Shouting 'Cross the Potomac
but never a Monday morning quarterback
adrag1 at msn.com [until the QP server gets fixed]
willv at comcast.net
Virginia Pundit Watch Will Vehrs' Weekly Column at Bacon's Rebellion
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UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002
Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason
On the Third Hand
A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade
Mark A. Kilmer's Political Annotation
A Nickles Worth of Free Advice
Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet
Note To Self
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What She Really Thinks
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the talking dog
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Common Sense and Wonder
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The Road to Surfdom
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perfunctory links(We think it's "the Mother of links pages for news and pundit junkies" - eds)
Independent Gay Forum
Town Hall: Conservative News and Information - The Conservative Movement Starts Here
Saturday, July 20, 2002
The State of the Second Amendment
Tony AdragnaRather, I should say "the States [and} the Second Amendment".
Our favourite law professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, points to a letter "from eighteen state attorneys general (including six Democrats) in support of the individual-right interpretation of the Second Amendment." Then, he tells us to check out footnote 1.
Of course, I knew what was in the footnote before I even looked at it -- it just had to be a law review article by the man hisself. But, I ask: why couldn't he just give us a link to the article as well?
That's where folks like myself enter the picture: need an article? You have a citation? Here's your reading material.
I previously read the artcile, and consider the addendum most useful in addressing the anti-gun movement's "militia" argument as well as the milita movement's argument on "revolt".
Friday, July 19, 2002
Zack the Whack Job
Will VehrsTony, I looked at the CNN poll and the results were about 10 points under the figures you cited in the Fox Poll, but still pretty overwhelming.
I agree with Judge Brinkema's ruling. She's got one the toughest cases ever and I think she's done well so far. I think she was smart to let Moussaoui act as his own lawyer. It's easier to let his subsequent performance give her justification to change that ruling (which I think she will) than putting up with his outbursts about not being able to act as his own counsel.
Moussaoui might be a whack job, but his outrageous behavior yesterday might have given him something worthwhile--a pretty strong case for a thoroughly contaminated jury pool that couldn't possibly give him a "fair" trial. Of course, he contaminated the jury pool, but never mind that. He's playing a long-range game for an Islamic audience overseas.
The Moussaoui Plea...
Tony AdragnaI suspect, Will, that there's a fair amount of criticism of Judge Brinkema's refusal to accept Moussaoui's gulty plea. If you look at the online poll [n.b.: I'm ever suspicious of all polls, but most especialy online polls] attached to the FOXNews story you'll see that 85% (as of this time) of respondents think that the plea should be accepted.
Why has Judge Brinkema taken the unusual action of not accepting the plea?
Well, really, what Judge Brinkema did was not all that unusual in similar circumstances. In fact, Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that "the court" [read: the judge] "determine that the defendant understands, the following:
(1) the nature of the charge to which the plea is offered, the mandatory minimum penalty provided by law, if any, and the maximum possible penalty provided by law, including the effect of any special parole or supervised release term, the fact that the court is required to consider any applicable sentencing guidelines but may depart from those guidelines under some circumstances, and, when applicable, that the court may also order the defendant to make restitution to any victim of the offense; and..."Moussaoui's own conduct before Judge Brinkema pretty clearly demonstrates that he really doesn't have a clue. Specifically, Moussaoui's own misunderstanding that a guilty plea would allow him to avoid "the maximum possible penalty provided by law" -- the death penalty -- probably was the most significant factor in the judge's decision to advise the defendant that he should think about it a bit more.
I'm not sure what Judge Brinkema is going to do when the defendant next appears before her. I hope that she accepts the plea, but there's perfectly good rationale for her not to do so -- sometimes defendants really do need to be protected from themselves, and some of those defendants turn out to be actually innocent. I think it worse to abandon a good rule simply because it also might help the guilty.
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Markets, economics, and mythology....
Tony AdragnaListening to Chairman Greenspan the other day evoked something that I wrote on March 21 of last year(you know, after the tech bubble went POP):
In discussing the economy with friends, the stock market always is alluded to as the most important factor. I always disagree. The market can be a gauge, but of what? The ups and downs of the market has been used as a measure of confidence in the economy. I think that this is OK, as long as we don't view the market indices as a true measure of the REAL economy.Something has happened since then -- we found out that a lot of people were not telling us the truth about the market and some of the biggest companies traded there. Not only has there been a disconnect between the economy and market performance, but there has also been a disconnect between market performance and the performance of corporate America.
Sure, much, or maybe most, of the market's decline is really a correction for "reckless investing, not reckless accounting." The problem is, as Samuelson acknowledges earlier in the same piece, "authorities lavishly praised the 'new economy' and thereby encouraged investors to buy wildly overpriced stocks." Many of those investors were people relying on advice from experts, many of whom -- like Jim Cramer -- have admitted that they misled investors.
And let's not forget that the deception was abetted by bottom line numbers that were at best aggressive accounting, and at worst fraud.
So, to make the point, as Samuelson does, that investors share the blame is itslef misleading -- certainly many investors were "gullible", but gullibility needs exploitation before it becomes a problem. The problem gets even worse the more "democratized" the market becomes:
[...]. I don't think that democratization is a bad thing per se, but I refuse to put any of my money in the market. Why? Well, you might as well ask me to enlist in an army full of people who don't know anything about guns."Greed" I don't have such a problem with. People always want more than what they have -- it's human nature. Self-restraint doesn't come naturally -- it must be exercised. The way to combat the excesses of human desire isn't through morality & ethics from the metaphysical perspective -- calling on people to be good, then expecting them to regulate themselves. I like the idea, but it just doesn't work: even Chairman Greenspan admits that he was wrong about self-regulation.
