Sunday, October 30, 2005

I'll Take My Stiff Dose Now, Mr. Cheney

Nicholas Kristof (NY Times subscription required) offers a honey of a Dick Cheney quote from the 2000 Republican National Convention. Preparing for battle with Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, Cheney told the crowd how the Bush White House would differ from the Lewinsky Scandal-wounded Clinton White House:

On the first hour of the first day, he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office... They will offer more lectures, and legalisms, and carefully worded denials. We offer another way, a better way, and a stiff dose of truth.

Friday, October 28, 2005

CNN Intern Spends Night Searching for Most Flamboyant Picture of Mr. Sulu

Though he's had a partner for 18 years, George Takei -- Star Trek's Mr. Sulu -- publicly came out today.

Although a seemingly infinite number of pictures exist with Mr. Sulu in his familiar Star Trek attire, opted to run this picture with the story.

You Mess with the Bull, You Get the Horns

Earlier this week, the White House asked the Onion to stop using the Presidential Seal, even though it was clearly being used as part of a parody.

The Onion has responded.

No News is Good News

If I were Scooter Libby, I don't think I'd get much conciliation by reading the paper this morning.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's Like a Big Fodder Pond Just Evaporating in the Sun

Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination. Harriet, we hardly skewered thee.

Hello, World

Let's review the past 24 hours:

Iran (President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad): Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Israel (Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres): Iran should be expelled from the UN.
Iran (Ahmadinejad): "And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism."

Happy Thursday, everybody!

A Question for Historians Writing in 2015

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Calculating Perjury

(crossposted from the Columbia Law School -- American Constitution Society blog)

While on Meet the Press on October 23rd, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), had this to say regarding the federal investigation into the CIA leak:

Tim Russert, Host of Meet the Press: Senator Hutchison, you think those comments from the White House are credible?

Senator Hutchison: Tim, you know, I think we have to remember something here. An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury. (emphasis mine)

Yesterday, Senator Hutchison backtracked on these comments, recounting the following on the hilariously titled Fox & Friends:
I was sort of misconstrued the other day, and I certainly think that if someone has lied to an investigator, of course that is a crime. It is a terrible crime.

Perhaps the Hutchison Perjury Didactic can be clarified by turning to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Perjury. Here, we learn the following:
§2J1.3. Perjury or Subornation of Perjury; Bribery of Witness

(a) Base Offense Level: 14

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If the offense involved causing or threatening to cause physical injury to a person, or property damage, in order to suborn perjury, increase by 8 levels.

(2) If the perjury, subornation of perjury, or witness bribery resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice, increase by 3 levels.


Base Offense Level works a little bit like hit points in Dungeons & Dragons -- the higher the number, the more severe the mandatory punishment.

Maybe Senator Hutchison's confusion regarding the severity of perjury relates to this base offense level. What does a base offense level of 14 mean, anyway? To learn more about this technicality/terrible crime, let's compare its base offense level with some other potential technicalities out there:

Crimes Against the Person
1st Degree Murder: 43
2nd Degree Murder: 33
Kidnapping: 32
Involuntary Manslaughter: 10 or 14
Aggravated Assault: 14

Crimes Against Property
Larceny of between $70,000 and $120,000: 14
Counterfeiting between $200,000 and $350,000: 14
Burglary of non-residence of between $10,000 and $50,000: 14

Other Crimes:
At least 5g but less than 10g of Heroin, or
At least 25g but less than 50g of Cocaine, or
At least 5kg but less than 10kg of Marihuana: 14

Promoting Prostitution or Prohibited Sexual Conduct: 14
Importing, Mailing, or Transporting Obscene Matter that displays depictions of violence: 14

Boy, there are a lot of Base Offense Level 14's out there. Senator Hutchison, are all these offenses easily confused with technicalities?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What Is the Sound of One Shoe Dropping?

Fitzgerald has loosened up the Hush Puppy.

Look out below.


Why should I say anything about Dick Cheney's role in the Plame leak when Scott McClellan says it all?

