Apple released OS X 10.2.1 this past week, and I installed it on Thursday, hoping that it would cure the intermittent freezes my office Mac been suffering since I installed Jaguar. No dice. Also, I've now encountered the freeze while using Netscape 7.0, so it no longer seems like a Microsoft-related problem. It's been suggested that I may have some marginal RAM—Jaguar is apparently quite sensitive about RAM—so I have a new 256 MB stick on the way. If that doesn't do it, I'm going back to 10.1.5.
Saturday, September 21
Friday, September 20
The folks at In Arguendo tipped me off to a report in Newsday that at least seven members of the New York Mets regularly smoke marijuana. It's tempting to view this as the source of the Mets' troubles. But the three players identified by name (and, in one case, by damning photograph)—Tony Tarasco, Mark Corey, and Grant Roberts—aren't exactly players on whom the Mets relied every day. Indeed, Corey was traded before the Mets' August collapse. (There is one regular outfielder who frequently plays defense and runs the bases as if he were stoned, but that could simply be because he has no idea how to play the game).
Regardless, this is one more indication that the folks in charge have lost control of the team. Eric McErlain (who found this story earlier in the day) suggests that owner Fred Wilpon may now finally be moved to take action. I'll go further and make the call explicitly: it's time for GM Steve Phillips and manager Bobby Valentine to go.
I'm just back from a fun-filled forty minutes in the garage underneath the law school. Unlike the old law school building, our new home—which is vastly superior in every other respect—lacks a basement. So the garage is the only retreat in the event of severe weather. And the weather today has been severe indeed, with tornadoes touching down in various places around the Indianapolis area.
It's late in the year for tornadoes. But this has been a screwy summer all around, absurdly hot and dry; it seems appropriate for the season to end in a blaze of glory.
(Title courtesy of Crowded House).
The vague hope I felt last week that, after the president's speech to the U.N., we were finally on our way to a sensible approach toward Iraq has evaporate. The administration's sullen response this week to Iraq's acceptance of unconditional inspections (dubious though that acceptance was) suggested that the U.N. speech was not a culminating step in a master plan, as some commentators seem to suggest, but rather represented the latest in a series of improvised and fundamentally dishonest steps in support of a predetermined policy. This makes me profoundly uneasy, even though I do believe that Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction raises serious concerns that must be addressed. Josh Marshall explained it well last night:
But let me discuss with you for a moment what I find the most difficult about this debate. The more ardent supporters of regime change lie a lot. I really don't know how else to put it. I'm not talking about disagreements over interpretation. I mean people saying things they either know to be false or have no reason to believe are true. Perhaps the word 'lie' is a very slight exaggeration. Perhaps it's better to say they have a marked propensity to assert as fact points for which there is virtually or absolutely no evidence. How's that?
Let's just take one example, one among many. In the proposed use of force resolution the president sent to Congress on Thursday it cites as one reason for war "the high risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so." Whether Iraq would give WMD to terrorists to use against the United States is debatable. But is there a high risk that Iraq will launch a surprise attack against the United States? Really? Is there any risk this will happen? Is it even conceivable that this will happen? I don't think anybody of sound mind seriously believes this. That doesn't mean that Iraq isn't a serious threat or that an Iraq with nuclear weapons is not an eventuality we cannot allow to come into being. But a surprise attack against the United States? It's not a serious statement.
So why is it there? I assume it is just there as one more throwaway line that has no relation to the truth but sounds good and ups the ante. And the carefree indifference to the truth that that sort of statement betrays is worrisome in the extreme -- even if it's said in the service of a goal you think we should pursue.
This approach to government—determine a policy, then offer a series of dishonest (or at best half-honest) rationales in support of the predetermined policy—is deeply corrosive in a democracy; it betrays utter disdain for the public. And, as others have observed, this approach has characterized the Bush administration from day one, from the tax cut on down. Rather than focusing on the fundamental dishonesty of the administration's methodology, however, the Washington Post today essentially celebrates its effectiveness. As Tim Dunlop notes today, the approach works only because the press's fascination with winners and losers rather than policy allows it.
