Matthew's Foray into Blogging

Monday, October 31, 2005

From an Economist’s Standpoint...

I ironed my own shirts this weekend. It probably looks like I ironed my own shirts this weekend. Even considering the meager amount I earn, it would probably be worth my time to take my shirts to the cleaners.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stay Away, Flu

I was vaccinated against the flu yesterday. I had to cut in line in front of the elderly and the people with compromised immune systems. Not really. There is not supposed to be a shortage of the influenza vaccine this year.

Texas' KKK Friendly Amendment

What does it say about your proposed constitutional amendment when the ku klux klan rallies in support of it?

Pointless Time Change

I found that hour that someone stole from me in the spring.

I do not see the point in daylight saving time. There are numerous justifications for requiring us to change our clocks around, but I don’t think the reasons are very compelling. I suggest that we do away with the daylight saving altogether. I suppose I could move to Arizona, Hawai’i, or one of 77 counties in Indiana.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Early Voting

I need to bone up on the proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on which I intend to vote today. I know I will be voting against Proposition 2. Isn’t participating in the political process fun?

Ah, to Be Multilingual

I feel that I am at a disadvantage by not being bilingual. As close as Texas is to the Mexican border, it would be most useful to be fluent in Spanish. When I was in undergraduate, a number of my friends were international students, coming from India, Pakistan, and France, among other nations. In addition to their native languages, they spoke English, of course, and the languages of several other countries. I blame our schools, in part. Our educators should be introducing us to foreign languages at an early age. It is never too late to learn, though.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Suspenders

I am wearing my suspenders today. That is an article of clothing one does not often see.

I saw a young attorney from Houston who was up in Montgomery County last week who was wearing a real bowtie (as opposed to a clip-on bowtie). He said he wore a bowtie so he would look more distinguished, since he appeared quite young.

Taqueria La Carreta

I think I am going to try Taqueria La Carreta for lunch today.[1] It is an easy to miss little hole-in-the-wall restaurant on 105 East right off I-45. It seems to draw a crowd, though (not that a crowd is the best indicator of the quality of a restaurant). I have wanted to see what it is like since I first started commuting to Conroe two summers ago. I will inquire whether anyone else from the office dares to go.


[1] In early Southwestern history, La Carreta was an ox-drawn cart that brought hard to get staples and supplies up the Camino Real to Spanish colonial settlers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Germs!

Do you know how traumatic using a shared computer is for a “germaphobe”?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ultimate High Stakes Gambling

Suppose you had been charged with delivery of cocaine.

Suppose also that, because you had previously served time on a state jail felony and two years in TDC on a felony, your offense was enhanceable to fifteen to ninety-nine years in prison.
You allegedly sold cocaine to a confidential informant who was wearing a listening device. No one witnessed the transaction, except for the informant and other individuals who were present in the residence. The cops were down the street and did not observe anything. The voices on the audio recording are unintelligible. On two occasions, it might be possible to discern mention of your nickname. The only possible witnesses are the CI and an individual who is charged with possession of marijuana who would be willing to testify against you in exchange for dismissal of his charges – not very credible witnesses. Later, you are arrested for the offense.

Because the State’s case against you is weak, they offer you three years in TDC, if you will plead guilty. You maintain your innocence. You can accept the plea bargain and go away for three years, with the possibility of paroling out early. Conversely, you can go to trail. If you prevail at trial, you go free without an additional blemish on your already tarnished record. If you lose at trial, you face fifteen to life in prison.

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

Your blog, pmatthewsblog.blogspot.com/, is worth $0.00

Darn. I was hoping to take a mortgage out on my blog.

Further into the Week Than I Realized

When I awoke Tuesday morning, I could not recall what day it was. I was quite pleased when I determined that it was Tuesday, and that I did not have to do Monday over again.

I am enjoying my new job well enough. My coworkers are decent. I am gaining much valuable experience. They are even paying me. What is really cool is that we receive our paychecks every week, rather than every other week.

Even though I like this new paid occupation, I am still glad to see six o’clock roll around every day, and I still look forward to my weekends.

