Friday, May 28, 2004

Friggin' Nader 

I can't believe what an egomaniacal ass he's become. Here's why.

Friday, May 21, 2004


So I was recently sworn in as an honest-to-god lawyer. Please, hold your applause. To be frank, I wasn't surprised to see what an "event" it was, but I was embarrassed. The courthouse was filled with the families of the applicants, taking pictures, hugging, kissing. And don't get me wrong, I can understand why becoming a lawyer is, at first blush, seen as an achievement. But under scrutiny, the whole charade is exposed.

Let me start by saying that it's tough to do well in law school, any law school. There are so many smart people, so many competitive smart people, plus grading means, that it becomes difficult to set yourself apart. With that said, however, it is not difficult to do okay in law school. And getting into law school--some law school somewhere--is a joke. In fact, let's start with that. If you can complete the applications--or find or pay someone to do it for you--you will be accepted to some law school somewhere. Law school is not like med school. Many people who really want to be doctors simply aren't accepted to any medical school. But not law school. If you can pay the application fee, there's a spot for you somewhere. It might be number 600 in U.S. News, but you'll get a legal education.

So you get into law school, you either try to do well or just try to pass, and then you graduate. This is a big day where you wear an elaborate gown and hood (much fancier than the one in college) and get a juris doctor, despite the fact that law school is really just a glorified masters program. My buddy Jack spent seven years in school, defended his thesis, and wore the same thing to graduation that I did (or that I would have had I gone to my graduation) after spending a measly three years in law school. (That's another thing: Very few laypeople know that law school is three, not four, years.)

Now you have to take the Bar exam. Now, I understand that many people have a lot of difficulty with multiple choice tests, so I'm not going to go around saying that the exam is easy, because it's not. There's far too much material for it to be easy. But I will say this: It's entirely arbitrary. Laurie (a blognoscente) is thinking of practicing labor and employment law. Do you know how many labor and employment law questions appear on the Bar exam? Zero. But Laurie had to become a veritable expert in NY divorce law. So tell me: How does that exam demonstrate Laurie's competence? This example is itself arbitrary; there are many major topics not tested on the exam, and many minor topics overtested (e.g., wills, trusts, divorce, workers compensation).

The other thing about the Bar is that about 80% of first-time takers pass. That's a pretty high percentage. And who are those 80%? They're the ones who do well, or get lucky, on multiple choice tests. Note: Practicing law is not about taking multiple choice tests. In fact, if a client asked you a legal question, and you didn't research it before answering, that would probably constitute an ethical breach. Maybe that's going overboard, but only slightly.

So you pass the meaningless exam. Now you go for your character interview. This is a real joke. There's one of four ways this interview goes down: (1) your interviewer goes through your file in front of you and asks you absolutely nothing (my way); (2) your interviewer asks you a little about yourself, you have a pleasant conversation, you pass; (3) your interviewer bitches at you because your firm called you an asociate but your not because you haven't been admitted yet, you pass; or (4) you were convicted of a crime, your interviewer bitches at you, you pass. The Bar touts this interview, laughably, as a way to screen for character. Do you know a lawyer? Ask yourself: If s/he is passable, can you think up someone who wouldn't be?

Now the big day comes. You go to a courthouse with a hundred other applicants, you take the oath, and they swear you in. In the process, the judge tells you about how great attorneys are and not to take flash photography during the event.

But here's the thing: Lawyers aren't great. We're like everyone else, some good, most mediocre, some awful, some criminal. But all these things that we went through to be called a lawyer are deceiving laypeople into thinking that there really is something special about lawyers. "You must be smart, you had to pass that test." "I hear law school is really hard." "So you have to take an oath to be a lawyer?" "They screen out criminals, right?" Don't get me wrong, most people--not unjustly--think lawyers are snakes and liars. But we keep holding out these screening procedures and saying, "Lawyers are screened, the bad ones are weeded out, we're professionals." But we can't keep saying that. And to the extent we're not saying it, we have to stop implying it or whatever we're doing. We either have to stop holding ourelves out as something special or else actually use these screening procedures to screen meaningfully. Don't accredit every law school; don't let acceptance to some law school somewhere be automatic; forget multiple choice and make the Bar exam meaningful; talk to people during the character interview about something relevant.

