Begging The Question

Friday, March 19, 2004

Color me embarrassed. I guess I was wrong to accuse John Kerry of lying about his support among foreign leaders. Fox News reports that in the last few days, the newly elected Socialist president of Spain Jose-Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former Malaysian Prime Minister (and avowed anti-Semite) Mahathir Mohamad have publicly declared their support for Kerry.

Well, now that some of his once-secret foreign supporters have come out publicly in support of the campaign, John Kerry has realized that, "It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America's presidential election." Well, duh. Query whether Kerry would have made that statement if it had been Jacques Chirac and the former Canadian PM instead of Zapatero and Mahathir?

I am reminded of the proverb, "Be careful what you ask for."

Lies and the lying liars who tell them
The AP (via CNN) reports that the book (allegedly written by Jayson Blair) chronicling Jayson Blair's lies and deceptions as a reporter for the NY Times has only sold 1,400 copies. Good, dammit. I am glad to see he is getting the credit he so richly deserves.

If you have any interest in the contents of this book (who would?) don't reward Blair by purchasing the book. Go to Slate and read Brian Curtis's review and then read Jack Shafer's response to Blair's criticism of Shafer's review in the NY Times Review of Books (registration required).

I don't have anything new to say about the whole Jayson Blair saga and I won't rehash the whole ordeal here, but I will note I could not be more pleased that (1) Howell Raines got his comeuppance as a result of the scandal and (2) Katie Couric's "hard-hitting" joke of an interview did not help sales of the book.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Not Guilty = Innocent, Right?
I posted last week about the judge's decision in the Florida R. Kelly child porn case to throw out evidence (pictures stored on a digital camera). The judge said that the search warrant authorizing the cops to look at the pictures lacked a basis in probable cause. In my original post, I suspected that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule should have applied here and saved the evidence. Again, I have no great love for the GFE, but it is the law. I was never able to find a copy of the judge's decision, so I have no idea if he considered it here.

Anyway, we'll never know if the judge was right or wrong, because prosecutors in the case announced today that they are dropping the charges and not appealing the suppression order. So, Kelly is off the hook in Florida, but he still faces some charges in Illinois. Kelly called this a "victory," and I suppose it is, but he also talked about "clearing his name," which I don't think this accomplished. I haven't seen the pictures, so I don't know whether he did anything or not, but this decision sure didn't declare him innocent. Sorry for being over-technical about it. Didn't Justice Jackson call it "hypercritical exactions"?

Anyway, having posted extensively about this last week, I felt like I need to post the follow-up. My little spring break from blogging is almost up; I'm starting to store up enough stuff to rant about, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Book Better Than Movie?
Even though I graduated from law school almost two years ago, my email account there is still active. Every once in a while, I check it out and clear out the spam, which is pretty much all that shows up there anymore. I don't get a lot of spam in my other email addresses, for whatever reason, this is the only place I can see a hundred offers for Viagra at once.

Lately, I've been getting inundated with offers for "the book that inspired" Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I've seen some banner ads like this, too. My question is, Isn't that book the Bible? Are people using spam to sell the Bible now? Is there another book I haven't heard about that's responsible for that movie? Fearful of viruses and not willing to waste my time, I haven't tried to find out what this is all about. I guess it's not as bad as trying to sell "splinters from the actual cross" or something, but this seems shady at best to me. Has anyone looked into this? Is there some sort of Passion Bible on the market now? (As much as it may surprise you, I don't spend a lot of time in the Bible section of the bookstore, but now perhaps I will...)

Writing this post reminded me of one of my favorite lines from the Indiana Jones movies. In The Last Crusade, when the bad guy drinks from the cup he suspects is the Grail, and then dies (oops, sorry for the spoiler!), and the old knight says, "You have chosen poorly." I trot that line out every once in a while when I need to mock the disasterous decision of someone else. I think it would apply to people who buy Bible spam.

Your momma wears combat boots
Phil Carter of Intel Dump has a great post up about the continuing debate over women in combat and what effect, if any, Operation Iraqi Freedom will have on this debate. In his critique of a recent article arguing against allowing women to serve in combat, Carter provides his usual excellent analysis in explaining that most of the concerns over sending women into combat are at best not based on evidence and at worst contradicted by the available evidence. Here is a little taste to whet your appetite:
Unfortunately, the success of women has generated some blowback from critics like Col. Revels and Ms. Donnelly -- critics who think women have no place in combat, in the military, or possibly even in the work force. They see the military as an all-male warriors club, where women ought not go. However, I find their arguments to be wholly unpersuasive, based as they are on flimsy evidence and conjecture without reference to the facts. The facts clearly show that women did well in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Read the whole post here. If I get some free time today, I'll update with some of my thoughts on this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Greatest Hits, The B Side
Earlier today, Fitz posted a few "greatest hits" of the blog. Given my penchant for stealing the good ideas of other people, I decided to follow suit and link to a few of my favorite posts, in addition to the ones Fitz linked. (oh, and let me know if I hit ctrl+v instead of ctrl+c and any of these links aren't what they claim to be)