Next Weekend Will Be Lazier

I am too tired for it being this early in the week. This was not the most relaxing weekend. I did not want to drive to Conroe on Saturday, but I couldn’t have not attended the dinner party that a coworker hosted. It was enjoyable, but it kept me up past my bedtime. On Sunday, I made a futile attempt to expand my wardrobe. Dragging around to various men’s clothing stores is not how I like to spend my free time. I am between sizes and between prices – between prices because I am unwilling to purchase a cheap suit, but unable to buy an expensive suit. I will buy that $1,200 Hickey Freeman suit after my first raise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Retire Sooner or Later?

Since I entered the workforce relatively late, I wonder whether that means that I will not have to work as long until I reach retirement age, or whether it means that I will have to work longer until I am financially able to retire.

Unsophisticated?

When I write thank you notes on stationery, I write in pencil. Is that unsophisticated? If I use a pen, I invariably make mistakes, and I have to throw away the expensive cards. If I make a mistake while writing with a pencil, I can just use a Magic Rub® eraser to obliterate any evidence of an error.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hate Dining Out, Generally

I think one could safely say that the vast majority of restaurants, for want of a better word, suck. I dine out infrequently, because good restaurants are few and far between. I detest restaurant chains.

I subscribe to the philosophy of Clotilde Dusoulier, author of the Chocolate & Zucchini blog: “Every meal should be an extraordinary experience in taste and aesthetics, every dish a subtle yet powerful combination of flavors, every bite an explosion of layers of savor.” I agree with Mireille Guiliano in that I do not want to waste calories on insipid fare.

Unfortunately, the people with whom I work at my new job do not have any objections to patronizing substandard restaurants. I prefer to bring a lunch from home; it is less expensive and it is better, in so many ways, than what can be had at the local eateries. The dining options in Conroe are particularly dismal. However, I cannot fail to join my coworkers for lunch all of the time. I guess paying exorbitant prices for bland, calorie-laden vittles will just be a cost of doing business.

Where Did the Rest of It Go?

The government took a bigger bite out of my first full paycheck than I had anticipated. I did claim zero (0) exemptions, though, so I should be receiving a refund check.

Smarter Lawyers?

Do practitioners of criminal law need not to be as erudite as, say, lawyers who practice Article 9 law, or corporate or bankruptcy law? No doubt there are some sharp criminal defenders, but it seems to me that business organizations or commercial law is more scholarly than criminal law is. Criminal defenders use the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, while Article 9 lawyers use the Business & Commerce Code, and business organizations specialists use the Business Corporation Act or the Business Organizations Code. There seem to be more sole practitioners specializing in criminal law than there are sole practitioners representing corporations. Perhaps it is because an office of one or two lawyers could not handle the workload of a Fortune 500 company. Perhaps the reason for my impression is not so much the material as it is the clientele.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Employee Pricing

What’s the deal with this “employee pricing” frenzy? GM, Chrysler, and Ford are or were offering consumers cars at the same prices the company employees pay. Typically, employees pay 2-3 percent under the dealer’s invoice price, in addition to any applicable rebates or dealer incentives. Apparently, employee pricing only applies to boring cars, and it is nothing more than one more way to cut the price.

I saw a billboard advertising houses at employee prices. Do homebuilders’ employees receive discounts on the houses they build? I would guess that most of the laborers probably could not afford to live in the houses they build, even with “employee pricing.”

Thursday, October 20, 2005

In the Gun Lobby’s Pocket

We know who puts the food on our congresspersons’ tables: “House Passes Bill to Protect Gun Industry From Lawsuits.”

Nothing Like Law School

I have been told by several people on different occasions that the real life practice of law is nothing like law school. You can forget everything you learned in school, some of them say. I don’t believe this to be entirely true. In law school, one learns to think and to read critically. One learns to formulate an argument and to support it. Law school teaches “issue spotting.” Students learn legal drafting, such as how to write a memo or a brief. Although law school professors do not teach students “the law,” rather, they teach students how to apply the law, law students actually do learn some law. The Criminal Procedure course I took has proven to be particularly useful. I learned how to use the online resources Westlaw and Lexis. If I had not attended law school, I probably would not know what “780 S.W.2d 787” meant.