How many people are going to be indicted, Scott?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Charm Offensive

Home School + Free Speech + White Nationalism = Prussian Blue.

I'm left wondering if the environment in which these girls live is more like Brazil or Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pork Belly Futures

What does this graph mean, you ask? Well, according to the conservative Club for Growth, that's the Number of Pork Projects in Federal Spending Bills over the last decade.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Like Yoda Said, There is Another


Law school keeps you busy. Busy, as in the bags under my eyes look like they've been drawn in eyeliner busy (see adjacent self portrait). That said, I have time for exactly one extracurricular activity. In my case, this activity is ACS, or American Constitution Society (for the sake of simplicity, just think anti-Federalist Society).

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a redesign of the Columbia ACS blog, which I've just posted. Part of my job with this organization is to give it a bloggy voice. I'm going to shoot for an amalgam of Sauntering + Jon Stewart + Constitutional Interpretation. We'll see how it goes.

Lots of the stuff that I'll be posting to the Columbia ACS blog would make it to Sauntering anyway, so I'll cross post it here.

It all kinda gets going next week, so get ready for WWAHD? — What Would Alexander Hamilton Do? — a survey of the founding fathers where we explore their stance on the Miers nomination.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oh That I Should Look As Good As Tom Delay...

...on the day they take my indictment mugshot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You Don't Want to be on this Short List

Larry Johnson says:

Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Patting Her on the Back and Attaching a "Kick Me" Sign

In an article in the New York Times, Matthew Scully explains that Harriet Miers is qualified for the bench in part because she's been a diligent fact-checker for Bush's speeches.

I don't dispute that Ms. Miers may ultimately become a fine SCOTUS justice (like all Democrats, I'm sitting back to get a full view and revel in a bit of well-earned schadenfreude), but I don't see how fingering her as one of those accountable for Bush's breezy handling of the facts helps her cause:

It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X "our most urgent domestic priority," and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.
...and the world suffers, in part for all the counterfacts that Harriet missed. Out of the frying pan of the unknown into the fire of the blameworthy.

Legal Opinions Even the non-Law School Student Can Love

In UNITED STATES ex rel. Gerald MAYO v. SATAN AND HIS STAFF, one Gerald Mayo decided to sue Beelzebub for violations of his Constitutional rights. The court's approach to the matter is both tongue-in-cheek and amusingly serious.

One of the many problems in Mr. Mayo's 1971 case is that he failed to tell the US Marshalls how they were to locate the defendant in order to serve him with a summons. Additionally, the judge hypothesized that the case should probably be a class action.

Here's list of humorous cases. You can find the full text of most of these cases by Googling the citation information at the end of the case title.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You Say Tomato, I Say Suspicious

To CNN, Syria's foreign minister commits suicide. To the BBC, he "commits suicide."

All the King's Men Can't Put Humpty Together Again

Matt Drudge, in his capacity as Assistant Water Carrier for the Bush Administration (Robert Novak, of course, being the Chief Water Carrier), is forwarding a Karl Rove-esque (cross thyself) description of the nomination process that finds a way of shifting the attention back to those testy Democrats, and away from a nominee who unsettles a number of conservatives.

I nearly laughed when I read this:

I'm reprinting it in full, as I'm confident that Drudge will take this down as its transparency becomes evident:

Rove Told Dobson Other Candidates Refused Consideration
Wed Oct 12 2005 00:54:39 ET

Before President Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, called influential Christian leader James Dobson to assure him that Miers was a conservative evangelical Christian, Dobson said in remarks scheduled for broadcast Wednesday on his national radio show.

The LA TIMES reports: In that conversation, which has been the subject of feverish speculation, Rove also told Dobson that one reason the president was passing over better-known conservatives was that many on the White House short list had asked not to be considered, Dobson said, according to an advance transcript of the broadcast provided by his organization, Focus on the Family.

Dobson said that the White House had decided to nominate a woman, which reduced the size of the list, and that several women on it had then bowed out.

