Saturday, April 30, 2005

Journalism?

http://nytimes.com/2005/04/30/politics/30plan.html?hp&ex=1114833600&en=2d9bb090191a6cd1&ei=5094&partner=homepage

The link is a NYTimes article. I am having a harder time getting through articles than I have had in a while. I mean if you are halfway intelligent and you listened to President Bush's speech at the news conference last night you would realize that nobody is having benefits cuts. But the NYTimes says that he is making major cuts to the middle class and the NYTimes would never mislead me. Get used to it. He is slowing down the rate of growth for the middle and upper class and shifting that growth to the lower class. Cutting down the rate of growth is not cutting benefits. Also with the slower rate of growth the personal accounts would more than make up the difference. I just don't get why the NYTimes has to spout out the democrat's talking points. It just doesn't make any sense. I hear Nancy Pelosi give her spin and then that night the NYTimes is copying her almost verbatim.

Now don't just think this is an attack on the left. No there are plenty of journalists that just spout out the republican's talking points. I remember when we used to be fooled into thinking that journalists were independant and would report what they saw and give no bias. Those days are over. Where it really bothers me is when I see an event, the press conference last night, and I can tell you before anything is printed which newspapers will support it and which newspapers will say that it is just creating more partisanship. It is ridiculous and I think it is a big reason of why newspapers are losing huge numbers in circulation. Also the internet has to play a part in this, but if the newspapers were better then people would be reading them.

Lastly I have yet to hear an actual alternative to Bush's plan. I like his plan and I think it is a good idea. It is the plan that the federal government gives to its own employees. I don't really understand why people oppose this. Most likely this is because in politics lately there is no concern given to the people. Politicians just don't want to see the other side do something good. Even if it hurts their own constituents they don't want the other side to say look what we did for you. I think it is ridiculous. I think the real starting point was this years election. I can't help but remember hearing tons of people saying that they don't care who else is in there but they just don't want Bush. They were voting not for another person but against Bush. You can't create a political theory based on the 'not the other guy' platform. Then all you end up doing is opposing everything they put forth and spend little to no time putting forth your own ideas. I also think it is funny when you have a poll where 70 some percent say they think social security won't be there for them when they retire and then the same people are opposed to changing the program. Two conclusions. Either those people are just dumb, or the questions asked are leading. Imagine that journalists coming in again and pushing things their own way. I gotta stop writing and get back to studying. It makes it easier to study when you don't want to watch the news. pretty soon my 1L year will be over. that is good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More about purchase rights

I think that the comments were on to something. When I was writing that post I was searching to the ends of the earth to try and justify my position and the more I thought about it the harder it was to justify and in the end it is just plain wrong. Where it fails is exactly what was pointed out. No buyer would want to have you making a profit by making it tougher to sell their bag. If they did give you this 'right to purchase' it would not be an unqualified right. It would be more like an easement. Yes you have it and you can use it to buy the bag, but you can't let someone else use it. In other words your right to buy is limited. It is only a right to buy. Also there is a problem about selling the right. She pointed out in the comments that 'there is only one (bag)'. Also once you sell your right to buy you still have the right to buy because you can't really sell it. I don't think my point is coming across quite clearly, but the main point is that you don't have a right to grab bags and make others pay. I think the store would be well in their rights to chuck anyone they saw doing this. I would imagine it does happen on occasion.

That brings us to I think another point. The point about selling water at higher prices after a hurricane. Sabrina says it is 'ethically vapid' to take advantage of someone in this manner. I am not so sure about that. I think when you use the water hurricane example it definitely is morally wrong. The hard part about the argument is because it is situational. Is it 'ethically vapid' to buy a property that is highly sought after for the sole purpose of waiting until it is worth more to sell it? I think not. Yet this is nearly the same situation. The difference being if a person needed the water to live. Let's assume they don't and they will be fine, but water has just become a hot commodity. We have to assume this because nobody needs a Kade Spade bag in order to survive. I think the statement that it is 'ethically vapid' to acquire something that is in high demand for the sole purpose of reselling it is wrong. If this were so then the stock market would be ethically defunct. You buy on speculation hoping it will be in higher demand and then you sell. I guess the question is whether the store situation is more like the hurricane water or the stock market.