I just wish that Chairman Greenspan and Mr. Samuelson would wake up to the fact that they're fundamentally wrong in attempting to assuage the public's concerns through recitation of technicalities. The "fundamentals" don't matter to those households that lost their old age savings in the stock market -- It's way too late to be talking birds & bees after the pooch already got screwed.
[Editors note: Yes, I did cite myself twice above -- the point is that some of us didn't just now discover these issues via the current scandals and decide to make a political ploy. I've been on this topic for years...]
Norton on Vouchers
Tony AdragnaI agree with you on vouchers, Will. I just get that funny feeling in my tummy everytime Congress steps into DC affairs -- there is, after all, supposed to be Home Rule in the District.
Add the tension there to my list of reasons for moving out of the city.
BTW, what do you think of Tony Williams' "petition" fiasco?
Americans Outta Lattitude
Tony AdragnaIsn't AOL one of those "New Economy" companies, Will? I always wondered how they did so well without actually selling anything. OK, so they sell web access and ad space, but the big money maker -- what brought in all of the investment -- was never any tangible product. Rather, it was The Idea of getting in on the ground floor of this "New Economy" thingy.
The only reason you can't call the whole thing a confidence game is because that terminology has a negative connotation.
I wonder what my former clients employed by AOL, the ones who regularly deposited extremely generous checks into their personal accounts, are thinking about their employer at this instant.
As for your own problems with AOL, tell your daughter to get a real ISP![Sorry, couldn't resist -- I loath everything AOL]
I hafta agree with you about pulling the plug on Chairman Pitt right now. But my agreement is based solely on practical considerations -- the Commission needs more members, not less. I can repectfully agree to disagree with Chairman Pitt so long as I'm assured that the Commission is functioning properly and policy is the product of reasoned debate and good faith consideration.
Dismantling a Segregationist
Will VehrsRadley Balko compares DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to George Wallace in this FoxNews.com "Straight Talk." In my humble opinion, he makes the comparison work.
This is a powerful argument for vouchers in the DC public schools.
AOL Accounting Irregularities Hit Home
Will VehrsFunny I should read that AOL is involved in the latest example of corporate accounting irregularities.
I pay my daughters' AOL subscription every month. The charge, always $23.90, appears on my credit card. Yesterday, my credit card bill arrived and there were four charges for $23.90. Two months ago my bill had two charges for $23.90 and I had to call the card company and get the duplicate charge removed. Now I'll be calling again to get three charges removed. There is no possibility that my daughters have signed up for more than one AOL account.
Routine snafu? Once, maybe. But twice? I wonder. Corporate accounting shenanigans make doubters of us all.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Abingdon, Far From Maryland and Wall Street
Will VehrsTony, I've been away on quasi-business trip to beautiful Abingdon, Virginia. It's hard for me to comprehend that I drove over 300 miles southwest from Richmond and was still in Virginia. I actually saw a sign for Knoxville, TN--I wouldn't have been surprised to see a billboard for InstapunditLand ....
There wasn't much talk of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend or Harvey Pitt in Abingdon. Those folks are concerned about jobs. At one time, during the Internet Revolution, small rural communities really thought that companies would locate there because, with a modem, it didn't matter where a company was physically located. All they ended up seeing were telemarketing centers, taking advantage of non-union, low wage conditions. High tech firms stayed in clusters near major metropolitan areas. Southwest Virginia is back to wooing manufacturing, just like they always have.
Townsend's platform has all the excitement of a think tank footnote. Guess she won't be making Maryland a "laboratory of democracy" franchise.
As for Harvey Pitt, the Senate confirmed him unanimously and they need to find malfeasance or failure of due diligence before they call for his head. Right now, he's as good as it gets. If he left, the SEC would be rudderless for a long period and a new Chairman would have to start from scratch. That wouldn't be good government management in this situation.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
A Political Transposition
Tony AdragnaDoes this seem kinda sdrawkcab to you, Will? Here's an outline of KKT's plan to meet short-term budget challenges
Top-to-bottom management and budget review.She's talking 'bout cutting/freezing spending. And pay attention to the position on slots.
I turned to Ehrlich's site for the opposing view -- doesn't look good to me. This is what Ehrlich says about Maryland's economic position:
Excessive government spending has led to a $1.5 billion deficit. Maryland's budget must be balanced in an honest and efficient manner, without sacrificing programs for the poor and others in need. Excessive spending on non- essential initiatives must be curtailed and our budget priorities redefined.That's it! He does define his "budget priorities" -- pretty much everything on the menu as presented.
What's his plan? I dunno -- he doesn't give any kind of clue anywhere on his website about what his plan is gonna look like. The website does link to newspaper articles, and two of those stories cite Ehrlich's revenue raising ideas: an increase in the gasoline "user fee" [ It's a TAX, Bob] to cover his transportation priority, and slot machines to help with education funding.
At least Ehrlich is honest enough to not "rule out new taxes." KKT ought unambiguously do the same -- she's especially gotta not let Ehrlich get in front of her on funding schools...
Update on Accounting for options: I don't know why I've been trying to 'splain the issue -- all I had to do was refer y'all to Andreas [ some book learning in the body of knowledge does help]
Monday, July 15, 2002
The Pitt-falls of Conflicts of Interest