Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Joke of Impartiality

My father is a lawyer. I have neighbors and friends who are lawyers and teach in law schools. My office "next door neighbor" is a lawyer. Some of my best friends........seriously, yes some of my best friends are lawyers. And if there's one thing I know from all of them, it's that they don't think, for one second, that any judge is "impartial" whatever that means.

Any good trial lawyer tries to get sympathetic judges and juries. Any good appellate lawyer tries to appeal to the predispositions of the appellate judges. And the reason the Founders set up a complicated selection process for the Supreme Court and judiciary wasn't, in my view, by accident. They understood that judges were never going to be "above the law" or "impartial."

The Founders had a very sophisticated understanding of law. Hell, read the damn Declaration of Independence. It reads like a legal brief. These guys weren't dumb or inexperienced in the law. John Adams cut his teeth as a lawyer, and they all had read Blackstone. They understood that "good" law should put some constraints on the arbitrary nature of power, but it wasn't perfect or sufficient to eliminate the risks to libery. They also understood that democratic politics had to be allowed to modify the course of government.

So it is with great pleasure that I tell the Left to seriously defend Sotomayor's argument that white judges reach "bad" decisions compared to Latinas. And to the Right I ask you how you can narrowly define "racism" as any generalization based on race when the term comes loaded with the experience of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, bigotry, and racial profiling? I ask the Left how its "post racial" President can play identity politics? I ask the Right why a bunch of white guys, fat white guys no less, are the ones crying foul here? If they are so racially progressive, where are the hordes of black and Latino Republicans defending limited views of the judiciary?

You can't separate law from politics. You also shouldn't equate the two. It seems to me she's an OK, not great judge, who fit a profile in a highly politicized decision. It also seems to me that using the "racism" card against her won't hurt the GOP in NASCAR country. For Obama, she's a bone to the Latino community, which both sides need to win this election. And it's not at all clear that most people even know who she is, let alone Latinos.

The problem is that there are no, universally agreed upon "GREAT" judges. They are not like baseball players or doctors. They are more like painters - you either like their work or you don't. You either agree with the outcomes and laud them, or you don't like the outcomes and call them "activists" or "closed minded" and you take you fight to other political arenas.

Mrs. Fundman and I got into a huge fight about her the other night, and that tells me something else - I'm going to be doing dishes for a while and agreeing with her more. That's probably the best thing that's come out of this.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Case You Had Forgotten

Because I certainly had, it's been 20 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacres in China. This piece in the UK's Prospect does a nice job reflecting on what's happened since.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Much is Too Much

I am old enough to remember the phrase "above the fold" which means the stuff in an old fashion print newspaper that was on top of the front page. Honestly I'm not sure if the same stuff holds for today's online media but this afternoon's New York Times webpage "above the median screen line?" is featuring a story about how, apparently, Bill Clinton has run out of interns to sleep with. The headline reads (I shit you not) "The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton." (You can do your own spit take at that title)

In the meantime well "below the fold/median line" on its webpage is a short piece sort of dismissing the reason why the Dow dumped about 173 points today -- concerns that the U.S. government's credit rating could tumble because we're borrowing too much damn money. In that piece the author claims that the Treasury's auction of 5 year notes was "better than analysts had expected."

Ummmm, look, I'm not some sophisticated business reporter with lots of experience at the New York Times, so maybe I'm slow, but when I glance at the bond market reports from basic economic data sites like CNNMoney today, I guess those analysts must have been predicting Jon and Kate winning "Parents of the Year" for things to be "better than analysts had expected."

I mean, the sales of 2 year notes were ok, and 5 year notes were "sluggish." Wanna know why? Because anybody with a basic understanding of what's going on understands that we are going to get a shitstorm of inflation - lots of it. And no reasonable bond holder is going to take notes from the U.S. government and hold them for 5 years and get paid like less than 3% unless they have to. When you consider that not many people have that much money to lend the government, and you have one conclusion -- the Feds will have to offer much higher rates of return to attract buyers.

Oh, and don't for one minute think this little report about how Moody's called the U.S.'s credit rating "stable." These were the same people who called subprime mortgages, and probably Edmund Andrew's wife for that matter, AAA rated.

I don't make predictions often (and don't ask Mrs. Fundman to confirm that), but I'm betting that the FreeCreditReport will begin running a bunch of ads with President Obama in them. He'll be living in his parent's basement complaining about how his credit score allowed the Chinese to foreclose on the White House. Or maybe he'll have to take a side job at a Renaissance Fair..........

Apologies, Excuses, Shameless Deflection of Blame

No, I was not in jail. No, the former head of NOW did not try to hunt me down for my earlier post on her. I did not join either one of those odious two parties.

Simply put, I had a massive work deadline that ended about three weeks ago, and then the Fund family went on vacation............the rest was just me figuring out what to say and working on another writing project.

Many thanks to d.eris for kicking me over the weekend. In the end, nagging is probably the best medicine for lazy bloggers.

It's nice to be back.