I personally think it is more like the stock market and I think the way these sales are conducted by people like Kate Spade invite this type of activity. They come out with a box and dump it out and let whomever can grab on to it get it. It creates an atmoshpere of limited supply and high demand. It also creates a first in time first in right atmosphere. If they didn't sell this way then you wouldn't be able to do this. For instance if someone in a regular store tells me they'll let me buy the particular shirt they are holding I will laugh at them and then walk over to the rack and grab one in my size and buy it. It is sort of a what did you expect argument. The reason I think this argument holds is the fact that they create this fervor over their product. They send out promotionals that uplay the elbowing and 'grab it first' and 'fight it out' mentality. If I put a bunch of bees in a box and then shake the box like hell then I expect them to come out stinging.

In the end the original thought was that there was a right to sell. There is no right. So it is not necessarily right, but I wouldn't go as far as saying it was wrong or 'ethically vapid'. I think there are situations where this exact behavior is morally reprehensible and there are different situations where the behavior is perfectly acceptable. I don't draw the line at this. Remember though that I would personally hold myself to a higher ethical standard. I don't draw the line in so far as I wouldn't punish the behavior, but I also wouldn't personally endorse the behavior. Drawing lines of where something is ethical at the boundaries is far different from a statement proclaiming the acts to be worthy of praise or something to be imitated.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Buyer's Rights?

So my friends were having this conversation at school. They are going to this sale where some designer plops stuff out and it is cheaper than it usually is. Apparently they bring out boxes and it is sort of a 'if you grab it you got it' type deal. Apparently there is rampant elbowing and pushing and the like going on. Also apparently if someone sees that you have what they want they will follow you around hoping you put it down. I then suggested that you could make money by grabbing stuff and if someone is following you around waiting and hoping that you put it down then you sell them the right to buy this.
I was immediately called out for being truly unethical and basically an all around horrible person for suggesting this. I like to think of it as entrepreurial genius. They said that you have no right to do this until you actually purchase the said product and want to sell it. Here is what I think. From the start the designer is offering these products as first come first serve. So whomever picks it up first can then walk to the register and purchase it. You have acquired, by picking up the product, the right to purchase it. You can then sell that right to purchase to another shopper. You are not selling the product because you don't own it. You are merely selling your right to purchase, which you have the right to do.
I think it is fairly analagous to the legal situation of someone who steals something. The person who has stolen the item has a right to keep you from stealing it even though the person that actually owns it can take it from them no problem. They have a superior right over you even though someone has a superior right over them.
I know it is not exactly analogous, but I think this helps us frame the issue. Yes until you actually purchase it you have no right to resell it, and often when you buy things you don't actually buy the right of resale. Either way the owner of the items puts them in the stores and says the first to pick it up can take it to the register and buy it. The reason it is so important is because there is a limited stock. It is not like in a regular store where there are 30 more items hanging on the shelves. Here there is a limited variety so when you pick it up and gain that right to buy you have a right to sell that right. I think this is a recognized property right and it is perfectly ethical to do this.
I know people will disagree, but think of it like this. What if you were walking around with an item in hand and someone comes up to you and proffers 20 dollars if you will hand them the item? This is the same situation except that they are initiating the sale instead of you. You have the right to say no as do they if you offer them the same deal. Ethically there is nothing wrong with it. Once that right is created then you can sell that right and it is ethically sound.
The obvious argument against this will be that you don't have the right. The problem with this is that it is wrong. Otherwise you couldn't buy the item. There are more nuanced arguments saying that all you have is possession and the right not to be harmed. These together keep people from taking the item from you. I would say that you have a right. Anyone has a right to buy, but there right is not qualified until they pick up the item. Then they have the right to buy plus possession. This means their right to buy is now worth something because they have possession and they can sell that right. I can't think of anything ethically wrong with selling a right. We do it all the time. One easy property example is someone selling an easement. That is selling a right.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

2 things

First, I am going to try and not talk about religion as much or at all. It is a hot button issue and I feel, from the response, that my message was getting lost and that was probably my fault because of my unclear writing so I will leave those issues for somebody else to discuss.

