Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Justices on Junkets!

Welcome Volokh Conspiracy readers! As promised, here is proof that Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes on junkets to luxury locations:

Here is Scalia fending off a rabid Federalist Society lawyer hell bent on lobbying him on issues related to lead paint and tobacco!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hey NPR - FRAK YOU!!!!!

So I wake up this morning at 5:50am to the strains of NPR on my clock radio. They have a report about the fact that glamorous jobs don't pay very well. Ok, I can buy that...if you have lots of people chasing after a job (like news reporter or PR consultant) then the industry can pay less.

But then they discuss jobs that are essential, but UN-glamorous. And the first job they name? Tax attorney. Well, NPR...I like being a tax attorney. No, I don't earn $130,000 per year...but I like my job just fine. Maybe YOU don't think it is glamorous, but I can remember when I was the tax prosecutor down in the Virgin Islands (oh....sounding better now?) and the other attorneys in the office thought that tax litigation was boring. Then I started describing my cases. After a few minutes, no one thought my job was boring any more. I had cases with challenging issues and amusing facts. More than what any of THEM could say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The EVIL phone company

My phone company seems to be a little strange in their billing practices. I tend to do a lot of my banking and bill paying online. A couple of months ago, I set my phone account to automatically deduct my monthly charge from my checking account. I forgot about this last December and manually made an online payment later in the month.

This is where things get strange. I checked my phone bill this month and it was over 3 times the usual amount.

Huh? So, I checked my payment history. Here it is below:

As you can see, there was an automatic online payment on December 6th. Then there was a second online payment (the manual payment) on the 20th that was refused (probably because my bank noticed the duplicate charge and cancelled it).

So, what did the phone company do? They charged me a $25 penalty for having the payment refused, then had the $22.28 refused amount (excess payment) and the $25 penalty added to my January bill. get penalized for paying too much!

To add injury to took 15 minutes with customer support to get this straightened out.

Ya gotta love the phone company!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Too much news...too much work...too little time.

Sorry about the lack of posts. What with the Alito hearings (that I have been missing), the Judge Cashman story, and real life, I just have not had the time and energy to get in here on a regular basis.

I might try to go on a weekly basis...that way I could type stories at work, then post them later. We shall see. One I think up a procedure that works, I will use it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hollywood stupidity >link<

The news report linked to above describes a love-fest by various Hollywood celebrities, led by Henry Belafonte, for Venezuala President, Hugo becoming the latest authoritarian dictator to attempt to destabilize a region based on zenophobia aimed at the US.

Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including the actor Danny Glover and the Princeton University scholar Cornel West that met the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in the group attended Chavez's television and radio broadcast Sunday.

Belafonte's comments are particularly disgraceful:

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution," Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.

Mr. Belafonte is an ignorant fool who is so blinded by his irrational hatred of President Bush that he is giving philosophical support to a budding dictator who is going to eventually lead tens of millions of people into poverty and death. Mr. Belafonte is comparable to the ultra-naive playwright George Bernard Shaw who heaped praise on Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.

Belafonte suggested setting up a youth exchange for Venezuelans and Americans. He finished by shouting in Spanish: "Viva la revolucion!"

Chavez is only beginning his reign. It will take years for him to consolidate his power and impose his will on Venezuala's economy. It will take even more time for him to realize his goal of exporting revolution to other countries throughout South America. In the end, the economies of those countries will be further abused, the people will endure greater suffering, and freedom will be set back by decades. Mr. Belafonte will be long dead before the level of his stupidity and gullibility becomes clear. But we should never forget how he, and others like him, gave Chavez moral support.

Michael Barone on the history of lobbyists >link<

Dems are going to beat up Republicans in the coming months over the Abramoff scandal. They are going to continue their cries of outrage over the "K Street Project," described by the Wikipedia as,

a project by the Republican Party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995, by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay. It has been criticized as being part of a coziness between the GOP and large corporations which has allegedly allowed business to rewrite government regulations affecting their own industries in many cases (see Dick Cheney energy task force).

Ah...but why would Republicans want to make lobbying firms hire more Republicans? Well, take a look at Michael Barone's column published at (linked to above):

K Street came to take on some resemblance to what it is today in the 1940s, when some of Franklin D. Roosevelt's talented young aides who, he insisted, must have a "passion for anonymity" left government and set up their own law firms and lobbying shops. They were all Democrats, of course, and usually liberal Democrats, but they were happy to advise business clients and willing to use their administration and Capitol Hill contacts. It helped their business that Democrats would hold the executive branch for 20 years and would have majorities in Congress for almost all the time from 1932 to 1994 (the House for 58 of those 62 years, the Senate for 52).

So, what is the K Street Project really about?

After Republicans won majorities in Congress in 1994, Republican leaders, notably then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, launched what they called the K Street Project. The lobbying community, they argued, was made up mostly of Democrats. They steered their clients toward policies favored by Democrats, they charged, and they sent the bulk of their campaign money to Democrats--which of course made good business sense when it seemed that Democrats would run Congress forever. The purpose of the K Street Project was to make the lobbying community first bipartisan and then predominantly Republican.

What is wrong with this? Nothing...unless you are one of the tinfoil hat brigades who believe that the mere fact that a person is a Republican is a sign that they are evil, immoral, and undeserving of being heard.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A judge who needs to be taken off the bench >link<

I don't vouch for the accuracy of the news report linked to above. But if it is true, this judge needs to be sanctioned and/or removed from the bench.

There was outrage Wednesday when a Vermont judge handed out a 60-day jail sentence to a man who raped a little girl many,many times over a four-year span starting when she was seven.

I have heard of jury nullification, but never JUDGE nullification. I am making a lot of assumptions here, but I think this judge is probably violating his oath of office and probably the applicable professional standards.

Prosecutors argued that confessed child-rapist Mark Hulett, 34, of Williston deserved at least eight years behind bars for repeatedly raping a littler girl countless times starting when she was seven.

But Judge Edward Cashman disagreed explaining that he no longer believes that punishment works.

"The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul," said Judge Edward Cashman speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the on-lookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by Mark Hulett who was in court to be sentenced.

I took a quick look at information on the web concerning the selection of judges in Vermont: they are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. Subsequently, there are retention votes in the state legislature. The public does not get to vote for judges.

Vermont judges may be removed in one of two ways: (1) Judges may be impeached by a two-thirds vote of the house of representatives and convicted by a two-thirds vote of the senate; or (2) The judicial conduct board investigates complaints of judicial misconduct or disability and recommends any necessary action to the supreme court. Possible disciplinary actions include public reprimand of the judge, suspension for a part or the remainder of the judge's term of office, or retirement of the judge if physically or mentally disabled.

I think that Judge Cashman should be removed from the bench as soon as possible. This man has become a hazard to his community and is quite possibly mentally ill.

******** UPDATE *********

The Volokh Conspiracy had a spirited discussion on this story. The initial news report did not completely describe what the judge did. Apparently, the defendant was categorized as having being a "low risk offender." As such, he was not eligible for therapy or counseling until after he finished his prison sentence...and the judge felt it was important to get the defendant into therapy as quickly as possible.

Here is the link for the Volokh Conspiracy debate: