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6/30/2003

o canada day 
Since July 1st is Canada Day, in honor of our neighbors to the north, I thought I would try to find something written by a Canadian who isn't insanely jealous and spiteful toward the United States.

Dr. Dennis Morley Robbins won the contest with his editorial regarding Canada's opposition to U.S. actions in Iraq. A snippet:

You missed some detail in your article. You forgot to explain that Canadians like you who support Jean Chretien and his decision to join France, Germany and Russia in opposition to the United States are responsible for separating us from our traditional allies of Australia, Britain and United States. You also forgot to mention that Russia and France have violated UN sanctions and traded billions of dollars in goods with Saddam Hussein including a nuclear reactor and restricted items like night goggles that help kill American servicemen today.

Is that how we treat our neighbor? I could understand your position if you lived in La Belle Province and named your favorite daughter France as Jean Chretien did, but I'm confused that you side with the American-hating Liberals when you write for Albertans who feel affection for their neighbors and have deep Anglo-American traditions.


You go, Dr. Robbins.

if america is so bad, why do they come here 
Neil Cavuto defended America recently to a bunch of foreign investors badmouthing our country.

Particularly galling was a German analyst's comment about U.S. efforts in Iraq: "You reap what you sow." Apparently this guy has forgotten that his country would be divided by a wall right now if it wasn't for the United States.

The irony, as Cavuto pointedly informed the group, is that all of them came to the United States to receive an education and all of them currently make their home in our great nation. Actions certainly speak louder than words.
tim blair: aussie with attitude 
Tim Blair's blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites on the web. The Aussie dishes up interesting posts on topics scoured from across the internet. Even better, he punctuates it all with his smoking wit. To get you hooked, here is a taste shamelessly lifted from Tim's site:

It wasn’t just the American ABC network that ignored a certain dead segregationist’s political ties, as Mark Steyn reports:

Lester Maddox, Georgia's last segregationist governor and a white restaurateur who closed his business rather than be forced to serve blacks, died last week, and neither ABC, CBS nor NBC could bring themselves to tell viewers that this man was (gasp!) a Democrat. Imagine that: a racist Democrat.

The same column has this killer take on Maureen Dowd:

Pronouncing Clarence Thomas ''barking mad,'' she declared, ''He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race.''

The cult of diversity stigmatizes all blacks: No matter how high they soar, the assumption of white liberals like Miss Dowd is that it's because of white liberals making allowances for them. How dare that uppity nigra be so ungrateful to Massa Sulzberger and all the fine ladies up at the big house who got him into the nice Liberal Guilt Academy for the Exotically Disadvantaged! ''It's poignant, really,'' sighs Maureen. ''It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race.''

Here's a game we can all play: It's poignant, really. Maureen knew that she couldn't make a powerful argument if her life depended on it, given the fact that she got into the New York Times thanks to her gender. It makes her crazy that people think she's where she is because the buttoned-down white guys running the Times needed a fluffy-chick quota hire but ...


Speaking of Steyn: buy the book.


How can you not like this guy?
possibly the only debts you can't refinance 
Possibly the only debts you can't refinance are student loans that have been consolidated. I learned this the hard way. Right after graduating from law school, Sallie Mae bombarded me with mailings informing me of the benefits of consolidating my student loans. Not once did their solicitations mention that I could only consolidate/refinance my student loans once and that I would be forever locked into the consolidated rate. I think my rate is around 8%. After noticing advertisements everywhere about refinancing your student loans at rates as low as 4.5%, I attempted to refinance, only to learn that I couldn't due to some federal regulation. I wrote some letters to my elected representatives and didn't receive a response.

According to this article, interest rates on students loans are now down to 3.4%. The article also states:

As a result, billions of dollars in student loans are being repaid at above-market rates. Of the more than $104 billion in loans consolidated since July 1998, $48 billion, or 46 percent, may be locked at 6 percent or higher, according to the Congressional Budget Office. More than $12 billion, or 11.5 percent, are at 8.25 percent.

Apparently others are now learning about this oddity in the law. Like me, some people are upset their lenders didn't inform them that refinancing or consolidation was a one-shot deal. Hopefully, the offending regulation is changed. As many student loans are federally guaranteed, it would seem to be in the government's best interest to allow the loans to be refinanced at lower interest rates.

