusal case out of West Virginia.  For those not terribly familiar with the case, The Washington Post has a thorough preview here.

Caperton is pressing SCOTUS to rule that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment is violated when a judge who circumstances indicate has a “probability of bias” refuses to recuse himself or herself.  I can’t fathom that the Court will accept that argument at the end of the day-- the implementation problems are just too monumental.  But then, I was shocked that the Court took the case in the first place.

In any event, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get a read from the justices as to whether Caperton has a plausible shot at winning.  I’ll have coverage up of the oral argument as soon as my schedule allows.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Small Dose of Sanity for Your Saturday

This clip from comedian Lewis C.K. has been going around the web this week.  Something of a reality check for these seemingly-dreary times:

I don’t know about the “idiots” part of it, but we’re definitely all (not just my generation) quite “spoiled.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This Is the Bobby Jindal I Expected to See Last Night

A strong performance during an interview on The Today Show this morning:

I wonder, is there are way to set up a special campaign fund for Gov. Jindal that would just be used for teleprompter coaching?  I might be willing to make a small donation.

Hat tip to The Corner for the video embed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Brief Thoughts on the Speech and the GOP Response

To wit:

- We were reminded again that Obama’s rhetorical talents really are astounding.  Strictly on the basis of delivery, I think that this was the best speech I’ve ever seen from him.  Perhaps the best speech  from an American President since, yes, Ronald Reagan.  Purely on delivery, mind you.

- Alas, Obama was as typically evasive and vague about substance as he was typically stellar on style.  He spent minutes hammering the need for urgent, large-scale health reform, building up to his proposal to … essentially form a commission to look into it.  Moreover, while it was nice that he at least paid some lip service to reforming Medicare and Social Security (getting Democrats just to acknowledge that there are serious fiscal problems with both programs has itself been hard enough until now), there was no mistaking the way in which he got onto and off of the subject as quickly as possible.

- Did I hear the President right?  Did he really assert that we should trust him on the deficit because he has a secret plan to cut $2 trillion in spending? 

- There was one area where Obama sort of approached getting specific: his plans to pump  billions more dollars into a whole host of renewable energy research projects, most of which will wind up having no value beyond their usefulness as pork that congressmen and senators can claim to have won for their constituents. The bipartisan ovation for such projects was, of course, no surprise.

- Speaking of energy proposals, the one word conspicuously missing from that section of Obama’s speech? “Nuclear.”

- Somewhere, there may be a politician less capable of suppressing a contemptuous smirk than Nancy Pelosi.  Maybe.

- I almost desperately wanted Bobby Jindal’s response to be outstanding, the kind of address (like Reagan’s in 1964 or Obama’s in 2004) that helps make a political future.  Instead, … ugh. The first half was just god-awful, with Jindal reading a decent text about solemn circumstances in a cringe-inducing, almost bouncy tone.  Toward the end things got somewhat better in delivery and content, but on the whole the speech was distinctly unimpressive.  Jindal missed a big opportunity to a make a powerful introduction with a whole lot of curious TV viewers; he’ll need to do a lot better with such opportunities in the future.

No, Bobby Jindal Isn’t Thinking of Running for President in 2012. Really. No, Sir. Why Won’t This Baseless Speculation Just Go Away?

In case you didn’t know, the governor of Louisiana will be giving the Republican response to the not-quite State of the Union speech tonight, attacking President Obama’s various fiscal plans.  Of course, this comes on the heels on Gov. Jindal’s high-profile stand about perhaps declining some of the pork necessary infrastructure and welfare spending that Louisiana is now in line for after the recent passage of the Obama stimulus plan.

On an unrelated note, at www.bobbyjindal.com you can fork over your contact info to receive Bobby Jindal e-mail blasts, mailings, and text messages, and even order Bobby Jindal merchandise.  Strangely, these offerings don’t appear to be limited to residents of (and thus voters in) the State of Louisiana only. Probably just an oversight.

[end of heavy-handed sarcasm]

Not Dead Yet

Jeez, it really has been a while since I made some really substantive updates to this endeavor, hasn’t it?  In spite of that, be assured that this blog is not abandoned, and that I have no intention of doing so.

