Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Obama going negative?

Obama Runs Constructive Criticism Ad Against McCain


The Portrait

I just received this photo of Judge Dubois with his portrait, along with the artist, Michael Shane Neal.

The entire proceeding was very impressive, and it fulfilled what I think is a need for celebration of a person somewhere between marriage and funeral. Our society, I think, has lost some of the art of feasting, and that's too bad.

I'm now taking nominations for what other occasions could use some kind of ceremony/party...


The Next Debate is On!

The Federalist Society is hosting another Serr/Osler debate this fall, following up on the somewhat odd but very productive proceeding last year. This years festivities will probably be held about 7 pm on November 18.

Apparently, Prof. Serr has already begun his annual campaign to intimidate me prior to the debate. While visiting Independence Hall (as pictured above), I was attacked by one of his goons (intriguingly, this same goon appeared in Prof. Serr's campaign video of last year).

Monday, September 29, 2008


Bailout Plan Fails

President Bush is "very disappointed" that his bailout plan failed in the House today.

As Razor readers know, I was against this bailout. I think what happened with the vote is that legislators, on both sides, heard from bankers and constituents. The bankers urged them to pass the bill, and constituents phoned and wrote and emailed overwhelmingly in opposition to the bailout. To their credit, it mattered to the members of Congress what constituents thought. I found it striking that so many of the legislators who were for the bailout (such as Barney Frank and others on both sides) dismissed the voting public's opinion as ignorant. The fact is that a government which says "trust me" has to be trustworthy, and I suspect many people do not trust this particular government, in either its executive or legislative branches.


Philadelphia, the city of Friends

On my short visit to Philadelphia last week, I got to see two good friends in addition to Judge Dubois and his family. Both date from my days as a student and clerk, and some 17 years later, we are still friends. For you students, I guess this means that the people you are hanging out with may still be in your lives a few decades from now (just without PC exercises).

Mike Schwartz and I lived together second and third year of law school, then shared an apartment while clerking in Philadelphia. Mike is an incredible lawyer, with some skills I will never have. For most of this decade, he served as the head of the U.S. Attorney's Public Corruption section, which is a big deal in Philadelphia (since there tends to be a lot of public corruption). We had a great lunch at the Capitol Grill, and the guy still looks exactly the way he did in law school. Later that day, I ran into another lawyer in town who said something amazing about Mike-- that "even though he has beaten a lot of people in court, there's no one in this town who doesn't like him and admire him."

Hope Freiwald was my co-clerk, and a sharp lawyer even then. For 17 years, she has worked for the firm of Dechert, Price & Rhodes, where she now is a partner. She was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer in both 2007 and 2008, and she sure taught me a lot when we served together under Judge Dubois. Though I don't think large-firm practice is right for everyone, there are some with the right set of skills who thrive in that environment, and Hope is one of the best. A few weeks ago, Hope had a fund-raiser for a political candidate at her home. The speaker (in their living room) was Lawrence Tribe. Crikeys.

No matter what I do, it seems my friends do better, and that is a wonderful thing-- to have those you are fond of as friends also be those you admire as professionals. I think the same will be true of many of the students I have the pleasure to teach these days.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Sarah Palin explains the Bailout, Health Care, the U.S. Americans, Job Creationism, and The Other Asian Countries

Here's the clip:

Doh! Sorry, wrong clip (and you should see the lousy job Miss South Carolina did field-dressing my moose). Here's the one of Palin. She's got dark hair; I should have been able to tell the difference:

The sad part is that Palin's performances have been in stark contrast to the highly competent McCain, who I continue to believe would be a very good president (though I will vote for Obama as the better of two good choices).

Actually, during the debate on Friday night, Sarah Palin was at an Irish Pub a few blocks away from where I was at dinner with the judge and many others. I now regret not stopping in for a photo...

Amazingly, instead of bothering to write new material, Saturday Night Live just quoted Palin's actual remarks from this part of the interview in their skit last night (which you can see about 3/5ths of the way in here).


Sunday Reflection: On my years with the Friends

Going back to Philadelphia, where I lived while clerking for Judge Dubois, was wonderful in many ways. One nice aspect of the trip was that it allowed me to remember a time of incredible spiritual growth.

At the time that I moved to Philadelphia, I had been worshipping as an attender with the Society of Friends (Quakers) for a few years. I first found them when my brother, Will, was enrolled at Earlham College, a Quaker school. I was very moved by their contemplative services, and found that the historical beliefs of the Quakers made sense to me. I had, before that point, come to believe in worship and prayer directly to God, without intercession, and had decided that the idea of the light of God being in everyone was a unifying theme that tied together some of my core beliefs. Though I tended to take the Bible much more seriously than some of the brothers and sisters at Meeting, I was challenged to think more deeply about issues of interpretation.

In other places, being a part of a Quaker meeting was viewed as weird. When I got to Philadelphia, though, I found more understanding, as one might expect in the "Quaker State." I attended the Cherry Street Meeting, which was filled with brilliant, insightful, and challenging people. In that year, I had many moments of inspiration, and the importance of prayer and reflection became clear to me in that time.

As some of you may know, Quakers have an unusual worship service. There is no priest, minister, or clergy, and people simply sit in the round, facing one another. Most American Quakers have silent meeting, in which people gather in prayer or thought until moved to speak. Sometimes, the hour passes, and nothing is said. I found that this spiritual silence was deeply moving and sometimes frightening. Some of the people I brought to meeting were kind of freaked out by it, frankly.

There is still a core of Quaker ethics in me today, though I am somewhat distanced from them by my view of the Gospels. In my best moments I am quiet, thankful, and kind, and for that I am grateful to Philadelphia and the many Friends I found there.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


My Yesterday in Philadelphia

On Friday, I spoke at the Portrait unveiling for Judge Jan E. Dubois of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It was intimidating, given the formality of the setting, and the fact that I was following Sen. Arlen Specter on the agenda (surprisingly, Sen. Specter showed up, despite all the hub-bub in DC). Below are the words I offered.

May it please the court, members of the family, and all those drawn here to honor Judge Dubois.

