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Long Arm of the Law School

Dreams from My Professor. The Audacity of Harvard. Also: The nation's debt to Pelosi and Reid. From the bookshelf. To vote or not to vote. Plus more.

9.22.08

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TRUE CRIMSON
Re: Brett Joshpe's Obama the Harvard Lawyer:

Great piece, and the last time two lawyers were sleeping in the White House it worked out so well for us too, eh? Putting the plagiarist lawyer a short distance down the street won't make it any better.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Hillary and Bill are both lawyers. Kerry's a lawyer. John Edwards is a lawyer. Biden's a lawyer.

McCain and Sarah are not lawyers. That's reason enough to vote for them. Lawyers work both sides of the street. They speak with forked tongues.
-- Fred Edwards

Editors of Law Reviews write articles for publication in their Review. Did Obama? Law professors, sometimes even law instructors, write articles for publication. Did Obama?

Please let us know.
-- Christopher J. Small
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

"Obama's challenge never has been to show people he is smart enough to serve as president; few would deny that he is. His HLS degree confirms his intelligence..."

Sorry, but I don't think he's very smart. He won't release his grades at Columbia, yet didn't graduate Honor roll in a relatively easy major, Political Science (makes him between 2.0-3.3, more than likely like the 2.6 I got as an Engineering student). He was President of the Law Review, yet had no published articles. He was never considered for any prestigious law firms, and even the NAACP didn't want him. He only gives soaring speeches when he has a trusty teleprompter. When he's on his own, he sounds like a stammering idiot, hence the nickname "Stuttering Barry."
-- Lawrence D. Cannon, P.E.
Terry, Mississippi

If Obama wins the presidency, he might further lower America's opinion of lawyers. I have long felt they should never be allowed to serve in top positions in government. Any profession which can willfully ignore right and wrong (arguing that it gets in the way of advocacy) has to be populated with a majority which lacks any true sense of morality.

Shakespeare was right. I have lawyer friends who freely admit the country would be better off if we were to shoot six out of every seven lawyers (if they weren't among those shot!).

I believe it was Mark Twain who observed, "One lawyer in a small town can barely make a living. Two, however, manage to do quite well."
-- R. Goodson
In exile in Florida

MAJORITY BLUNDERERS
Re: Andrew Cline's Pelosi and Reid Blew It:

I believe another significant contributing factor to the diminishing approval of the Dems is the rhetoric of the Obamas (Barack and Michelle!), their friends and supporters. I would say all the Democrat chickens are coming home to roost.
-- Mike S.
Sarasota, Florida

Actually, if it weren't for all the liberalism which has been injected through the American public school system over the past 30 years, the Democrats would be down about 20 points.

I would be willing to see Obama win the White House, if it weren't for those old, old Supreme Court justices the next president is going to get to replace.

Sadly, the only way the American people are going to get back their Congress as a representative body responsible to the people is to find a way to get term limits imposed on that corruption-ridden special interest hugging cesspool.

I've been fortunate for the past 12 years to have a U.S. representative who is fairly conservative, except he loved to bring home pork to his home district. He is retiring, and hopefully, the next one will be more responsive to the country's needs.

I won't even discuss my two Senators. Both of them need a shotgun administered dose of rock salt in their ample posteriors; in the Missouri Ozarks where I grew up years ago, that was the way we deterred thieves.
-- R. Goodson
Florida

George Will pointed out that if Obama wins and the Dems control Congress, we will see the end of the secret ballot when unions begin card check and the end of free speech with the enforcement of the fairness doctrine. Why isn't this being screamed across the land so the people can see that the very liberal Democrats who will run this country are not just incompetent but worse, are intent on stripping us of two of our most fundamental protections?
-- Allen Hurt
New Mexico

Alright, now is the time for Republicans to make significant inroads into, or possibly even take back, the House and Senate. With the current financial crisis, there are only a few "safe" Democratic seats in play.

A simple strategy for Republican Congressional candidates, particularly first timers, is to tie Democrats to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through their votes concerning the lenders, the campaign contributions that they received from them, the mandatory relaxations of the lending rules made by the Clinton administration and the fact that both institutions were run by former Clinton government officials. The mortgage collapse was caused, in large part, by these two entities and that has led to further domestic troubles in the credit industry and the Democrats in Congress were a wholly owned subsidiary of the mortgage industry.