Some people suggest that the requirements that lawyers attend law school, pass a bar examination, and jump through other hoops – the whole system of licensure – are intended as barriers to entry to the profession. Fewer lawyers, or less supply, they argue, allows lawyers to set prices for their services.[1] There may be some merit to this, and it seems more plausible when one is toiling in law school, but I don’t think we would want just anyone hanging out a shingle and practicing law, with no training and no regulation.

[1] This is paraphrased, roughly and very concisely, from Richard Posner’s Overcoming Law.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tout

I do not like the word “tout.” Headline writers and journalists are fond of “tout.” According to the Encarta World English Dictionary (2000), it comes “[u]ltimately from a prehistoric Germanic base meaning ‘to poke out, project.’ The original English meaning was ‘to peek,’ which became ‘to spy on’ and, later, ‘to look for business.’” Its original meaning was to spy on racehorses or to sell information about racehorses. Now, however, it denotes to praise somebody or something.

No Mass Transit to Conroe

I miss being able to ride the bus. I enjoyed riding the buses from the park & ride when I was attending school in Houston. The bus driver could fight traffic, while I read or slept. Additionally, I did not have to worry about parking in downtown. I also felt like I was being environmentally responsible and was helping to alleviate traffic congestion, by not putting another car on the roadways. Alas, there are no buses that run to and from Conroe. Fortunately, I am reverse commuting, and the drive is about half the distance to Houston.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Don’t Drink and Drive. Say No to Drugs.

Don’t drink and drive. Don’t use or sell drugs, at least until they become legal, if that happens. Driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance or delivery of a controlled substance seem to land more people in jail and put them in front of a judge. No one looks good in the jail uniform coveralls.

Drinking and driving is dangerous, so I agree that the law should impose stiff penalties for that offense. Narcotics, by themselves, generally only hurt the individuals who use them, and maybe friends or family of users. It is when they are illegalized that more pernicious secondary effects that have repercussions for society arise. Do you recall how well Prohibition worked? That era is remembered for its gangsters and organized crime. When the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment, gangsters disappeared.

If drugs were legalized, the government could tax the heck out of them and it could control their production, as with alcohol and cigarettes. This would also be a boon for Mexico and other Latin and South American counties that are ravaged by the drug war. I do not imagine that drug use would increase. Non-users are probably non-users, not because of the laws, but because drugs are bad for you. I think people in law enforcement generally oppose legalization because the failed war on drugs guarantees them a job and a source of income, even though it is a tremendous waste of money for everyone else.

Metabolism Slowing

Is it possible to fit exercise into one’s schedule on a regular basis when one works from eight o’clock to six o’clock? I am finding it difficult. Some of the other attorneys work until nine or ten o’clock or they come in to the office on weekends, putting in seventy hours a week, so I cannot complain. I didn’t know there were that many hours in a week. I’ve heard that when one has a real job and is tied down behind a desk, the metabolism drops through the floor.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cheap American Beer

Hal said we had to drink cheap American beer if we watched the Astros on television. He associates viewing spectator sports with consuming watery-tasting domestic brews. I did not watch the Astros best the Cardinals in the third game of the NL championship series.

Hate Peeling Chilies

I hate peeling roasted chiles! Roasted chiles do taste good, though.

Frozen black eyed peas (when cooked) taste better than dried black eyed peas (when cooked).

Blog or Job

My brother observed that I have been blogging less frequently since I started work. He suggested that I quit work, on the ground that it is interfering with blogging. My new job makes more money than does my blog, so I will stick with the new day job.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

First Day

My first day of work went well yesterday. It went a bit longer than I had been informed it would, but I am not complaining. I changed the paper towels and the toilet paper on my first day of work! Those aren’t really my job responsibilities, though. I did it because someone else used the last of the paper towels and the toilet paper and did not replace the rolls.

“Injection of religion in Miers debate draws fire”

President Bush on Wednesday moved religion to the forefront of the debate over Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, defending his administration's work behind the scenes to inform social conservatives about her Christian faith.” Apparently, it is not playing well with anyone.