Judge Dubois was and is my mentor in law. I want to use my few minutes with you to describe just how important that has been. Mentorship is becoming a lost art. At one time, apprenticeship was the only way to become an attorney, but slowly that bond between young attorney and veteran practitioner has faded from our world. Even in large firms, the commercial demands of modern practice too often prevent real mentoring relationships from developing. The last bastion of true mentorship may be this very place, the courthouse. Those of us chosen to serve as clerks to Judge Jan DuBois had the rare, rich, and enlivening opportunity to be mentored by a man who cared deeply about the law and about us. For each of us, it framed the lawyer we would become, and Judge Dubois’s values and passion are now multiplied through this city and the nation.

My first experiences with Judge DuBois, I am guessing, were typical of those others who clerked in his chambers. In that first week, I was assigned to work on an issue related to a civil case. I researched the issue, came to a conclusion, and wrote it up for the Judge. An hour later, he came into the clerks’ room where Hope and I sat. He looked at the memo, baffled, and said, “Mark, you can’t possibly mean…” and then restated precisely and correctly what I had meant. I defended my position, and he went back to his office to consult some cases. For the rest of the day we went back and forth, trading arguments.

Towards the end of that day, I remember sitting across the desk from him, each of us waving a precedent, and seeing, just a little, his smile start to emerge. It was in that moment, that exact moment, that I had an epiphany—that he LIKED this. Far from resenting that intellectual debate, he loved it.

Over time, I learned exactly why it was that he loved it. He loved that debate because it was about ideas that mattered, about what is right and what is wrong, and because it is important. He may never have told me those things in so many words, but he showed them to me—showed me that law mattered, that it was something to be loved and nurtured and argued over with passion and respect. Like the other clerks here, I still regard the law that way—that is part of the gift that he has given each of us. In preparing for this presentation, I have gotten to know something about the other clerks, the big-firm partners and the prosecutors and the businessmen and even the professors—that we all seem to have an ambition that reflects the importance of law in our nation and to our people, and that is something that many of us learned from one man, Judge Dubois.

I do love this portrait. It captures two aspects of the Judge that we clerks well remember. One is his warmth, his personal warmth, which includes his caring for what we did with our lives, and about our families. The second is his confidence, which he carries easily and properly. By confidence, I don’t mean egoism or self-centeredness, but rather the confidence to engage the difficult tasks a District Judge confronts, a confidence which is necessary for success within these walls. In Judge Dubois, that confidence has been well earned.

Though we have spread ourselves out across the country, many of the former clerks and interns are here today. If, like me, you were one of those lucky enough to learn a passion for the law from Judge DuBois as a clerk or intern, I would like you to stand.

Judge DuBois, we thank you for giving us something very rare, and stand ready to carry on your legacy, your passion, and your love for the law.

Friday, September 26, 2008


haiku friday, political version

Political haiku!

I'll allow anything vaguely political. Or, if you want, it can still be about Bates, as usual.

Here's mine:

Somehow, now I miss
Simple times, not so long ago
Come back, Mike Gravel!

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Bailout

By now, most people here know how I feel about the proposed bailout of major financial companies. In short, these companies should be allowed to die if they are that unhealthy.

It now seems that there are principled Republicans and Democrats who are standing against this plan. Of course, they work from different principles-- the principled Republicans decry the socialist, big-government nature of the Bush Administration plan, while the principled Democrats argue that the fat cats should not be rescued while the working people who fell behind on a mortgage are not helped.

Then of course, you have the others-- those who seem to think we should just kinda believe the Bush Administration that there is a huge crisis and this is the only right response. You know, because Bush and his guys have been right so often about this kind of thing.

What do you think should be done? Is my cynicism unjustified?

Also, what about McCain's offer to postpone the debate and work on the economy? I think it's not only a smart political move, but the right thing to do. Unfortunately, I think if he was sincere, though, it would have been better to contact Obama privately, then make a joint announcement.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Gettin' a Job!

The month of September is interview time at Amcerica's law schools, and Baylor is no exception. Suddenly, t-shirts and ball caps were replaced by suits and ties, and I would often pass nervous-looking 2L's heading down the hall of the 2d floor.

Some people will get jobs, others will have to keep looking. Right now, I realize, it may look like there are winners and losers-- those who got offers or call-backs are the winners, and everyone else is a loser. I would like to offer a different view of that.

Here are some general truths I have observed about hiring. Those of you with experience, please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section:

1) Often, those who get jobs first are the ones who are the most unhappy after two years.

2) Conversely, those who struggle the most and for the longest often end up with the job that best fits them, and which makes them feel happy and fulfilled. I have seen this over and over in my crim law students, who often are in the bottom half of the class and struggle the longest to find a job, but come back to see me very content with what they have found.

3) A lot of money is never enough.

4) In a few cases, people have terrible job struggles, and only reach the right place in tiny increments. That struggle, though, often helps create a great lawyer, judge, or professor.

5) Everyone has struggled with job finding at some point, even those of us who are most advantaged.


Joad Cressbeckler Rocks!

But... what does he think about the bailout?

Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The Faculty at Commencement

For faculty members at Baylor, it is a great honor to be asked to participate in commencement. At each commencement, three or four faculty get that opportunity to either give the commencement address, hood the graduates, or give the invocation. Last night I put together a list of the commencement participants going back to 2005. I have bolded the names of full-time faculty members at the time of the commencement:

Summer 08

Speaker: Counseller
Hood: Powell
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Serr

Spring 08

Speaker: Counseller
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Powell
Invocation: Serr

Winter 08

Speaker: Essary
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Serr

Summer 07

Speaker: Trail
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Cordon
Invocation: Counseller

Spring 07

Speaker: Powell
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Brad Pierce

Winter 07

Speaker: Counseller
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Osler

Fall 06

Speaker: Powell
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Beal

Summer 06

Speaker: Chet Edwards
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Wren
Invocation: Osler

Spring 06

Speaker: Essary
Hood: Powell
Hood: McConnico
Invocation: O'Brien

Winter 06

Speaker: Priscilla Owen
Hood: ?
Hood: ?
Invocation: ?

Fall 05

Speaker: Powell
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Underwood
Invocation: Essary

Summer 05

Speaker: Powell
Hood: Guinn
Hood: Osler
Invocation: Essary

Some general observations:

1) Jeremy Counseller is getting to speak, which is a great choice-- he gave about the best commencement speech I have heard.

