Monday Open Thread

The results of the ABA 2009 top 100 legal blog awards are in. Thanks to everyone who voted for us, we are the winner in the criminal justice category.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Two words.... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 12:41:38 PM EST
    Rip Torn!

    The guy with the coolest name in Hollywood history sure lived up to it over the weekend...ripped and torn.  Hope he gets some help (if he so desires) and the law ain't too hard on himm...I mean who hasn't mistaken a bank for their home while packing heat...it could happen to anybody:)

    A lesson for "superpowers" (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 12:43:16 PM EST
    Confused (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yando on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 12:49:23 PM EST
     I thought OBL was the 911 MAstermind.
    Or  Mohammed Atta.
    It's also KSM?
    Why would 3  people of such different
    persuasions unify for the  same
    attack. I don't get it?
    And what good are the confessions of KSM
    if he  made them under waterboard duress?

    Bush beats Obama? (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 12:57:32 PM EST
    At least on sentence complexity in SOTU

    Text of Obama's Address has a readability score for an average 8th grader - two grades lower than George W. Bush's Addresses and the historical average for modern presidents.


    However, a Smart Politics analysis of nearly 70 oral State of the Union Addresses since the mid-1930s finds the text of Obama's speech on Wednesday evening to have one of the lowest scores on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test ever recorded by a U.S. President.


    Well, trying to act smart is more (none / 0) (#24)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:27:31 PM EST
    important when one is an idiot.

    True (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:38:15 PM EST
    But interesting in the fact that one the big things people loved about him was that he could speak in polysallabic words and complex sentences.  I guess that was a farce too.

    you are confusing (none / 0) (#26)
    by CST on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:44:24 PM EST
    complicated English with correct English.

    Including big words in your speaches doesn't mean that you a) know what they mean, b) use them correctly, c) pronounce them correctly, or d) need to use them to get your point across.

    G.W.B. is the perfect example of this.


    I'm not confusing anything (5.00 / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:50:16 PM EST
    I just think it's an interesting study about a man who is known for his speeches, that when it came time to deliver the SOTU, he delivered it on an 8th grade level - the 4th lowest level the history that it's been tracked.  Especially since it's one big presidential infomercial.

    I just disagree with the metric (none / 0) (#30)
    by CST on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:13:17 PM EST
    Bigger, more complex sentances do not make a speech better, IMO.  If you can say what you need to say in shorter, more concise sentances, you should.  And I personally think that makes you a better writer/speaker not a worse one.

    I do not think Obama is a particularly good speaker, the pauses bother me, and sometimes I feel like he tends to ramble.  The SOTU being no exception to this.

    But I strongly disagree with the methodoligy used to determine grade level as a metric of how good/bad a speech is.  Microsoft Word has the same metric, and I almost always find, the better the writing is, the lower the grade level (to a point - I'm sure there is a low threshold to this below which you do not want to go - as in 9 is better than 10 but 4 probably isn't, for example).


    Have to disagree: longer, well-written (none / 0) (#31)
    by observed on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:21:43 PM EST
    sentences can convey more complex thoughts than shorter sentences with shorter words.
    Look at the excerpts from Obama's speech, especially the one about taxes: winceworthy!
    For all I know, the level of the speech is as poll-tested as the content--- also, it stands to reason that the computer/TV generation simply lacks the literacy skills of previous generations, but I think the low readability level of Obama's speeches may be something that was nagging me, at the back of my mind.

    I was taught in college (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:49:30 PM EST
    that anything written for the general public is best written at around the 8th grade level.

    Yes, but (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 02, 2010 at 07:14:27 AM EST
    As we discussed ad nauseum the other day, the speech was not meant to be read by the majority of the people, but heard.

    Different standard.


    I don't agree. (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Feb 02, 2010 at 11:12:54 AM EST
    HAHA, (none / 0) (#29)
    by observed on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:52:41 PM EST
    Well, I think Bush and Obama are not as far apart in smarts as people on the left like to think.
    Remember, when Bush was President, there were  a lot of people on the right who thought everything he said was brilliant. I don't think they were faking; I think his charisma and their party loyalty worked in concert to create the impression.
    With Obama, we see the same thing on the left wing. I've read a lot of his speeches, and I find his speeches bland to the nth degree, unable to get into the weeds of any issues, and horribly cliche ridden at times. Does he deliver a speech better than Bush? Well, he's smoother, but wow, does he lack punch. Bush was much more energized, even if he sounded like he spoke in sentences of one syllable.