I know readers are going to be up in arms at the suggestion that some people shouldn't have the opportunity to go to law school. Look, I'm not saying we should accredit five law schools and admit a hundred kids to each. I'm not even saying that the vast majority shouldn't have the opportunity. And the opportunity certinly shouldn't turn on a test as useless as the LSAT. If you work hard in college, demonstrate that you want to be successful in life and are willing to work for it, there should be a spot for you in whatever program you want. But if you slack your whole life and couldn't care less what you do and want to go to law school because your parents have a lot of money and it's the easiest way to avoid work for three more years, well I'm not going to cry for you. My vote is to follow the med school model. Query why one's livelihood, liberty, wealth, and possibly life is less important than one's health. If we're going to call ourselves professional, we'd better start acting like it.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Rehnquist Court: Its Record and Its Legacy 

Good CLE panel last night. The panel consisted of Ken Starr, Burt Neuborne (prof. at NYU, former Nat'l Legal Dir. of the ACLU), Charles Cooper (Cooper & Kirk, former Rehnquist clerk and Ass't AG for the Office of Legal Counsel), and Martin Garbus (Davis & Gilbert, trial lawyer). Judge Reena Raggi (2d Cir.) moderated. Below is a sketch of what was discussed. I couldn't get it all, so the highlights (to my mind) are below.

RR: To begin, why doesn't each panelist discuss his impressions of this Court; its general, defining characteristics.

KS: This Court should be called the O'Connor Court, not the Rehnquist Court. Various opinions demonstrate her moderate influence, for instance the Univ. of Mich. affirmative actions cases. The Court has also been very moderate in approaching freedom of religion and the Establishment Clause.

Federalism is the signature issue of this Court. [Listing various cases.] This is also a very pro-free speech Court. Critics of this Court are too quick to overlook the richness of its jurisprudence.

RR: If it's so moderate, BN, why can't they all agree on anything?

BN: It's not a moderate Court, it's a paralyzed Court. This Court has gone unchanged for so long that it's like being in grade school. In grade school, whatever you were labeled early, it stuck. So if you were labeled a slacker early, it sticks because the people never change from grades 1 through 12. Each Justice now has predictable role and s/he plays it in predictable cases. This is a Court of 9 chambers that group loosely into coalitions of votes, thereby leaving the outcome to Kennedy and O'Connor. An interesting political science question is whether a Court should go unchanged for so long. Stability vs. being forced to reevaluate ideas.

KS is right that we can't call this the Rehnquist Court. Even though he stamped his imprint on the federalism cases, he was often in dissent in his early years as Chief, when it was really the Brennan Court. Now it's the Kennedy or O'Connor Court.

I also agree with KS that this Court is moderate as a matter of numbers, but it's not moderate by choice. I think the right and left would both go much further, but they can't because they know they need to persuade one of the two centrist votes.

2 major jurisprudential shifts we've seen in this Court: (1) Rise of textualism. Before this Court, the text was not the driving force behind interpretation. While Rehnquist played a major role here, this shift is mainly attributable to Scalia. And (2) the collapse of the idea of deference, and I think Rehnquist is going to regret this. I remember footnote 4 in Caroline Products, where the Court said that it defers to legislatures except when it believes that there's been a failure of democracy. This Court doesn't give deference to anyone but the Boy Scouts (not even the PGA).

There's been surprising continuity on this Court. These Justices have shown us that precedent really does matter, and that they care very much about their craft. There's been remarkable continuity in the First Amendment area, and this might be the strongest First Amendment Court in history. Also continuity in the area of equality, for instance a majority embracing Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke. There's been fundamental continuity.

Finally, I think that Bush v. Gore is the single greatest failure of the Court in my lifetime, its lowest point. And it's a testament to the Court that it still thrives even after Bush v. Gore.

