Monday, June 30, 2008

F*Tard Monday?: Predatory Hope

Well, better late than never, I always say. Here's something I've wondered aloud about, and I'd like to get some perspective from the readership. I was driving in a particularly impoverished area of Waco last week, and saw a disproportionate number of yard signs as compared to the rest of this Democrat-leaning town. Granted, it was also a predominantly black neighborhood, but it got me to thinking that maybe the Hope rhetoric isn't as much harmless bluster as is predatory and misleading.

Like "change," politicians on both sides have been using this stuff forever. Reagan famously asked Americans if they were better or worse off after 4 years of Jimmy Carter, obviously intimating that they'd be much better off with him as president. But Obama goes one step further, he makes broad promises that give hope to those Americans who need it most, but he can't possibly deliver on them. His victory speech was something like "today is the day we began to care for all the sick, and the level of the oceans began to fall..."

Even putting those two outrageous claims aside, what right does Obama have to tell a "working poor" single mother that he's personally going to make sure she's OK? His brand of politics fills his supporters with grand hope for not just the country's future, but their own. But he can't possibly fulfill these hopes. And does he say, "Now, the president has limited direct power over the economy, but I'll appoint the regulators and propose the stimulus that can keep America strong?" No, he stands up there and makes impossible promises about steel and textile jobs coming back from China, and foreclosures magically disappearing, a chicken in every pot, and we'll stick it to the "rich" so the poor never have to pay taxes again.

Am I the only one that finds something wrong with this? I'll be honest, this campaign (as evidenced by the poster above) is getting into a very weird kind of messianic territory that I don't like. This is the kind of treatment folks don't normally get until they've made their accomplishments and died (MLK, JFK, Reagan, FDR).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

News Flashes: The McCains, John Wayne, and [Commodore] Ackbar

Breaking news items that have elicited my notice and two cents worth:

Cindy McCain: Diana is my inspiration...

Drudge tells us that my wife is Cindy McCain's rock, and where she really got the controversial cookie recipe. Unless she's talking about a different Diana...

McCain 'works from home' on the weekends...

This is probably the most tangible aspect of Johnny Mac's age issue so far. He's not doing the big events on weekends, and his campaign says he spends the time "resting" and "boning up on policy." The old codger is doing the same thing we all do when we "work from home"...sleeping and playing video games. (I'm looking at you, Miami breach front telecommuter--other than poker money, I've yet to see evidence that you even have a job anymore.) BTW, I've totally sat in that chair in the photo. It's in the Senate Print Gallery.

Mexicans are 'buying Texas back'...

Apparently agents are selling lots of foreclosed homes in Texas to Mexican nationals. Ok, interesting trend, but this Bloomberg piece paints a picture of a few hundred lots in suburbia undoing the Alamo and San Jacinto, not to mention the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that got the US the rest of what God intended it to posses. The destiny is already manifest, homes, you can't get that shiznit back. Plus we've got John Wayne.

The Commodore Does Not Breathe!

BLS students and faculty have long suspected that the Commodore was not human, but perhaps some sort of space alien with a computer brain fueled by Pepsi Max. New evidence has arisen today that may cast this suspicion into the realm of fact. While trying to disperse a lengthy session of the Reverend's class, the Commodore queried aloud, "Why is there air?" This seems a clear reference to his alien computer brain's inability to calculate a need for humans to breathe air, while he does not. Clearly only a denizen of the furthest reaches of space would wonder at the purpose of air. Or, a whacked out flower child from the Troubled Times. Perhaps the Commodore's flotilla includes galactic cruisers or Star Destroyers, and not just a few earthly vehicles? Contracts are a trap!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nominal Considerations

I've been impressed with my classmates' creative abilities in the short time I've known them. Doubly so for those in the blogosphere. So I can't help but be disappointed that the best pseudonyms they've come up with for our instructors are "Prof. CivPro" and "Prof. K." To remedy this shortcoming, comrades, I humbly suggest the following nomenclature for the professors we've had thus far. Thoughts?

The Commodore- This is the only title befitting a man who relishes any case ruled upon by His Excellency the Lord Chancellor of England, and commands his own fleet of BMWs. Unfortunately, this “fleet” of three really only qualifies as a flotilla. Thus our learned prof is properly styled a Commodore and not an Admiral. I will admit extrinsic evidence indicating a more substantial force, to include Bathtub-class vessels.

Mr. Smith- When this professor speaks, one can’t help but feel pangs of sympathy for those poor Boy Rangers about to lose their Willit Creek campground to graft. Ok, maybe he’s not Jefferson Smith, but this man’s straightforward yet deeply knowledgeable lectures do Jimmy Stewart proud. Maybe it’s the heartland accent. It’s always a wonderful life in his class, as long as you keep your multiple sufficient causes straight from your alternative liability.

Snape- Expecto Pennoyer! I’ve used this one in past posts, and it’s a fitting analogue. Like Snape, this prof teaches a 1Q subject that’s often overlooked, but absolutely essential. You don’t really know which side he’s on until it’s too late. Just like Snape, he’s an insufferable pain in the ass who turns out to be in your corner. Wish I could have sought a change of venue.