    Yes, Obama has uses some effective rhetorical devices, but 8th grade level sounds about right to me. Remember, he is the community organizer President, which has to mean that he knows the value of dumbing it down.


    A fine pass we have come to (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:23:40 PM EST
    and a sure sign of the schism in liberals/Dems/progs...whatever you want to call it, when we can't even agree that Bush is an idiot.

    To imply anything else based on sentence structure analysis of speeches someone else wrote...well, I just can;t believe it is even happening, which is why I was so flippant.


    Hmm, that's not what I said. (none / 0) (#33)
    by observed on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:26:35 PM EST
    However, judging Obama by his speeches makes sense, since he writes them, or at least he did before.
    People say Obama is brilliant because of his speeches; what I'm saying is that I don't agree, and that Bush isn't that dumb, although listening to him it was hard to tell. There's obviously some familial dyslexia like problem.

    Jon Favreau (none / 0) (#34)
    by CST on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:35:15 PM EST
    Is Obama's speechwriter.  And was throughout the election period as well.  Remember cardboard-cutout-gate?  Although I do think Obama is fairly hands-on with his speeches as well.

    Right. Well, I'm sure Obama (none / 0) (#35)
    by observed on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 03:39:09 PM EST
    doesn't need phonetic spellings on his teleprompter, as Bush did.

    No (none / 0) (#39)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 02, 2010 at 07:13:35 AM EST
    It's Ben Rhodes.  Favreau works for Rhodes.

    Obviously Obama (none / 0) (#37)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 04:28:50 PM EST
    and his advisers (and his adviser's consultants) are probably going to try a little harder to get the message out there in more "plain-spoken" language in order to counter the reiterated ad nauseum charge that he's too much of a tone-deaf, elite, academician type.

    These people dont leave much to chance. Especially with something like a SOTU.


    Why because the people in those (none / 0) (#38)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 04:46:26 PM EST
    communities were THAT dumb?

    If concision and compression automatically equals dumbed-down, than I guess Basho was a complete nincompoop.

    What I think is that half of what we see and hear is what we want to see and hear.


    New Somalia (none / 0) (#5)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:01:15 PM EST
    aka Teabag Junction, aka Colorado Springs:

    More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops -- dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

    The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

    Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

    Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

    City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.

    Losing the... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:14:43 PM EST
    vice squad, beat cops, and police chopper sounds like civic improvement to me bro:)

    The rest?  Sounds like a community is about to get a hard lesson in the high cost of low taxes.

    I gotta wonder Mile...when you're cutting off street lights and garbage pick-up, what are you still spending money on?  Is C. Springs a microcosm of our national cracked-out priorities?


    The Airforce Academy is right there.. (none / 0) (#11)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:31:33 PM EST
    maybe they're hoping they'll get a piece of that blank-check-from God aka, the defense budget.

    Those checks... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:45:09 PM EST
    ain't gonna pick up no trash in the Springs...but they might help make a mess overseas.

    No... (none / 0) (#14)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:56:19 PM EST
    ...it is a microcosm of the "drown the government in a bathtub" movement and their wacked out priorities. Keep in mind this is only the latest in a number of government cut-backs.  They've already cut things like health inspections and now are a leader in the State for food borne illness.  They cut suicide prevention services in an area with the highest rate in the State.  

    CS's tax base is largely sales tax (property tax rates are almost non-existant and coupled with the large number of non-profits, don't add much)--which suffers in a down economy.  Business/people won't want to move there with a poor quality of life/services and tourists aren't going to want to visit an inherently unattractive/unsafe place, so they will continue on a downward spiral.  


    Not for nothing... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:12:03 PM EST
    I'm all for drowning the vice squads...wish that was on the table by me:)  Here we pay vice squads to get all decked out and hit the nightclubs to see if anybody is smoking Marlboros...while they talk about taking away free mass transit for schoolkids no less.

    Most of thosde cuts sound bleak though...Spring-wingers seem well on the way to getting the govt. they deserve, shame they gotta drag the good folks down with 'em is all.  Ain't it always the way...



    At least in the 1800s (none / 0) (#20)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:16:14 PM EST
    a military town like the Springs would be guaranteed to have the obligatory fifty brothels and Chinese laundry/opium dens. Maybe they need to move Dobson's crowd out of there and go back to that for a little more tax revenue..

