Archive for the 'Law and Politics' Category

Such a Noble Profession

August 25, 2008

“Doctors purge the body, preachers the conscience, lawyers the purse.”

–German proverb (from my desktop calendar)

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The Truth About Law Practice

May 20, 2008

Accuracy and diligence are much more necessary to a lawyer, than great comprehension of mind, or brilliancy of talent. His business is to refine, define, and split hairs, to look into authorities, and compare cases. A man can never gallop over the fields of law on Pegasus, nor fly across them on the wing of oratory. If he would stand on terra firma he must descend; if he would be a great lawyer, he must first consent to be only a great drudge.
–Daniel Webster

Lifted in toto from Timothy Sandefur’s Freespace.

Pithy Coleridge Quote

January 19, 2007

He saw a lawyer killing a viper
On a dunghill hard by his own stable;
And the Devil smiled, for it put him in mind
Of Cain and his brother Abel.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Devil’s Thoughts (1835 version)

Vote Today

November 7, 2006

Here’s how I voted:
US Senator: Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), the Devil I know. The Democrat is a typical social democrat who supports socialized medicine. The Libertarian wants to repeal the income tax (good, if futile) and compel citizens to buy health insurance instead. Wrong answer.
US Representative: Sam Johnson (R), one of the few candidates that I feel really good voting for.
Governor: Kinky Friedman (I), purely as a protest vote for the least-powerful position in state government. I wouldn’t have felt bad voting for incumbent Republican Rick Perry, as he ranked second-best in the libertarian Cato Institute’s “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006” list of American governors.
Lieutenant Governor: Judy Baker (L). This is the most powerful office in Texas state government, and should therefore go to the clear limited-government candidate. Dewhurst hasn’t been bad, as Republicans go, and will likely get the job, but Baker says the right things about limiting the scope and power of government.
Attorney General: Greg Abbott (R). He was a good judge, and has done nothing I find objectionable in his first term as AG. The Democrat wants to step up antitrust enforcement (loses my vote), and the Libertarian candidate for this position is, in my opinion, a loon.
Comptroller: Mike Burris (L). He’s been a state employee for 26 years, and therefore understands the nature of the beast. A certified internal auditor, I think he is best-qualified to root out waste and report on the fiscal condition of the state government.
Land Commissioner: Michael French (L). I wish I could vote to eliminate the office altogether. Barring that, a Libertarian vote is probably the next-best-thing.
Agriculture Commissioner: Clay Woolam (L). Seems a bit flaky, but not too much so. Better than either major party candidate, who both seem a bit too activist for my taste.
Railroad Commissioner: Tabitha Serrano (L). This misnamed office is the most powerful regulatory agency in Texas (it regulates the oil and gas industry) and should go to the outsider committed to smaller government. Aside from having the hottest name in the race, here’s what she has to say about her office: “Heck! I’m not actually sure what a railroad commissioner actually does, so the first thing I intend to do is figure that out and then get the darn thing renamed to something that makes sense, or maybe do away with it entirely.”
For the State Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, I voted against every Republican (for the Libertarian if there was one, otherwise for the Democrat challenger).

South Park vs. The Truthers

October 11, 2006


1009_oval_office.jpg

Heh. Retards.
(What would you expect from South Park? Something sophisticated and subtle?)

Ann Richards, RIP

September 13, 2006

Former Texas governor Ann Richards died this evening of esophageal cancer at her home in Austin, Texas. She was 73.
I didn’t vote for her in either gubernatorial election, but I did think she had one of the funniest (and most accurate) one-liners in the 1988 Democratic National Convention about George H. W. Bush: “Poor George. He can’t help it — He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” (Source).

Required Viewing on Jihad

July 31, 2006

Via Pixy, check out Obsession: What the War on Terror is Really About, an amazing one-hour-and-seventeen-minute video that puts together many pieces of the puzzle regarding the clash between Islamic fascism and the western world. Even if you think you’ve heard all this before or think your opinion can’t be swayed, you need to watch this.
And for some background reading, I would heartily recommend Stephen Green’s The Arm of Decision and Game Plan, together with Bill Whittle’s Confidence.