CC: I'd like to begin by talking about federalism. But I approach this topic from a very controversial standpoint. I believe that the law should mean what it was intended to mean, i.e., I'm an originalist. I don't believe in the living Constitution theory. I don't believe, as Justice Brennan put it, that we should ask what the "words mean in our time." This is just a license for judges to impose their views and values onto society. The law today is what 5 Justices say it is. This Court is a political body, not a judicial one, just like prior Courts. Its decisions depend on the results demanded by majorities.

The bulk of the Court's federalism cases restore the original meanings of, for instance, the Commerce Clause, and the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments. Still, this Court sometimes goes wrong when it tries to achieve its preferred outcome.

Read the Eleventh Amendment. It's command is directed at the "judicial power," including the Supreme Court. The Court has held, among other things, that it is not bound by the text of the Eleventh Amendment. That it was designed to overturn Chisholm. [Traces jurisprudence.] The majorities were correct in these cases, limiting the power of lower federal courts and state courts. But the text of the Eleventh Amendment does not protect the states from the Court's own power. The Court has simply asserted that its appellate power over state court decisions is unaffected by the Eleventh Amendment, as it is inherent in the constitutional design. So the Court here did exactly what the Eleventh Amendment commanded it not to do.

MG: This Court's decisions have been most significant in the area of federalism. [He then outlined the facts of Morrison, Garrett, and Lopez, but didn't really draw any conclusions or make a point. He kept referring to VAWA as the "Women Against Violence Act," or "WAVA."]

RR: Is CC saying that, in its federalism cases, this Court has upset or restored the appropriate balance of power?

KS: The Court is struggling to find a limiting principle. In Lopez, how could the Court strike down the Gun-Free School Zones Act? O'Connor and Kennedy were looking for a limiting principle, and they weren't presented with one. See Kennedy's concurrence. The same thing happened in Morrison, no limiting principle. If the Court had embraced an "effect on the economy" theory then Congress could pass a national divorce law, or a national child custody law. This Court wants to respect the traditional roles of states. I do think though that the Founders knew when they created judicial review that judges would exercise their own wills.

BN: Going back to CC's originalism point. Looking back--to slavery, to the subjugation of women, etc.--I'm not sure originalism is something we want to go back to. So even if originalism is possible, I don't think we want to embrace it. But in any event it's not possible. There's no such thing as text that gives you a clear answer. It's a false god, there are no clear answers in history or text (or both). For example, whose intent counts? The ratifiers of the Constitution? Those who elected the ratifiers? Those who debated the Constitution?

Look at the Eleventh Amendment. It was written to overturn Chisholm. It was not meant to be read literally.

What do you use to find a right answer besides discretion; what do you replace discretion with? Originalism is just a covert way to smuggle values into interpretation.

Is there a theme in this Court's jurisprudence? Well, it's not states' rights. In preemption cases, this Court often ousts the ability of the states to act. If I had to name a theme it would be this: Government power is always under the other shell [i.e., as in Three Card Monte], e.g., "Sorry, you should've used the ยง 5 power," "Sorry, the states need to act in this area."

September 11 brought the Rehnquist Court to an end, in that it brought federalism to an end. After Communism and the Berlin Wall fell, why did we need government? Government was supposed to get out of the way. After 9/11 we realize how desperately we need government, and this affects the courts.

RR: What does campaign finance say about the Rehnquist Court?

CC: First I want to address BN's argument that there's no such thing as originalism. Yes, true intent is rarely clear, but it's also true that it's rarely completely up for grabs. I can't find one SCOTUS opinion that doesn't embrace the idea that the intent of the Founders or legislature is what counts.

As to campaign finance, I, along with KS, helped challenge the law. I challenged the law because it was inconsistent with the First Amendment, especially Title II--prohibiting advertisements with soft money within 30 days of an election--which I worked on specifically. O'Connor determined the outcome, and it was inconsistent with the dissent she joined in Austin v. Mich. State Chamber of Commerce.

KS: In its opinion, the Court showed deference to Congress where it felt that the issues required such deference. What people believe was O'Connor's part of the opinion is remarkably brief, especially in light of the opinions of the lower courts. There was a suggestion that the Court was washing its hands of this case. Now, guys like Soros have become very important speakers in our community.