Some legal issues that I feel like mentioning again because they're going to come up again:

A post about how the ADA applies to stadium-style movie theaters

A question about gay marriage, pre-nuptial agreements, and the Contracts Clause

Other legal posts:

A post about Indian Law that I forgot I even wrote, but for some reason I like it

Litigation experience and the Supreme Court

Guilt Bias

Pop Culture posts:

My post about movies that I thought were better than the books on which they were based

Fitz's post on the same subject


The rejected marriage proposal at the basketball game -- and an update with the video

Valentine's Day

The Social Safeway

And seriously, dude, I don't think any BTQ greatest hits compilation could be complete without:


If you haven't read that post, go there first. It's sort of like Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. It's probably not your favorite, you don't need to hear it all the time, other stuff on the same theme probably builds on it... but it's still the definitive work, the one that strips it all down to the bone and says, at bottom, this is what it's all about.

Anyway, enjoy! And let me also say thanks to Fitz for inspiring this post, and inspiring me generally. I appreciate all the work he does on the site, and all his rants about Howard Dean and Wesley Clark surely had an affect on the ultimate failures of their canidacies. So, on whom can we turn his laser-like focus now?

Information that would have been useful to me yesterday
So last night I was flipping through the TV channels searching for something, anything to watch / listen to while I tie some flies for my weekend fishing trip. I stumbled across The Shield on FX. I had never watched the show before but "the critics" seem to love it. Well, I decide to give it a shot. What a show! Gritty cop drama akin to NYPD Blue but more action-packed and noticeably Sipowicz-free (how many times can the world dump on the same guy?). I really liked The Shield and a new episode is on tonight so I will have something to watch other than Gilmore Girls. Woo hoo!

So long IA, we hardly knew ye
I am saddened to report that Patent Pending is no more. IA has given "notice of abandonment" which really is too bad. He told some of the funniest stories about life in the Big Apple. Good luck IA, wherever you are. We will miss you.

Greatest Hits Volume One
Milbarge is on spring break this week and I am: (1) swamped at work and (2) trying to prepare for a weekend camping/fishing trip so posting will likely be very light. I am sure the world will survive but I don't want our readers (or Milbarge) to forget why they come to BTQ. So, I present for your enjoyment and edification a multi-post collection of the best of BTQ. If you read these posts when they were new, you will still want to go back and re-read them. If you missed these posts the first time around, then consider this collection an early Christmas gift.
Call me when you catch bin Laden...

Not the Mile High Club you want to join

In line or on line?


Wake me up before you go go (to jail)

The Road to Dushanbe

Welcome to America...Now get out.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Milbarge At Large
What I am doing at work: Not enough, and not doing it quickly enough either. All of our cases have deadlines based on the type of case it is. Your run-of-the-mill (or as Chief Justice Rehnquist says it, "run-of-the-mine") pro se case, be it a habeas or 1983 or general civil thing, gets ninety days. Oh, that's ninety days in my hands, not from filing, because there can be considerable time involved in the Clerk's Office with things like setting a briefing schedule and other procedural issues before it even gets forwarded to me. Cases with attorneys on both sides have fifty-day deadlines (draw your own conclusions about buying justice, but note that most of these are direct appeals from criminal convictions, and the attorneys are appointed). Motions are on a thirty-day deadline. That's the vast majority of our cases, but we do occasionally get some emergency motions or other cases on a shorter schedule, like a week. Motions for authorization to file a successive habeas petition must be acted upon by the Court in an expeditious fashion, pursuant to statute, so our time reviewing those is concomitantly limited. Anyway, it kind of sucks when you think your next two months are looking pretty good, and then you get two motions at once that screw everything up.

What I am doing at home: Setting up my new computer, slowly. I am in the process of transitioning from notebook to desktop, so I need to clear some desk top to make room.

What I am reading: A little of this, a little of that. Mostly wading through a thick stack of magazines, and occasionally a chapter or two in Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq.

What I am watching: Mostly lots and lots of college basketball. I think March is my favorite calendar month, because of the basketball. (I saw "calendar month" because it's neck-and-neck with the thirty-day period from mid-December to mid-January, which includes college football bowl games, Christmas, New Year's, my birthday, and snow) Also, even though I'm not a big fan of so-called "reality tv," I've been watching a little bit of ESPN's "Dream Job" and The Donald Trump Show. A friend in business school got me hooked on "The Apprentice," and it's just guilty pleasure. As for the ESPN show, I have a mild tv-crush on Maggie. She's no Stacey Pressman, though.