6/29/2003

aaron buerge - the bachelor - miffed by bidder in local charity auction 
Aaron Buerge, of The Bachelor fame, was stunned when a male cross dresser calling himself Ms. Vivian outbid the competition in a local charity auction. Up for bids was a night out on the town with Buerge. Reports by the local Springfield media after the auction disclosed that Buerge was upset about the strange turn of events and, in the heat of passion, even told the Developmental Center of the Ozarks, the charity benefitting from the auction proceeds, that he no longer wanted anything to do with their organization. He quickly retracted and renewed his support after his declaration was made public.

The Springfield News Leader published an opinion piece on the event written by local resident Kelly Johnson-Derossett, which stated:

I guess I'm left wondering what Mr. Buerge found so distressing about being "chosen" by someone who makes a living entertaining others by parading around ostentatiously while in public. Quite candidly, I see no difference between what Ms. Vivian does for a living and what Mr. Buerge consents to do. Let's face it, they are both paid exhibitionists. Are they not?

In related news, I've eaten at the new restaurant in downtown Springfield that is co-owned by Buerge, called Trolley's. It's not bad, but I couldn't force myself to order one of their burgers. Why not? They call them "Buerges" instead of burgers. That gives a new meaning to the term "meat market."
sec may require shareholder approval of executive stock options 
In the never ending attempt to restore some semblance of management accountability to shareholders, Reuters reports the SEC is considering rules that would require certain stock option compensation plans be submitted to shareholders for approval. This is a good step and should be approved. But lest you be fooled into thinking shareholders will suddenly have some power over management, I think it will be the rare event when shareholders actually get together and vote down one of these plans. Any shareholder or organization attempting to rally the shareholders to defeat one of these compensation plans will have to shell out a lot of time, money, and effort to get out the vote. Management will be using the company's (read shareholders') money to promote its agenda and communicate with shareholders. It will be business as usual at most shareholders' meetings.

The Reuters article mentions that "[e]xecutives today can sometimes get millions of dollars in pay through stock-option plans without shareholder approval -- a situation blamed by some critics for abuses like those seen in scandals at Enron Corp."

If Mr. & Mrs. Investor believe that Enron shareholders would have actually voted down a stock compensation plan for Lay, Skilling, and the bunch, when they were cooking the books and creating tremendous, albeit fake, shareholder returns, the Investors need an SEC rule forbidding them from buying stock.
what do snoop dogg and ted kennedy have in common? 
Both Snoop Dogg and Ted Kennedy are apparently convicted felons and both have employed armed bodyguards. According to this press release, Snoop's bodyguards are under investigation for violating a law that prevents felons, and their employees, from carrying firearms. Sounds like a little affirmative action should be directed toward Senator Kennedy. Thanks to The Bitch Girls for the tip on this one.

6/28/2003

missouri supreme court abolishes alienation of affections tort 
Missouri's Supreme Court abolished the tort action of alienation of affections in the Helsel v. Noellsch decision rendered June 17. The decision contains a condensed history lesson on the roots of this claim.

Prior to this ruling, claims for alienation of affections could be brought against a third-party that interferes in a damaging way with a marital relationship--i.e., sleeps with your spouse and causes your divorce.

Judge Benton wrote in dissent that abolishing causes of action should be left to Missouri's legislature and not the courts. In the day and age of judicial monarchy, Judge Benton is a throwback to the time when courts were somewhat deferential, leaving policy questions to the administrative and legislative branches. As seen in recent United States Supreme Court decisions, judicial deference is waning.
governor b.holden signs bill he does not support 
Governor B.Holden set a precedent I would like to see him continue by signing the education budget bill yesterday. The governor released a statement: "I do not support these cuts, I have never supported these cuts, and I will never support these cuts." I suppose he signed in protest. Maybe he will follow that precedent and sign the concealed carry bill on his desk.
volokh's view on the second amendment 
Eugene Volokh's blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, has a brief, but thorough, treatment of contextual evidence that the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not a state right or a collective right. I quite agree.

6/27/2003

miss cleo is gonna love the national do not call list 
The National Do Not Call List, presented by our very own federal government, is now up and running. Missouri has had a do not call list for quite a while now, and the consensus among the people I know is that it works great. There are exceptions to the law, but we have received at least 75% less unwanted calls (sorry, it won't stop your in-laws from calling).

Missouri's Attorney General, Jay Nixon, put the smack down on Miss Cleo with a big $75,000 fine for violating Missouri's no call law. AG Nixon said in an interview with CNN : "They should've seen it coming, whether they were psychic or not. The fact that they didn't see it coming shows they aren't psychic."