    Now you're talkin!... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:20:04 PM EST
    The answer to many a municipalities money woes could be taking the vice market back from organized crime....but good luck convincing the puritan circles, the nanny circles...and the partnership in the misery business, police and thieves.

    wow (none / 0) (#8)
    by CST on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:15:01 PM EST
    talk about a mess...

    I guess with respect to the "small government" folks - you get what you pay for.

    They just voted down a property tax increase.  I wonder how it would have gone if it was more like Oregon's "tax the rich" increase.

    A lot of people may not like "government" per se, but I think many people take government services for granted.  This stuff isn't free.


    got a 120 gallon (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:13:38 PM EST
    aquarium up and pumping in my house over the weekend.
    no more swimming in circles for Marijuana the Arowana

    but (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:25:13 PM EST
    if there is some kind of failure my house will resemble the trailer from 2012

    Nice steggie. (none / 0) (#18)
    by desertswine on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:12:48 PM EST
    ha (none / 0) (#22)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:19:36 PM EST
    that took a minute.
    its a lamp.  had him for years and years.

    Blackwater's Youngest Victim (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:22:09 PM EST
    you should watch this, jeralyn (none / 0) (#13)
    by Dadler on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:52:23 PM EST
    it really deserves a thread of its own.

    I listened to that on the radio. (none / 0) (#19)
    by desertswine on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:14:10 PM EST
    I brought tears to my eyes.

    one hand washes the other (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:57:39 PM EST
    what else is Sarah PAC spending money on? Books -- her own book -- according to ABC News:

        The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate had her political organization spend more than $63,000 on what her reports describe as "books for fundraising donor fulfillment." The payments went to Harper Collins, her publisher, and in some instances to HSP Direct, a Virginia-based direct mail fundraising firm that serves a number of well-known conservative politicians and pundits.

        Sarah PAC spent another $8,000 on colorful bookmarks designed by a Nashville-based event branding firm. And her committee paid her publisher $20,000 for what appears to have been the cost of sending her personal photographer and another aide along on her book tour.

    Dem senators spend time with lobbyists (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:03:42 PM EST
    Big surprise

    Twelve Democratic Senators spent last weekend in Miami Beach raising money from top lobbyists for oil, drug, and other corporate interests that they often decry, according to a guest list for the event obtained by POLITICO.

    The guest list for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's "winter retreat" at the Ritz Carlton South Beach Resort doesn't include the price tag for attendance, but the maximum contribution to the committee, typical for such events, is $30,000. There, to participate in "informal conversations" and other meetings Saturday, were senators including DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez; Michigan's Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Claire McCaskill of Missouri; freshmen Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska; and even left-leaning Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

    Across the table was a who's who of 108 senior Washington lobbyists, including the top lobbying officials for many of the industries Democrats regularly attack: Represented were the American Bankers Association, the tobaco company Altria, the oil company Marathon, several drug manufacturers, the defense contractor Lockheed, and most of the large independent lobbying firms: Ogilvy, BGR, Quinn Gillespie, Heather Podesta, and Tony Podesta.

    The retreat's guest list is a marked contrast to Menendez's recent rhetoric, which has echoed the White House denunciation of "special interests" and "fat cats."

    Atrios sez (none / 0) (#21)
    by lilburro on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:17:38 PM EST
    Chuck Toddler twitters:

    Obama admin lays down unemployment rate markers: by end '10, will be below 10%, by end of '11, below 9% and by end of '12, just below 8%

    If that's what they believe, Jeebus. When they passed the stimulus a year ago they projected that without the stimulus unemployment would drop below 6% by the end of 2012.

    This is bad.



    The Fairy Godfather and HIs Tragic Wand. (none / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 02:48:41 PM EST
    A slender wand topped by an antenna that claimed to point to weapons or bombs hidden up to a half-mile away, underwater or in planes three miles high was bought and used by Iraqi security teams at hundreds of checkpoints to detect car bombs and weapons. The tragic wand was battery-free powered by a soldier's body static. The newest model was to have pointing and flashing lights.  Unfortunately, the wand was found to be a hoax and its godfather arrested by the Brits for fraud.  Iraq bought more than 800 wands which cost $250 each to make but were sold to Iraq for up to $60,000 each.  As the NYT concludes in its reporting, "any satisfaction that the US forces avoided this particular sting should be tempered by the fact that American blood and treasure has underpinned the Iraq government across the war's many expensive follies."----starting with that big one, being there.