2) The list of participants is dominated by PC Profs and David Guinn. Again, I think these are rational choices. The PC profs (and the LARC profs) work harder than any law professors, anywhere, and have an incredible amount of face time with students. David Guinn is one of the best teachers a student could have, and defines this institution in a very positive way.

3) That said, only 16% of the appearances by full-time profs are outside of those who were or are in the PC program + Prof. Guinn. Prof. Bates, for example, was properly named by Texas Lawyer as the school's "Most influential professor," but did not appear once in this period. Prof. Beal, who perhaps is the most influential professor in Texas within a discrete area of law, only appears once. In addition, since Melissa Essary left in 2006, not a single current full-time female Baylor professor has been asked to participate in commencement in one of these roles, while there have been 30 appearance by full-time male Baylor professors.

[Please note: I think that I am one of the people whose face has been over-represented at graduation]

Monday, September 22, 2008


I screwed up my blog. Grrrrr.

As you may have noticed, I totally screwed up my blog. I tried to "update" the layout using Blogger's conversion tool, and it messed it all up. I lost my hit counter, the links are from 1974, and the font is goofy, among other problems.

Though this is tough, it does appear I will get $2 million of tax money from the government because of these hardships. Woohoo, President Bush! I love you now!

Seriously, if you want to get millions of dollars of tax money, you need to act right away, because the car makers, foreign banks, and everybody else in the country is heading to DC and lining up at the Bush Administration/Congressional trough.

Meanwhile, President Bush is assuring foreign leaders of the wisdom of the bailout plan. Of course, the plan doesn't exist yet, but that shouldn't matter-- I'm sure that at this point foreign leaders just believe anything President Bush says.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Spanish Medievalist, I got my blog back! I owe you lunch, dude. Next week?


And now, back to the normal silliness

I think that the blog has been a little... heavy lately. I've had an above-average number of rants, and almost no recipes. Sometimes I take politics and government too seriously perhaps, and I am an expert in neither (except federal sentencing, and when I get incensed about something in that area, I just write a brief). I do appreciate that many people more knowledgeable than me, on both sides, have written comments on my screeds that are probably more valuable than the original post.

For now, though, I am thoroughly obsessed with something I found over on Dan Buck's blog. Here it is:

Over at Youtube, we now have several variations, including this extremely well-edited clip:

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Oaths and Christ

I'm a very imperfect man and a deeply flawed Christian, but there are times I am willing to risk ridicule and humiliation for my faith. One of those is when everyone rises to place their hand over their heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jesus' teaching on swearing allegiance to a nation (or a church) was very clear. In Matthew 5:34-37, he tells us:

"But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be 'Yes, yes,' or 'No, no'; anything more than this comes from the evil one."

The context of this passage makes it clear that Jesus was talking about oaths to God, church, or state, and not swear words or something like that. I take this instruction seriously, and while I will say "yes, yes!" to the idea that this country is great, wonderful, and privileged, I do not swear allegiance to it. This is consistent with my moral viewpoint, which places God before country, and acknowledges that sometimes my faith will conflict with what my country may desire or require.

Much as I love my church, I don't swear an oath to it, either.

This stubbornness on my part has led to some awkward moments. It's not uncommon for people to glare at me, or even make comments, when I don't say the pledge. Once in a while, they will comment that I have been "rude" or disrespectful. When I became an Assistant US Attorney, the US Attorney called me in to his office to swear me in; I told him I couldn't do that for religious reasons. He let it go, which was kind. We just kind of shook hands and I signed some paperwork. I realize, too, that I would probably not be elected dogcatcher unless I was willing to say the Pledge.

Jesus requests much greater hardship than this, of course, and sometimes I have not been willing to bear those hardships. I will continue that struggle. However, I do believe that Christianity is not a faith which is meant to make life easy, or comfortable, or eliminate friction between the believer and the state.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Republicans rushing to protect profits for the rich, nationalize large corporations, mandate huge tax increases, and impose boatload of regulations.

What Republicans say they believe in
: Small government, low taxes, capitalism, personal responsibility and opportunity.

What Republicans really believe in, as revealed by their actions: Serving the very rich.

Sorry, this new plan to socialize the losses of financial giants and save the profits of wall street traders and hedge funds is just too much. I always suspected that the Bush Administration did not believe in the principles they espouse, but now all doubt has been removed. This plan will bloat government even more, require higher taxes to cover this massive new debt (on top of the war debt), is socialism without the benefit to the working class, absolves those responsible of any hurt, and stifles those entrepeneurs who would have filled the gap after the big corrupt companies failed.

If you are very, very rich, by all means vote Republican, right down the line. If you aren't very very rich, you are being made a fool of.

Don't believe me? Think about this, then-- are you one of those people chanting "drill, drill, drill?" ExxonMobil thanks you, but it won't lead to "energy independence." Oil is a global commodity. If that oil is drilled off of Florida, it probably will go to China or Europe or somewhere else-- it all goes into the pool of oil sold through the company that pumps it, and that company will sell the oil all over the world, not just to the US.

Grrrr. I'm tired of corporations enriching themselves by encouraging ignorance and buying political favor (something they buy from BOTH parties).


Flo, Married!

Yeah, that's Flo Rueda, pictured here with hubby Sami Khan. Whooo!

I also got a nice visit yesterday from former student Sarah Cooper, who is a prosecutor in Texarkana, and a good one, too. Texarkana sounds like a fascinating place, and a little scary (at least if you are dealing with the criminal element). That said, she didn't seem scared at all, which doesn't surprise me.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Haiku Friday in the Fall

Happy haiku Friday! It kinda cooled down this week, due to the devastating hurricane, and it feels like Autumn may arrive someday. That's as good as it gets in Texas.

Still, let's haiku. Here are the topics:

1) The French: "Cheese-eating surrender monkeys."
2) Betty Rubble
3) Wilma Flintstone
4) Who is hotter: Betty or Wilma? Or Fred?
5) Bullwinkle
6) The moral hazards of nationalizing gigantic multinational corporations
7) Goo
8) The worst cartoon ever
9) Ill-fitting clothes
10) Diet Coke

Here is mine:

Watching Speed Racer--
Parents freak. Mom hates violence,
Dad, the awful art.

(Which is true. This happened when I was 8).

Now, you write one (or more):

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Guest Editorial: "Sarah Palin Needs to Get Elected and Move to Washington Right Away!"