What I am listening to: Today, some BNL. Over the weekend, some Gillian Welch. From her "Red Clay Halo":

All the girls all dance with the boys from the city,
And they don't care to dance with me.
Now it ain't my fault that the fields are muddy,
And the red clay stains my feet.

What I am thinking about: Spanish terror, Spanish votes. I am profoundly saddened by the terror attacks in Madrid, and even sadder about what appears to be appeasement of terrorism. (But see Prof. Levy here on the issue.) I think it's important to remember -- both us and our would-be leaders -- that at least some of the PP loss can be blamed not on the attack itself, but its handling of the attack. It was perceived as blaming ETA, for its own political gain, and hiding the apparent ties to al Qaeda. I'm not saying the Socialist victory is owed wholly to this, but I think it was a factor. And, one has to wonder if al Qaeda thinks it will be better served by attacking just prior to November's election (in hopes for a Kerry victory), or in not attacking until after the election. Is the best-case scenario for them to wait and see if Kerry wins and then attacking? Kerry can talk all he wants about prescription drugs and unemployment, but if he can't come up with the right thing to say if and when another attack happens, he doesn't deserve to win.

What I am not thinking about: I think that this subject heading was originally intended to mean "what big news story do I not care about." (I stole this whole idea from Fitz, after all.) If that's it, I geuss it would be Martha Stewart or whatever John Kerry is up to or giant rocks beyond Pluto. But, it is a tad counterintuitive, and it doesn't work too well when there really isn't much in the news. So, I've decided to drop it in favor of...

Peeve of the Week: I hate it when I'm standing in line at a fast-food restaurant, and the customer in front of me leaves an eight-foot buffer zone between himself and the customer in front of him. I'm not one to crowd other customers or engage in some frottage or anything, but this is too much. One needs to take into account the size of the restaurant and the number of other customers, and not force them to crowd up at the back while leaving so much space for the customer in front that I think he's going to go Footloose like Kevin Bacon: "I thought this was a party?! Let's dance!!"

And.... In lieu of a biographical tidbit from me today, I need to make an anouncement. I'm going to take a brief break from blogging. By that I mean I'm not going to consciously try to post stuff for a few days, and I won't feel guilty if I don't get around to it. The reasons for this are that I just don't have a lot of energy right now, and I need to recharge, and I need to get some stuff done at work this week, and I know for sure that I won't get anything done Thursday and Friday. In theory, blogging was always about saying something when I felt like saying it, but not feeling like I have to. It's not like I'm a columnist with a contract to write so many posts per day.

In practice, you might not even notice a difference. I'm sure something will happen to motivate another rant soon. But I really want to avoid feeling like blogging is a chore. I really like doing it, and want to keep it up, and I think I'm just going to need to rejuvenate myself from time to time. We put up a whole lot of content last week (go read it!), and I know that neither one of us spent as much time working as we should have. And doing this thing can turn into a burden. And it's easy to get burned out. For example, I just don't have the energy to refute all the abortion/slippery slope arguments over at Southern Appeal mere days after I discussed this very problem. All our law school readers got their spring breaks; now it's my turn.

Speaking of readers, where are you? I won't complain about getting more comments with a passing reference to Ralph Wiggum than from all my "substantive" posts combined. But the comments are there for a reason. It just gets frustrating sometimes when it seems like nothing I do (even begging) increases readership. I know that announcing a break seems unlikely to help, but readership is pretty constant even on days we don't post anything (thanks, loyal surfers!). I'm really deeply grateful to everyone who comes by and reads what I have to say -- it's what makes it all worth it. Sometimes I wish there were more of you, though.

I don't want this to sound like I'm doing serious soul-searching over my place in the universe or anything, but I do kind of need to rethink some priorities and figure some things out in my life. I don't want that to sound more serious than it is (not very), but I don't want to ramble on any more over the little problems I've got and thereby make them sound more important than they are. I guess all I'm really trying to say here is don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for a few days. I'll be back soon, I promise.

Your secrets are safe with us
Apropos the Hillary in '08 Kerry campaign, I wanted to let you know that BTQ has the backing of several major international leaders. However, I won't tell you which ones. I can't. I won't betray confidences like that. You will just have to trust that I am not making this up for some sinister self-serving purpose. I will give you a hint, though. They aren't Fidel, the ayatollahs, Jacques Chirac, Kim Jong-il, Saddam, or any of the other world leaders who have silently endorsed the Kerry campaign.

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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