Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

The last time I took this test, I was firmly lodged in the Third Circle, being treated like a chew toy by Cerebus. Looks like I'm moving up in the next world. Booyah!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

BEST POLITICAL ADS: MADE BY AMATEURS. I agree with Jonah Goldberg: this Bush ad is pretty good. It's a positive ad, but one that's substantive rather than maudlin. It probably needs to be cleaned up a little bit, but other than a few font improvements, I think it's basically an ad you could run on television tomorrow.

The quality of the ad reminds me of the "Child's Pay" ad that one the contest a while back. I'm always amazed: politicians spend millions, and get ads of equal or lesser quality to what can be produced by a few motivated amateurs.
NO LOVE FOR BAYH (OR, ALTERNATELY, "BAYH-BAYH, LOVE") My two or three regular readers will perhaps recall my fantasizing about the possibility of a John Edwards - Evan Bayh presidential ticket (as well as my man-crush on Donald Rumsfeld). Well, now I discover a most attractive man in politics poll, and my pointy-jawed stud muffin isn't even on the list! Who is? San Francisco Board of Supervisors President and failed Green Party candidate for Mayor of San Francisco Matt Gonzalez, who looks like a cross between Judd Nelson and Alan Rickman. I'm sure Gonzalez is a great guy, but I ask you, America: who do you think is studlier?

(Link via The Corner.)
WHY IS JOE BIDEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE DEMOCRATS? Well, for one: He's happy to stick it to the Euros when necessary. (Link via Instapundit.)

In looking eternally inward, Biden said, the European Union's leading members had for the most part had taken their eye off the ball about the rest of the world. Europeans misguidedly tended to regard the United States as an imperial power, he added. And their leaders offered no really constructive alternatives to the Iraq war.

Recalling that he had talked to six European government chiefs about the war, Biden caricatured how they would have done things better. "Blah blah blah, international cooperation," the senator mimicked. He added, in his own voice, "Give me a break, huh."

When Biden offered the possibility, beyond more civility, of a future in contrast to the Bush administration, it was in a plague-on-your-houses context. He said of the two, Europe and Bush, "You have fallen in love with international institutions to the extent that this administration has fallen in love with unilateral action."

For good measure, Biden threw in the view that the European Union will not have a unified foreign policy, and with it, the phrase, "I hope you do, I wish you well, but I see no evidence you're going to spend the money needed" to create a serious European military force either.

If it is in fact true that a Kerry Administration wouldn't just roll over and give the Euros whatever they want (and it probably is), then it's good to let them know ahead of time. I'd hate for them to go ga-ga for Ol' Botox only to discover next January that it's "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
THE OTHER TOURNAMENT THIS MONTH Old Oligarch links to Modern Drunkard's "Clash of the Tightest" tournament. See? This is why the internet is so great. To be honest, I would have had Churchill over Richard Burton in the first round, but then again, I had the Southern Illinois Salukis over the "Elite Eight"-bound Crimson Tide in the first round too, so what do I know?
Saint Gereon
Saint Gereon is praying for you! To learn more
about this Roman martyr go to the Patron Saint
Index at

Which Saint Would You Be?
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Friday, March 26, 2004

VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE ON ARAB CHRISTIANS IN THE UNITED STATES. It seems that, among other things, they still constitute 70% of Arab immigrants to the United States. Anyway, go read it if you have a few minutes. Fascinating look into an subject I didn't know anything about. (Link via Fr. Jim)
ONLY IN AMERICA! The RNC has a flash game on it's website, featuring John Kerry boxing himself. (It's a joke about his flip-flops. Get it?!?) The game is very so-so, but it does have one cool feature: the voice of the announcer is none other than Don King. The Don King. The actual Don King. How cool is that?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

IT'S A GOOD THING AMERICANS DON'T CARE ABOUT POLITICS There's an interesting piece at Opinion Journal criticizing Professor Ackerman's proposal to start celebrating "Deliberation Day", a holiday in which Americans will get paid $150 a pop (at taxpayer expense) to get educated (re-educated?) about issues of public concern. Like Mr. Conway, I'm skeptical of the "Deliberation Day" proposal. I especially agree with this sentiment:

Maybe the political indifference or ignorance of the average American is not at root a vice in our national life but a virtue, a product of a mild politics. One notes that Bosnians and Serbs, Hutus and Tutsis, could easily consider political apathy a blessing; that despite its many flaws, America's political system invokes envy and inspires imitation around the world. It certainly affords its citizens more liberties than any system that came before it, including the liberty--most of the time--to pay more attention to, say, a child's soccer game or the NCAA tourney than to John Kerry's latest nuanced position on Sarbanes-Oxley.