Why should a nominee’s religion be a matter of any concern? Why should any political figure’s religious beliefs be a matter of any concern? Is not there some principle about separation of church and State?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Start of Something New

I am starting work to day at a law firm to which I did not even submit my résumé. Someone else, to whom I am very grateful, put in a good word for me. I would prefer a job where I would be working for the good guys, but, when the machinery of the State is in motion against a person, even the bad guys need representation. A criminal defender does not have to try to get a guilty person off the hook on a technicality, but it is important to ensure that the State follows the rules and that the offender’s rights are not violated.

Most importantly, the opportunity will provide invaluable experience. They have promised me that I will learn to practice law and that I will know how to run a law office after working there. I will learn more from this group than I would learn at a district attorney’s office, they said. First, I will start with making coffee. I jest. They came across as being quite professional and they seem to be a close-knit bunch, and there will not be politics involved. I was impressed after visiting with them.

I am looking forward to it. Receiving a paycheck, meager though it may be, will be nice, also. I will probably notice a marked reduction in the amount of free time, but I hope that the work will be enjoyable enough that I will not miss it. At least there will not be a dreaded final exam at the end of the semester.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Japanese Knives

If you don’t have an interest in cooking, you might not care, but I want a Japanese knife.

To Interview Follow-Up Letter, or Not To Interview Follow-Up Letter

Following an interview, should the interviewee write a letter to the interviewer, expressing thanks for the opportunity to meet with interviewer and stating the interviewee’s interest in the position and the organization? The conventional wisdom holds that one should write an interview follow-up letter.

H. Anthony Medley, author of Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, advises against writing interview follow-up letters. Mr. Medley boasts, “while I’ve conducted thousands of interviews… most of the other writers of books on the interview don’t claim to have conducted as many as one!” He explains,

The vast majority of selection interviewers don’t want to be conducting interviews because it interferes with their job. So anything connected with filling the position is a royal pain, and the biggest part of that pain is having to interview prospects…. After the interview is over, the last thing they want is to receive a letter from an interviewee.[1]

[Emphasis added.] That’s all the convincing I needed.

[1] I wonder whether other interviewers are aware of this.

Harriet Miers’ Chances Not Looking Good

I am thinking that the chances that President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, will be confirmed by the Senate are slim. I base this on the reaction from the Senate, from pundits, from conservatives, and from political columnists. Even Republican senators have not received President Bush’s nominee well. He has been forced to defend his choice against attacks from the right. Conservatives are questioning Miers’ qualifications and her politics. Contrast this reaction with the reception Judge John Roberts received from Republican senators.

Ms. Miers, a longtime Bush ally, White House counsel, former corporate attorney in Dallas, and onetime Texas Lottery official, has never been a judge.

Republicans complained that Ms. Miers lacks credentials and a clear record of accomplishment on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and affirmative action. “I am not yet confident that Ms. Miers has a proven track record,” Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas said. “There’s no way this woman is qualified for the United States Supreme Court,” said Republican author and commentator Patrick J. Buchanan.

Of course more left-leaning columnists such and Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, and who seems to detest Republicans, and Molly Ivins have not expressed approval of Ms. Miers. Ms. Dowd quoted former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork as calling Miers “a disaster on every level” and “a slap in the face” to conservatives. Mr. Bork complained that Ms. Miers had “no experience with constitutional law whatever.” Ms. Ivins opined, “Miers’ chief qualification for this job is loyalty to George W. Bush and the team.” “Miers, like Bush himself, is classic Texas conservative Establishment, with the addition of Christian fundamentalism.”

Conservative columnists George F. Will, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, and William Kristol of the Weekly Standard, have been harshly critical of Ms. Miers’ nomination.

Mr. Will wrote that it might be very important that Harriet Miers not be confirmed. He says, “there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court’s tasks.” Mr. Will said of President Bush,

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution…. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers’s nomination resulted from the president’s careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers’s name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.


Ms. Miers’ accomplished career does not qualify her for a position on the Supreme Court, Mr. Will explains. “[C]onstitutional reasoning is a talent – a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer’s career.”