And what better night to resurrect things here than the night of President Obama’s first State-of-the-Union-that-isn’t-State-the-Union-address.  Thought about doing another CoverItLive blogging fest (like I did for election night) but decided against trying to get people to read/participate on such short notice.  Instead, for tonight let’s just stick with that old, tried-and-true wrap-up at the end of the night formula.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ugh.

It’s been a miserably packed (and just plain miserable) last few days, professionally and personally.  Hopefully, though, I’ll have some significant time tomorrow to start getting back on things here.  Thanks, yet again, for your patience.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Podcast This Friday

I’ve been pretty much swamped by work and some personal issues over the last couple of months, but I think I’m finally ready and able to get back to tending to this blog in earnest.  Stay tuned for some decent substance posts this week, and (as the title may suggest) a return-in-force coming up on Friday evening.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Good Day for the GOP

From the AP:

WASHINGTON – Michael Steele was elected Republican National Committee chairman on Friday, defeating the incumbent party chief and three other challengers over six rounds of voting to become the first black to lead the GOP. The former Maryland lieutenant governor takes over a beleaguered GOP as Republicans seek to rebound from back-to-back defeats in national elections that gave Democrats control of Congress and the White House.

Aside from a being a “historic first” for the Republican Party, Steele is a first-rate communicator with a rare understanding of the extent and type of modernization in message that the party needs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Take Two

As you probably know, Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama did a do-over of the oath at the White House on Wednesday after they flubbed the text a bit at the inauguration ceremonies a day earlier.  The mistake by itself doesn’t interest me that much –as many news stories have pointed out, it wasn’t the first error in the taking of the oath in Presidential history.  What does interest me, however, is the question of who could (strictly in theory, of course) possibly have standing to bring a suit asserting that Obama is not properly the President of the United States.  Who could possibly have the personalized injury required for standing under Article III (let’s set prudential standing aside for now)?

The only name I could come up with?  That formerly Amtrak-ridin’ man of the people himself, now-Vice President Joe Biden.  If Obama isn’t Prez, he’s entitled to the position.

Any alternative theories/persons?

Monday, January 19, 2009

I’ll Never Complain About Decisions of the WV Supreme Court Again

Ok, of course I will.  But still, I can’t recall having seen a decision quite as bad as this come down from our top court.  Via the AP:

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru's top court has ruled that workers cannot be fired for being drunk on the job, a decision that was criticized by the government on Wednesday for setting a dangerous precedent.

The Constitutional Tribunal ordered that Pablo Cayo be given his job back as a janitor for the municipality of Chorrillos, which fired him for being intoxicated at work.

The firing was excessive because even though Cayo was drunk, he did not offend or hurt anybody, Fernando Calle, one of the justices, said on Wednesday

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oratory is Back

One of the positive aspects of Barack Obama’s ascension to the Presidency is the renewed attention and emphasis being given to  political oratorical skills.  There’s a good (if a little too fawning over Obama for my taste) piece on oratory in today’s Washington Post.  The author covers some linguistic details about why Obama and other strong political orators are effective, but also points out that strong presentation has more than once masked weak or pernicious substance.

And yes, I think the GOP will probably need to field a strong orator in 2012 to have a good shot at holding Obama to one term.  That would be a break with recent trends for Republicans:  The last GOP nominee for President who was consistently effective as a speaker was (contain your surprise) Ronald Reagan.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Remarkable

As we prepare to witness another presidential inauguration, Hulu is presenting some footage from past editions.  The oldest item in the collection shows some clips from the inauguration of President McKinley. That’s President William McKinley, inaugurated in 1901:

 

(Sorry about the layout problems; click the video to see it in its full glory.)

Substantive blogging to resume tomorrow.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Great Homage to Brother Ray

This gave me a much needed laugh today:

 

Update:  The reason that there’s now no sound is that YouTube now mutes the sound of some videos with soundtracks that draw copyright complaints.  To hell with it: I’m leaving it up, in the hope that the music companies will one day come to their senses.