Sunday, February 28, 2010
Per usual, once these mass undertakings are complete, I'm left to wonder why I cannot simply leave well enough alone.
The rub of my schizophrenic indecision on our blog layout, I think, is that my obsession with perfectionism trumps my pragmatic will to let a layout go, and focus on quality content. The end result is that the lay of the land around here changes every one to two weeks.
For now, however, I'm resolved to let it go. I'll be the first to admit that this layout is far from perfect. Were it left to your truly, I would almost certainly opt out of the clamshells at the bottom of the page. But having neither the tools, nor the creative talent to excise them from the template, the clamshells remain.
In some ways, the clamshells are emblematic of our entire experiment here at Pax Plena. The clamshells are random and kind of campy - not unlike our blog. The message they send is almost a subliminal, 'You-know-this-isn't-a-'real'-blog-since-there-are-clamshells-at-the-bottom-of-our-page' kind of clarion.
In a weird way, it's almost as if the shells are there just to remind us that we can't take ourselves too seriously. And for anyone who has ever read a post around here, you know that we don't.
So friends, enjoy the clamshells, and the fruits of my weekend obsession while you can. They'll probably be gone by the end of the week.
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Yesterday, left-wing blogger Digby of “Digby’s Hullabaloo” dubbed North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx the ‘most embarrassing member of Congress.’ Digby’s coronation of Foxx came replete with a bevy of YouTube videos to make what was presumably an obvious point.
I make no defense of Virgina Foxx, except to say that the errant YouTube video of any member in action is probably enough to earn the most-embarrassing title at one point or another. (See Senator Baucus’s tipsy fulmination on the Senate floor as an example).
But given Charlie Rangel’s recent, ethical indiscretions, one cannot help wondering if perhaps Digby got it wrong? House Democrats (minus Speaker Pelosi) seem to agree.
Friday, February 26, 2010
The problem for Nelson, of course, is that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the Dems' legislation, and perhaps nowhere do they oppose it more than in the Great State of Nebraska.
As a result of his support for the Democrats' first bill, Nelson found himself battling a thirty point deficit in his bid for reelection.
The advantage for Nelson is that his day of reckoning with voters isn't until 2012.
My own sense is that Nelson sees the writing on the wall. Two years isn't that far away and rarely do politicians recover from a thirty point dip in their approval ratings. Certainly, Nelson's support of the Dems reconciliation efforts bespeaks a man who has nothing to lose.
Whatever the case, Nelson's moderate-Democrat schtick is veritably dead after this. And thus follow his political fortunes in 'Big Red' Nebraska.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010
This Lolcat of the Week, actually reminds me quite a bit of our hapless President - if one were to change "capitalist" to "socialist." Let not your heart be trouble. The week is almost over. Enjoy!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
From a quick read of the conversation, it looks like there were plenty of quips thrown around. But the health care bill itself remains the biggest joke of all.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It's also a stunning reason for the Federal Government to revisit its economic development policies as they relate to Indian tribes - particularly where they create market inefficiencies that do not occur elsewhere.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Suffice it to say, I have seen a lot of absolutely ridiculous shenanigans.
But the recent study by the Tufts Department of psychology has to take the cake.
According to the study:
Republicans were perceived as more powerful, while Democrats were perceived as "warmer."I'm perfectly fine with the comparison, but, I think the analysis starts to fall apart when one compares the faces of actual politicians. Take the recent election in New Jersey for example.
I think it can be objectively stated that Chris Christie (left) looks like the warmer politician in the Garden State. He came a cross as a New Jersey ‘bubba’-type person with whom one could grab beer. Corzine (right) looks every bit the austere, former Senator via Goldman Sachs.
Maybe it’s an isolated case…
Regardless, this Republican hopes that his public relations feel comes a cross as warmer rather than ‘more powerful.’
The former is actually true, while the latter is a false perception no one actually has.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The difference, this time, is that I just might have found it.