Beyond the outlook for Ms. Miers, whose chances do not look good, I think this nomination reflects poorly on President Bush. While Ms. Miers may have been a sharp lawyer who provided fine legal services for President Bush, and while she may have been a pioneering female lawyer, she appears not to be well suited to sit on the Supreme Court. Her primary qualification appears to have been her relationship with the President.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Marshmallows, Butter, & Puffed Rice Cereal

Add a bag of marshmallows and a few tablespoons of butter, and four people can finish off a box of Rice Krispies in no time. I’ve seen it happen.

Does He Really Believe This?

The Associated Press reported, “President Bush sought… to revive waning public support for the war in Iraq, accusing militants of seeking to establish a ‘radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia’ with Iraq serving as the main front.” In support of this assertion, President Bush noted that American troops were not in Iraq on September 11, 2001. “The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in the war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror,” he said.

Surely President Bush does not really believe that the September 11 attacks were completely unprovoked. Does he really think that Muslim extremists are waging a war in Iraq to “rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia”? This might be a plausible explanation had America not been meddling in the Middle East long before September 2001. The terrorists who flew airliners into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and Arabs who perpetrated terror attacks against American forces and interests before and after September 2001, were motivated by a hatred of America spawned by America’s presence on the Arabian Peninsula and American arrogance.

I think the real motivation for going to war in Iraq and for installing a democracy there is to secure a steady supply of oil. Still, it was foolish for President Bush to believe that America could bring stability to the region. The peoples of the Middle East have been fighting for centuries, even before the arrival of the Jewish State. Inside Iraq, there are numerous factions that are at odds with one another, and who will not coexist peacefully as members of a single country. This is an unwinnable war that America does not need to be fighting. I cannot fathom why President Bush is unable to grasp this.

Another Bullet on the Résumé

My résumé is rather unimpressive. To enhance my curriculum vitae, I was wondering if I could mention that I maintain a blog. I could just include it as one of my “Recreational Interests” under the “Personal Information” heading. It might be more impressive, though, if I listed under “Legal Experience,” “On Blogger Since June 2005.”

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Law Clerk Job Opening

Thomas had an excellent idea. He suggested that I submit my résumé to the new Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court regarding the possibility of a position as a law clerk. In twenty-five years, I could be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Sur La Table Free Cuisinart Freezer Bowl Scam: Update

The second cylinder for the Cuisinart® Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker arrived yesterday. I guess it just took some prodding to make them realize that I had not forgotten about my Sur La Table “Free” Cuisinart Freezer Bowl and that they had better place it in the mail.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A $135 Used Book

There is a book that I would like to own. Unfortunately, Paul Harrington’s Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, is no longer available new. Apparently, it is something of a collector’s item. The Amazon.com list price for a used copy is $20, but actual prices for used copies start at $50, and go as high as $135.

Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century is a companion book to “The Alchemist’s,” or Mr. Harrington’s Cocktail website. Cocktail is a comprehensive resource for the mixologist. The Alchemist is rather opinionated. Mr. Harrington is not overly fond of “fern bars, with their overly sweet, so-called ‘girl drinks.’” He is a protector of “the respectability of the bar.” Unfortunately, I have been experiencing difficulty accessing Cocktail recently. If Mr. Harrington is no longer maintaining his website, and if I cannot obtain a copy of Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, I may be forced to going back to drinking sodas with a straw!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What Does “Professional” Hair Look Like?

I do not have a “professional” haircut. My mom chastised me for cutting my hair with the clippers again. She has made it known that she would prefer that I let my hair grow out, so that someone armed with scissors can take my money… and give me a professional-looking haircut. Professional-looking haircuts, those that professionals wear, cost money. Maybe some day I will have “professional” money, so I can afford a professional haircut.

Now I will probably be all self-conscious about my hair tomorrow during that interview. I suppose I could just wear a hat, to conceal my unprofessional-looking hair.

Where’s the Beef (Bones)?

