Mansfield Fox

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Apologia Pro Mea Absentia

Mansfield Fox wishes to apologize for the astonishing lack of content thus far this summer, as well as the fact that posting will continue to be light for the foreseeable future. Between work, the sudden discovery of some non-blogging interests, and, well, more work, I'm just too busy/tired to keep you supplied with the full compliment of doggerel and self-righteousness that you've become accustomed to.

Anyway, if you're looking for solid Catholic content to keep you busy in the Dog Days of Summer, may I suggest the Crossroads Initiative, an online lay ministry run by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, a fine chap you may have seen on EWTN. According to the email he sent me, it "offers catechetical and apologetics resources for RCIA, adult faith formation, and teens with a special emphasis on the Early Church Fathers, the sacrament of Confirmation, the theology of the Body, Catholic Bible Study, and the year of the Eucharist."

Anyway, it seems like a great site - give it a look, eh? (Also, maybe you check out this page on our dear Pontiff.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Kelo and Federalism

I think I'm with Ramesh Ponnuru on this one:
Maybe the dissenters got it right, but it's not obvious to me that the Supreme Court was ever meant to enforce the Takings Clause against local governments. And I really doubt that this decision is "going to be politically very, very potent." Is anyone really going to vote Republican in order to get judges who might stand up to big business? I doubt it--and I'm with the dissenters on the egregiousness of the policy.
(Emphasis added.) Isn't there a compelling federalism case for what the majority did? The states and municipalities are laboratories, right? Well, if New London and Connecticut want to run a really stupid experiment, massively unsettle property rights, and "foul their own nest" (as a wiser, and funnier, man than I said of the case), why not let them? Yeah, people like Mrs. Kelo get hurt, but people get hurt under all the stupid, hare-brained schemes we let states try under the auspices of federalism. Some states, like Michigan, have on their own volition opted for stricter standards as to what constitutes "public use", and nothing in Kelo prevents other states from doing the same.

Given that the question "is this taking for a public use?" is necessarily contextual, fact-specific, and value-laden, why exactly do we want it to be decided by federal judges as opposed to local elected officials?

UPDATE: Will Baude hits me with a thorough counter-argument. I have to respect it, because, well, Will's really, really smart, and has spent more time than I thinking about these issues. Sadly, any reply, to him or any other response that pops up, will have to wait until Sunday night, as I'm about to skip town for Virginia Beach and my cousin's wedding. So don't think my radio silence signals rudeness (or worse, backing down!). I'm simply stranded in a world beyond the laws of God and man - coastal Virginia. Take care all; see you Sunday.

Kelo: Everybody Take a Deep Breath

Why everybody is so aghast at this decision is beyond me. Certainly, I imagine, nobody was expecting Mrs. Kelo to actually win. In fact, I was flabbergasted to discover she'd got four votes in dissent. (I was anticipating a solo dissent from Thomas, or maybe Thomas and Scalia.) Yes, it's a terrible decision, but, like Raich, it's terrible because the whole line of doctrine is terrible, not because Anthony Kennedy was suddenly struck with some abiding passion for the Pfizer Corporation. (I basically agree with Jonathan Adler here.) So argue against the decision, fine, but don't hyperventilate about how this is some terrifying new low for the Court.

My Roommate's Investment Plans

"I want to put my money in slums. And artwork."

Two great tastes that don't go great together.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

AFI Top 100 Movie Quotes

With all due respect, the correct answer is their #66:
"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"
Poetry. Shakespeare, eat your heart out.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Great Moments in Customer Service

So I queue up to the counter at Wendy's just now to order dinner. It's hot, I'm tired after a long-ish day at work, I'm still in my monkey suit. I place my order, start counting out exact change - I carry a dollar in change on me 'cause it's easier on everybody for me, rather than the cashier, to make complicated change - and the cashier says the nicest thing a stranger's said to me in a long, long time:
"Oh, I know you. You can come here anytime."
So: a) I'm officially a regular, b) I'm the kind of customer they like, c) I'm flattered.

Best. Bacon-cheeseburger. Ever.

Where the Sidewalk (Art) Ends

Crazy-ass sidewalk art.

Fail to click that link at your peril. Seriously.

Via AGofCh, which is a blog, as opposed to an epithet in Klingon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dep't of Misleading Headlines

"Texas withdraws parole option in murder cases"

You might think, from the headline, that bad ole Texas is cracking down on paroles for murderers, as a way to get their jollies by beating up on criminals.

The reality, of course, is that the new measure is designed to help those accused of murder, by giving juries an option other than death for punishing especially heinous murderers they might not want back on the streets someday. Texas isn't "withdrawing" anything. They're adding to the options available to juries, and the accused.

Oy. Anyway, I wouldn't point this out, but I've taken kind of a shine to the Lone Star State lately, and so find myself a tad defensive on this score.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Communion. In Orbit.