The Fusilier- This isn’t a cop out, just a happy coincidence. In military history, the fusilier was a soldier armed with the fusil, a short flintlock using enclosed tinder and often affixed with a bayonet. The gun was just like the prof—short, to the point, and packing a punch. Historic fusiliers guarded artillery equipment, much like this professor guards her students’ rights to their security deposits.

The Reverend- He claims his father was the preacher in the family, but we all know who got the gift of gab. It’s not his own morality his teaches with all the attendant fire and brimstone, but that of the Immaculate Model Penal Code. I knowingly and intentionally signed up for this class, but recklessly thought we’d finish mens rea by the end of the quarter.

The Architect and The Oracle- Question presented: Under Matrix law, does Neo chose correctly when the Architect assigns a wide-open research memo? Thus choosing, does Neo’s argument prevail vis-à-vis residential tenancy statutes? Ergo, this professor’s alter ego, the master logician who ensnares even the cleverest minds in his IRACnid web. The Oracle sees all and knows all in the Baylor Law Library. He shows the way to meet the Architect’s logic blow-for-blow, and offers a path to true understanding of all legal knowledge. Will you chose the Bluebook, and go home, or the Redbook, and see how far the rabbit hole goes?

The Pirklator- Nothing gets your morning going right like a cup of joe and a big pile of punative damages. Sure, we don't count as billable hours, but even at 8am this adjunct's giving it his all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

F*Tard Friday: You don't know jack!

I'm a little disappointed that most of the blood and guts stayed off the record last week. I'm just going to have to be more inflammatory. In that spirit, I'll just come out and type what I've been saying for months. Barrack--just because you talk good doesn't mean you know crap about the government (to paraphrase South Park).

Listen, presidential candidates have been running on the "change" platform since Thomas Jefferson's bout with Adams in 1800. And the only reason Adams didn't in 1796 is that his predecessor was Saint George Washington. Obama loves to tell us how great life will be with him in charge, but he can't articulate anything like a workable agenda. "Step 1: Win Presidency. Step 2: ... Step 3: Change we can believe it!" This doctored image puts it more aptly: "Change we refuse to define."

Potential recession, energy crisis, inadequate health care, an ascendant Iran--Obama's answer to all these problems is hope. Me too, I hope he frickin' does something to demonstrate that he at least comprehends these issues, much less knows how to confront them. This isn't a Republican rant. McCain's got to step up to the plate in a lot of ways, too. But he's got experience formulating sound centrist policy, and that makes me think he'd be better at implementing it. For all it's evils, government is a game you have to know to win. Not just for your legacy, but for all the folks that want to draw a social security check, or who depend on solid national defense. Obama's a damn fine politician, and an inspiring man, but he's yet to prove that he can run a lemonade stand, much less a country.


Friday, June 13, 2008

F*Tard Friday: Presidential Politics

We're proud to announce a new regular feature here at Self-Infliction: F*Tard Fridays!! Realizing that life is always more fun with controversy, the management has decided to open this space to rational discourse on some of the day's most interesting topics. Yes, that means politics. Taking the Razor's cue (because most people act like f*tards when they espouse a view out of convenience or pure ideology) the bloodshed will be limited to only one glorious day each week. Let slip the dogs of war!

This week's topic: Presidential Politics

Who do you like, fellow blogophiles, and why? Do we need to wartime consigliere, or a hopeful youth? The historic idealist, or the stalwart pragmatist? Are the winds of change blowing, or are we in the doldrums? I'm expecting some heavy blows with this crowd, so get to it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jerusalem on the Brazos

Only the most learned historians know a deep secret of Texas' past. Fortunately for you readers, I am such an historian. The year was 1187, and Saladin, mighty sultan of Egypt, had just decimated the knights of the Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin. Muslim forces had recaptured the County of Eddessa a few decades before. Now, only Tripoli and Antioch now remained of the many feudal states states the Crusades had carved out of the Levant. After many days of wandering, the few scattered survivors of the battle came together and considered their woesome loss.

The battered warriors were filled with divine zeal, and vowed to recapture the Holy City of Jerusalem in the name of Christianity. As the Templars and Teutons had before them, the small band focused their efforts into the creation of a military order. They called their society "Bracchium Deo," or "The Arms of God."

This new clan soon set about their goal, and launched a brave attack against the Saracen horde. The were immediately defeated, and hung from the city walls by their ankles.

Only an even smaller band of knights, probably two or three, had thought the better of attacking a fortified city on foot, and with an army of only a dozen. These men narrowly escaped their brothers' cruel fate, but still burned with a holy fire to see Zion built by mortal hands. They knelt in prayer, and offered up lamentations to God for forty days, and forty nights. Not all in a row, that would have been really hard. They took some breaks to go to work and stuff.