BN: I think it's great that KS now thinks we shouldn't criminalize politics.

I helped defend John McCain in this case. The Court's decision was attributable to two things: (1) It was very well lawyered. Buckley went up on a bare-bones record. This case was just the opposite; it had a voluminous record, and I think the Court was affected by the factual defense. (2) It was a cry of despair by the Court. There was a spiraling sense that politics was out of reach for the normal person because of money. We've had years of success removing every barrier to voting, yet voting continues to decline. 48% of the population voted in the last election. It's more relevant to the average person to get a discount at Wal-Mart than to vote, because there's a sense that a vote is meaningless.

As law, the opinion is not strong. I know exactly how Breyer and O'Connor split the opinion: Each wrote every other word.

MG: Democracy was recently on the table at a forum in Beijing. China is a benevolent dictatorship; it's grappling with the problem of what to become.

To the Warren Court, race was the most important issue. To the Burger Court, it was an important issue. To the Rehnquist Court, it's only an important issue when a white person is affected by affirmative action.

RR: How does Brown square with this Court's affirmative action cases?

MG: O'Connor embraced Bakke more than I expected her to. The Michigan cases were a shift from the Court's precedent here. Judge Tatel is coming out with a must-read article on school desegregation.

CC: I want to respond to BN's point that money shuts the little guy out of politics. The portion of the campaign finance opinion dealing with Title II exacerbates the problem that BN identifies, in that it applies to voluntary organizations like the Sierra Club and the NRA. The only way the little guy can be heard is by amplifying his voice through such an organization. Other forms of amplification, like the media, are generally prohibitively expensive.

On to school desegregation. If shool authorities have abided by 40-year-old remedial decrees, then the federal courts should terminate those cases. They can't stay in the federal courts forever. At some point, we have to return the authority to the schools.

MG: No Court but this one would have come out with Lopez and Morrison. The limiting principle is the rational basis test, and it's been the limiting principle since Wickard.

KS: I argued the Oklahoma City case, giving authority over some schools back to the school board. One reason the court did so was that the newly elected school board was living up to its constitutional responsibilities. When it was all over, a black woman on the Okla. City school board thanked me for getting control bck in the school board.

The Court is not a political enterprise. That goes to the Court's core function. This Court has really been about caution and moderation. And this tradition of moderation has been given voice by White, Harlan, Cardozo, and Holmes, among others. It's a great tradition.

CC is right: Every Justice who's ever sat on this Court has been or is an originalist, even Warren. The meaning of the Constitution can change. For instance, commercial speech, symbolic speech--these are now included in the First Amendment though they weren't at the Founding. Scalia's point is to look for the reasonable meaning.

RR: How has Rehnquist himself changed over time?

BN: Look at his nondecisional activities. He's been an excellent steward of the Article III system and judges. He's also one of the better amateur historians to have ever sat on the Court. He's deeply committed to the Constitution.

He's changed in two ways. (1) It's easier for him with Scalia and Thomas on the Court. He can be more moderate. He doesn't have to beat a drum for a position because he knows Scalia and Thomas will do it. He can therefore be more centrist and more of a unifier. (2) He's matured, as Justices do. The world has become more complex to him with his years on the bench. He's become more moderate in most areas.

RR: Quick sum up. What don't I know about the Court?

MG: The Court is not political like Congress or the Executive. The law moors it. The Court pays homage to the law and doesn't bend it consciously or overtly.

CC: I agree with BN's observations about Rehnquist. I wouldn't have predicted he'd vote against VMI, or that he'd write Dickerson--that was a particular shocker. He's experienced a very real evolution. I also agree with Scalia's "original meaning." As in the Eleventh Amendment, the test is not the end-all be-all of original meaning.

BN: I don't think the Court is a political institution. The consensus of all judges is that when confronted with a case, the judge looks for precedent, and if she finds it, she follows it. If not, then she looks for a textual solution. No judge sitting wouldn't do those two things first. If a judge can discern the intention behind the text, then she'll follow that. But these three methods often leave the judge without a clear command.

