Warmer Wednesday

Today, the weather was decent – it actually felt like spring or something like it. Anyway, beware; long blog ahead, since it’s been awhile and there’s been a crop of interesting news and articles.

NY Times Quotation of the Day:

“‘I want the truth.’ – Bob McIlvaine, who attended a hearing of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.”

We all want the truth; sadly, it doesn’t mean we’ll get it, because (like in historical research) the truth is never so simple, since it depends on who’s telling the story. Watching the news about the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (a.k.a. the 9/11 Commission)’s public hearings is interesting television, if I can say that; as some of the commissioners pointed out on the Lehrer Newshour on PBS today, the purpose of the public hearings is to make a point to the public. It may be all for the sake of appearance, but the appearance is a powerful one. The intruiging moment for me was seeing former Senator Bob Kerrey make his pointed remarks (to Albright, he says: “I keep hearing the excuse we didn’t have actionable intelligence. Well, what the hell does that say to Al Qaida? Basically, they knew — beginning in 1993 it seems to me — that there was going to be limited, if any, use of military and that they were relatively free to do whatever they wanted.”) [N.B. – I plugged the lines off of NY Times’ transcript, as it obtained from the Feds; it’s fair use, I’m sure….]. Hmm. Kind of weird that this Kerrey isn’t in the political business like he used to be, while we get the other Kerry (and really, I won’t say more than that and will reserve all rights from saying more about Kerrey/Kerry)…

A depressing March Madness storyin the NY Times: “Graduation Is Secondary for Many in Final 16” – only 4 out of the still-remaining-in -play Sweet Sixteen schools have graduation rates of better than 50% among their men’s basketball players – Duke, Kansas, Vanderbilt and Xavier. Sigh; what does this say about the state of undergraduate education and athletes?

Prof. Michael Dorf of Columbia U’s Law School presents “Justice Scalia’s Persuasive But Elitist Response to the Duck Hunting Controversy” – that J. Scalia’s memorandum is striking for showing how America’s government is reliant on elite people. And, considering how the legal profession itself is emphatic about “networking,” Dorf notes that Scalia is right – it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know – and Dorf thinks that’s a real sad thing, since it shows how alienated the elitists are from them regular folks. I thought Dorf had good points. This NY Times’ op-ed by the Yale professors about Scalia’s remarks in the memorandum about the airline tickets were funny (although my experiences in buying airline tickets isn’t nearly as great as Scalia’s or the professors, so I wonder how “funny” is “funny” here – haha funny or sarcastic funny, or are the profs serious suggesting that Scalia had committed promissory fraud by purchasing round-trip tickets that he didn’t use because he got on the vice president’s plane for the duck hunting??).

Speaking of Scalia, the news about the case where he did recuse himself has been intruiging. Lehrer Newshour reported that Michael Newdow, the doctor-lawyer-atheist who’s against making his daughter say the Pledge of Allegiance “under God,” didn’t do a bad job in representing himself and the Supreme Court treated him professionally and in as civil manner as could be (check out the commentary Marcia Coyle provided to Gwen Ifill on Real Audio on the Lehrer Newshour website) . Law.com noted that Newdow had as much preparation as was possible to aim for some kind of competence, even if he isn’t a practicing lawyer. So, he managed to downplay the kookiness that he had otherwise demonstrated in his prior public appearances and his arguments seem clearer and persuasive – I mean, really – even the conservative William Safire says Newdow isn’t completely wrong. Scary; although, like with the Kerrey/Kerry thing, I’ll reserve my actual opinions about the Pledge (assuming I have made any opinion on it anyway) – except to say that I think I do agree with Safire on his closing comments; Safire says:

“The only thing this time-wasting pest Newdow has going for him is that he’s right. Those of us who believe in God don’t need to inject our faith into a patriotic affirmation and coerce all schoolchildren into going along. The key word in the pledge is the last one.

“The insertion was a mistake then; the trouble is that knocking the words out long afterward, offending the religious majority, would be a slippery-slope mistake now.

“The justices shouldn’t use the issue of standing to punt, thereby letting this divisive ruckus fester. The solution is for the court to require teachers to inform students they have the added right to remain silent for a couple of seconds while others choose to say ‘under God.'”

A fascinating article on grits, that Southern specialty. Not sure that it’s going to make me try the stuff, but at least I have a better sense of what it is.

In a prior blog entry, I noted that the recent NHL incident wherein the Vancouver player smacked an opposing player real hard; as I expected, Findlaw.com has a law student get around to doing the analysis over whether this is a mere tort or something even worse (he argues that it’s a matter of criminal battery, perhaps). The law student here did a nice job, I thought, for a 1L – tight writing, applying black letter law, and arguing policy. Maybe he had a good editor? Nonetheless, I applaud – he’s understandablylaying the groundworks for his legal career. Plus, it makes me smile knowing that this guy is from Alma Mater (and Findlaw.com even notes who his professor is, and the identity of the prof was not a great surprise)…

Let’s hope the nice weather in NYC stays around long enough to be enjoyed.

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