I wonder if he would have pursued the claim if Miss Cleo would have called him prior to the filing and said, "Jay Nixon. Choo gotsta keep it real. Doncha bee filin' no suit against me." This is the Show-Me State afterall.

trials of the century cle 
The Greatest Trials of the Century was the topic at today's CLE at the Marriott on the Plaza in Kansas City. The program was put on by an attorney out of Salt Lake City named Todd Winegar. Todd apparently doesn't have a website out there, but I did find this information. I must say it was the most interesting CLE I've ever attended. He had tons of slides, photos, audiovisual clips and punctuated it all with a fine sense of humor. To top it all off, Todd gave out tons of good trial advocacy advice and handed out copies of his "Ultimate Trial Notebook." I'm anxious to take a look through it.

During CLEs, I'm usually fighting off the sleepy monster, trying to get some work done, or at least watching everyone else in the room nodding off. Not much chance of that today. Everyone in the room (and it was pretty crowded) was attentive throughout the program. If you get a chance to see this guy in action, sign up right away. Well done, Todd!

6/26/2003

spike lee and his joints 
Spike Lee thinks he's the only person who has rights to the name Spike. This suggestion is so stupid that I got tired when I started thinking about how long I would have to type to give this issue a proper ridiculing. So I'll just link to this pretty good summation of the merits of the case written by Deroy Murdock (no relation to Rupert).

I hope New York law is like Missouri law when it comes to temporary injunctions, in that Spike Lee would have had to post a huge bond to indemnify Viacom for the losses and attorneys' fees it is incurring due to the injunction. From his legal position, maybe I misunderstood what it means to be a Spike Lee Joint.

Check out this guy's idea for making money off this mess--I Want My Spike TV. I hope Dire Straits doesn't hear of this rip off or there could be more legal troubles brewing.
santa claus is coming to congress 
Free Medicine, Ho Ho Ho is the title of William F. Buckley's editorial on the much touted prescription drug plan for seniors. He makes some good points. I have some questions, too. Why is it that the generation that fought so hard to keep communism and socialism out of this country are now so eager for its return? Has anyone paid attention to the effects socialism has had in other countries over the last 50 years? If the government is going to institute a prescription drug plan, why are they only limiting it to seniors? Since when has access to prescription drugs become a fundamental right? Why are we subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry? Who is going to pay for this plan (besides me)? It's not a Republican / Democrat issue...it's a socialism / capitalism issue. No--strike that--it's a how can I get re-elected issue.
rss 'r us 
I added an rss feed using Blogmatrix. I'm still not sure how it works, but the button is on the sidebar. Seems somewhat pompous to think that other people would want to read my thoughts on miscellaneous stuff, but at least I have plenty of company in the pomposity department.
hey dixie chicks, free speech has its consequences 
Free speech is fundamental to our republic. We really wouldn't have it any other way. But as Jason from the Radio Conspiracy points out, using the Dixie Chicks as an example, a free society is also free to talk back with words and action if it disagrees with your speech. I wouldn't have that any other way, either.

6/25/2003

judge chooses life 
A jury of our peers chooses who lives and dies (for the most part) in capital punishment cases. Contrast that with two cases highlighted in this blurb from CNN. In both, the decision is in the hands of a single imperfect (like the rest of us) judge. One judge chooses life, one chooses death. There is a huge difference between capital cases and these cases, however. Capital punishment cases require a guilt phase before sentencing.
who's afraid of the second amendment 
While I'm thinking about it, Missouri's legislature passed a concealed carry bill, HB349 (summary) in May. It is now sitting on Governor Holden's desk. I think he has until July 14th or roundabouts to veto it, or it will become law. I think he should sign it. Why should only criminals be allowed to carry guns? Concealed carry may be the most cost-effective crime fighting measure Missouri will ever experience. Concealed carry equals less crime. We would likely all know that if we had an impartial media. Missouri is one of the few remaining states without a concealed carry law. Hopefully that will change soon. I think the Governor is going to wait until the last second on this one. A lot of people believe it would be smart for him politically to sign this bill, but I bet every liberal bone in his body is resisting.
landlord vs. tenant 
I evicted some folks from their apartment today because they haven't paid rent in two months. I've handled lots of eviction cases over the last few years. As a general practitioner, I handle all kinds of cases. Here in Missouri, most evictions are known as rent and possession cases. It's an expedited process a landlord can use to get a judgment for back rent and possession of the premises. A lot of times I feel sorry for the people involved. The landlord is losing money, the tenants typically don't have any money and don't want to move, and as the attorney you are watching a relationship of sorts disintegrate before your eyes. Today, though, I didn't really feel sorry for the people being evicted. They were completely hostile to everyone. The judge short-shrifted their excuses and my client received a judgment. They smarted off to the judge and stomped out. Later, they called my office after the sheriff posted the eviction notice on their door. They left a voice message (I was in a meeting or on the phone or in the middle of something when they called) wanting extra time to move. Not much chance my client will agree to that after the way they treated him this morning.