The administration's approach is alarming in another respect as well: the president and his advisors seem indifferent to the larger consequences of their actions. We saw this with the tax cut. When opponents argued that the plan would cause the deficit to explode, the president simply asserted that it wouldn't. And when deficits did in fact return, the administration insisted that the tax cut had nothing to do with it, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
We're seeing the same thing with Iraq. It is quite clear that the administration intends to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It's not at all clear, however, what the administration envisions happening next. Indeed, at one point the administration suggested that it would not decide that question, but would leave it to the international community. That may have been a faint gesture toward multilateralism, but it came across as an abdication of responsibility. Unless we go in with a clear vision of the endgame and the aftermath, how dare we act unilaterally to throw Iraq into disarray?
I still retain some faint and fading hope that answers to these questions will be forthcoming. But I have no confidence. The administration has sought a remarkably open-ended resolution from Congress and has done so without laying out a systematic rationale for its plans or the precise ends that it hopes to achieve. Political reality will probably lead to the resolution's passage, and the press will once again note an administration victory. For all that, it still strikes me as a profoundly bad idea. I feel like I'm stuck on that rooftop in my dream, waiting for the bombs to fall.
Atrios has further thoughts on this subject.
Thursday, September 19
Many nights, as I'm giving Noah his evening bottle and putting him to bed, I find myself looking at him and hoping that, with all my moodiness and impatience, my human failings, I can nevertheless approach being the kind of parent that he deserves. A year ago I would have read Dawn Olsen's prayer for her daughter and comprehended at an intellectual level. But now I think I'm beginning to truly understand. And frankly I'm more than a little scared.
After six weeks of relative quiet, Israel suffered two suicide bombings in less than 24 hours. It's tempting to view these attacks as responses to the bombing of a Palestinian school by Israeli terrorists earlier this week. But it appears that the suicide bombings were in fact a response by either Hamas or Islamic Jihad to the PA's public denunciation of attacks within Israel, as well as an attempt to return the Palestinians' conflict with Israel to the forefront of the world's attention. That the mechanism chosen to gain the world's attention involved the death of innocent civilians, of course, speaks volumes about the nature of the cause sought to be promoted. And the fact that these bloody assaults took place only days after the IDF eased the curfews in the West Bank shows that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are still mired in a vicious, self-defeating approach.
So, from my point of view, having to deal with Ct. of Appeals judges day in and day out, I'd much rather have one who is smart and honest and pleasant (even if hard-right) than one whose best qualification is that he was the friend of the Republican Senator (or even of Gen. Rove). A good lawyer with a good argument can win in front of the smart and honest and pleasant one, at least sometimes. It's the close-to-dumb, completely knee-jerk ones, that are the real danger (and there are way too many of those) and should be opposed with all our might.
Sam's comments bring to mind Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit. At the time of his nomination a decade ago, Jacobs was a partner at Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett in New York; some regarded him as a rigid ideologue and his nomination as part of an effort to stock the court with hard-line conservatives. Once confirmed, however, Judge Jacobs proved to be an excellent judge; during 1994-95, when I was clerking for another Second Circuit judge, Judge Jacobs repeatedly impressed me not only with his sharp intellect but also with his open-mindedness. I frequently disagreed with his conclusions, but I came away from the year with respect for his fairness and integrity.
The fact that scholars from across the ideological spectrum, including some noted liberals, speak highly of Prof. McConnell suggests to me that, while his baseline views are more conservative than I would prefer, he is temperamentally and intellectually well-suited to be a judge—particularly on the Court of Appeals, where his more extreme tendencies would remain constrained by Supreme Court precedent. There are nomination battles that are worth fighting, but by all appearances this is not one.
Wednesday, September 18
A bunch of good stuff out there today:
Kevin Raybould and Avedon Carol comment on the odd revelation that the arrest of the suspected terrorist cell members in Buffalo was personally approved by President Bush. Kevin wonders why the president would be involved in such a decision, and Avedon elaborates:
This story is pretty spooky from top to bottom. The article cited says that Bush, "told agents to move ahead with arrests," "after briefings from the FBI and Justice Department," which some might take to mean that Justice needed presidential authority before doing so. Of course, this isn't true at all, or law-enforcement would grind to a complete halt. So why even ask him, unless the question is: We have no probable cause to arrest these guys, but can we do it anyway?