Should be a slam dunk for local Republican candidates and for Big John and Sarah. After all, Barack was one of the largest recipients of Fanny and Freddy's largess. Let's see if the Republican Party can find the brains to pull it off.
-- Michael Tobias

My official prediction on the Fall Elections: McCain will win the presidency, and by a significant margin (at least as high as Bush's '04 win, if not more) and we're looking at no significant change in congressional partisan make-up, at the worst. At best, we'll see such a significant McCain win that he has coat-tails (or maybe such an out-powering against Congress that McCain gets an uplift, depending on your point of view).

Why? Well, Mr. Cline covers a lot of it. But I think Jon Stewart said it best when this Congress couldn't even pass a non-binding resolution against the war last year: 'Here we have a congress which can't even get nothing done.' Energy and food prices are soaring, housing's tanked, Iraq is won, and what have the Democrats given us? Finger pointing, crass politicking, and the most liberal Presidential candidate in living memory. We all know the media is deep in the tank for Obama, and the Palin incident just made that undeniably clear. And Americans? We're a stubborn sort. Best way to get us to do something is have a bunch of elites stand on their soap-box and tell us not to.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

I may not be as educated on party politics as you, but I believe that support for the GOP remains high because many of us Republicans do necessarily equate our party with Mr. Bush. The administration's policies have deviated far from our core beliefs and this has no doubt led to his unpopularity within the GOP ranks. But most importantly, GOP ideals remain the same regardless. I think this is a major reason why half of America still has faith in Republicans, we just want to see them carried out in a more proper manner.

Thank you for the article.
-- Christopher Keese

An excellent piece -- I couldn't agree with you more!!
-- Terry E. Hagen
Forest City, Iowa

MARKETS IN EVERYTHING
Re: George H. Wittman's Mexican Badlands:

It's one of those laws of the market. As long as there is supply to meet a demand, that demand will be met. The billions of dollars spent on the enforcement of unconstitutional drug laws is so much money wasted, and it makes things worse, not better. It pushes a multi-trillion dollar industry into the hands of criminals. And then were surprised when this fuels violence and human trafficking?

I'm not. Sooner or later this country is going to have to come to terms with the simple fact that making drugs illegal fuels additional crimes. If we want to stop action like described in this article, we need to legalize.

After all, I have a CVS and a Walgreen's within three blocks of each other. No violence occurs between them, and I bet they don't engage in human trafficking. You see, legal businesses do not engage in this kind of behavior.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

WHY STOP AT 100?
Re: Lawrence Henry's How to Read a Hundred Books:

Stop reading crap.

Try:

Alan Furst: His WWII-era spy novels are unsurpassed.

Patrick O'Brian: His Aubrey-Maturin series of sea novels are treasures of language and wit.

Arturo Perez-Reverte: Available now in English, his work in translation is better than many written in English.
-- Mike Walsh

Have you tried any of the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser?
-- Merlin Perkins
Bridgeport, Washington

Mr. Henry, next time you are perusing T. Jefferson Parker books, let your eye wander down to fellow Bostonian and the greatest living detective/mystery writer alive today, Robert P. Parker. If you are disappointed, the why will be a mystery to millions of readers.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Try reading Wolfwhistle by Lewis Nordan...
-- Dan

BANKERS WILL BE BANKERS
Re: Barron Thomas's After the Earthquake:

In response to Barron Thomas's "After the Earthquake," I would say that it's popular, and fun, to characterize Wall Street execs as mischievous boys who the Feds have to spank, but reality is much different. Wall Street execs are very smart, usually much smarter than the regulators overseeing them. That begs the question that if they're so smart, why do they make mistakes that appear so dumb in hindsight? And why do they all make the same mistakes at the same time? Shouldn't some have made mistakes while others didn't?

You won't find the answers to these questions in mainstream economics. Only Austrian economics (Mises, Hayek, Rothbard) offers any explanation. According to Austrian economics, the Federal Reserve distorts prices, such as interest rates, with loose monetary policies, which cause unnaturally low interest rates. Anyone sucked into borrowing money at the low rates will regret it later when rates rise again, and they always rise again because the low interest rates cause price inflation. Some of the Wall Street execs are smart enough to see the trap, but for a while (maybe years) their competitors make a lot of money by borrowing at the lower rates. Eventually, shareholders, board members, and the financial press, all of whom envy the high returns of the competition, put enough pressure on those execs that they cave in and borrow at the low rates. After everyone has borrowed and invested at the artificially low rates, price inflation raises its ugly head and the Feds are forced to raise rates to kill the monster. Or rates naturally rise without Fed action because inflation is a major component of interest rates. In addition, the low interest rates have spurred overproduction in some areas, such as housing. When that overproduction becomes widely known, the prices of those items, such as housing, collapse.

So I don't think Wall Street execs are just mischievous boys. They're intelligent men sucked into a trap laid by the Federal Reserve every time the Feds think they can stimulate the economy. The Feds aren't stupid, either. They just follow a flawed economic model.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

The only way to fix the financial scourge on Wall Street is to first start with the root cause of that problem, and that problem is government and its extensive and vast network of political cronyism. During the 1990's social engineering was the rage of the day. Social engineering was going to be nuclear device of the left to forcibly correct through the police powers of the government and put right all the envisioned social injustices.

The Democrats, under President Clinton, strengthened a government-created program called the "Community Reinvestment Act." This law was then used by "activists" and "community organizers" to coerce (force) lending institutions to make millions of bad loans.

Stan Liebowitz, economics professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, contends that the federal government over the last 20 years pushed the mortgage industry so hard to get minority homeownership up that it undermined the country's financial foundation to achieve its goal.

The Community Reinvestment Act like all the other government programs may have started out with the best of intentions, but now has ended up detonating a financial chain reaction of historical proportions and far reaching disastrous consequences for future generations of Americans and the financial stability of this country.

Congress was repeatedly warned about this oncoming train-wreck but dismissed such warnings as the ramblings of racism. Greg Mankiw, chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, voiced a warning about weakened underwriting standards; Congress rebuffed him as well.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., in 2003 as criticizing Greg Mankiw "because he is worried about the tiny little matter of safety and soundness rather than 'concern about housing.'"

This outpouring of Congressional concern about housing for the poor allowed members of Congress Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others to use Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as their personal piggybanks skimming campaign contributions and or sweat heart mortgages at heavily discounted rates.

Will the tax payers get a true accountability and those responsible punished? I guess it depends on who conducts the investigation. The problem is too many highly positioned political figures and special interests have had their hand in the government till for a long time and they would like to keep it that way.

The person that gets appointed to this investigation, needs to have the character played by Daniel Day Louis, in the movie The Gangs of New York. Day's character went by the name of "The Butcher" because it will take someone of that type of character to cut through all the political rot, to finally get at the truth, which all Americans seek.
-- Melvin Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

DROWNED OUT BY THE MSM
Re: Laurie Mylroie's Sarah and Saddam:

Thank you and Dr. Mylroie for this great article, which so perfectly sums up her expertise on this subject. I've long been an acolyte of hers, and am a proud owner of both The War Against America and Bush vs. The Beltway. I sent her a letter of appreciation a couple of years ago and was rewarded with a warm and thoughtful response.

It's unfortunate but typical of the atmosphere in which we currently live that her voice hasn't been heard above the din of the MSM. Thank you all for giving it the exposure it needs in order for that to happen. I think many lives could have been saved had Dr. Mylroie's warning been heeded in time.
-- Brian L. Voorheis
Friendship, New York

FAILURE TO CONNECT
Re: Danny Newton's and Michael Tobias's letters (under "Explanation Needed") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Good Oil:

Danny Newton and Michael Tobias make excellent points in reply to Matthew Bishop's "Bury the Damn Bridge."

But don't forget the primary objectives of earmarks in our political economy: A. That Kit Murtha may retire to great wealth, and B., that campaign funds flow back to Representative John Murtha.

Multiply that by 500+ times for the rest of Congress.
-- Dan Martin
P.S. The same rationale is the raison d'etre for Fannie and Freddie.

Finally, maybe -- let's get it straight on that fabled "Bridge to Nowhere," okay? I lived there. Ketchikan is said to be 14 miles long, 4 blocks wide and 4-5 inched deep (in rainwater/puddles); there's no room for growth, industry/expansion, 'cept for Gravina Island, across the channel, where the airport is, served by a couple small ferries (one of which is named for Oral Freeman, one of the greatest legislators who ever served in Alaska, a fiscal tightwad and Democrat! And all'round nice gentleman).

The original concept was great -- a simple bridge to Gravina where there was sufficient room to grow. But, the planners and bureaucrats, and assorted other busybodies took over, and there became (1) a fancy-smancy bridge over to Pennock Island, where the inhabitants didn't want a bridge; they travel back and forth to Thomas Basin in their own boats to restock, etc. Then (2), another expanse across to Gravina Island where that much-needed-land was waiting for further development.