Second, I was dissapointed that the Supreme Court didn't give its opinion in Aschroft v. Raich today. I have read a good bit on that and I read the oral arguments and they were really good (in a dorky I like the commerce clause litigation sort of way). I can honestly say that I have no clue what I think the outcome will be. I know what I think it should be, but it puts forth a neat dynamic. It'll be interesting to see the answer and I have been waiting patiently for a long time.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

On to a new issue

First i'd like to thank my co-blawger for bringing up good counter points. Debating the issue ad naseum will be left up to others in another forum or the comments section because I am moving on to a new issue.
This issue is the media and the election of a new Pope. All I hear in the media is that the new Pope needs to be more progressive and less traditional and has to open up the Catholic Church to new ideas and new thinking. I particularly do not like this at all. There is one book and one set of rules that the Catholic Chruch follows. They follow the Bible and the teachings of Christ. I don't want to get into the particular issues, but I just think that the Catholic Church will follow those teachings and to try and get it to change is a bit ridiculous.
I know that some of the practices and procedure come from different leaders from the Church and are not central to its teachings, but in the end I don't think the Catholic Church has the same goals in the minds of the media. To me the media seems to think that the Catholic Church has to worry about numbers. Let us not forgot that under John Paul II the Church has grown in size. Also the Church's mission is to save people. They are not interested in changing some rules so that some more people are happy calling themselves Catholics. They are interested in people becoming good Christians and following God's words. I just don't think mainstream media really gets this.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

My Rebuttal

"Polite society should strive for higher standards and should reject gutteral attempts to degrade and shock."
- Andrew

Some thoughts on this statement:

1) What "polite society" are we referring to? Is it the same polite society where a U.S. Senator likens sex between consenting adults who are of the same sex to incest (Rick Santorum re: Lawrence v. Texas, asserting that if the court struck down the law banning sex between homosexuals "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything"). Or the one where the nation's president implies that non-traditional families are less "moral" than nuclear families in his State of the Union address?

2) Shock can be a good way for people to realize there is a need for change. Sometimes shock is a way to jolt us into a different perspective, even for a moment, to realize that where we're at and where we've been going may not be what we really want. Shock can be an effective tool to drive home a more subtle point; it may make you stop and think "why does that message mean so much to someone that he would deliver it in that manner." Shock is how you get people talking about little pondered issues while huddled around the water cooler.

3) Whose "higher standards" are we striving for? The higher standards of empirical science and strongly demonstrated mechanisms of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology? Or "higher standards" in the divine sense where the standards are so elevated that they cannot be brought down by something as pithy as the theory of evolution or "arguments" that the Holocaust really occurred?

I do agree that the comment Mr. Brendt made was rude and did not show deference to such an esteemed member of our nation's judiciary. At the very least, it made for a very uncomfortable situation for many who were trying to impress Justice Scalia in hopes of earning a clerkship in the high court. However, I commend Mr. Brendt for his commitment to his belief and his acumen in illustrating, although lost in the controversy, a good point - the way two consenting adults choose to be intimate is not an issue for a public forum such as a Q & A session at NYU, let alone the legislation.

As an aside, I am an NYU alum and made-it through four years of walk-outs protesting the war, sit-ins against the military’s biased recruiting practices for the JAG core, marches against abortion, rallies for equal protection of Muslims after 9/11, petitions criticizing President John Sexton's investment of university proceeds in mutual funds connected to prison industries, and letter-writing campaigns to local papers protesting the university's hiring of non-union contractors. While I was not involved and am pretty apolitical, all this definitely made for a very rich, very rewarding, and very enlightening college experience. I am not surprised this "degrading and shocking" event took place at NYU, especially since the university is more than supportive of the free exchange of ideas.

E-Mail clarification

I received an e-mail from a reader. Even though it wasn't a happy e-mail it makes me happy that somebody is out there reading. The point of this post is that clarification is in order. The e-mail basically talked about restricting freedoms and how bad that was. I agree with the e-mail and I think there is a fine line between security and freedom and we should pick freedom as often as humanly possible. What I was advocating in my last post is social repulsion. I don't think the government should be involved at all. The student's remarks were perfectly legal. I just think we should not socially condone this behavior. NYU is a private school and as thus can set standards of behavior that are above government standards. This is perfectly legal. Also private firms should not want to have somone work fo them who cannot follow society's normal etiquette. Again what this student said was perfectly legal and he does have a right to say it. I am advocating that polite society, not government, should reject this behavior. I guess what I am looking for is NYU, not a government entity, to say that yes student you have a right to say this, but as a private school we will not allow you to act in a manner that the situation does not accord. We will expect you to live up to a certain standard of behavior at our functions. This is not the government restricting this person's freedom or liberty it is just a private organization saying that you have to act like an adult if you don't want to eat at the kiddie table. Polite society should strive for higher standards and should reject gutteral attempts to degrade and shock. let's not forgot that this person's stated goals were to 'dehumanize and embarass' Justice Scalia.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Scalia at NYU

You can find a reference of the events I am talking about here http://volokh.com/posts/1113585884.shtml