Yes, But No

The first verse of the lesser Police hit, "Spirits in the Material World", sums up my view of the world quite nicely:
There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution
The intractable corruption of human nature. The uselessness of structural solutions to said corruption. It's all there.

But then they go and f*** it up in the chorus, by getting all Gnostic on our asses:
We are spirits in the material world... [repeat]
Oh, guys: so close, and yet, so Cartesian.

Charmingly Old-Fashioned

I just had a telemarketer ask if I were "the man of the house". Now, that's an expression you don't hear much any more.

McBride Defeats, Ends Tyson

Saturday, June 11, 2005

From the Guy What Brung You "Spirited Away"

So I was this afternoon naughty and snuck up to the Upper West Side to see Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, now in limited release. (Jealous much?)

The movie was pretty good, I thought. Beautiful as all out, with a great flow. The plot was a little confusing - I still have no idea what the motivations of about half the characters were - but I suppose that may have been deliberate, an attempt to maintain the magical, dreamlike quality of the story. And the world had a wonderful Belle Epoque / Great War feel to it, which I loved. (Any era in which the moustache was cool is alright in my book.)



Seriously, wow.

Via Amy Welborn


Sorry, just clearing my throat.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


"Return of the Kerry Brain"

Sometimes, "I told you so" just sounds so right.

(By the way, the underlying story is proof of the clear superiority of Andover to St Pauls. Not that that was ever in doubt, but still...)

Cavalli on Pacelli, Part II

My friend Dimitri Cavalli has a piece up over at the American Spectator, on the recently published anthology about Pius XII (J. Bottom and Rabbi David Dalin, editors). It's good. Read it or I slap-a you face.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Not So Big, After All

America is a big country, but I'm willing to bet that, of the 300-odd million of us, I'm currently the only one currently sitting in his pajamas, reading Leo Strauss while listening to Jeff Buckley.

(By the way, I'd forgotten that Strauss leaves about half his footnotes untranslated. My German had better improve, stat.)

"Desperate Houseflies"

A Judge a Day Keeps the NKVD Away?

There's an interesting debate over at Legal Affairs between Professors Mark Tushnet and Erwin Chemerinsky over judicial review. My own views on this subject are all over the place, and I don't really want to get into it, except to point out this passage, by Chemerinsky:
Sometimes the first assignment in my constitutional class has been for students to read a copy of the Stalin-era Soviet Constitution and the United States Constitution. My students are always surprised to see that the Soviet Constitution has a far more elaborate statement of rights than the American Constitution. I also assign a description of life in the Gulags. I ask how it can be that a country with such detailed statements of rights in its constitution could have such horrible abuses.

The answer, of course, is that in the Soviet Union no court had the power to strike down any government action. Judicial review, as we have known it since Marbury v. Madison, is at the core of ensuring our freedom.
OK, that's bullshit, and it's bullshit that Tushnet doesn't adequately call him on. (He does bring up the helpful counterexample of Holland, which has neither judicial review nor slave labor camps.) It's not that the Soviets didn't have courts, or that those courts were pensive about assuming power not clearly given them; it's that the officers of those courts subscribed to the same murderous and dehumanizing philosophy as the rest of that country's political class. The United States hasn't had gulags or mass forced famines because we have a political culture that (with important and painful exceptions) basically respects the dignity of persons, liberty, the rule of law, etc. The courts have played an important role in safeguarding our liberties, but ultimately they're just epiphenomena of our broader cultural and philosophical commitments. I mean, if you'd transplanted the Warren Court to Moscow circa 1955, and they'd tried to fix things, what do you think would have happened? At best, they would have bemusedly ignored; at worst, shot as class traitors and subversives. Say what you will about the "Impeach Earl Warren" campaign; it's clearly preferable to a dark cell, an NKVD officer, and a .45.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Leave It to the Japanese, Vol. CXXVIII

Nippon is way ahead of the United States in many respects: vending machine technology, video games, cartoon character eye size, creepy sexual fetishes. And now, it seems, in supervillain technology as well.

They're building a ship, the Chikyu, to drill through the Earth's crust to the mantle beneath. To study what causes earthquakes, etc. Cool, but also a little scary to my inner Luddite. I mean: what if puncturing the crust triggers some unanticipated tectonic catastrophe? And what if Dr Evil gets his hands on this stuff?

(via HuffPost)

New Blogroll Addition

A Glass of Chianti, by former Livejournalist, current clarinet teacher and forever Texan, Sarah, a sometime reader of this space who's been kind enough to blogroll us. Give it a peek; I'm sure you'll enjoy, especially once things really get rolling (she seems to be in the setting-up phase right now).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ahh, Monty. Things Are Finally Starting...

"... to Go Your Way."

This will be of interest to exactly no one, but I thought that since I frequently use this space to complain it might be a nice counterpoint: yesterday, I caught all my lights, and all my trains. Everything was smooth as cream and easy as chess with a four year-old (but not a five year-old). Sometimes life goes well, and it's good to be grateful.