My sister has expressed a desire for beef Stroganoff. We have the tail end of a beef tenderloin that I have been holding in the freezer for just this purpose. We have mushrooms, onions, and egg noodles. An integral ingredient that we are lacking is beef stock, for the sauce. Canned beef stock is unacceptable; it must be homemade, of course. The plot thickens: I am experiencing difficulty obtaining beef bones for the stock. HEB, Kroger, and a local little meat market have not had beef bones for making stock. They sell beef. Where are they finding these cattle with no bones? Obviously, they are not butchering whole cattle in their meat departments, so I suppose it is understandable that they do not have a full array of animal products. The meat department employees at HEB and Kroger are only cutting the primal cuts into market cuts, so they do not have beef knuckles or beef shin bones.

There may be hope yet for my sister! I have an appointment that will take me into Houston tomorrow. There are Whole Foods Markets in Houston, one of which I will have an opportunity to visit! I have seen beef bones in the meat department at Whole Foods. We just may be enjoying beef Stroganoff, soon.

Getting Weaker

When I was in high school and undergrad, I was quite passionate about exercise. I was almost fanatical about lifting weights. Following my brain surgery, my interest in weight lifting waned. Nonetheless, I continued to work out with weights a few times a week, because I knew it was good for me. A few months ago, it was necessary for me to stop making monthly payments for my YMCA membership. (I have no job, and thus no income, remember?) I have begun doing callisthenic exercises and more cardiovascular exercise. I have actually run sprints, for about the first time since high school. When I was lifting weights regularly, I did not think I was growing stronger. However, I was not growing weaker. Now that I am no longer lifting weights, I feel that my muscles are atrophying. Maybe I could start lifting soup cans.

“Serving Life, With No Chance of Redemption”

There was a New York Times article about inmates who are serving life terms. It caught my attention because Randy Arroyo, with whom I have exchanged letters, was featured in the article. I do not know that I am too terribly sympathetic for “lifers.” Many murderers want to avoid the death penalty, and death penalty opponents want to abolish the death penalty, but the “lifers” and their sympathizers think life in prison is a cruel fate. Let’s just abolish the death penalty and the prisons and then…. Where do we go from there? Do we make them promise to behave and then give them second chances?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Judges Are Not Supposed to Be Political

President Bush announced his nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – Harriet Miers. Ms. Miers was Bush’s personal lawyer before he became President. She was President Bush’s staff secretary and also White House counsel. Ms. Miers boasts an accomplished legal career and she was a pioneering female lawyer. In 1972, Ms. Miers was the first woman hired by her law firm, Dallas’s Locke Purnell Rain Harrell; in 1985, she was the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association; in 1992, she was the first woman president of the Texas State Bar; and, in 1996, she was the first woman president of her law firm. An accomplished lawyer, she practiced law in Texas for a number of years, so she has practical experience. As a trial litigator, she represented such clients as Microsoft, Walt Disney Co. and SunGard Data Systems Inc. However, she has never served as a judge. There have been nineteen other Supreme Court justices who never served as judges prior to serving on the Supreme Court. Justice Rehnquist was one of them.

Since Ms. Miers has no judicial record, it is difficult to discern what her views are. She is a “blank slate.” Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid has expressed approval, and most Republicans have praise for her, but other Democrats say that she needs to be forthcoming with answers, so they can learn more about her. Special interest groups, such as the conservative group Public Advocate, the conservative Third Branch Conference, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood, have not received her well. If she is a friend of Bush and if she is on Bush’s staff, I would assume she is rather conservative, but, since she has not sat as a judge, she has no “paper trail.”

Judges are not supposed to be political. Judges personal views should not affect their decisions on the bench. Their responsibility is to interpret and apply the Constitution and the laws. Why should a nominee’s views on “hot button” issues be a subject of inquiry by the Senate? Rather, the nominee’s ability as an attorney or judge should be the focus of confirmation hearings. A nominee’s positions on abortion, gay rights, or affirmative action, about which one numbnut reporter inquired, are nonissues, as far as I am concerned. Ms. Miers or Justice Roberts is not going to take the bench and then promptly overrule Roe v. Wade. The senators and the special interest groups, who complain about “judicial activism,” are trying to seat justices who will rule on issues in ways that are consistent with the senators’ and interest groups’ beliefs. Justices who rule based on their personal opinions, which the individuals who are so concerned with the nominees’ political ideologies are seeking, have no place on the Court. A nominee should be selected and confirmed based on his or her ability as a lawyer or a jurist and on his or her ability to apply the law impartially.