Hear, hear. One of the greatest freedoms Americans enjoy is the freedom not to give a rat's ass about any given subject. Care more about college basketball or doll-house collecting than politics? Go nuts, big guy.

SO TANK GIRL IS ON COMEDY CENTRAL RIGHT NOW. What does it say about me that I think Naomi Watts is hotter as the geeky technician in that movie than in any of her other movies (including the lesbian amnesiac in Mulholland Drive).

She's the one on the right. (Not a great photo I'll concede.)

Monday, March 15, 2004

FOREIGN LEADERS NOT FOREIGN? Drudge is reporting that a transcription error caused Kerry's claim to have spoken to "more leaders" to be mis-transcribed as "foreign leaders". Like Professor Reynolds, I'm skeptical. In the mini-firestorm that's followed his remarks, Kerry hasn't defended himself by saying "I was misquoted" but rather by saying by saying that what he had said wasn't any of our business. Maybe he's just being an aloof jerk. But it seems more plausible to me that even if he said "more leaders" he really meant "foreign leaders," that he was quoted accurately as to the substance of his statements, even as he was misquoted as to the specifics.
GREEN MILE UPDATE: It was a bladder infection, apparently. Still, it was causing impotence. And Michael Clark Duncan still grabbed two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks' two-time Academy Award-winning crotch. Ewwww...
FROM THE "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M WATCHING THE GREEN MILE" FILES: I can't believe I'm watching The Green Mile. I'd avoided the movie for years, but now, stuck home on a slow Monday night, I've been pulled in. Do you realize what this movie is about? Did the retarded giant just use his mystical powers to cure Tom Hanks' erectile dysfunction? And did he do it by grabbing his crotch? Forget about Janet Jackson; how can we get this filth off television?
WHO ARE THOSE FOREIGN LEADERS who've privately endorsed Kerry? There's been some chatter in the blogosphere about Kerry's "That's none of your business." response to that question, posed to him by a Bush sympathizer at a town hall meeting recently.

It's perfectly reasonable to ask Kerry that kind of question, and to criticize him when he gives a rude non-response response. You can't offer as a selling-point for your candidacy that you've been privately endorsed by various foreign leaders and then refuse to tell the American people who those leaders are.

The foreign-leader endorsements are part of a larger campaign promise by the Kerry camp - that he'll repair our frayed alliances with Europe and the rest of the world. The secret endorsements are apparently evidence of how Kerry will do that: foreign leaders like him better than Bush, whom they despise, and will be more willing to deal with him (and his mellow multilateralism).

Because the secret endorsements are a substantive claim in defense of a campaign promise, people have a right to some specifics. Are these world leaders the heads of important countries? (No offense to Togo, but President Gnassingbe Eyadema's endorsement shouldn't make-or-break the 2004 election.) Are they the leaders of enemies the United States, like North Korea or Iran? (I doubt they are, by the way.) Are they the leaders of ostensibly allied states that many Americans find incredibly irritating, often for no rational reason? (I'm looking at you, Jacques Chirac.)

These are important details, which when provided will provide the voters a means to evaluate the strength of Kerry's larger promise that he'll repair our frayed alliances. Withholding it would be like proposing to spend $900 billion more on healthcare, cut the deficit in half and only raise taxes by $250 billion, without explaining the source of the other $650 billion. You know, the kind of bush-league bullshit the Kerry Campaign would never dream of pulling.

That said, there are plenty of good reasons Kerry wouldn't want to reveal who those foreign leaders who've privately endorsed him are. It would probably hurt him more than it helps him to be known as the official candidate of Jacques Chirac and the Fifth French Republic. There's also the problem of confirming his claims. Whoever he names, not wanting between 9 months and 5 years of icy relations with the Bush Administration, might deny ever endorsing Kerry, thus making the Senator look like a liar. Also, the endorsement may indeed have been made in confidence, which the Senator, being a decent guy, would not want to violate.