Dick Posner says that a judge is like a platoon leader getting commands from the general's staff over a walkie-talkie. When the commands over the walkie-talkie aren't clear, the platoon leader still has to do something, he can't just stop acting until he can clearly hear the next command. Judges use values as tiebreakers. I don't know what percentage of the time that happens, but I think that if a judge has a clear answer, the cae wouldn't get to the Court. And I don't know what else besides values can be used as a tiebreaker.

KS: Keep your eye on Breyer and the rise of pragmatism on the Court. Pragmatism is also very attractive to O'Connor.

Ques.: How has 9/11 affected the Court?

CC: 9/11 is going to spawn a lot of business for the courts. None of the pre-9/11 federalism cases would be decided differently today.

BN: Printz would definitely be decided differently today. Do we really think that in a post-9/11 world, the federal government can't commandeer state police to fight terrorism, for instance, if feds needed help interrogating suspected terrorists?

KS: If 9/11 has reshaped the way the Justices think, then it argues in favor of deferring to the Executive in the Gitmo cases, Hamdi, and Padilla. But in fact, I think this Court is going to be more assertive of judicial power than the Court of 50 years ago, see Eisentrager.

Ques.: Was Bush v. Gore an aberration or rather illustrative of what this Court will do when it is without precedential mooring?

KS: Phase I of Bush v. Gore was a unanmous vacatur of the Fla. Supreme Court's decision. In dissent, a judge on the Fla. Supreme Court said that, as to Phase II, the majority or the Fla. Supremes had intruded into the prerogative of the Fla. legislature.

BN: Six members of the Court didn't join the concurrence saying that the Fla. Supreme Court couldn't review the Fla. legislature in this area.

I believe that the Court was afraid that the tiebreaking systems would fail. It felt that it needed to answer the question before it got to Congress. It was afraid the problem would spiral out of control. This Court's two big themes are federalism and trusting the democratic process, and they did neither here.

CC: What would the Court had done if the parties (i.e., Bush and Gore) had been reversed?

BN: I believe the Court would have come out the same way. If I didn't, that would say something terrible about the Justices. O'Connor and Kennedy wanted to prevent this thing from spiraling out of control.

MG: I disagree with BN, I think it would have come out differently.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A strange thing happened on the way to Cafe Abir. 

Most nights, after I leave work, I ride busline #5 to Cafe Abir on the corner of Divisadero and Fulton. It became a habit when I started to spend my evenings writing an article after I got back from Iraq. Now I just go to read and people watch for a bit. Chambers gets a little clausterphobic. Anyway, on the bus tonight, I sat next to some woman reading Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint." I really like that book, but I didn't bother mentioning it. I hate it when people speak to me on public transportation, which (in my opinion) includes flights on either Southwest or America West airlines. Anyway, I quickly got absorbed in the new personals listings for pre-op transvestites in this week's San Francisco Weekly: Tammie is still looking for the #1; Trish is willing to "entertain" for a night in Oakland if the price is right; and, finally, Tonya wants a lover and a best friend. Why, you might ask, do an inordinate number of San Francisco shemales choose names beginning with Ts? Unfortunately, I don't know why. In any event, I climbed off the bus tonight at Divisadero and Portnoy's Complaint followed. I didn't pay any attention to this as most people get off at that stop. Alas, she also turned on to Fulton avec the Billthrill. Not intrigued? Read on, dear blognoscentus. I ordered my usual coffee thing at the counter and sat down, and who should I notice ten-minutes later sneaking surreptitious looks across the room from moi -- Portnoy. I didn't play the were-you-looking-at-me-when-I-looked-at-you game, but this didn't stop her from leaving a note on my table when I stepped into the bathroom half-hour later. The note read: "Are ya' gonna make this kitten prrrrrrrr, you dirty dog?" So, what did the Billthrill do? You guessed it: he dropped the leash, kicked down the kennel's doors, and let the dogs have their day. If my peeps in NYC can hear the rumble of satisfaction coming from the West, rest assured that its northern California's feline population. So, Portnoy is the strange thing that happened to me. But here's the rub, it's a giant lie. This kind of thing is not strange at all for me. It happens at least a few times a week.