By Bullwinkle J. Moose

Me, Rocky, and everybody up here in the Canada/Alaska Semi-Autonomous Region definitely think Sarah Palin should move to Washington and be the Vice President of things. She has a lot of qualifications, and should be able to move there with her husband and many of her friends. Plus, with the changes in the DC gun laws, they can take all of their guns with them! And that would be great.

I know that I don't get to vote, and that maybe I should be upset that Gov. Palin and her whole family would mostly like to shoot me with a gun and then "field dress" me, but I think she should be the vice-president and move to Washington right away. And take her guns.

Plus, isn't she who you want answering that call from some important guy at 3 A.M.?:


Political Mayhem Thursday: Firearms in school

[Note: The picture above has nothing to do with the content below. It's just a picture I took last week and liked a lot. You can click on it to enlarge the image]

I'm dedicated to having discussions of real issues here on the Razor, especially in the middle of a presidential race that unfortunately has descended into total silliness, with "political" discussions having to do mostly with hairstyles, faux expressions of offense at someone else's remarks, and ridiculous assessments of "character," even as the economy melts down due at least in part due to bad political decisions and deregulation. In taking over AIG, the government took an 80% equity stake in one of the country's largest companies-- that is, we nationalized it, which is the kind of socialism we expect in a place like Venezuela. Meanwhile, the party that largely brought this on somehow has the nation effectively distracted with an updo.

So today we will have a real issue to discuss, albeit not one likely to be discussed in the campaign. By popular demand, we will address the idea of guns in schools. In Texas, this is an important issue, because many people believe schools would be safer if the students had guns.

Intriguingly, the current state of the law does not absolutely prohibit kids from taking guns to school-- rather, it bars the possession of guns in school, unless the school has a policy allowing them to have guns. The relevant state is Penal Code 46.03:

§ 46.03. PLACES WEAPONS PROHIBITED. (a) A person
commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or
recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, illegal knife, club,
or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05(a):
(1) on the physical premises of a school or
educational institution, any grounds or building on which an
activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being
conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle of a school or
educational institution, whether the school or educational
institution is public or private, unless pursuant to written
regulations or written authorization of the institution...

Thus, the current law effectively leaves it to the schools themselves whether or not their students should be allowed to bear arms in school. The proposed change, I assume, would take this discretion away from the schools and give students the right to bring guns to school regardless of school policy.

Is this a good idea?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A brief programming note

After giving the Constitution Day lecture at McLennan Community College today at 2:30, I'm heading over to channel 10 here in Waco to talk about the second amendment on KWTX's "Live at Five." It's a busy Constitution Day!


Excitement in Waco-- Not Just High-Water Rescues!

Though Waco is almost always the scene of some kind of tomfoolery, 1896 may have been the high point for highly dangerous highjincks.

In that year, promoters came up with the idea of smashing two trains into one another for the entertainment of people gathered for the event. A special town, Crush, Texas was created, and 40,000 people traveled from all parts of the state to see the debacle. The locomotives were given four miles of track to build up speed, and the collision was tremendous. Three people were killed by the debris, in fact.

It must be true, since there is a historical marker...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Excuse me? Could we have a little capitalism, please?

So, now the Fed is going to bail out AIG.

Am I missing something? I really do believe in capitalism. Here is how it works: Strong, well-managed companies survive. Poorly-managed ones die. It's like Darwinism for corporations.

We deregulated to "let markets work," but now we won't allow an important part of what markets are supposed to do-- kill off inefficient entities during downturns. Essentially, the rule in financial markets now seems to be that if you are making money, it is your money-- capitalism rules! Low taxes on those capital gains because you took a risk to make that money! But then if you lose money, the risk gets transfered to the public. As some have said, we have abandoned capitalism for a mechanism where profits are deregulated, celebrated, lightly taxed, and private, while losses are addressed through socialism-- that is, by having the public cover it.

What makes it all the more disgusting is that we have largely gotten rid of the safety net for individuals-- the least among us-- while building up a new one for the richest and least responsible corporations.

That's not capitalism. Like Christianity, the real and true practice of capitalism demands sacrifice, pain, and terrible hardships. If you aren't going to accept that, don't pretend that you are a champion of capitalism.


Prosecutors and Innocence

Over at Doug Berman's Sentencing Blog (which is my first stop every morning), I found him discussing Dallas DA Craig Watkins' project to exam pending capital cases for innocence issues. Doug quotes the following from the Dallas Morning News:

Troubled that innocent people have been imprisoned by faulty prosecutions, District Attorney Craig Watkins said Monday that he would re-examine nearly 40 death penalty convictions and would seek to halt executions, if necessary, to give the reviews time to proceed. Mr. Watkins told The Dallas Morning News that problems exposed by 19 DNA-based exonerations in Dallas County have convinced him he should ensure that no death row inmate is actually innocent.

"It's not saying I'm putting a moratorium on the death penalty," said Mr. Watkins, whose reviews would be of all of the cases now on death row handled by his predecessors. "It's saying that maybe we should withdraw those dates and look at those cases from a new perspective to make sure that those individuals that are on death row need to be there and they need to be executed."...

Fred Moss, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, said he had never heard of another prosecutor in the country who had conducted the type of review Mr. Watkins proposed. "It's really quite extraordinary," Mr. Moss said.

What would a possible objection be to this project? If it is a good idea, why is no one else doing it?


Football and the Law

Tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2:30 I will be giving the "Constitution Day" lecture out at MCC. I'm looking forward to it.

As you can probably tell from the poster, I will be talking about football. Because what goes together better than the Constitution and football?

All are welcome-- please feel free to come on out.

Monday, September 15, 2008


More News From Utah!

This summer, I finished work on an article titled "Policy, Uniformity, Discretion, and Congress's Sentencing Acid Trip" (which you can download here). Here is the first paragraph:

Around 1970, singer Harry Nilsson went on an acid trip. He later reported that during this experience, he “looked at the trees and… realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points and the houses came to a point. I thought ‘Oh! Everything has a point and if it doesn’t, then there’s a point to it.’

Now, I realize, this may not seem so academic, but it does get that way after a while. The thesis is that the Sentencing Guidelines have so many policy goals that they effectively have none, making them morally indeterminate.