Of course, all of these reasons just underscore how dumb it was for Kerry to go off about how foreign leaders had told him they wanted him to win in the first place. It should've been obvious at the time that these kinds of questions would follow. If he didn't want to answer them, he shouldn't've brought up the topic. Kerry let this particular genie out of it's bottle. He can't complain when it wants to play 20 questions. (Talk about your mixed metaphors!)

By the way (bonus final graph): I can't see how the "foreign leaders endorse Kerry" meme hurts Bush much. Most Americans already have a sense that the Europeans don't care for Bush, just like they didn't care for his ideological predecessor Reagan. I can think of two scenarios in which this hurts Bush. One is if a large number of foreign leaders (and not just European ones or ones that are known to be anti-Bush or anti-US) come out openly against Bush's reelection. I'm taking Russia, India, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, etc. That would wound, but probably not fatally. The other scenario: if the leader who'd secretly endorsed Kerry were Tony Blair. I can't see how that's anything other than a fatal wound to the Bush reelection bid. If Tony the Tiger would rather play ball with J. Forbes Kerry, and is willing to say so publicly, Bush is toast.
DON SENSING ON GAY MARRIAGE "Opponents of legalized same-sex marriage say they're trying to protect a beleaguered institution, but they're a little late. The walls of traditional marriage were breached 40 years ago; what we are witnessing now is the storming of the last bastion." I basically agree with Sensing's analysis. The question, though, is: what is to be done?

I sense that Sensing is essentially suggesting preemptive surrender by the forces of tradition. Given how much has already been lost, that's not an unreasonable position. If this were an actual war, instead of a metaphoric one, it would be a hard position to argue with: it's hard to ask anyone to be the last to die for a doomed cause.

On the other hand, given that traditionalists have (at least in the short term) a maybe 50-50 chance of holding that last bastion, shouldn't they dig in and try to hold on, with the hope that it might someday serve as a base from which to launch a counter-assault.

It probably won't work: even I have a hard time imagining that we're ever going to recover the sexual mores of the eighteenth century (and I have a pretty vivid imagination). But it's not impossible. Don't give me that Whig School of history crap; inevitable upwards march of progress, my ass. And if what's been lost is really as important as Sensing seems to think it is (and he does say "I believe that this state of affairs is contrary to the will of God."), isn't it at least worth a try? As Henry Hyde said, of a different issue, "When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the Final Judgment ... God will look at us and say not, 'Did you succeed?' but rather, 'Did you try?'" Or, to quote a different thinker, Sarah Connor, who faced a similarly impossible-seeming challenge, "No fate but what we make."

Saturday, March 13, 2004

WHY DO I LIKE THE YANKEES THIS YEAR? (Other than all the other reasons?) Two words: bench strength. I'm watching the Yanks-Braves spring training game right now. The Yanks brought three of their regular starters to Orlando: Sheffield, Matsui, and Enrique Wilson. The rest of the lineup was spare parts: Tony Clark, Darren Bragg, Miguel Castro, Mike Lamb, and John Flaherty. The Yankees nevertheless put up four runs on six hits (all singles) in the first off of Mike Hampton. This suggests to me that the bench players can hit, which is a very good thing for the team. They're also (with the exception of Mike Lamb, who's not going to make the roster anyway) good defensively. This kind of bench strength bodes very well: it mitigates the damage from injuries to starters, it allows you to pinch-run and put in defensive replacements late in the game more confidently. It's been a while since I've felt this good about the Yankees bench. Combine that with an all all-star starting lineup and a pretty-damn-fine pitching staff, and we're in good shape.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

POKER NIGHT AT THE LAW SCHOOL Eesh. I got shit cards and played with a strategic vision worthy of Douglas Haig at the Somme, so I was the first out. Ehh, I wasn't using those $10 anyway.

Later that night I dreamt I was part of an illegal poker circuit that was eventually joined by Rafael Palmeiro. We had to kill Palmeiro, who in addition to being a card cheat was apparently passing government secrets to the Cubans. The rest of the dream was spent trying to dispose of the body. We eventually traded it to a coked-up heiress along with a haute couture dress we'd somehow come into possession of.

If there's a lesson in all this I think I've missed it

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

THE DAY OF MAN HAS ENDED Sony has built a robot that can dance. You know, I really thought I'd be well into my forties before I was made totally obsolete by an automaton. Well, I had a good run.