TalkLeft explains why the administration may need to choose between a secret military tribunal for captured Al Qaeda suspect Ramzi Binalshibh and pursuing the case against suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui.
It would be much better, I think, to have Presidents and Senators alike be honest about what's going on — conservative Presidents appointed conservative judges and liberal Senators vote against them. It's just like anything else — conservative Presidents propose conservative legislation and liberal Senators vote against it. If the liberals have enough votes to block the conservatives, then the conservatives have two choices — one, they can compromise, or two they can try to elect more conservative Senators so they can win next time around. It's not a pretty process, but it's the way legislatures work.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today holds confirmation hearings on the nomination of Prof. Michael McConnell to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The hearings once again bring to the fore the issue of what role, if any, a nominee's ideology should play in the confirmation process. Prof. McConnell is an outspoken critic of Roe v. Wade, which he has described as "illegitimate" and "an embarrassment," and his views on church-state issues have generated opposition from liberal interest groups as well.
Despite the opposition of these groups, I fully expect Prof. McConnell's nomination to win majority support in the Judiciary Committee and advance to the full Senate. As the New York Times notes this morning, Prof. McConnell has the support of a large number of constitutional scholars spanning the ideological spectrum, including influential liberals like Profs. Laurence Tribe and Cass Sunstein.
This does not mean, however, that consideration of Prof. McConnell's (or any other nominee's) ideiology is illegitimate,however. Indeed, Prof. Douglas Laycock argues persuasively in a New York Times op-ed today that open consideration of ideology should be at the center of the confirmation process. When the presidency is held by one party and the Senate by the other, political differences over nominees are virtually inevitable. President Bush, who promised repeatedly during the campaign to be a "uniter, not a divider," and who became president based on a handful of votes in a disputed election, has put forward a sharply conservative slate of judicial nominees, as if he had won a mandate to stack the judiciary with ideological conservatives for decades to come. No such mandate exists, and Senate Democrats are well within their rights to raise questions about the nominees. And, as Prof. Laycock writes, "if senators doubt their authority to debate a nominee's legal views openly, or are reluctant to do so, we get guerrilla warfare: exaggerated or trumped-up ethics charges and stubborn refusals to consider nominations at all." Better to have an open, honest debate—at least, to the extent such a thing is possible in the United States Senate.
Prof. McConnell's nomination has been pending now for more than a year; it's about time the Judiciary Committee moved forward on it. One of the most shameful stances of the Republican Senate during the Clinton administration was its obstruction of Clinton's judicial nominees, many of whom waited years for hearings, only to see their nominations expire without action when George Bush became president. But the Judiciary Committee should not act as a simple rubber stamp, either. Prof. McConnell's opposition to Roe v. Wade should not disqualify him—whatever his view of the opinion, as an appellate judge he would be duty-bound to respect it as Supreme Court precedent. But, while the Supreme Court of course has the last word, appellate judges play a vital role in developing the law, and it's entirely fair for the Senate to consider how Prof. McConnell's ideology, or any nominee's ideology, would affect the nominee's performance of that role.
Congratulations, by the way, to Howard Bashman, whose How Appealing received its 100,000th visit this morning. That's a fairly astounding total for a four-month period, especially for a blog dedicated to the relatively esoteric subject of appellate litigation. Howard's ability to write clearly, accessibly, and entertainingly about complex subjects has made How Appealing a valuable resource for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
Tuesday, September 17
Damn them. Damn them! This is intolerable. It would have been intolerable (though at some awful level understandable) had it come at the height of the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign last spring. It is especially intolerable now, coming as it does during a period of relative tranquility—a period that this appalling act has no doubt brought to an end. If Israel wants to have the moral authority to insist that the PA crack down on Palestinian terrorism, it simply must come down hard—very hard—on these Israeli terrorists.
(Link via Charles Johnson).