This is just terrible I think. I have heard a lot of discussion about this and it just seems to go in the wrong direction to me. There should be a minimum amount of civility that one has. There are certain things you just don't do. This is one of them. I understand that this individual may have very strong feelings that Justice Scalia was incorrect in his dissent in Texas v. Johnson, but that in no way makes this behavior acceptable. One would think that an educated person that is bright enough to get into NYU Law would understand that this doesn nothing for his cause. Yes it gets him and his cause discussed, but it hurts his cause at best by victimizing the person he is against. I feel sorry for the people that brought Scalia to NYU to get an award. Apparently (in one of the comments to volokh.com's post one person said he was present and had talked to people on the committe that brought and honored Scalia) they were completely embarrassed. I understand dissent and I understand not liking someone's views, but there is a common level of decency that should be adhered to.
I can only hope that this person has a hard time getting a job. I know that is harsh from one statement, but think about having this person advocating for your clients. You may say that he knows 'shock value' and can bring attention to your case, but it is all negative attention. I imagine if he had asked an eloquent questioned that shook up Justice Scalia then it would be getting press (admittedly not as much) and it would do good things for his cause. I know that if he came into my office I would immediately send him packing. I would be afraid that he would yell at a judge causing my firm embarrassment and possibly fines. I dont' think this is the way you want to make a name for yourself in your legal community.
I don't know. I just don't like this at all. I think it stains NYU's reputation and this particular person's reputation. I think we should not forgot that we represent not only ourselves, but those of us that we associate with. I am done with this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Crazy people on the corner

Yeah so I think there is a correlation between nice weather and crazies. Apparently I am the 'white devil' or at least that is what the group on the corner was saying. Also the crazies in front of the municipal building have been showing up a few times. It seems that they go away for the winter. Oh well I guess they will be making our lives more colorful for the time being. As soon as this finals stuff is over i'd like to post about first year of law school and also some supreme court stuff. I'll have at least a week off (maybe more if this job thing doesn't kick in to gear) and I will be able to some substantive posts that actually mean something. Also I will be able to go out and experience things and this city always makes for some good stories. Things like getting in fights with police barricades.

Hold your horses...

I'm joining, i'm joining...simma! Finals are around the corner and my self-diagnosed adult ADD and semester-long apathy and procrastination are catching up with me, so no offense, but blogging hasn't been high up there on my list. Adding insult to laziness, the "Lost First Post" was also rather discouraging. But do not fear, Kind Gentleman from VA, all is not lost. I am here. And P.S. -- I managed to respond to one of your posts before the dreaded server crash.

Here's a random "I have class in a few minutes but I was thinking" rant:

I am a Hugo Black fan and believe that "An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is" a "minimum guarantee of the First Amendment." I also think that "Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they express, or the words they speak or write." Further, I am an advocate of informed discussion and the free exchange of ideas; I do feel that education and discovery about ourselves and our world diminishes without exercise of the ideals of the First Amendment. However, don't I have a right not to hear religious fanatics on the street corner telling me that I am a sinner and that I am going to hell? Is it possible that we have a right not to have Jehovah's Witnesses knock on our door trying to save us? I mean, really, why should I have to chose between pulling the curtains shut and hiding behind my couch and being an ass and saying "I'm sorry, I'm happy with my views on life and religion and don't want to hear your religious banter in my home, especially since I think birthdays and Christmas are great. Please LEAVE."

Next up -- Junk mail. Why?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Quick Question and an Update

First lets dispense with the update. My friend may or may not join this blawg. She tried with an apparently long and particularly provocative (I haven't read it, but I am sure it was) post that failed to post. I have had problems with this server and I hope that this will not discourage her.
Now on to the quick question. Do you think that the law profession has always, or even is, dominated by one or several undergraduate majors? As far as I can tell there is an abundance of political science majors in law school. There also seems to be a high number of english and philosophy majors, but I think political science takes the cake. Our undergraduate majors effect how we think. I think as a general point one could conced that a political scientist and an engineer may have a different way of looking at the same problem. I know that when I make decisions I can sometimes see direct correlations between the decision I made and some mode of decision making that I learned in college.
The reason I am wondering about this at this particular time is that I just finished reading about natural law and judges. It seems that many judges are putting their feelings on natural law into the Constitution. As someone who has had a decent bit of philosophy in their life I see a huge danger in this beginning with the fact that the natural law is something you philosophically come to personally. There is no accepted natural law and I think a Christian and a Jew will both tell you the innate differences in their conceptions of what the natural law is. Instead of thinking the harder question I was wondering if judges were using natural law because of a more philosophically based background that would lead them to think in terms of using a natural law. Just a thought and to take it past here the thought would diverge into many others and become quite hard to track in short blawg form. Oh well.