The changing scenery around these parts have earned my indecision the title of ‘running joke’ by some loyal readers. The assessment is probably more apt than I care to admit. I am unaware of any layout that has lasted more than six months since I started the blog back in waning hours of 2004. Consider your own life going on the past ten years, and you get a better appreciation for my changing habits. But the layout you see before you, after many hours of research, presents the minimalist aspirations of my former post on Zen blogging, while adding a sleek, easy-to-read presentation with even more bells and whistles than complex looking layout up most of last week. This one just might have staying power…
Regardless, I like to think that I’m living point five of the LiveScience article. Each time I change the layout around here, it’s a small act of kindness for you the reader. The five tips by LiveScience were all pretty interesting in isolation. It reminds me of the Valentine’s Day post discussing happiness by Brazencarrerist. I would add another link, but there’s just something about quoting myself twice in the same post that makes me uneasy. Of course, if you crack open the textbook of any professor, you’re bound to find one or two citations to the author’s earlier works. To the extent that they quote themselves, it’s nice to know that megalomania extends outside the realm of blogging.
Anyway, about those five bits of advice. They are all fairly typical really:
1. Be grateful.While the advice isn’t bad, it also isn’t very practical. The article went to great pains to outline perfectly good reasons for its recommendations, but it failed miserably to offer anything in the way of advice to those who are chronically challenged at doing any of the above. Take yours truly, for example.
2. Be optimistic.
3. Count your blessings.
4. Use your strengths.
5. Commit acts of kindness
Showing gratitude is something I’ve never been terribly good at. Ask my wife. And while I appreciate the heck out of people, most of them would never know it. It just isn’t in my DNA to be effusively grateful. The habit probably stems from some repressed memory of childhood. I’m pretty sure it involves a snake – but I digress. Anyway, I try to supplement my lack of gratefulness with acts of kindness. According to the calculus, this should be a slam-dunk gain in net happiness under article 5. Right? Except it isn’t because I worry that my kindness will not be interpreted as a substitute for gratitude by the beneficiary of my appreciation. Thus, stress creeps in and sucks up all the good energy.
As for optimism, well lets just say I’ve always been much more comfortable at the pessimism end of the scale. It’s not that I think good things are categorically barred from happening to me. It’s just that I think it’s much more likely that something bad will happen than something good – and this is usually about right.
On the other hand, I am pretty good at counting my blessings. I have the privilege of sitting down nearly every day and opining to whomever cares to read. I have a tremendous wife, a terrific family back in Oklahoma, and I have absolutely first-rate friends. If I were out of law school, one might say I was a lucky guy.
And so, like most articles from LiveScience, take the suggestions above with more than a grain of salt. The advice isn’t bad, and it may actually help. But, of course, you may be too far gone already if you frequent this blog. In which case, remember: a little pessimism goes a long way.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Either way, the scenario above finds me in balmy Vermillion, SD exploring the legal limits of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as it relates to criminal prosecutions of Native Americans under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. And while I am not yet at liberty to discuss the problem full-bore, I can say that the issue is thorny (as all moot court problems are) for conflicting opinions in the Federal Courts of Appeals, and the dicey nature of Federal Indian Law generally.
A copy of the problem can be accessed here:
The way this year's competition works is that all teams argue twice on the first day. Each team has been assigned to argue either for the appellants or the appellee in the case, and each team argues for their designated side. The side a team has been randomly designated to argue for is called the on-brief side, since that side's designation is also accompanied by the production of an appeallate brief on the issues - in addition to the oral argument prepared for the actual contest.
Following on-brief oral arguments, competitors then make an off-brief oral argument for the opposing side during the afternoon of the first day.
The top sixteen teams in scoring, based upon the combined scoring from both oral arguments, and a percentage of the written brief score, advance to the elimination rounds the following day.
Competition then proceeds in a matter similar to the March Madness bracket with rounds of the sweet sixteen, the elite eight, and final four, preceding the championship argument between the top two teams.
This year's judging has been fairly evenhanded, so far. I would name drop, but it probably isn't appropriate given that the competition is still on-going. Suffice it to say, I have been impressed by the caliber of judges that we have faced. Soon, I promise to lay out some of our arguments, and talk more about the problem. Hopefully, this will be later rather than sooner since moving on in the competition means less time to blog.
This year's team has me partnered with a fellow Udall Intern from last summer's National Native American Congressional Internship Program. The first two rounds went well, I think. At least we felt we "left everything on the field", er, podium. The top sixteen teams will be announced at dinner this evening.
So, for now, send good thoughts toward the vicinity of your humble blogger. And of course, feel free to question the wisdom of hosting a National competition in South Dakota in the middle of winter.
Update: Well, the Moot Court gods must have smiled today. Our ragtag team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row. Our fellow Arizonans have pledged to help us prep this evening, so this could be yet another late night.