I'm happy to report that the article will run in the BYU Law Review in April. I'm a fan of that school and journal, so I'm excited to have placed it there. I don't know the cite yet, but I would imagine that if you do an internet search (after April) for the terms "Acid Trip" and "Brigham Young University," this article will be the only result.


Baylor scores 100% pass rate again!

Well, in Utah, anyways. Craig Pankratz and Kristy Ballard (two people I loved having in class) both passed the Utah Bar Exam.

Congratulations to both!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sunday Reflection: The hardest commandment?

No matter how many times Jesus taught us to forgive one another, it seems like we resist. We tend too often to be a church of judgement, not of love, no matter how many times Jesus taught otherwise. We ostracize people who have sinned instead of welcoming them, and see ourselves as superior rather than humbled.

In a lot of churches, this was part of the Gospel reading for this morning, from Matthew 18:21-35:

"Then Peter came and said to him, 'Lord if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'"

Man, that's tough. And we don't do it. We give up on people, talk bad about them, exclude them, for one or two sins (provided they are sins we aren't openly committing, too).

Could Jesus have been any more straightforward? But still I see so many people in the church who see their job as judging and condemning others, rather than loving and forgiving those whose behavior we disagree with. I think, in short, that we have a problem with letting God be God-- we would rather have that task ourselves, so that we can see ourselves as above others, able to judge and condemn at will. I will admit that there have been times that I have done this, too, and given the clearness of this teaching, perhaps that itself has been one of my greatest sins.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Hurricane

Hurricane Ike was major. This afternoon, I'm going to work at my church's shelter for evacuees, and I also have a family from Port Arthur in my guest house.

Meanwhile, the stories are starting to filter in. Galveston was devastated. Bridge City is under 13 feet of water. In Houston, windows blew out, there are fires in several places, and last night Brennan's restaurant burned down.

I suspect we will be getting more news in dribs and drabs as the news cameras get access to the coast.

Is anyone in Houston, or heard additional news?

Friday, September 12, 2008


Haiku Friday, September 12

Yesterday's Political Mayhem was not about the 9/11 tragedy; perhaps it should have been. A year ago on September 11 I wrote this; the year before that I wrote about firefighters late at night.

It's tempting to have a regular haiku friday, with a picture of something fun, but it doesn't feel right.

Yesterday in the Northeast it was a clear, early fall blue-sky day. It's something different than a September day in Texas, in a way I can't exactly describe. Looking at that sky, it took my breath away, because I remember the sight of those planes coming through that sky, into a building.

Later in the day, I landed in Austin, since things have gone on even after that dark day. I got into my car and drove north, very slowly. It was slow because of the traffic, people evacuating from the coast, their cars jammed full of all kinds of stuff, their faces drawn tight and grim. At once, it seemed surreal and to fit exactly the mood of the moment.

So, the haiku today should relate to one or another, the attacks of 9/11 or the hurricane. Here is mine:

Broad hint of Autumn
And such a shocking blue sky
A quiet settles in.

Now, you go:

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Political Mayhem Thursday: Health Care

[Pictured: The physician assigned to Spanish Medievalist by his HMO]

One of the magazines I read a lot of these days is The Economist, which is a British newsmagazine. It has a fairly moderate take on world events, and it is always intriguing to see a relatively impartial view of American issues. One recent article was about Americans who are traveling abroad for cheaper medical care; like many pieces in the foreign press, it reflected a general bafflement about how the US maintains a health care system that is both the most expensive in the world and one the most poorly rated in terms of delivering health care broadly to the population.

For some people, the US really has the best health care in the world, but that is for those few whose insurance will pay for hugely expensive tests and procedures. But if we look to the health of the whole population, we are not-so-great by almost any measure.

I sometimes hear people say that our health care is the way it is because of capitalism-- some mean this in a good way (capitalism is always good) and some negatively (capitalism corrupts with greed). Both are wrong, since health care is not very capitalistic. It is highly regulated at every level, and much of the expense comes from high pay for health care professionals, pay that is protected by limitations on people practicing medicine-- they have to come through an approved and restrictive system. The prices for many things are already set by the government, through medicare. Finally, the government already funds much of the medical research that leads to breakthroughs and incremental improvements alike. If any other industry were as regulated, funded, and manipulated by government as much as health care, we would call it socialism. [Don't get me wrong-- I'm ok with all this regulation-- I just don't think it is capitalism at work]

So what should be done? I see three basic paths:

1) Keep the system we have.
2) Move to universal health care.
3) Increase private coverage for those people are now uncovered by insurance.

Which is best? Or is there another way?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Interesting McCain/IP Law Question.... but, who do I know that is an expert in those things? Hmmmm...

At the Republican Convention, Sarah Palin used the old Heart song "Barracuda" as her theme, and people seemed to love it (her nickname in high school was "Sarah Barracuda," which doesn't seem either complimentary or Alaskan).

Now the Wilson sisters from Heart have issued a cease-and-desist letter to the campaign directing them to stop using the song. In response, the McCain campaign said that they paid all the fees to use the song.

I'm sure that's true. But aside from standard-use agreements, should an artist be able to stop those they find repugnant from using their art to promote a cause?


Razor Sports Corner: This Season's Key Matchups!

Those who know me well know that I love sports-- even the many, many sports I can't play. As a keen observer of the sporting scene, I have summarized below some of the key matchups for the upcoming month:

1) New York Giants v. Houston Rockets

It's hard to bet against Eli Manning these days, but the dominant force in this one will be Yao Ming, fresh from his efforts in the Beijing Olympics. I love the Giants' defense, and the fact that they are allowed to tackle (and have 6 more players than the Rockets) will present quite a handful for Houston's favorites.

2) Baltimore Orioles v. Chinese Women's Gymnastics Team

The clear favorite here has to be the Chinese Women, but I suspect the Orioles have a trick or two up their sleeve. Baltimore team personnel were recently seen buying several real, live, ponies and painting them pink, and I have a hunch that this has something to do with the upcoming smackdown between these two squads.

3) Baylor Bears v. The Members of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

Sure, the judges seem somewhat, er, elderly, but they pack a big dose of experience and a mean streak a mile wide. Meanwhile, the Baby Bears (featuring freshman at several key positions) don't lack for enthusiasm but are often somewhat at a loss in oral arguments. Look for Bears QB Robert Griffin to play a key role in this one!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Larrypalooza 2008!