Same-sex marriage and residency requirements 

The Governor of Massachusetts, in a transparent attempt to woo conservative voters, has decided to revive an obscure 1913 state law -- originally passed to prevent interracial marriages -- to bar non-resident same-sex couples from taking advantange of the state's new marriage law. Do you guys think this law would survive a constitutional challenge (note: Mass. has never refused to marry "foreign" hetero couples)?

The interesting thing to me about this whole same-sex marriage debate is -- and i think this has been said elsewhere -- that gays have been able to make civil unions the "moderate" political position. they've been able to frame the issue such that politicians and voters who previously would not have even considered civil unions to be kosher now think that it is a reasonable compromise if the alternative is, gasp!, to let gays marry.


don't sweat the small stuff (and it's all small stuff) 

Well my brother said that possibly the blog had taken a very serious tone. It actually seems like a good mix to me as far as i've read. Although the reference to Joe Versus the Volcano, frankly i thought was inappropriately casual. Fucking Mike. I got the heading for this post from a bathroom reader (nothing like a good book on the pot), and it really struck me. Mostly because i can't really find any small stuff. Everything seems so heavy today, for good reason, death, torture, war aren't what Disney pictures are made of. I'll correct that, as some may argue that they were based on stories of death and torture, just let the reference go people. Anyway, the title struck me, it struck me as i struggle to deal with how much i should let these undescribably sad world events consume my personal life. Finding a little peace in the eye of the hurricane seems deserved, and i doubt anyone would frown upon someone else being happy despite the events at hand, but how happy is acceptable? The big question then becomes once you start allowing yourselves to put those events on the side, how far to the side do you put them. Certainly a lot of changes need to be made, and that requires some consumed and motivated people. But sometimes i wish i was the poop. Enjoy the day!!


Monday, May 17, 2004

Wall Street Joke 

Is anybody who read this morning's editorial about the applicability of the Geneva Convention to Abu Ghraib prisoners convinced? It sounds like crap to me. How could the stuff that happened at Abu Ghraib NOT violate int'l law? It doesn't seem possible to me. I've never seen any source of int'l law that says countries agree to allow low-grade torture in any circumstances. Has anybody seen something that permits torture?

Ferrara gets reasonable: I'm worried 

perhaps my fellow blog-a-lots have not noticed, but michael ferrara has gotten quite reasonable as of late. this is the man who once took his shirt off in the middle of constitutional law to demonstrate (unsuccessfully) the difference b/n men and women. i don't know if this development makes others nervous, but i'm deeply concerned. not all of us disliked your vitriol. indeed, i enjoyed your moments of borderline violent righteousness. are you growing judicious in your old age?

Sunday, May 16, 2004


The Onion has some excellent tips for improving your daily commute.

This probably sounds goofy, but every day I am awed by the mass demonstration of productivity that is people going to work. The movie Joe Versus the Volcano begins with a funereal, zombie-like march to work of hundreds of pale, suited employees with utterly vacant expressions. I don't know why that particular image jumps out at me, because it's a fairly common depiction of commuting. But when I get on a packed subway, or walk down the street with hundreds of other people going to work, and I think about how many more packed subways, cars, trains, roads, planes, etc. will be taking people to work simultaneously (not to mention other time zones), I'm inspired. Hundreds of millions of people producing, adding value.

Don't get me wrong, of course it's not as idyllic as I'm making it out to be. Many people are lazy, hate their jobs, etc. But it's still the best way to put in perspective how much gets done in the course of a single day (or at least, how much could potentially get done).


Today's Dowd 

I'm not a fan of Maureen Dowd. I normally find her to be too partisan. However, her column today is well worth a read. It's titled The Springs of Fate and here's how it begins:

"Oblivious of the consequences, the impetuous black sheep of a ruling family starts a war triggered by a personal grudge.

"The father, a respected veteran of his own wars, suppresses his unease and graciously supports his son, even though it will end up destroying his legacy and the world order he envisioned.

"The ferocious battle in the far-off sands spirals out of control, with many brave soldiers killed, with symbols of divinity damaged, with graphic scenes showing physical abuse of the conquered, and with devastatingly surreptitious guerrilla tactics.