Haiku For Goldstein

July 24, 2006

Other blogs cover
Politics so boring. But–
Roseanne? Iran? Heh.

The Safety Nazis

May 23, 2006

Well, I’ve been pretty incommunicative around here recently. Sorry about that, but I’ve had my hands full with my job, family, and fighting a [so far losing] battle against the safety Nazis in Texas government.
Virginia Postrel has already posted a good wrapup, and I can’t describe the situation better than Tim Rogers at D Magazine. Seriously. Go read those before you continue, or it might not make sense.
Back? OK. I would only add that Reason’s Hit and Run recently referenced a Baby Blues cartoon that perfectly describes the current trend of protecting our kids out of their childhoods.
As I’ve written before, I’m a board member for The Texas Pool (whose website I happened to design and author during my copious free time).
For four and a half decades, the pool has operated without any diving board injuries that would have been prevented by the new regulations. When looking at the cost-benefit analysis of the new FINA-derived standards, it seems that our benevolent state government believes even one potential injury sometime in the future would be too many. That of course disregards the many risks that responsible individuals take and allow their kids to take every single day. I put my kids at greater jeopardy every time I drive them to school. Or let them ride their bikes to school. Or even let them walk across the busy street to school.
But what really cranks me is that this regulation was slipped through on the sly. There was no public comment and no public record in the Texas Register of any kind of justification for the retroactive application of the new depth and spacing standards to existing diving facilities. Also, the standards come from a set of rules governing competitive diving. It’s HARD to hit the bottom of a 10-foot pool unless you dive with a really good form, and kids doing cannonballs is hardly good form (I doubt most of them ever get below 5 or 6 feet).
So how can you begin to fight the professional government inflicted on us by the late 19th-century progressives? Our approach is really two phases (possibly three): (1) ask the State Department of Health to reconsider their decision not to include a grandfather clause for existing facilities, (2) ask our state legislators to overrule the administrative agency, and apply a grandfather clause, and (3) initiate appropriate litigation, contingent on finding an interested pro bono firm.
This would be a great opportunity to try out an “Army of Davids” approach. I can’t really take the time to research the epidemiology of diving board/pool depth injuries and in any case don’t have ready access to a university library with medical or sports injury journals. But from everything I’ve read to date, there’s no real evidence of significant danger, even from a 3-meter diving board, when the diving well is at least 10 feet deep (as is ours). Most injuries occur in less than 5 feet of water.
Would any of my intrepid readers like to take on a pro bono research project? I already have some leads (authors, journal and article titles). I’m totally serious. If so, contact me at john.lanius@gmail.com.
I will be blogging more, on this and other things.

Cannibal Blogger

April 17, 2006

Wow. Just read through most of the blog of accused murderer/rapist/would-be-cannibal Kevin Underwood. You know those films of Hitler being tender and “normal” with his dog? That’s kind of the impression you get from this blog.
Underwood’s victim was 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin (picture found here):
jamie_bolin_200.jpg
Reading his entries, you can tell that Kevin is frequently depressed and definitely has issues, but he doesn’t really seem on the verge of this kind of sociopathic outbreak. You can also see that he has moments of great optimism. It also seems like he had a supportive family.
Except that his mom didn’t seem to understand his mental state very well:

I told my mom, and told her about my social anxiety problem, and that I was going to drop out of college and start going to a psychiatrist. She didn’t really understand my problem, and still doesn’t (whenever I try to talk about how shy I am around people, her answer is, “Just stop, don’t be that way.”), but she was supportive anyway.

Wonder if she has any regrets now?
Was this guy ill, or just plain evil? Read through the blog and say that he was evil. I’m more inclined to say mentally ill, based on his writing. What was the psychotic break? What triggered this?
Not that his illness should excuse his behavior. I think he should be put down like a rabid dog. The time for psychiatric care is BEFORE the murder takes place, not after. I don’t have much sympathy for “mentally ill” killers getting treatment for life when they have killed other human beings. They should be euthanized.
Too bad this guy didn’t have more consistent treatment. It seems like a better social network and some regular medication might have prevented this horror from taking place.
That poor girl’s father. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror he is living through.