Update 2: And we're done. Our valiant duo fell to the Lions of Columbia in our Sweet Sixteen round this morning. In comments from the judges, yours truly was called "mesmerizing," speaking with "anachronistic grace." I haven't concluded whether this was a compliment or not. Given the outcome, it could well be one of the kindest insults I've ever received.
The full delegation from Arizona is off to lunch, but I'll try to post some more substantive comments on the problem later this afternoon. My snarkiness notwithstanding, the problem was quite interesting, and I couldn't be more proud of our teams from the U of A.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Fineman points to six reasons why Bayh chose to exit the political scene, after first divulging his friendship with the Senator:
1. Nastiness of the [pending] Indiana race.Taken together (or in isolation) it is difficult to disagree with any of the above. And trust me, disagreeing with Howard Fineman on anything is something I would prefer to do.
2. Strains with Obama.
3. Disgust with the family line of work [politics].
6. The boys.
For starters, even though Bayh was well-positioned for re-election, there remained little doubt that the race would get nasty. So, nasty in fact that Bayh via the DNC aired the first attack ads in the race against presumptive Repuglican nominee Dan Coats, one week before the Senator announced his retirement.
That the personal relationship between Bayh and Obama was cold is probably a sever understatement – at least as outlined by Fineman. But for those who don’t wade deep into the political weeds, the more collegial Bayh was passed over for the more choleric Joe Biden for the Veep slot late in the summer of 2008 campaign. Before this, even, Bayh endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton over now President Obama in the Democrats hotly contested primary. Such a snubbing from both camps doubtless says a lot for the personal relationship between Sen. Bayh and President Obama. As a result, such a strained relationship would also pose significant challenges for Bayh to be effective as a centrist vis-a-vis the far-left Democrat establishment.
Finally, Fineman talks a lot about the timing of the exit, the age of the Senators sons, and the fact that Bayh, at his core, is a family man. From the extreme outside looking in, I have little reason to doubt Fineman. And more importantly, it’s simply not my place to do so. So, taking Fineman and the Senator at their word, it marks a man with vastly different priorities than many of those living inside the Beltway.
What makes the family aspect of the entire story interesting is that Bayh’s decision is consistent with recent statistics about happiness. On her blog “Brazen Carrerist”, blogger Penelope Trunk explores happiness and fulfillment with a series of questions that explain how recent studies show that relationships tend to trump even personal ambition on the greater spectrum of happiness.
All of which is to say, even politicians can get tired of politics.
Monday, February 15, 2010
And so the Dems 2010 prospects grow a bit dimmer.
Update: I couldn't let the above foolishness go without a shout out to the NSYNC (nor could my, now, 23 year-old sister back in the day).
In the words of Justin Timberlake, 'bye, bye, Bayh!'
The video link is posted below for you enjoyment - or loathing.
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It seems VPOTUS’s motorcade was involved in an auto accident up at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver en route to one of the games (don’t worry – no one else cares about the Winter Olympics either). According to reports, the fender bender was severe enough to send Olympic legend Peggy Flemming to the hospital – although it appears she has since been released.
What makes the story interesting for our purposes is that this is the FOURTH time the Biden motorcade has been involved in an auto accident since November. By contrast, the average American is involved in ONE vehicle crash during their entire life.
The obvious conclusion?
Joe Biden can’t drive down the street without causing an accident. Imagine the mess he would make of our United States if Obama actually started listening to him.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
But God only knows that dealing with someone like me isn't an easy thing to do. (Read a few posts around here and you'll likely conclude the same thing). So, what gives?Apparently, it's the curse of dating, or living with a lawyer - or would-be lawyer in my case.
Avvo.com recently outlined a list of tips for dealing with lawyers, and while yours truly is not a lawyer, the list easily describes the majority of my classmates and acquaintances - obviously not me:
Studies also show that lawyers tend to be defensive, argumentative, skeptical, and anti-social. However, the bright side is that you won’t experience these things often because lawyers are rarely at home.And that about sums it up as regards the legal eagle personality.
Simply put, the vast majority of lawyers utterly lack personality, making us both the butt of jokes, and universally reviled in lands and cultures across the globe.
And so, on this St. Valentine's Day, speaking as someone who ventured far afield of the legal community to find love, to my readers who are thinking about law school or who are pondering a relationship with some who has already opted into the legal system, do your love life a favor and just say, "no."