A question: what's the over/under on "P. Diddy gets a robot butler"?
NOT TO BURY THE CASS COMMISSION, BUT TO PRAISE IT There's been a lot of ragging on the Cass Commission lately, some of it fair, much of it not; I think this is a nice corrective.
KINDA FUNNY, but making fun of Robert Fisk for saying something dumb is more than a little like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. (Link via Instapundit)
THE MADNESS OF BILL OF RIGHTS INCORPORATION Doing my reading for Criminal Procedure just now, I was reminded of one of my top con law pet peeves: the utterly incomprehensible manner in which parts of the Bill of Rights has been held to apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Let's assume that you agree that the Fourteenth Amendment applies some, but not all, of the protections of the Bill of Rights to the states. Under current doctrine, the First Amendment, which you'll recall begins "Congress shall make no law..." (emphasis added), is incorporated. At the same time, the Fifth Amendment's grand jury requirement ("No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger") is not incorporated. Does this make any sense?

Under a "plain meaning" analysis, the Fifth Amendment's grand jury requirement would seem to apply to the states even in the absence of the Fourteenth Amendment (something that can't be said of the First Amendment). And yet, under today's constitutional doctrine, not only does it not apply to the states on its own, it's one of the few provisions of the Bill of Rights not incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment.

Is there some compelling logical argument I'm missing here? Or do we just like a little crazy in our constitutional law framework?
FUNNIEST-EVER EXAMPLE OF COLOR-BLIND CASTING? "The Conqueror", starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan. (It's being shown now on AMC.) Man, the Duke was about as non-Mongolian-looking/sounding as they come.
IF JOHN KERRY WANTS TO BE THE SECOND BLACK PRESIDENT, does that make him the first black graduate of his elite Swiss boarding school?

Monday, March 08, 2004

BILL CLINTON, THE VICE PRESIDENCY & AMENDMENTS XII AND XXII Over at the Conspiracy, Professor Volokh rejoins the fray over whether Clinton would eligible to serve as John Kerry's vice president. He thinks he's not; others think he is. I'm inclined to agree with Professor Volokh, but what do I know?

My question: who cares? Not to dis people who make their livings as legal academics, but isn't this debate a bit, er, academic? Lets say, hypothetically, that Clinton does join Kerry on the Democratic ticket. Lets say they win. To quote "Dude, Where's My Car", and then? There'll be a lawsuit? Who has standing to sue? Bush? Is the Supreme Court actually going to invalidate Clinton's election to the vice presidency on the grounds that it violates the Twelfth and Twenty-Second Amendments? (Just like they invalidated Hugo Black's appointment on the grounds that it violated Article I, Section 6?) Isn't this a quintessential political question? Are the constitutional requirements for officeholding, or at least the presidency, judicially enforceable?

What if a person is elected president when he's 34, but will turn 35 before he's sworn in? Is that person "eligible" for the office of president under Article II, Section 1? Doesn't it matter that the people presumptively considered the issue and decided it didn't disqualify the candidate? What if the people decided a 33-year-old was "good enough"? I'm not saying these aren't violations of the Constitution. What I am saying is: do we want the Supreme Court essentially deposing duly elected presidents?
THIS IS FUNNY (PART THREE) From the mixed-up files of my criminal law casebook (Kadish & Schulhofer): "Lord Hoffman...concluded that the distinction was practically unworkable, tending to produce 'glazed looks' in jurors' eyes when told to consider such oddities as 'the reasonable glue sniffer'..." (emphasis added)
THIS IS FUNNY (PART TWO) The oddest thing about Blogger's spell check? It doesn't recognize the word "blog". Zuh?
THIS IS FUNNY (PART ONE) Blogger's spell check doesn't recognize "Giambi". It's first suggested alternate spelling? "Gimpy". God, I hope not.

That said, given that Blogger's spell check dubbed Petyon Manning "Python" just before his agonizing defeat in New England, I'm not exactly in awe of it's predictive power.
DAMN YOU, GARY SHEFFIELD'S THUMB! Looks like Sheff is out with an injured thumb. I told Giambi he was too aggressive a thumb-wrestler! Why wouldn't he listen? Whyyyyyyy???