Last night I dreamed that I was standing on a rooftop in New York, surrounded by family, watching missiles and military aircraft slam into buildings, waiting to die. I didn't, of course; I woke up. But I know I'll dream again.
The Indianapolis Colts' home opener on Sunday had a sour edge, and not just because the Colts lost, 21-13, to the Miami Dolphins. In addition to the loss of the game, Indianapolis faces the very real possibility of losing the Colts, perhaps as early as next season. The Colts fall into the bottom half of the NFL in terms of local revenue (which is not shared under the NFL's revenue-sharing plan), with few prospects for increasing those revenues in the near future. And the large Los Angeles market is beckoning.
This is, by my recollection, the third time the Colts have threatened to bolt since I arrived in Indianapolis in 1996. Indeed, if not for the excitement generated by the magical 1995 run, which ended with a failed hail-Mary pass in the AFC Championship Game, the Colts probably would have become the Cleveland Browns (and the Baltimore Ravens would have restored the Colts name to what is arguably its rightful place). The immediate problem is the deal the city and the Colts signed the last time a move was threatened: the Colts were given the option of leaving if local revenues fell below the league median for two out of three years before 2006. The city retained the option of making up the difference between actual local revenues received and the league median, and thus requiring the Colts to stay put. The city now pays the Colts about $12.5 million per year, derived in part from restaurant and hotel taxes, and to keep the team payments may need to increase next year by $10 million or more. Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson is attempting to remain upbeat, but the recession's blow to tax revenues has not left Indianapolis unscathed, and local taxpayers are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a tax increase to subsidize a private business, even one as visible and popular as the Colts.
The Colts' problems show that the struggles of small-market teams are not limited to Major League Baseball. The RCA Dome, where the Colts play, seats 56,127, with 104 luxury suites and 4,228 club seats. The stadium is among the smallest in the NFL. But a new stadium, even if the city would help pay for one, is not necessarily the answer, because there's a real question about whether the Colts could draw larger crowds and sell more luxury suites in this market. Indianapolis's economy isn't in terrible shape, but with Eli Lilly and Company (the 800-pound gorilla that drives the local economy) the subject of periodic takeover and merger rumors and insurance giant Conseco teetering on the brink of bankruptcy—and with the other largest employers in the city being the state government and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, entities unlikely to invest heavily in luxury suites—the prospects for enhanced luxury suite revenue are not great. And while the Colts have now sold out a significant number of consecutive home games, the season ticket base remains below 40,000. Indianapolis is the 28th-largest metropolitan area in the country, and while it's growing, that growth probably isn't substantial enough to create large new revenue sources for the Colts. Thus, it seems inevitable that the Colts will be in the bottom half of the league (and maybe the bottom quarter) in local revenue, unless the city diverts significant new tax revenues into owner Jim Irsay's pockets.
Los Angeles is not a sure thing: the region was abandoned by both the Raiders and the Rams in the mid-1990s, in each case for smaller markets. But then, the only market larger than Los Angeles is New York. LA offers a potential upside that Indianapolis cannot hope to match. There may be some poetic justice, given the shameful way the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis in 1984, but Indy may not have the Colts for much longer.
Monday, September 16
The administration has already rejected Iraq's agreement to unconditional inspections. The issue, the White House statement says, is no longer inspections; it is disarmament. And how is disarmament to be secured and discerned in the absence of inspections? The statement doesn't say, but it's pretty clear that regime change is still the goal.
I'm in the midst of trying to catch up with some work, so I don't have time to think this through as well as I'd like, but it seems to me that the administration is once again overplaying its hand. The White House statement implies (though it does not explicitly state) that Iraq cannot adequately comply with Security Council resolutions as long as Hussein is in power. That may well be true. Certainly, the administration's hawks believe it to be true, to the limited extent they care at all about Security Council resolutions. But the case against Iraq would be significantly stronger if we were to demand a in inspections regime in which Iraq had no say over who the inspectors were, where they went and when, what they saw, and how long they took. If Iraq balked at such a regime, as I suspect they would in short order, the case for firm action would be strong. By not even allowing a limited period of time for an inspection demand to be made, the administration risks losing the support that had begun to gather.