Sunday night was Larrypalooza 2008, and as you might expect, the theme was "high-water rescue mission." The cake, pictured here, featured a news reporter with video camera (at left), a BMW wagon and fire truck (foreground), and several rescue personnel.

The incredible thing, to me, is that this cake was for sale in the "general interest" section of the HEB grocery store on Wooded Acres. I guess this story has really gotten around, and kids in the area are now having their own birthday parties with a "Larry Bates high-water rescue" theme. Weird.

It was a good time. Sadly, Unidentified Woman was unable to attend, as she has returned to Massachussets for her sophomore year of college.


Attention! Create a map!

Jesse over at Self-Infliction of Emotional Distress is collecting electoral maps. You create your own, and then email it to him. Here are the two easy steps:

1) To make your map, go here.

2) Email it to him, which is more of a challenge, since his blog doesn't give an email address. Just a hunch, but I suspect this has led to a paucity of submissions. (He wrote me an email, but Outlook only tells me who it is from, and I can't figure out the email address). Maybe, er, he'll put it in the comments section?

Monday, September 08, 2008


Whew! We dodged a bullet with that one!

Hurricane Bound For Texas Slowed By Large Land Mass To The South


Serr-Osler Debate Topics Sought

Last year, Professor Brian Serr and I engaged in a debate on the death penalty sponsored by the Federalist Society, an event which involved a lot of trash talk, name-calling, and at least one bizarre campaign video.

Prof. Serr and I have been in contact with the Federalist Chief, Chicago, about doing it again this year.

What we need is a good topic. Any ideas?

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Sunday Reflection: Acts, the Book that Never Ends

I look forward to my Sunday School class all week. It's a small group, but one which teaches me so much-- it is a place where I am a follower, not a leader, in the company of intellects often much stronger than my own. We are, uh, deliberative... in the sense that it takes us months to work through (work over?) a single book in the Bible.

Most recently, we have been studying the Book of Acts, which is a fascinating collection of stories. The ending, though, seems at first reading to be pretty lame. For chapter after chapter, the apostle Paul is imprisoned, on the run, and on trial, escaping death at every turn. Usually, we would expect such a story to end with a final grand escape or his death as a martyr. Nope. Here' the conclusion:

He [Paul] lived there [Rome] for two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

What? That's it?

This morning, though, someone suggested that the story was left open at the end because it is left for us to finish through our own lives.

That's an idea that is both comforting and very, very challenging.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Tonight! At Baylor! It's the return of Vic the Demon Pimp!

After a two-year hiatus, Baylor has a home game tonight against Northwestern State. I'll be there, if for no other reason than to see Vic the Demon Pimp.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Haiku Friday Tonight, All Right!

First of all, the winner of the joke contest is Eustace Tilley (pictured here-- and who, like me, has a Feb. 21 birthday), with this gem:

Why do we have war?

It's God's way to teach Americans geography.

Now, onto haiku! Mmmm... I'm still mulling over the most intense political week we have ever had here on the Razor. I think politics sometimes isn't that important, but know that governing is, and you can't get to one without the other. We need some political haikus, probably.

Here are some suggested topics for today:

1) Balloon Bates
2) Palin
3) Biden
4) Obama
5) McCain
6) Puppies
7) Auto repair
8) Best Texas barbecue
9) Dallas restaurants
10) IPLawGuy

Here is mine:

Thanks, IPLawGuy!
Your words helped us all, but....
Palin creeps me out.

Now it is your turn Razorites. And there will be a prize! Another toy!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


RNC's last night

John McCain just gave a great speech.

He talked coherently and sensibly about policy issues, and acknowledged that his party has failed to live up to its ideals for the past 8 years.

Rather than just claiming war hero status, he spoke with depth and passion about how that experience humbled and changed him.

Rather than insulting his opponents, he made a strong case for why he would be a great president.

I very much admire what he chose to say.

The following is IPLawGuy's final-night report:

Congressman Boehner gaveled the convention to a close after what we think was a sucessful Television-oriented speech.

According to those who should know, last night's speech by gov. Palin was for "the arena" (and the GOP base) while tonight's was for the people at home.

McCain has been running a campaign where he appears "presidential" not partisan. He took only a few shots at Obama and they were gentle, while Obama went after mcCain pretty hard last week.

The only fellow POW he mentioned, Bob Craner, passed away many years ago. Craner's son worked with me on McCain's staff in the 80's.

Cindy McCain had a tough job warming up for her husband without a podium to hide behind! The consensus here is that she was good too.

The others, not so much...

As for parties, the Virginia delegation was treated to lunch by Target today. It was delicious!

Got some good swag too, including a man purse.


Political Mayhem Thursday: Palin and Biden

Having watched parts of both the Democratic and Republican conventions, I can honestly say that I am impressed with the Presidential candidates on both sides, but disappointed that there seems to be so little honest discussion of issues. This is odd, given that there are stark differences between the candidates on many issues.

Of course, my own primary interest is in criminal law; but neither candidate has said (or will say) much about it. Beyond that, I think that the two most pressing issues are energy policy and economic/tax initiatives. We've already argued about those here, though.

So, regarding the vice-presidential candidates... let's face it, their primary job if elected would be to take over as president if their leader dies.

Given that, who would make the better president-- Palin or Biden?


IPLawGuy's 6th Report from the RNC

10:20 pm

Wow. Sarah Palin brought the house down tonight. She was great here inside the hall. She had composure, poise and a great speech she delivered flawlessly. Spoke up for her record, took shots at Obama and pumped up McCain.

Of course, a speech live is very different than one viewed on TV. So its hard to know what the reaction is "out there."

Here's an email I got from a fellow who graduated from BLS a few decades back:

We started out skeptical about Palin - but she hit a grand slam and took down the fence and scoreboard. Incredible speech -- reminiscent of Reagan.

Rudy Giuliani had the crowd going too.

McCain walked out on the stage at the end of the palin speech as did Obama. The place was already going wild and that brought everyone over the top

That was followed by John Rich, Cowboy Troy and redneck woman Gretchen Wilson doing a neat combo of the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Rich then did his song "Raising McCain". Even the old white guys were getting down.