But late on the fortieth day (probably), the devout warriors lifted their heads up from the dust, and were given a vision of a burning disc low in the western sky. The remaining Braccium Deo knew at that moment that their fate lay far to the west, in God's Country. But, blinded by their glorious vision, they took several hours to figure out which way was west. After a helpful washerwoman pointed them in the right direction, the brothers set forth across the sea in a small coracle they filched.

Sadly, the effects of the shining vision had not yet worn off, and none of the sun-addled, half-blind Crusaders knew how to steer a coracle. So they spent another forty days and forty nights tossed about on the waves of fortune, bound for wherest God would lead them. By the thirty-fifth day, all but one of the knights had perished, either from a maddening thirst, or at the hands of a knight driven mad by thirst. Finally the sole surviving Braccium Deo brother was cast up on the shores of a beautiful land, and gazed out over verdant plains, fresh streams, and a tribe of ravenous cannibals. Yikes. Seriously, there were some cannibals.

After narrowly escaping peril by running inland tirelessly for forty days and forty nights (for real, that's how long it was), the last Crusader could go no further. He had miraculously survived the clash of war, the throes of a brutal sea, and the smacking lips of cannibals. Now crippled by thirst and fatigue, his journey seemed at an end. But then our knight heard an angelic voice.

"Brother Balatro," it said, for that was the knight's name. "Brother Balatro, thy quest is at an end. Rise up, faithful knight, and look upon the bounty I hast prepared for thee."

There, flowing peacefully across a rich plain, lay the most beautiful river the knight had ever seen. He leapt up, and ran to it with fervor. He drank deep of its holy waters, and languished in its cool embrace. His thirst quenched and his soul satisfied, the knight shouted out for to hear: "Here I shall build Jerusalem anew, and I shall call this divine river the Arms of God, in praise of the Almighty who hast delivered me, and in honor of my perished brothers." Later explorers came to know the river by this name in Spanish, "Brazos del Dios." Many years later, a university was founded along its banks, and called Baylor in memory of the brave Brother Balatro.

Meanwhile, a passing band of Indians had noticed Brother Balatro splashing about. They therefore called that place on the river "Huaco," which meant in their tongue, "one touched in the head, a crazy person." Today, we know this place as Waco, Jerusalem on the Brazos.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I Are A Pundit!

Apologies for the delay in posting, but I've been saving up for something special. After years of writing for somebody else, I'm proud to say that my own name is finally in print! I don't think many self-infliction readers subscribe to the Waco Trib, but if you do, you likely saw this well crafted piece in today's Opinion section: Un-Democratic Nomination. In the interest of congeniality, I've been trying to keep politics off the blog. But just try to keep me quiet in the paper! Here's the text of the column, albeit with some Trib-supplied edits for space:

Un-Democratic nomination

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. famously observed that “hard cases make bad law.”

Given the opportunity, Holmes might have said that “tight races make bad politics.” Florida 2000 is a prime example.

But rather than avoid close contests, the Democratic Party has actively encouraged costly and conflict-ridden primaries.

Now, at the primaries’ end, the Democrats are reaping what they’ve sown: the bitter fruits of a divisive nomination process.

Pundits seem eager to blame Hillary Rodham Clinton for the long primary season and for refusing to concede throughout to Barack Obama.

The real culprit is a nomination process that promotes close calls. The root problem is well-intentioned but counterproductive proportional elections.

These aim to divide up each state’s delegates as “fairly” as possible. They work well enough with more than two candidates in the field. But when you start tallying up results from a number of evenly matched, head-to-head primaries, you’re going to get (big surprise) a too-close-to-call national race.

The winner-take-all system Republicans use has its own drawbacks. But this is politics. There’s got to be a winner at some point.

The Democrats need to trust what Mama taught them, and tear the Band-Aid off quickly. It only hurts more to draw out the inevitable.

The Democrats’ nomination often hinges on a bizarre and arbitrary calculus. A candidate must secure 2,117 out of 4,233 delegates to win the nomination. But nearly a fifth of these available decision makers — superdelegates not directly accountable to anyone — get to keep their choices secret until it’s too late to matter.

An unpledged superdelegate watches the internecine strife from a safe perch, then swoops into to the convention to stand in farcical solidarity with the rank-and-file.

The “People’s Party” created the superdelegate system to dilute party leaders’ influence. But this election has shown that it yields 794 political cowards who frustrate the democratic process.

Perhaps the most divisive and nonsensical factor in this year’s race was the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee ruling on the Florida and Michigan delegations. Committee members have their own political agendas — some are superdelegates — and their own special interests to represent. To avoid the obvious appearance of blatant and palpable impropriety, the committee took Solomon at his word and split the baby. It awarded half of each state’s delegates to Clinton, and half to Obama.

This equivocation rewarded Obama with free delegates from Michigan — where he wasn’t even on the ballot — and deprived Clinton of votes she won fairly in Florida.

From this debacle the Democrats should learn to keep such vital decisions away from powerbrokers, and vest them safely in the electorate.

The Democrats must learn the lessons of this spring’s long and expensive contest, or continue to enter general elections fatally divided, and with a badly wounded nominee.

Jesse Davis, a law student at Baylor University, is a former communications aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.