But: let's look on the bright side. This takes the Yankees down a notch offensively. But scoring runs wasn't going to be their big problem this year. And, assuming Bernie Williams recovers OK from his appendectomy, this may actually improve the team defensively while Sheffield is out. Giambi will DH, Bernie will play right field, Lofton will play center and the glovetastic Travis Lee will play first. That's a better defensive lineup than the Sheff-in-right/Giambi-at-first/Bernie-DH/Lofton-in-center lineup the team was planning on. And a batting order of Lofton-Jeter-Rodriguez-Giambi-Posada-Matsui-Williams-Lee-Wilson is still going to score a great many runs.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

PRISON RAPE: REALLY, REALLY NOT FUNNY Over in The Corner, Andrew Stuttaford links to an article in Yale Law's own Legal Affairs on prison rape in the United States. It's a good piece, which you should read when you have the chance. An old boss of mine, Eli Lehrer, once described prison rape as the biggest systematic civil rights violation in the United States today (see more of his thoughts on the topic here). I don't know if that's true, though it's certainly plausible. Prison rape is a real problem for the country, one that (as Stuttaford says) challenges our vision of how civilized we are as a society. I find myself particularly galled by how easy it is for otherwise good, humane people (in which I count myself, alas) to think of the rapes endured in prison as naturally part-and-parcel of the punishment we visit on criminals. They're not. They're a massive and cruel injustice, one that we abet if we don't do our utmost to stop it.

What I hate most is that, in spite of myself, I find prison rape funny. Half Baked is funny, as are many of the other movies that use prison rape, or the fear of prison rape for comic effect. (It's not just prison rape either; think of the scene in which Seabass rapes Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber.) We would rightly consider it appalling to joke about a man raping a woman. But when Nasty Nate threatens to take his "cocktail....FRUIT!" from Kenny, or when Cam Neely makes Jim Carrey "find a happy place", we laugh. (Perhaps you're chuckling now.) I don't know why we react so differently; I just wish we didn't.
I'M NOT SURE, but I think I just got a ride home from Mass with Judge José Cabranes. Perhaps the best part: he was in the back seat, and I got the front passenger seat. It's not every day you get shotgun preference over a sitting federal judge. Why do I feel it's all downhill from here on in?
OOOOO, BABY The Hobbit is in pre-pre-pre-preproduction. And Peter "Sloppy" Jackson is in line to direct. Schweet.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

HOW SHOULD WE RELATE TO OUR PETS? There's a really good piece by Jon Katz over at Slate on the pet owner / companion-animal guardian debate. This topic came up a couple of times, obliquely, in my constitutional law class. I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Katz that obscuring the line between humans and animals, treating pets as "'people' of another species", is a very bad idea. Katz argues that treating pets like humans leads people to treat them in ways that are wildly inappropriate for animals (overfeeding them, not training them properly, refusing to euthanize them). For my part, I think the problem cuts the other way as well: I think equating humans and animals is just as likely to lead people to treat humans in a way once thought appropriate only for animals as the other way around, and that's far more dangerous (for us at least, and that's what I care about) in the long term. It may just be a coincidence that the modern euthanasia movement developed simultaneously with the late 20th century move to treat pets as family members rather than, well, pets, but I'm inclined to think they're at least partially related. I mean: if Rover is a member of the family, and when Rover is old and in interminable pain we put him to sleep. Grandpa is a member of the family too; he's old and in interminable pain.... Or chemical castration of sex offenders; are we more likely to consider that option because we have no problem neutering our companion animals?

Of course, I'm an anthro-supremacist - no doubt a relic of an passing age - so what do I know?
SUCCESS! Eight hours, and no more broken futons. Cross your fingers, boys and girls.
TALK ABOUT YOUR LACK OF MENS REA Well, I learned a valuable lesson tonight. If you go to the grad student bar, and it's karaoke night, make damn sure before you sit on anything that it can support your weight. Specifically: the backs of futons may not be strong enough. It does not matter how many futons you've sat upon in how many unorthodox ways; if you sit on the back of one futon in the middle of a heart-felt rendition of "You Shook Me All Night Long" and it, say, collapses under your prodigious girth, you're toast. The people at GPSCY may be nice and say they won't make you pay for it; you may try to claim "It wasn't Angus Dwyer: it was Angus Young, dammit!"; but at the end of the day you're the fat-ass that took the grad-students' pub down from three futons to two, and you're the one that collapsed on the floor in a humiliating sea of cheap wood planks and threadbare mattresses. And no amount of self-deprecating humor can erase that.