Somehow I doubt this was on TV

We're in the roll call now. This used to be the highlight of a convention. Now its just a formality.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


IPLawGuy Report, pt. E

845 pm cdt

I managed to get on to the floor for the duration. About 9 rows from the stage in the Virginia delegation on the right side of the stage next to a guy with a red white and blue cowboy hat

Gov Mike Huckabee was great. The Prof's friend AP reporter Ron Fournier told us several months ago that he was the smartest Pres candidate. Gov Lingle of Hawaii is not so dynamic

They are really pumped for Palin here.

850 pm. Cdt

The Palin family, including pregnant Bristol, her fiancee and baby Trig are in the house in the VIP section, about 100 ft behind me. These kids have had their WORLD rocked!


IPLawGuy's Update from St. Paul, Pt. 4 or 5 (I forgot, because that joke about the drummer erased my brain)

Razor friend IPLawGuy (a former political correspondent for magazines including "Cat Fancy," "Jugs," "Southern Accents," "O, The Osler Magazine," and "Redbook") has been sending in regular dispatches from the Republican Convention in St. Paul. Below is his most recent report:

7:30 pm
Greetings from the Convention Floor. I'm sitting about two feet from the ropes around the stage in the Virginia section- lots of energy here tonight. This crowd is psyched up for tonight's show

Right now I'm actually standing during a musical interlude. The guy next to me looks to be about 65. He's wearing Crocs

7:45 pm
Oops! Turns out I was in the New Mexico Delegation seating area. So crocs man must have been a New Mexican. Carly Fiorina is speaking. Maybe 5 percent of the crowd is paying attention. Meg Whitman of eBay went before her. Same deal.

Joe Scarborough just walked by

The Virginia delegation is full of professional politicos. Many are not here in our section- they're off making deals or trying to do so or hoping to catch someone's eye

The other delegations are much more spirited. We should be farther back

This morning I went to the talk by Frank Luntz first. He was animated, hilarious and insightful. Then I raced over to see Ben Stein lead a panel speaking on retirement problems, social security and medicare.

Stein was funny, but he was only one of the panelists

8 pm
Michael Steele, former Lieut Gov of Maryland just went on. He's now chair of GOPAC. He's a dynamic African American speaker and very popular here

A fellow Virginian is the exec director of GOPAC. He spoke to the Washington State Delegation today. I went along and got a steak dinner out of it!

Earlier today I went to the convention center and with several hundred others helped pack relief packages for those affected by Hurricane Gustav. The project was sponsored by Target, Fedex and the Red Dross

Steele has us all chanting "Drill Baby Drill.". That's NOT on the cheer cheat sheet on the Delegate seats!

Anyway, John McCain came to the relief effort event, followed by a scrum of reporters. He came by our table and greeted many of us, including me. He said "Howya doing Tommy" so I was a minor celebrity with the others for a few minutes.


Happy Birthday, Prof. Larry Bates!

It really is Bates' birthday. From what I understand, he has so far received this "Balloon Bates," a card from Unidentified Woman, some beer, and several unsolicited high-water driving tips.


Book Recommendation and joke contest

In the course of researching my own book, I read the recently-recovered gnostic Gospel of Judas. There was one section of that book which particularly jumped out at me:

One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he approached his disciples, gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, he laughed.

Jesus then explains that he was laughing because they seem to see their prayer as being their own will rather than that of God-- in other words, they were being pompous about it. That tiny slice of life, Jesus's laughter, seemed so real to me, and fitting with the life described in the Canonical gospels. Let's face it, a bunch of guys traveling around together-- there is going to be some laughter.

My hero of writing, Bob Darden, has written a wonderful book about Christianity and humor titled Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor. (The link will send you to Amazon, where you can and should buy the book). Fittingly, it's not a heavy read, but still full of well-told stories and important insights, and an overarching message that we shouldn't define laughter, humor and joy out of our faith, as they are a vital part of what can make faith real and whole.

It's a great book. It does contain one Quaker joke:

"A Quaker is trying to harness his lone mule to plow a rocky field. The donkey bites him. The Quaker tries again. The donkey kicks him in the stomach. Finally the man harnesses the donkey, which runs the plow over the Quaker's foot. Pushed beyond human endurance, the gentle Quaker limps around to the donkey's face and says, 'Thou knowest I shall not strike thee, friend ass. Thou knowest I shall not curse thee, either. But what thou doesn't know is that I can sell thee to the Southern Baptist down the road.'"

Which brings us to the joke contest. Enter your joke (of an non-crude type) below in the comments section. The winner will receive a toy of my choosing. (he he).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


IPLawGuy RNC Report 3: The dilemma

First, IPLawGuy wants to know: Should he go see Ben Stein, or some guy named Luntz who worked on the Contract with America?

Secondly, he sends this report:

It’s almost 3 PM Central Time here in Minnesota and I am waiting for this evening's events. The convention session starts at 6 PM CDT, so of course, buses leave the hotel at 4 pm…. Fortunately, there's an event beforehand featuring actor Jon Voigt and others.

Missed the Daddy Yankee show in support of McCain last night. But I hear it was a good show. Even though I am a proud Republican, the idea of young musicians supporting establishment figures in either party strikes me as odd. I still remember the air of rebellion that surrounded 60's era rock and roll and punk rock in the late 70's. Those guys (and gals) wanted to change the world, not support the major party candidates.

This morning's breakfast briefing for the Virginia Delegation was great. This time we got real food: bacon, sausage, eggs, waffles, yogurt, etc. Yesterday's fare of muffins and fruit was not good. Our speaker was a noted pollster who shows up on CNN, Fox, etc, made many great points and had the crowd cheering and laughing. Naturally it was off the record, so I don't feel comfortable saying much about the speech.

But here's a highlight.

"He who sets the agenda wins" is an old political adage. For instance, if the issue is taxes and spending, it used to be the case that the GOP had a better argument. Those of us who know McCain and his record know that he's a famous pork buster. But that message could get lost and the "McSame" tag could stick if we can't spread the story to the rest of the country.

The speaker explained that this goes beyond issues… it goes to words too. The word "liberal" polls badly, so Democrats now like to call themselves "progressives," not liberals. "Conservative" polls well, but right now, "Republican" does not. "Moderate" does fine too. So the smart move is to talk about support from conservatives and moderates, not necessarily from Republicans.