"Aside from dishing up a gilded Brad Pitt with a leather miniskirt and a Heathrow duty-free accent as he tosses about ancient insults, such as calling someone a "sack of wine," "Troy" also dishes up some gilded lessons on the Aeschylating cost of imperial ambitions and personal vendettas."

So you see where she's going with this. It's one of her classic parallelisms. Check it out.


Tonight's Simpsons 

Very funny and political Simpsons tonight. One really biting and hysterical exchange was the following between Principal Skinner (a Vietnam veteran) and Homer, after Bart (inadvertently) moons the American flag:

Skinner: I'm offended not just as a principal, but as a veteran in the only war America lost.
Homer: To date.

The whole episode was politically charged, and one of the funniest I've seen recently.


Friday, May 14, 2004

admit it melendres, this is exactly what you think . . .  

I agree that we have been blessed and were born into a relatively Peaceful world. while potentially cataclysmically dangerous (Cuban missile crisis),the bipolar structure of the cold war world was relatively stable. When the soviet union tanked in the late 80's/early 90's there was a unipolar moment during which the world (or at least our world) continued to be fairly peaceful and American dominance was unchallenged. then two things happened. first, geopolitics started to be defined by a balance of power paradigm. that is, states began to balance against the us, which is a partial reason for the strain in the trans-Atlantic/NATO relationship. second, long simmering problems held in check by bipolarity boiled over - kosovo is a prime example. now, terrorism has compounded and added to these problems. international relations theory predicts that a bipolar system is more stable than a unipolar or multipolar one and events of the past 3 years are conforming to that prediction. I feel like the world is fundamentally different and more dangerous than it was five or ten or twenty years ago and it's hard to know where its going. for example, i think the prospect of nuclear devastation is much more likely now than it was ever was during the cold war. during that phase in world history the doctrine of mutual assured destruction helped hold things in check in that both the us and USSR were deterred from launching a nuclear attack because each country had enough nuclear weapons to survive an initial attack and launch a counterattack. that logic doesn't hold up when non-state actors are involved. i'm not suggesting the end of the world is imminent, but i think to not acknowledge this threat is to ignore reality.

non-posters fucking suck . . .  

some time a while ago some guy somewhere somehow related to the law once said said something like "everyone is entitled to my opinion." well, i flip this principle on its head - i'm entitled to your opinion. if you don't like it, you can (to put this as diplomatically as possible) FUCK OFF. first, i like to stay in touch with people i care about, which (unfortunately) includes even you ferrara. second, the world's waters are choppier than ever. this isn't rainy weather; it's every ecological disaster possible - hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, wild forest fires, etc. - bundled into one big ol' hulking metaphor. we no longer have the luxury of opinions. in this world, we have convictions or we're not eligible for the debate. second, i'd like to clarify that i reserve the right to post whatever i want on this bulletin. in other words, if i want to write something about the deep resentment i felt toward the lead character in the porn i saw last week, you're going to know where you can read about it. if i want to enumerate the top-ten reasons (among countless others) women have killed to sleep avec moi, you'll have the opportunity to study up on your technique. finally, i don't intend to apply cosmetics to my language for your benefit. if you're sheepish about curse words and jokes that would likely offend run of the mill mechanics, you should get some balls or a strap-on as the case may be. this is a bona fide open forum and i intend to fill it up . . . motherfucka'.


my morning hole in the wall . . .  

i don't know if other people have had this problem lately, but i have major anger management issues in the morning. i read the paper on the way to work. usually, by the time the bus has made its third or fourth stop, i'm red-hot and boiling over, ready to punch a hole in the nearest wall. politics have gotten way too visceral lately. the kind and gentle folk of san francisco seem scared of me, which isn't entirely unjustified. DO NOT FUCK WITH A MAN WHO HAS JUST FINISHED THE NYTIMES? rummy, bush, and especially cheney make me so mad on a daily basis, i feel like the apocalypse is sure to set in by noon. what i wonder is do my fellow blognoscenti feel constantly on the brink these days even though they work desk jobs?