And to all the spouses, and significant others out there who have already disregarded my advice, if you stay in the game, you will doubtless commend more grace, and love toward us than we will ever fully know.
Happy Valentine's Day, America.
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Saturday, February 13, 2010
But Biden predicted Democrats would "do just fine" in the November elections because the administration will bring 90,000 U.S. troops home and the economy will recover, according to a pool report.
One cannot help feeling for the Veep. As the saying goes, on him falls the lot of turning chicken (ahem) excrement into chicken salad. But even by this mission impossible standard the Vice President’s words ring hollow.
A poll released just last week, showing the full extent of the Democrats grim prospects in 2010, has the President losing to a “generic Republican” in a Presidential match up.
Regarding National security, though the U.S. is drawing down its forces in Iraq, even as I type, U.S. forces are launching one of the biggest assaults on Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan – the assault being possible, of course, on account of the Obama Administration’s decision to send in an additional 30,000 troops to the war-torn region.
And while Biden must have missed the memo, on the jobs front, even the White House is projecting high unemployment for the next five years.
Naturally, for a spin-master such a Biden, the facts are little more than an inconvenience. But even he would have to concede that his remarks are disingenuous at best.
Friday, February 12, 2010
In his State of the Union Address less than three weeks ago, President Obama appealed to Republicans’ bipartisan sensibilities in effort to salvage some vestige of his ailing domestic agenda:
“What the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics,” the president said.
Yet, just this morning the Associated Press reports:
Senate Dems ax bipartisan jobs bill
There is, arguably, no more pressing issue facing our Nation today than our staggering unemployment rate. Yet the Democrats solution is to make matters worse by taking the jobs bill down the same failed path of partisan gridlock that they took the President’s health care plan.
The move is particularly embarrassing for the White House, since Sen. Reid’s bait and switch came only hours after the White House praised the bipartisan bill crafted by Senators Baucus and Grassley.
Apparently, the President was for the bill before he decided it was politically expedient to oppose it.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Last night the wife and I watched Kevin Spacey’s “Beyond the Sea.” I’ve yet to see a truly terrible Kevin Spacey film, and his performance in “21” has only heightened my curiosity since seeing it last spring. Being a passive fan of Bobby Darin’s the movie looked like a slam-dunk Netflix order for the middle of the week.
We were not disappointed.
In the film, Spacey plays the part of crooner Bobby Darin, and actually sings all of Darin’s hits in the film (soundtrack available here), including our Pax Plena Song of the Week Mack the Knife.
Originally set to the 1928, Brecht - Weill Threepenny Opera, the German text of Mack the Knife tells the dark and twisted tale of murderer Mackie Messer, old Macheath, a.k.a. Mack the Knife. The opera opens with a minstrel solo comparing the villainous Macheath to the menacing teeth of a shark, before recounting Mack the Knife’s manifold robberies and murders.
In the 1959 Bobby Darin hit Mack the Knife, the early verse tells much the same story as the Brecht - Weill version, yet it continues apace offering a modern rendition of the tale. But what really ‘makes’ the song is the contrast between its subject matter and its music. If one compares Brecht & Weill’s german moritat with the version sung by Darin, well, one could be forgiven for thinking the two have nothing in common at all. Far from becoming Brecht’s sinister figure, Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife could probably be a part of the show dancing on stage at The Copa with the legend himself.
Musically, the song captures the essence of the crooner/lounge era of American music – a point in time often referred to as music’s golden age. The song begins softly with a steady baseline, and builds with casual ease as Darin tells the tale of Mack the Knife. In a voice thick with coquetry, Darin ticks off Mack’s bloody murders to his female audience, subtly mocking any fears the story might conjure. Like most crooner songs, the swinging tempo makes an unmistakable cameo appearance, all while pressing toward the song’s denouement where Darin jubilantly proclaims: Macky is back in town! In the end, the big band music is so alive, and so exciting, it’s as if welcoming a serial killer to the city were a perfectly logical thing to do.
The video below is take from one of Darin’s early performances of the song. Alas, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!
Mack the Knife
by Bobby Darin
Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight
Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red
Now on the sidewalk, huh, huh, whoo sunny mornin', uh huh
Lies a body just oozin' life, eek!
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?
There's a tugboat, huh, huh, down by the river don'tcha know
Where a cement bag just a'droopin' on down
Oh, that cement is just, it's there for the weight, dear
Five'll get ya ten old Macky's back in town
Now d'ja hear 'bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?
Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town
I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town....................
........ look out old Macky’s back!
UPDATE: The women referred to, toward the end of the song, left me puzzled. A quick search on the web reveals that Jenny Driver, Sukey Tawdry, and Lucy Brown were all characters in Brecht’s Threepenny Opera. Lotte Lenya sang the original german moritat written by her husband, composer Kurt Weill (i.e., of Brecht – Weill acclaim). A video of her performance, lo so many years ago is below. It makes for an interesting contrast with the Darin version above. Some similarities are obvious after watching both – proving once again the music tends to influence music.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Earlier this week we highlighted a Rasmussen poll that showed voters being ‘mad as hell’ at the Obama Administration and its cronies in Congress. Today, even the far-left Washington Post was obliged to reach similar findings.
According to analysis of the poll done by the blog HotAir, the President has lost command of the majority of the important issues facing the country.
And with upwards of 16 inches of snow on the way, it seems the President’s bad week just keeps getting worse.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The latest polls out of deep red Alabama give the Fox News host double digit leads over former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The numbers come out of the south, but if Huckabee gets serious about running in 2012, the polls indicate a strong, and growing support base from a broad cross-section of Republicans.
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Super Bowl 2010 is in the books, and with no true team in the hunt, the more interesting aspect of this year’s game had to be the commercials. Having seen all of the ads, the hullabaloo surrounding Focus on the Family’s pro-life Super Bowl spot still escapes me. In fact, the consensus two days later, even from Sports Illustrated, seems to be that it was much ado about nothing.
Surprisingly, if there was any controversy at all among this year’s Super Bowl ads, it was not one involving the abortion issue, but environmentalism.
Audi’s “Green Police” ad mercilessly parodied the overzealousness of the environmental movement, depicting an America run by environmental overlords, prosecuting even the slightest deviation from the ‘green’ norm. In Audi’s America, choosing plastic over paper could earn you an arrest by the green police.
But this too was a mixed bag.
The ad was actually trying to hawk Audi’s A3 TDI, complete with a ‘clean diesel’ engine, no less. The tagline read “Green has Never Felt so Right.” Yet, the entire ad seemed dedicated to highlighting all the ways in which green could feel so wrong.
In all, the politically-charged, Super Bowl ad wars of 2010 turned out to be little more than shenanigans stirred by the pro-abortion left. That said, my favorite ad came early in the evening courtesy of Doritos, titled “House Rules.” It can only be described as ‘too cute’. Enjoy!
Monday, February 8, 2010
In a Mediaite post this morning, the blog for all things news, entertainment, and opinion observed how Fox News’ 3am show Red Eye outpaced the entire CNN prime time line-up in the 25 - 54 demographic (the bulk of TV watchers).
As a closet fan, the news isn’t terribly unsurprising – the show is amazing. Though it is a bit surprising that there are so many insomniacs on the East Coast.
Host Greg Gutfeld is both hilarious and irreverent. The show’s material is snarky, and well-written. And his team has an obvious chemistry that make the show fun to watch. Check it out below!
Three-quarters of the nation’s voters are “angry” at the federal government’s policies, according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey out Monday.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
In protest of the phrase 'who dat,' and its contribution to the decline of the English language, I'm picking the Indianapolis Colts 35 - 31 over the New Orleans Saints.
Update:Well, so much for that NFL season. The Saints scored 31, but won in convincing fashion over the Colts tonight.
Payton Manning proved that even he can't throw a pick in the fourth quarter when down two possessions, and expect to win.
America can now look forward to seven months of annoying people, mindlessly bellowing 'who dat.' Come to think of it, this fate is really kind of like Groundhog Day, except more depressing.
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Monday, February 1, 2010
During last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama waxed eloquent abut the need to reign-in spending. He likened our massive deficits to a moral problem. In fact, at the time, the President was so concerned about government spending that, by god, he was even willing to freeze spending for three years – after the November elections, of course:
Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve.
Today, consistent with his newly-turned, fiscally-conservative leaf, President Obama announced that he would ratchet up a $1.56 trillion budget deficit this year, and a $1.27 trillion budget deficit next year.
Based on President Obama’s proposed spending, the Congressional Budge Office projects an aggregate $8.53 trillion deficit over the next ten years.
Apparently, nothing closes the Administration’s aforementioned credibility gap quite like spending even more money that our government does not have.