There was more, including thoughts on recent developments.

After tonight's session, I hope to have more and better observations.

As for Palin, the consensus amongst those who know more than I do is that McCain likes her as a person and likes her record of bucking the establishment and pushing for reform. He did not and does not care about the other stuff and figures no one is perfect and that she would be a good teammate.

Let me once again reiterate that this is SPECULATION on my part. I have no official role in the campaign and have never had a serious discussion with anyone in a leadership position inside the campaign about anything.

Those that loved her seem to love her even more and those that were skeptical remain so. Politicians do that to people...


Spears Update!

As you may remember, I have been working for three years now on the case of US v. Spears, which involves important questions on the sentencing guidelines used in federal court. With the help of Dustin Benham, Matt Acosta, and others, I argued the case in the 8th Circuit, petitioned for certiorari, and then received a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court with an order granting our petition, vacating the 8th Circuit's decision, and remanding the case in light of the Supreme Court's Kimbrough decision.

The 8th Circuit then came out against us again, by a 6-5 en banc vote. So, we petitioned for certiorari again. After receiving our petition, the Solicitor General waived a response, hoping the Court would summarily deny the petition (as they usually do).

This morning, Dustin Benham informed me that the Supreme Court has now ordered the SG to respond, and scheduled the case for discussion at conference. Woo hoo!

I do love this stuff.


Republican Convention Report from IPLawGuy, pt. 2!

My bud IPLawGuy is in St. Paul for the Republican Convention. Below is his report from day 2:

If you're looking for insight on the Palin situation or even the GOP convention as a whole, move on. I have nothing useful to add! This morning I went to the Virginia Delegation Breakfast and listened to great speeches from McCain surrogates for two hours. I sat with a friend and saw many other acquaintances. Then I left and went back to my brother's house. I had planned to attend the evening speeches, but those were canceled. So the first I heard of the news about the pregnancy was when my blackberry started buzzing.

Here's the best "defense" I've received from a friend:

Obama has come out and said that "Families are off limits." That is a good thing.

Obama's supporters can not make an issue out of this. Obama's mom and dad's marital status is a sketchy one too. Apparently his own father was already married to a girl in Africa when he "wed" Obama's mother. (It can not be a valid marriage if he was already married under US law.) He was conceived out of wed lock too and they married before his birth.....so Obama would be wise to not let his supporters run away with this.

A woman can be a good mother and wife and pursue her dreams too....

This is not the end of the world.

I do believe JSM knew. A 5 month along pregnancy is hard to hide.

Teen pregnancy is an issue that knows no boundaries. It effects republicans, democrats, christians, non-christians, black, white, American and Non-American, rich and poor.
Since e-mailing you I have read Sarah Palin's comments on her daughters situation. I think the fact that her daughter knew she could turn to her mother and father for help shows more about who they are as people than her political views show.

Her daughter made a mistake and is taking responsibility Sarah Palin is not responsible for her daughter's action, she is only responsible for her own.

Bottom line, she did not abort the child. Standing up for one's principals is one thing but to test them and stand BY them speaks volumes.

This is not a political issue.

OK, that's pretty well said, but I have to agree with the Prof. ... if this sort of thing happened in my family, I'd be looking for ways to cut back on work, travel and outside activities. Campaigning for office would not be on my list of things to do.

As for Obama, I believe he will not make an issue of this. But his supporters will and they're within their right to do so.

Anyhow, as for the on the ground report, I must say that the folks who came to rally the Virginia Delegation were great. They included Orson Swindle, who was a POW with McCain and later an FTC Commissioner. Great guy. Funny, irreverent, warm and genuine.

The big local news was the big protest in St. Paul that got a little out of hand. To me, this sort of thing makes the GOP look like the "normal" people. Its our opponents who are kooks. On a normal day, this would be big news, but what with Gustav and Palin's problems, it was only a local traffic report.

In other news, the Nationals won their 7th in a row.....

Monday, September 01, 2008



I just saw the news that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has a 17-year-old daughter (one of her five children) who is five months pregnant.

Here's what I don't think:

-- I don't think you can or should blame Gov. Palin for the pregnancy or accuse her of "bad parenting" or anything else.

-- I don't think it means she is a "bad Christian" or anything like that because her daughter got pregnant as an unmarried teenager. Obviously, Gov. Palin didn't choose this.

Here's what I DO think:

Any parent, father or mother, who has a pregnant 17-year-old at home (along with four other kids), should not be running for vice-president. There is a crisis in that home, and there is something going on in your life, Mom or Dad, that is more important than your own political ambitions.

That the parent of a minor child who is five months pregnant thinks she can and should spend all of her time on the campaign trail (as will be required) tells me something about her values.

And it isn't good.


IPLawGuy Reports, Pt. 1

IPLawGuy sent me the following dispatch from the Republican Convention in St. Paul:

As the news has reported, Hurricane Gustav appears to have been elected a superdelegate to the Republican National Convention. The event is being restructured as we speak. No speeches or appearances by President Bush or VP Cheney and many other events cancelled, including one I had really looked forward to: a discussion of the Supreme Court featuring eminent Conservative lawyer Ted Olsen and eminent Liberal Prof. Lawrence Tribe.

At this rate, its quite likely we won't see McCain or Palin in person at all -- they'll be in New Orleans or nearby to help with the clean up.

Good politics, but its too bad for people who have worked hard to get here and hoped to be part of exciting live event. The immediacy of a live speech is something that cannot be replaced. Not unlike a sporting event live, as opposed to on TV

These conventions are really just big networking events anymore, but volunteer political troops like to feel like they can reach out and touche the candidates.

Iplawwife, Iplawkid and Iplawbaby and I did meet fellow Razor Blogger SIR at the opening party tonight. She had stories about Prof. Osler and his hair.

Earlier today, the Iplawfamily, including Iplawuncle went to the Minnesota State Fair. We saw Minnesota's largest Boar and tried much junk food, including a pork chop on a stick.

I looked for Al Franken, but just saw his signs. Tonight at the RNC opening party, we saw Norm Coleman, who does have an odd looking head, quite frankly.

Our big celebrity sighting happened at the Virginia Delegation party.. Pat Boone was there, looking resplendent in white bucks.

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