Iraq has agreed to the unconditional return of weapons inspectors. The Associated Press reports this as a "stunning tunabout," but, turnabout though it may be, I don't think anybody should be surprised. In the wake of President Bush's speech to the U.N. last week, the world—including the Arab world—had begun to line up against Iraq. Iraq thus faced a choice: brazen defiance, which would produce an invasion in short order, or agreement to the return of the inspectors. Given that Saddam Hussein's first instinct is always his own survival, it's to be expected that he would choose the latter option.
But of course the devil is in the details, because Iraq's notion of "unconditional" inspections is likely to be very different from the Bush administration's. I'll reserve further comment until I see more details, but I have a feeling things are going to get messy.
Sunday, September 15
In many ways, I'm not a particularly good Jew. Sure, I don't eat ham and cheese sandwiches or shrimp cocktail, but on the other hand I set foot in synagogue perhaps two or three times per year. But Yom Kippur, which starts tonight, is one of the times when I make a real effort. From sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow, I'll be fasting and seeking forgiveness from those I have wronged in the past year. Blogging will resume either tomorrow night or, more likely, Tuesday.
In the meantime, in these Days of Awe, it seems appropriate to remember Shiri Negari, a 22-year-old Israeli who was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber in June. The New York Times did a remarkable job over the past year in memorializing each of the victims of September 11; Shiri's family is determined that she, too, be remembered as a human being, not simply as a statistic, and has asked bloggers to link to Shiri's site. Ted Barlow did so yesterday, and today I'm following suit.
Dehlinger Goldridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) 1996
Thanks to a little stomach problem, I didn't post a wine of the week last week. But the one I had selected was a good one, so I'll write about it now. If I could drink wines from only one winery for the rest of my life, it might well be Dehlinger. I'm not much for white wine generally, but Dehlinger makes an excellent Chardonnay that keeps the oak in careful balance. The winery also produces several Cabernet-based wines and a super Syrah. But the winery's crowning glory is its stable of Pinot Noirs. The 1996 Goldridge Vineyard is an excellent example of what Dehlinger does right: it offers great concentration, but still allows the subtle nuances of great Pinot Noir to shine through. Too many California Pinot Noirs historically have gone for power over nuance; this one gets the balance right. My wife and I drank the 1996 Goldridge three years ago on our honeymoon, when it had just been released; it's still quite youthful, but absolutely delicious.
August was a record month for traffic at Cooped Up, and September is now on track to pass August. A substantial amount of this traffic is due to links from the Powers That Be: the day after I wrote about my troubles with Mac OS X 10.2, for example, I received nearly 3,500 hits, almost all coming from a link by Glenn Reynolds. I spent the day staring in slack-jawed awe as my counter spun out of control. Perhaps more remarkable, though, are days like last Wednesday and Thursday, when I had over three hundred visitors per day despite receiving hardly any links to individual posts. The visitors were coming either from their own bookmarks or from other bloggers' blogrolls. Back in late June, I was getting about forty such visits per day; by late July, the number had increased to about 150, and by mid-August it was regularly over 200. While I'm still a pretty small fish, I seem somehow to have become a reasonably well established small fish.
All of which creates something of a dilemma as I contemplate revising my blogroll. Blogging, after all, is founded on links—this site would have remained a private journal were it not for early links from Eugene Volokh, Matthew Yglesias, and Jeff Goldstein. Glenn Reynolds also has proved remarkably generous with links despite my occasional jabs in his direction. And I quickly fell in with a group of bloggers, many of whom began their blogs at about the same time I did—Eric McErlain, Howard Bashman, Jason Rylander, and Ann Salisbury, among others.
I continue to discover terrific blogs, some that have been around for awhile like Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Tim Dunlop's The Road to Surfdom, and Michael Pine's Off the Pine, and some that are brand new, such as William Burton's eponymous site. The blogroll, however, has now become quite large, and I'm faced with a quandary. When I started out, I had a fairly arrogant attitude toward my links—I would only link to a small number of sites that I found especially worthy. That attitude, however, clashed with the frustration I felt at being unable to gain the attention of the established powers—you know, the folks who had been blogging since February or March, or in some instances all the way back to 2001. With Cooped Up entering its fifth month, however, I now practically qualify as an old-timer myself; it would be thoroughly hypocritical if I were to declare the blogroll closed on the ground of size.
