Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Perseverance in the 21st Century

Slate’s Jurisprudence page is the only part of the online magazine I keep on my site aggregator, and that’s so I can read dahlia Lithwick’s columns. Only NPR’s Nina Totenberg can breath life into descriptions of legal arguments as well as Ms. Lithwick, who consistently treads the fine line between objectivity and showing her political inclinations. (The Beloved Spouse has called her my intellectual mistress, and we refer to her by her first name around the house.) I stand second to no man in my admiration of her gifts and insight. (Her husband excluded, hopefully.)

She sure blew it today, though.

The question is not whether the Defense of Marriage Act deserves adequate and enthusiastic representation in court. of course it does, no matter how reprehensible I may find it. Flawed as it is, ardent advocacy is the best hope we have for our judicial system, be it for individuals, corporations, or laws like DOMA. (It would be nice if judges refrained from some of the advocacy, having supposedly left that behind when they ascended to the bench, but that’s a different post.)
The issue here is who’s at fault for King & Spalding’s refusal to provide that advocacy after agreeing to do so, after scathing attacks by a gay rights group. Ms. Lithwick blames the gay rights folks for going too far and placing King & Spalding in a position where keeping on with the DOMA case would cost them clients and money.

The gay rights group may have gone too far; that’s a different argument, too. The villains here are still King & Spalding, who folded under pressure. It’s not hard to see what kind of advocacy anyone could expect from them. They’ll support you so long as your fees bring in more money than they lose on those who disagree. Then you’re on your own. Quite the idealistic image for law students to aspire to.

I don’t suppose you’ll see many pictures of Thurgood Marshall or Morris Dees in those offices. You know, lawyers who’d take on a client and stand up for him, whether the firm agreed with his position or not.

I doubt the ACLU will be hiring these guys for anything in the near future. Kudos to Paul Clement for resigning.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

My Fantasy

No, it doesn’t involve Elle MacPherson.

My middle-aged adult male fantasy is to win the lottery.

Not for the money.

Well, yeah, for the money, but because the money would allow me to act on this fantasy. (It still doesn’t involve Elle MacPherson.)

I want to win enough money so I can write a check for a million dollars. (Picture Dr. Evil saying it. “One millllion dollars.”) Make it out to the Democratic National Committee. Get DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on the phone. (Damn right he’ll take that call.) I’ll ask for a meeting with him, Bob Menendez (Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman), and Chris Van Hollen (House Campaign Committee Chairman). They can name the time and place. They’re busy men, and I’ll be retired by then. (You think I’d work with a million dollars to throw around? Really?)

So the four of us are in the room and I take out the check. Show it to them. Certified check, the bank vouches for it. Lay it on the table between us and tell them they can leave with it, spend it how they want, on one condition:

Tell me why the fuck they deserve it. How they’re Democrats, not Republican Lite. And who they plan on running for president. If I don’t like the answers, the I’ll tear the check up and give the money to the likeliest primary challenger to Barack Obama, aka The Mole.

See Glenn Greenwald’s piece in Salon for detailed reasons.

Okay, Elle can come if she wants.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

But They Probably Know Dick Cheney’s Undisclosed Location

Fox News has a hard-earned reputation for faulty research and negligible fact checking. Now it appears their virtually invisible standards have moved into the sports department.

During Saturday’s Yankees-Tigers game, Tim McCarver—who needs no help from researchers to say something stupid—noted that Derek Jeter was close to becoming only the seventh player to get 3,000 hits for the same team. That didn’t sound right to me, so I did one Google search (3,000 hits same team) and took the first hit that came up.

Here’s the actual list:

Paul Waner,  Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken, Jr., George Brett, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn, Al Kaline.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s ten.

(Note three Pirates on the list. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Pittsburgh did baseball right.)

America in Microcosm

The economic and political problems confronting this country are well summed up in this tale of two friends.