``What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it,'' Dobson said, according to the transcript.

Imagine: Long-serving jurists with developed patterns of Constitutional interpretation — people dedicated the US court system, committed to the conservative cause, turning down a nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States because they were afraid of the nomination process in a Republican-dominated Senate. Further, this assertion is being made after Democratic Senators sent John Roberts on his way to the Chief Justice slot with no more than a teasing punch in the arm.

When Dauphin President Bush gets away from his minders and nominates a candidate who exposes the deep divisions in modern conservative America, his men scurry, desperate to deflect attention from the real issue and to vilify the sideline-standing Democrats.

This is spin, folks. Revel in it for all its nihilistic, misanthropic beauty.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

His 45 Day Vow of Kooky Silence is Now Up

I know what you've been thinking.

You've been thinking, "Gee, I haven't heard anything from Radical Christian Cleric Pat Robertson since he called on the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez back in August."

Well, Pat's back. It turns out that frequent hurricanes are not part of a normal cycle or evidence of global warming. They're evidence of the 2nd coming of Christ.

Yes, Pat. Yes, of course they are.

Not Enough Ado About Something vs. Much Ado About Not A Whole Hell of A Lot

The New York City subway has more than 400 subway stations serving a daily ridership population of 4,500,000. Although Mayor Bloomberg sends the NYPD flocking into subway stations when he feels that terror threats are nigh, my federal government seems to have precious little interest in guarding me, the New York commuter.

A higher priority for the government? Labeling fraternity pranks terrorist acts.

"It will be a joint investigation between the Atlanta Police Department, the Georgia Tech Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Every possible lead will be followed," said Major Moss.
This is not incompetence, people, this is jackassery.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Not Elite Enough For the People Who Publicly Decry Elitism

As if to provide evidence that we now live in an alternate dimension that only vaguely resembles a pre-Bush reality, conservatives of all stripes are going after SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers as if blood were in the water. Their arguments against her candidacy range from entertaining (that she's not prejudicial enough) to the entertainingly legitimate (that in Federalist Paper #75, Alexander Hamilton addresses exactly this kind of cronyism concerning Supreme Court nominees).

Oft-unhinged commentator Ann Coulter has criticized Miers for not attending a fancy-enough law school, a problem that will take care of itself.

In last year's US News and World Report law school rankings, Miers' alma mater, SMU, was ranked #52. Since the only other law schools with anyone on the SCOTUS bench are Harvard, Yale, Columbia, & Northwestern, I'm willing to bet that SMU will surge in the rankings (whether or not Miers is approved).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

1st in War, 1st in Peace, 1st in the Hearts of Her Countrymen

As President Bush was introducing SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers on Monday, I couldn't help but wonder if the comments below said more about Miers or about Texas.

Harriet was the first woman hired by Dallas’s top law firms,
the first woman to become president of that firm…
the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas.

Harriet also became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected president of the state bar of Texas.
George W. Bush, October 3, 2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers: Blogger

The SCOTUS nominee of the moment has a blog. A faux blog, but a blog nonetheless.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

My Name is Pepe Pérez

As you know, the US Courts use the moniker John Doe for defendants or victims whose identities are unknown or need to remain anonymous. Jane Doe & Precious or Baby Doe play an identical role for women and children.

Similarly, an anonymous plaintiff is referred to as Richard Roe or Jane Roe. (Yes, Roe v. Wade was a Jane Roe)

The Wikipedia definition of John Doe has a wonderful section detailing the various names for John Doe around the world. Some highlights:

Australia — Fred Nurk, Joe Farnarkle, John Citizen, Joe Blow/Bloe, Joe Bloggs

Austria — Hans Meier, Hans Maier, Hans Mayer, Herr und Frau Österreicher

Germany — Max and Erika Mustermann, Lieschen Müller, Otto Normalverbraucher, Detlef Müller

Spain — Pepe Pérez, Pedro Pérez, Fulano, Fulanito, Mengano, Menganito, Zutano, Zutanito
Thanks, Colin!