Stamps

I wasted $1.48 on stamps yesterday. In my continued futile effort to find a job, I mailed out a few more résumés and résumé cover letters. Isn’t there a USPS employee already going that way? Couldn’t they just deliver my letters without the necessity of me using stamps? It is particularly annoying when letters I mail are returned to me, marked RTS, and the stamp is invalidated. If they could not deliver it, I should be able to reuse my stamp.

Laozi say...

I thought the following passage attributed to Laozi was interesting.

Great I call the elusive.
The elusive I call the far.
The far I call the returning.


Laozi, Daode Jing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why I Do Not Like Chuck Rosenthal

In 1998, at age 17, Josiah Sutton was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His conviction for rape was based on DNA evidence. The Houston crime lab that processed the evidence that sent Sutton to prison was discredited 4 ½ years later amid investigations that showed its testing practices were flawed. The Houston Police Crime Laboratory has been the subject of much controversy. Its problems range from ineptitude to falsification of results. Mr. Sutton served 4 ½ years in prison before new DNA tests showed that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.

Gov. Rick Perry granted Mr. Sutton a pardon on the basis of innocence, rather than a lesser “full” pardon – what Sen. Rodney Ellis calls a “half-assed” pardon.

Texas law allows wrongfully convicted individuals to receive $25,000 for each year they spent in prison. To be eligible to receive compensation, the wrongfully convicted person must have received a full pardon on the basis of innocence and “the attorney representing the state in the prosecution of felonies in the county in which the sentence was rendered,” in this case Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, must sign a letter stating that the person is actually innocent.

However, Chuck Rosenthal refused to write a letter to the state calling Mr. Sutton actually innocent. Rosenthal has steadfastly refused to call Sutton innocent, saying, “The complainant in the case still believes that he is not innocent and I do not know that she is incorrect.” The story has a happy ending, because Rosenthal finally wrote a letter stating that he acknowledges the pardon and is not opposed to the compensation.[1] Senator Ellis, lawyers, and the Comptroller’s Office, which pays the reparations, agreed that such a letter from Rosenthal would satisfy the requirement.

Rosenthal should know how inherently unreliable eyewitness accounts are. Eyewitnesses to crimes are often certain of what they observed, but they are frequently proven to have mistakenly identified suspects. A crime lab that is more reliable than the Houston crime lab is, using DNA evidence, has eliminated Mr. Sutton as a suspect. Nonetheless, Rosenthal refuses to acknowledge Mr. Sutton’s innocence. Perhaps the voters like Rosenthal, despite his arrogance, because he is a “hard-nosed” prosecutor who is tough on crime. Meanwhile, a truly guilty person is not behind bars for the rape of which Mr. Sutton was convicted.


[1] The story has a happy conclusion because Mr. Sutton will receive his checks; he still is trying to get back on his feet after having spent four-and-a-half years of his life in prison.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Unwinnable War

Keeping the floors clean with these two animal hair-generators…


Is a never-ending battle. They shed it much faster than we can vacuum it. If we would stop feeding them, maybe they would stop coming around.

Treat Fairy

Farley and Eloise think I am the treat fairy. When I am home alone with just the animals for extended periods (several days), they make frequent demands for treats. Farley will go to the pantry and whine. He is probably more insistent about receiving his dog treats when it is just me at home, because I put peanut butter on his Iams biscuits. Farley has his own jar of peanut butter. It is the HEB store brand, because he is not as label conscious as some of us are, and we have placed Mr. Yuk stickers on it, so no one inadvertently eats Farley’s pb. When Eloise sees Farley getting treats, she has to have some of her “Feline Greenies.” If she even sees me in the pantry, she is right there. She is going through them in a hurry. I do not want to be the one to tell her that she is all out of her treats. Katherine needs to make a trip to Petco.