6/24/2003

i'm a loser, baby 
I was jumping around on various blogs and discovered a couple that interest me: The Ignorant Pilgrim and Socrates' Front Porch . One thing that caught my eye was that one of the contributors (or self-described perpetrators) is a law student. Not only that, but his recent first foray into a court hearing was victorious. Good job!

Know what? I am an attorney. Several months ago I came across an article entitled "Losing" by an attorney in Missouri named Glenn E. Bradford. Of all the reading I've done on topics concerning the legal profession (and we attorneys read a lot of stuff), I think this may be my favorite of all time. Simply put, the article's thesis boils down to the fact that if you are going to be a trial attorney, you will have to learn to come to grips with losing. After all, as the article points out, Abraham Lincoln (one of my favorite Americans) himself lost half of the cases he tried.

Consider this quote in the article from Henry G. Miller, an accomplished New York attorney and author:

"Young lawyers think trying cases is all glory. But trial lawyers pay a price unknown to our armchair colleagues who never stray beyond the safety of their desks. Trial lawyers lose cases. Did you ever hear of a lawyer's losing a contract? If you lose at trial, every explanation seems lame. The client who adored yesterday's summation glares at you in disgust after today's defeat. The jury has rejected you. It's a personal defeat. It burns in memory. Defeat is the price trial lawyers pay for success."

I've won my share of trials--and believe me, it feels good to win. But that feeling quickly fades and it is increasingly difficult to call those cases to memory. I've also lost a couple. I remember them well--not only that--I remember the issues, the people involved, the arguments I made, the Judge's rulings, and the gnawing ever present voice whispering the things I should have done differently. I corresponded with Mr. Bradford and let him know I appreciated his effort in writing that great article.

If you are an attorney, you need to read "Losing". If you are a trial attorney, or aspire to be one, Mr. Bradford's advice cuts to the quick--sooner or later you will lose. It's best to learn to accept that fact before you are forced to deal with it.
experimental telephony 
The other day I took the plunge. I signed up for Packet8's unlimited calling plan. You pay $20 per month and you get unlimited local and long distance calling. The quality is supposedly not bad. We canceled our long distance service several months ago, due to the nationwide no long distance charges cell phone plan we have. Even with basic local service (with no frills like callerID), our bill is routinely $25+ per month. I'm going to see how well Packet8 works before I burn my bridges and completely cancel with Southwestern Bill (or is it Bell?). One cool feature is that you can take Packet8's little adapter thingy and plug it into any high speed access point, wherever you are, and calls to your phone will be routed to you. You also get voicemail and callerID. I'll report back on whether this actually works.
things i post at 3:00 a.m. 
I just finished watching an awesome movie--Tears of the Sun. If you haven't seen it, put it on your short list of things to do. One word of warning, though. It is a pretty violent movie. Most good war movies are. They need to be shockingly violent, sort of like the real thing, in order to convey the message that we should avoid war if we can. It's not just a movie about war, either. It's also about courage, freedom, and about people doing the right thing even when we want to do the easy thing.

Today is also my eighth anniversary. I'm staying up late, I know, but I'm taking the day off to spend some time with my wonderful wife. I look forward to someday celebrating our fiftieth anniversary together. Which makes me think, what is the symbol for the eighth anniversary? It's bronze of all things. What should I get her? A shield or a nice bronze breastplate? Do they even make things other than statues out of bronze anymore?

Marriage is the one thing each person should really do once in their life. Just make sure you're committed when you do it.

6/23/2003

devolutionization 
Well, I suppose this is my first post on my first blog. I really don't know how this all works, but it sounds like it could be cool...and fun. Maybe someday I can look back a year or two and see how I am mentally devolving.

Devolving - the process of degeneration. I guess one man's devolution is another's evolution.

Take, for instance, this article about the supposed devolution of the Kansas education system because the Board of Education decided that the theory of evolution would no longer be included in the state's science testing standards. Mind you, they didn't ban teaching the theory, which is how it was widely reported if memory serves correctly (which I'll be the first to admit isn't always the case). For my money, it was a gutsy call in 1999 and showed considerable foresight. After all, the more scientists are learning from real sciences, the more faith people are going to need to continue believing in the theory of evolution. Read Michael Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box, and you will see what I mean.

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