Friday, April 08, 2005

New Memeber

Sabrina has finally (jk) decided to sign up to write on here. In fact she wrote one post, but it didn't make it on. We are working on changing this and also the title might change and a couple other things. Generally when you upgrade things change and adding her is definitely an upgrade. Posts coming this weekend about the job hunt.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lowered expectations

The NY legislature just passed a budget on time for the first time in like 10 years or something like that. There was a commercial that I saw on television that was basically telling constituents to call and congratulate their representatives for this. Is this crazy to anybody else? I see it as a source of shame that they haven't been able to do this for so long. Should we really start congratulating people for doing things that they are not only supposed to do, but haven't done in a very long time? I think we have starting giving too much praise for too many mundane things. Legislatures should get budgets done on time. I just think this is crazy. I guess what really irks me about it is the way that they champion this as such a huge accomplishment and nobody calls them on it. CRAZINESS

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Gentleman from West Virginia

This will refer to this article, http://nytimes.com/2005/04/03/politics/03byrd.html?hp&ex=1112504400&en=5ab4574f909f8584&ei=5094&partner=homepage in the NYTimes.

Mr. Byrd says that a vote to change the procedural rule to end fillibustering of judicial nominations would be a vote to "assasinate freedom of speech in the Senate of the United States". I take particular exception to this. First, if someone told you that you could stand up and threaten one word and effectively end all speech on a subject whether it be majority or minority speech would you consider that a bastion of free speech? The fillibuster that Mr. Byrd refers to is not of the ilk of the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" type. There is no need to continue speaking and there is no need to hold the floor. All one must do is threaten to fillibuster and the speech ENDS there. It is in no way continuing free speech and it is in no way even similar to the notions that the word fillibuster strikes in the minds of citizens.

Secondly, I have a hard time listening to a former Ku Klux Klan member talk about free speech. The article said that he saw he was wrong and has apologized. I could understand being a member of a group that got a bit radical and removing yourself from it and saying that it was a mistake, but joining the Ku Klux Klan was not like joining a group that happens to go one way you do not like. The Ku Klux Klan advocated brutal murders. They were the ultimate killers of free speech. If you spoke out they hung you from a tree or burned your house. I cannot imagine why people look to this man to protect freedom of speech and I think it shows when he has a skewed version of what freedom of speech is. There are some marks on a man's character that cannot be overlooked.

Third, I have to take issue with this article. It treats Mr. Byrd like he is a legend in the Senate and he is this wise all knowing profit of the Senate rules. They fly on and on about how much he knows about the rules, but they don't discuss this particular rule or his knowledge about it. They don't discuss that the fillibuster has never been used like this before. They don't discuss how the Constitution says that the Senate can create and change it's rules with a simple majority vote. They don't actually say how this is un-constitutional. They point to no specific constitutional prohibition on this. This article is all smoke and mirrors. They are pushing a point of view by bolstering one of it's biggest proponents. It is a neat journalistic trick that can be quite effective, but it is extremely dishonest and shady.

Fourth, I think we have lost the idea that to the victor goes the spoils. I can't recall how many times I heard Democrats yell that this election is so extremely important because of judicial nominations. They pounded out their message that the winning electors would get to put their judges on the bench. Now they have changed their tune. They pretty much make their whole argument moot by saying that it doesn't matter who is in power because a small minority can just talk it down by saying fillibuster. So republicans want to make a rule change, which is completely constitutional and completely acceptable and the democrats dub it the 'nuclear option' and rally against it by spreading half-truths and more smoke and mirrors tactics.

Fifth, the real losers in this are the ones responsible. We the people. We elect these dopes. On both sides of the aisle here. We have people who flip flopped positions on this depending on who was in power. I would think it would be a powerful tool to show how one person has done a complete 180 on an issue, but it is out there so much it loses much of its strength. We as an electorate need to watch politicians and what they do not just 6 months prior to the election. We need to look at their entire record and learn for ourselves who is right and who is wrong. Another group that gets the blame is the media. I can't think of a single media outlet that I would consider as objective. Nearly everyone has a bias. I have turned to weblogs because they seem better at disseminating the whole story and not just partisan desires. I hope that in the future we can hold the media, the politicians, and ourselves to a higher standard.