On the other hand, a large, undifferentiated blogroll isn't particularly useful (except perhaps on a site like Instapundit, which for many serves a front page to the blogosphere). Like most bloggers, I use my blogroll as a way of bookmarking sites I want to visit regularly. I haven't been able to come up with a way of splitting up the blogroll, however. For the past week or so, I subdivided the category of "regular reads," but I was never really comfortable with it, and a few people expressed displeasure with their perceived demotion, so I've undone it. The list of "regular reads" is quite long as a result, but I do try to visit these sites on a regular basis, even though I can''t manage to read them all daily.
I do have a few topical subcategories that have been updated, foremost among them categories relating to law schools. Blogging appears to be catching on in legal academia. Evidence may be found in the addition of a legal news blog to the front page of JURIST, the legal education site run by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. JURIST also features a blog devoted to evidence issues by Cardozo Law School Professor Peter Tillers. And weighing in from Australia is Ken Parish. I've also discovered more law students with blogs, including Paul Gutman and 1Ls Andrew Raff, Nikki, Esq., Matt of Retrorocket, JCA of Sua Sponte, and the anonymous author of Waddling Thunder. Good luck, folks.
I've also added a couple of other academic-types. Foremost among these is Antidotal, a terrific group blog headed by Yale graduate student Eric Tam. Eric has suffered a family loss and is currently tending to matters more important than his blog, but I eagerly await his return. I'm also keeping an eye on Ambivalent Imbroglio, a blog by a frustrated graduate student in English who is contemplating law school, and a strong new blog by Northwest Missouri State history professor Thomas Spencer.
Now that I've revealed myself as a Mac user, I'm adding a couple of Mac-related blogs to the roll. First is Ken Bereskin's Radio Weblog, which I found by way of John Weidner's Random Jottings (I'd blogroll John's site as well, if not for the fact that substantial portions of it are given over to an unhealthy obsession with economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman). Ken apparently is Apple's project manager for OS X; I'm trying to resist the temptation to seek his advice for my ongoing problems with Jaguar. Brian Tiemann isn't directly affiliated with Apple, but he offers terrific commentary on Mac-related issues and developments.
I still have a category of reciprocal links. I explained once before, in a post that has inexplicably disappeared from my archives, that this category was meant to include sites that linked to me but that, because of my own quirky and fallible tastes, I did not find myself visiting on a regular basis, as well as sites with new links to me that I was still exploring. I emphasize that sites in this category are not unworthy of attention—some of them contain terrific material, in fact—but because no one is willing to pay me to read blogs full-time, because time is a scarce resource, and because of my own idiosyncratic tastes, I simply don't read them all that often. Others, no doubt, will respond differently, and I provide links to these blogs in the hope that they will find new readers.
By the way, the post that disappeared had a picture of my son, Noah. As I said in that post, Cooped Up requires a picture of the Peanut, and since the first one has disappeared, corrective action is required. I won't simply repost the old picture, however. In part that's because six weeks have passed; in part, it's because the previous picture—showing Noah in a Mets uniform—led some people to wonder if Child Protective Services should be called, since, by encouraging an affiliation with a miserable baseball team, I was clearly not acting in his best interests. I want to assure everyone that Noah has not worn his Mets uniform since the team embarked on its disastrous home losing streak at the end of July.
The New York Times Magazine has a long and deeply sad story today about Billy Joel. Joel's music has always had an edge of anger and sorrow, and he wrote one of the saddest love songs ever, "And So It Goes," from Storm Front:
And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon, I suppose.
But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break.
Anyone who has been hurt, and who has erected internal barriers against such pain, will recognize the sentiment. Joel is of course an artist, and not every sentiment expressed in an artist's work reflects the artist's true feelings. But this one seems to be truly heartfelt, and for all his wealth and fame Joel seems in important ways a broken man.
(Link via Craig Newmark).