Blame the planners (and those dubious entities within the bureaucracy or Don Young's/Ted Stevens' staffs maybe?) for subverting an excellent idea into a monstrosity. It really wasn't a bridge to nowhere, just a good idea run into terrible proportions and a final, total blah.
-- Geoff Brandt

BRIDGE LESSON
Re: Mike Dooley's letter (under "Vote Zierak Out") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Good Oil:

Unlike Mike Dooley, I am not a poker player. I am, however, a duplicate bridge player, and I know all about playing the cards you are dealt. When I have bad cards, I score by playing well-considered defense and limit as much as possible declarer's ability to make his contract. John McCain is the ultimate "bad card," and I say again that we will all be very unhappy with the long run effects of a McCain Presidency should he actually manage to win the race (for all the reasons I have given in my last several letters on this subject).

It is true that nothing is inevitable. Indeed the future is not knowable, and speculation about alternative outcomes is certainly not certain. However, human action is predicated on expectations that are formed in part by a review of past historical situations. Prudent businessmen don't invest based on some secret ability to know the future, but rather on their expectations from their insights and judgments that the investment will return in excess of a hurdle rate of return. Likewise, voters should assess what the long term results will be of their decisions, and not simply accept a probable catastrophe to avoid an emotional fear. There are ways of defending against the feared outcome without signing onto a non-solution that could make things worse.

There is much similarity between Nixon-McGovern and McCain-Obama: (1) a flawed RINO against a leftist alternative; (2) a shaky economy that neither candidate knew how to fix; (3) an unpopular war dividing the country. In this case we know the outcome of re-electing the RINO in 1972: Watergate, economic nonsense, and the eventual "bug out" from Vietnam due to the strengthening of the Democrat legislative majority from disgust with the RINO's administration. The Killing Fields and the Boat People were byproducts of Republican failure to hold a reasonable share of the legislative seats, which in turn occurred due to public disgust with Richard Nixon. Could not these historical stains have occurred under McGovern? Sure, but at least there would have been fewer American casualties in a war we were not willing to win.

I agree with Mike Dooley's point that the election of Reagan in 1980 was a near thing. I don't agree that this undermines my point that the defeat of Ford was helpful in the long-run. Without Ford losing to Carter in 1976, a subsequent election of Reagan in 1980 would not have been a near thing; it would have been a very unlikely thing. You can call this assuming facts not in evidence. I call it informed judgment.

As for today, we can already see the panic in Washington over the financial melt-down. Government intervention in the form of ridiculously low interest rate policy (and failure to rein in its mortgage market creatures, Fan and Fred) resulted in a thoroughly predictable (see, we make can make judgments even without "knowing" the future) housing bubble, the substructure of the current financial mess. Now we are busily bailing out selected firms, suspending short sales used for hedging positions (otherwise known as "insurance"), and probably buying up at taxpayer expense non-performing assets at some non-market established "price." It is particularly interesting that "mark to market" extremism emerging from our last crisis has been the gasoline in the economic bomb that intervention has created. I don't know how to rescue the government from its malpractice, and I guarantee you that McCain (or Obama) doesn't know either. I do know that interventions to remedy interventions has not been a particularly successful strategy in the past. Ultimately, markets must be allowed to correct, and businesses allowed to fail. The real question that government never considers is whether the unintended consequences damage of delaying the reckoning is worth it. There will be voices of populism that will want to soak the rich in these times and bar imported goods (and possibly even bar capital transfers abroad): i.e. the Hoover approach. Are you sure that McCain will not fall for all of this? I'm not; I expect him to do so. It is not far-fetched to believe him to be a risk for the modern Herbert Hoover award. Might this not happen? Sure. But in comparing what we are likely to get from a McCain administration against this risk, I still plan to blank the Presidential line, and I encourage all other conservatives and libertarians to do the same. Play defense! Spend your time and money resources down-ballot!
-- Stephen Zierak
Kansas City, Missouri

Mr. Dooley warns against giving youths car keys for many thoughtful reasons: "Bad judgment. Inability to link future consequences to one's present actions. And an avoidance of personal accountability for one's mistakes. Developmentally, these are parts of the package for anyone at that stage of life." Yet the same thinking does not apply to having schools throw condoms to students? Just asking, Mike.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
Re: Grace's letter (under "Weak Power Bill") in Reader Mail's Waiting for Good Oil:

This is in response to Grace's letter regarding Oil Drilling: "Oil companies and the politicians they support have a monopoly on the energy market." Suddenly the scales have fallen from my eyes. It is that bad and worse. Do you realize that the automobile companies have a monopoly on the automobile market, the computer companies have a monopoly on the computer market and the pencil companies have a monopoly on the pencil market? Where will it end? Oh! The Humanity!
-- Craig
Nairobi, Kenya

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